“This is the story of how I lost my atheism, and why I wish I could regain it. This is the story of the people who lost their lives in an alien desert bathed by the hideous radiance of a dead sun, and the love that was lost and the terror that wakes me up in a cold sweat about once a week, clawing at the sheets with cramping fingers and drool on my chin. It’s why Mo and I aren’t living together right now, why my right arm doesn’t work properly, and I’m toiling late into the night, trying to bury the smoking wreckage of my life beneath a heap of work.”
—Bob Howard, The Fuller Memorandum
You could sum up Charles Stross’ The Laundry Files series as “Dilbert meets Cthulhu,” but while I’ve never been much of a fan of Dilbert (though Scott Adams’ strips are funny and often too apt), I am a total fan of Bob Howard. It’s not just that I identify with him, a former young, talented hacker who would have been at home in Linux/BSD open source projects, and who’s now been co-opted into The System. It’s not just that I sympathize and sometimes cringe with his more normal day-to-day trials and tribulations, which any office worker slaving away in a cubicle would be familiar with.
It’s because his job is to kick the ass of supernatural threats to the entire world, and he does it from the worldview of a sarcastic, down-to-earth working stiff who happens to know about recursive algorithms, stack traces, and VMS. And those things—that ultra, deep-down tech nerdy knowledge—are actually useful for the exorcism of demons, the stopping of incursions of the Elder Gods, etc.