The Fuller Memorandum
We’re used to series having a regularity and rhythm to them. But The Laundry series is a little more erratic to say the least. Not that it’s anyones fault as such. We’ve had two almost full novels, 4 novella/shorts, this full novel and two more still to come (hopefully).
After finishing The Fuller Memorandum I hope Stross has chance to write both The Armageddon Agedna and The Nightmare Stacks and surprises us with a stack of more short stories.
You can take it from the above that I’m a fan of the series right? Just in case you’re in any doubt I love what
Stross has done with The Laundry. When I grow up I want to tell stories like this.
I’d better explain why it’s hitting my buttons then.
I do have this thing that’s been slow burning for Lovecraftian-esque horrors and it’s slowly creeping into my reading see:
- The Domino Men
- Hunter’s Moon/Eagle Rising
- Never the Bride/Something Borrowed/Conjugul Rites/Hell’s Bells (though these are more wonderful quaint horrors)
as well as the first two book in this series:
In my review of The Jennifer Morgue I said:
In the next one I’d love to see the horrors a bit more horrific just to see how far Bob can cope and I want to know more about the origins of his boss Angleton. And if I’m being picky I’d like to have the pace toned down a little bit to have more time to digest stuff.
I think Stross must have read my review as he’s done all of that and more.
Time has shifted again. Bob is now married to Mo not surprising after the events of The Jennifer Morgue but their connection is forged by what they’ve seen and can’t share with the outside world more than love. They have a strange but understanding relationship. They both agents for The Laundry, a branch of the British secret service, tasked to prevent hideous alien gods from wiping out all life on Earth.
Stross always seems to come back with something different but retaining all the things you like about Bob and The Laundry. This starts with his unofficial boss giving him a little errand. All he needs to do is check out a disturbance in the Royal Airforce Museum and seeing as he’s all ready going it’s suggested that he checks out a white elephant in Hanger 12B. Unfortunately there is an accident and he doesn’t get chance to investigate the elephant, which is only the start of Bob’s problems.
All The Laundry stories are retold by Bob which gives them an emotional and personal edge that might be lost if they were told in third person. We do occasionally get to see some events retold by Bob from other people’s points of view so we’re not limited to Bob as there a few key moments that we need to see and couldn’t see them any other way.
I really can’t fault Stross for his characterisation. He manages to dish out Chuthu-lian horrors at the same time as making paperclips and the need for an autopsy like inspection of a violin mix in as if it’s normal.
And it is normal to them. Especially having an upgraded Jesus phone with magickal apps plus injecting geek humour by accusing it of a having a strong glamour that just pulls you in. You know what I’m almost convinced they do.
It’s this mix of supernatural and the mundane that makes Stross such a convincing writer. He can pull out the horror and when I said I wanted Bob to suffer I wasn’t sure that Stross could actually do what he did to Bob here. It’s not pleasant and it’s disturbing as it’s not carried out by anything alien but fanatics who believe in something enough that they see what they do as means to an end. And he can also pull out plot twists that have you seeing things completely differently.
You get to see the history of one of the more enigmatic characters in the series so far and what you learn is more ‘oh’ than ‘err’ but only just. I wonder what else Stross is hiding from us?
All the end of the world horror is mixed with Stross personal brand of geek humour and the character could be average-if-he-wasn’t-dealing-with-the-supernatural-Bob, not forgetting the rest of eclectic crew of The Laundry, shows what rich world Stross has created. I’m sad that we’ve only got to see glimpses of it so far. I hope this isn’t the last we see of them.
I’m not sure where we go from here. The Laundry is a hotel corridor of horrors just waiting to be walked down and any door could lead to a nightmare.