The Fuller Memorandum

Here’s our latest post, a sci-fi/urban fantasy book reviewed by Steve Wishnevsky of Winston-Salem.  Steve says he’s also reading some more serious fare to review later.

book cover of   The Fuller Memorandum    (Laundry Files)  by  Charles Stross

By Steve Wishnevsky

THE FULLER MEMORANDUM. By Charles Stross. Ace: Berkley Publishing. 320 pages. $24.95.

Bob Howard is sort of the anti James Bond, working for “The Laundry,” an ultra-secret anti-occult agency of Her Majesty’s Government. His title is Computational Demonologist, and he spends a lot of time messing about with files and discussing indescribable horror in obtuse Brit office jargon. He also is obsessed with his expense account, and he worries about his significant other, Mo, a redhead with a possessed white bone violin that kills people.

Think Ian Fleming meets H.P. Lovecraft with a side order of Dilbert. Amusing enough, but of the three genres mashed together here, I really like only Dilbert.

But, somehow, in modern Urban Fantasy (third sub-genre to the left), Lovecraft has become a default position, in all his indescribable reeking occult unimaginable horror. Or ‘orror, if you’re a Cockney.

In any case, Howard gets sent on a temporary fill-in basis to a secret RAF base that conceals deeper secrets; the Tea Lady is evaporated; and Howard Is placed on administrative leave. His wife, Mo, comes back from Amsterdam after eradicating a particularly offensive cult with her violin, and all assorted hell breaks loose.

As the tale unravels, Howard’s perhaps immortal boss, Fuller, vanishes; things become even more obscure; Howard finds himself fugued into alternate universes; Mo is endangered; and divers other occult powers including the Russian equivalent of The Laundry, become involved, entangled and enmeshed in probably world-ending evil. Cue the Vincent Price laughter, here.

The grand denouement involves London’s largest cemetery, ley lines and, of course, lots and lots of zombies. Did I mention the zombies?

This is a fun book, if your taste runs that way; but for myself, I have become bored with zombies. They don’t even make good soup.

The Fuller Memorandum is quite well written. Stross is widely admired as a stylist and a pace-setter for the most modern, post-ironic wing of Fantasy and Speculative Fiction. The pseudo-history of The Laundry is amusing; the office humor and in-jokes would probably not be wasted on the average modern worker, as they are on me.

Classify this book as amusing if trivial. It probably would make a superior movie.


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