In The Jennifer Morgue, Bob Howard's middle names are revealed to be Oliver and Francis, making his full name Robert "Bob" Oliver Francis Howard. If we take Bob as the first name, his initials become BOFH. Later on, in Pimpf, the reference is strengthened by the appearance of Peter-Fred Young, the PFY.

The series has plenty of jokes on names (see Pinky and the Brains, TLA IPO, Mabuse, ...). But was this joke intended from the start, or was this a retcon? Are there hints before The Jennifer Morgue about BOFH, in the books or in author interviews etc.?

  • TJM was only the second book anyway. Note also that when Bob first introduces himself in TAA he makes it clear that "Bob Howard" is a pseudonym. Sep 20, 2018 at 8:22
  • @DanielRoseman even so, the question is, was Bob Howard picked for those initials or was it something fortuitous that Stross later spun into BOFH? Because you still have to twist Robert to Bob to get there.
    – muru
    Sep 20, 2018 at 8:26

1 Answer 1


I found this in a Reddit AMA from Charles Stross:

I only recently realised Bob's initials were BOFH!! do you frequent theregister still, or comment on it? [...]

[–]cstross[S] 18 points 3 years ago
I try to avoid The Register these days, but yes, that was a deliberate shout-out.

So I would assume based on that that it was planned from the start.

  • 2
    Nice find! This is from well after TJM, though, and doesn't definitely say it was intended from The Atrocity Archives.
    – muru
    Sep 20, 2018 at 4:35

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.