YMMV / The Laundry Series

  • Author Tract: Readers could be excused coming out of Codex thinking that Stross is out to get religion, especially after the portion where Johnny reasons out to himself why Christianity is self-contradictory. However, the book both has a somewhat Unreliable Narrator in the form of Bob, and Bob has a Black Best Friend who's a vicar and good man, contrasted with the religious fanatic villains.
    • Also, it is an Author Tract - Bob's. It's a cross between his memoirs and a guide to hunting down cults hiding under other faiths. He lives in a universe where Christianity (and every other religion but one) is objectively untrue. That's kind of a required element of cosmic horror, for if there's a prophet-shaped escape hatch then the setting is no longer cosmic horror and becomes a different kind of Author Tract. Bob is busy disabusing potential readers In-Universe of this particular hope that things aren't all that bad. (also, Johnny doesn't reason that Christianity itself is self-contradictory, so much as that the faith in general is highly schismatic, which has been true since the earliest days of the faith.)
    • Which doesn't quite justify how the story treats Americans.
    • The Annihilation Score has a lot to say about superhero fandom too.
  • Fridge Brilliance: The choice of codewords for various operations and assets seems incredibly stupid at times - when you put a code name on something, you want it to be completely non-indicative of the subject to avoid hinting what it's about. CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN is a bit dumb because "nightmare" suggests something very bad indeed - as does SCORPION STARE for a basilisk weapon, or MAGINOT BLUE STARS for an occult defense network made of same. It becomes brilliant again with the realization that these are Bob's memoirs, and like his own name, we're not getting the actual codewords - we're getting fake ones that are indicative of what they're talking about for reader convenience, so he can talk about them in the context of his memoirs without giving away the actual operational codewords of any asset or event.
    • Of course, the lampshades came out when the Laundry actually did this in The Rhesus Chart, using code words such as OPERA CAPE involving vampires (albeit using more properly obtuse codewords for other operations surrounding these) and noting that they were not supposed to do this... but that they were because everyone was pointedly refusing to take things seriously.
    • Mo specifically calls Bob out for this in Annihilation Score. "...I'll call a spade a bloody shovel, not EARTHMOVER CRIMSON VORTEX."
  • Funny Moments: Everything Bob says about his Smart Car in Jennifer Morgue.
    • The scene in Rhesus Chart in which the Scrum tries out their new powers as well as any time any of them drink blood in company. "Two Vampires with clipboards walk into a bar..."
  • Genius Bonus: Naming the American occult intelligence agency the "Black Chamber". The real Black Chamber was an early 20th century American intelligence service focusing on cryptanalysis, a forerunner in role to the modern-day National Security Agency (whose initials are frequently backronymed to "No Such Agency").
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: A conversation between Bob and Mo in The Atrocity Archive reveals that In-Universe the reason volume four of Donald Knuth's The Art of Computer Programming hasn't been published yet is a Laundry gag order. ("He doesn't publish it, and we don't render him metabolically challenged.") In Real Life, the first part of volume four finally came out the year after Archive after spending nearly four decades in Development Hell.
    • Of course, the "Volume Four" which Knuth finally published may or may not bear even the slightest resemblance to the Volume Four which the Laundry placed on its Index Expurgatorius, and any such difference may or may not have something to do with the extreme length of the interval between Volume Four's publication and that of its predecessor. The real surprise here is that Knuth, a United States national, had the good fortune of having his publication schedule interdicted by the Laundry, instead of falling under the much harsher sway of the Black Chamber.
  • Paranoia Fuel: "The Concrete Jungle" runs on this for a good chunk. Any security camera on a WiFi network can be turned into an instant death ray if you walk into its line of sight. Have fun.
    • Perhaps even worse is the wide-field amnesia geas in "Equoid." Why does this part of Sussex seem relatively quiet and depopulated? Because the unicorns have been allowed to roam free, have eaten whoever they run into, and no one even notices the dead are missing.
  • Shallow Parody: The Jennifer Morgue didn't win many fans over with its attempt at Bond meets Lovecraft.
    • The Annihilation Score doesn't quite work very well given superheroes require a slightly less cynical universe than a Cosmic Horror Story to be parodied properly.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Mo becomes this in The Annihilation Score as we see her treat Bob in a very uncharitable manner from her perspective. Likewise, she ignores his personal terrors and comes perilously close to cheating on him without an official seperation. Given the adoration Bob showers her with in his text and faithfulness, it comes off as remarkably off-putting.
  • Values Dissonance: A real-life case of it. Mo's reaction to being in the execution room of the Iranian government is to treat it as horrifying nightmare fuel. American readers who support the death penalty are likely to find her reaction Narm even if they think the Iranian government's punishments are too severe.