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So, I make it to the end of Charles Stross's Atrocity Archives. And there's this author's note.

If I'm reading it right, it appears that the relegation of women almost entirely to ineffective middle management or "bimbos", and of people of color to the bad guys, was done intentionally as a foil to play up the "almost perfect photographic negative of the real intelligence agent," the white guy who knows what's going on while everybody else is dumb and evil.

In reality, "Far from being men of action, the majority of intelligence community staff are office workers, a narrow majority of them female .... The picture changes when you contemplate non-Western organizations ..."

I understand why one might want to craft an homage to the great spy and horror novels of yore. But this falls short of pointing out the failings of the genre, and instead lands squarely in the middle of perpetuating them.

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