The Concrete Jungle by Charles Stross
Series: The Laundry Files #1.5
Published by Berkley/NAL Publishing Group on January 1, 2004
Genres: Comedy, Science Fiction
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Bob gets called out on account of a monster program called SATAN STARE, that ties back into some past work for the Laundry and others.
He has to recruit, quickly, a pretty with it cop, and she helps him combat the beast, and the odd zombie.
Note: The Concrete Jungle is a Hugo Award winning novella included with The Atrocity Archive.
I debated with myself as to if I should read this or not. I eventually decided to read The Concrete Jungle and I’m glad I did! I found The Concrete Jungle to be much more interesting and accessible than The Atrocity Archive. I also feel it treats women slightly better as well.
In The Concrete Jungle, Bob is awakened to an emergency for the Laundry. A top secret weapons program has been used without permission and Bob has been sent to figure things out. Bob gets to the location of the weapons use and is introduced to the lead police detective for the case: Josephine. Josephine is a no-nonsense real cop type – you know, doesn’t believe in anything she can’t see (and possibly arrest) and overworked.
Things progress – as they do – and Bob is able to learn who may have had access to the top secret weapon and their possible next move: the Laundry Headquarters. Bob and Josephine have to act fast in order to (once again) save the day.
I really appreciate Josephine’s character: she is a character in herself, she has agency and she is NOT a victim to be rescued nor a possible romantic lead for the MC. Thank goodness. Josephine was also pretty smart and had an attitude problem – which I appreciate as well. The only thing I disliked about Josephine was the fact that she’s a typical cop: skeptical and attitude-y with things she doesn’t understand/is familiar with. But this was not a problem with her characterization – I felt her characterization was pretty great, to be honest – it just was who she is.
I also found The Concrete Jungle to be much more accessible: Stross drops a lot of the unnecessary techno-babble and gets to the point pretty quickly (a necessity when writing novellas). The lack of available word count really forced Stross to create a work that is much less focused on a very small portion of readership and opened The Laundry Files to many more people. I can admit that if The Concrete Jungle had read like the beginning of The Atrocity Archive I would have DNF’d it and written Stross off as an inaccessible writer. But instead I plan to continue with the series! (Although the beginning of the story is…infodumpy as hell and a bit meandering.)
This isn’t to say that I had no issues with The Concrete Jungle as I did – they are just all spoiler related and I don’t feel like jumping through the required hoops to explain my concerns without spoiling the story, lol.