Bob Howard is a computer-hacker desk jockey, who has more than enough trouble keeping up with the endless paperwork he has to do on a daily basis. He should never be called on to do anything remotely heroic. But for some reason, he is.
Like his peer Cory Doctorow, Stross has an ironic Generation X sensibility conditioned, in his case, by time spent in the simultaneously thrilling and boring world of information technology. In The Atrocity Archives, Stross's genius lies in devoting fully as much time to the bureaucratic shenanigans of the Laundry as he does to its thaumaturgic mission. What with all the persnickety time-charts and useless meetings Howard has to deal with, it's a wonder the world gets saved at all.