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The Fuller Memorandum: Book 3 in The Laundry Files Paperback – 1 Jul 2010
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Brilliantly disturbing and funny at the same time (Ben Aaronovitch, author of RIVERS OF LONDON)
Charles Stross owns this field, and his vast, cool intellect has launched yet another mad, sly entertainment that will strangle the hell out of anything else on offer right now (Warren Ellis, author of Transmetropolitan)
Stross at the top of his game - which is to say, few do it better (KIRKUS)
Alternately chilling and hilarious (PUBLISHERS WEEKLY)
Ferociously enjoyable (SFX)
The third book in the 'Laundry' series - the world's only science fiction/ dark comedy/ Cold War/ IT/ Lovecraftian Horror/ spy novels!See all Product description
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The Author has created some very believable characters and you could quite easily believe that there was a government department that exists like this, plenty of adventure and some comedy bits thrown in. Bob the main character is almost a victim of his own good luck and the stories are mostly told from his viewpoint which makes it easy to sympathise with him. Not strictly SF but an excellent read.
With each instalment and story, Bob Howard grows as a character in terms of complexity, capability and human failings yet never ceases to be utterly believable, in particular some of the domestic scenes are extremely well drawn with his wife, Mo, being much more fleshed out as a character in her own right.
I can't praise this book highly enough, it's a great work. I can't wait for the next volume.
"The Fuller Memorandum" is probably the best (yet - hopefully there will be more) of his Laundry novels. I couldn't have liked this more if there'd been a prominent reference to Adam Hall's excellent and under-rated Quiller novels in the title.
For the uninitiated, the Laundry novels are a mash-up of tech-based fantasy, Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos and spy thrillers. The high concept pitch for the series is that a branch of the intelligence service exists to fight off and hide the existence of the unknowable beings of unspeakable power who exist in other dimensions. It's X-Files gothic, or hard science Hellboy, so not a new idea. The Laundry's unique selling point is that it's very much the grey civil service of classic British spy fiction, and the MacGuffin for the fantasy is that the mumbo-jumbo attached to raising up and casting out monsters and demons is actually mathematics which can be run with terrifying ease on a computer. As Charles Stross is both a genre- and techno-geek, it's all written with informed authenticity.
Don't start here if you're new to the series. Read book one, The Atrocity Archives, which introduces the key characters and lays out the rules. The debt to Lovecraft is strong in this one, so while you don't need to know the Cthulu stories in detail you won't feel the benefit of some key fantasy elements if you don't "get" the mythos at all. Part deux, The Jennifer Morgue, isn't quite as good and the new book only refers back to it in passing so you could just skip it. But as you'd be still missing a treat, why not just get the set?
The Fuller Memorandum is a lighter, easier read than either earlier installment. There's much less obvious Lovecraft, and no albatross like book 2's elaborate Bond pastiche. As a thriller it has the same fast pace and action movie sensibility as a Christopher Brookmyre novel. As a horror novel it's like the best of Kim Newman, written with obvious affection and post-modern genre awareness but a minimum of kitchsy irony. It also blends in the boys-and-their-toys, guns-and-ammo gadget love of the Blade and Underworld movies. There's even something of Hammer and the great Monty Berman cult TV shows - Jason King, Department S - in the final showdown in a sex cult's forgotten subterranean temple.
Plus zombies. Farzans of 'em.
My only disappointment, as a dedicated Quiller fan, was the decision not to do an full homage to Adam Hall's intense first person narratives. It was probably the right choice for the best possible book, and doesn't really suit hero Bob Howard's established character, but I would have enjoyed Charles Stross's take on the dysfunctional alpha-male hero.
This is the Laundry novel where the frayed seams start to show, where we learn a little more about what is going on in this super secret, sad little agency, and how it all hooks together. For now, at least. Who can say how things will change as the slide into CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN continues.
Obviously, I really enjoyed this. My only regret is that the split from the usually first person perspective doesn't work quite as nicely as in the previous books, and quite a bit of what happens seems to be set up
Even so, this is a great book. A continuation of the Laundry sequence, you must read the previous books before coming to this. Fans will already know what to expect another unique blend of comedy, Lovecraftian horror and spy novel, with some uber-geekery as an added extra. Our hero this time has to contend with the mysterious squadron 666, Russian spies and the iphone. There are some great jokes and SF/IT in-jokes - my favourite is a throwaway reference to the Langford Death Parrot - luckily available on google for those not in the know.
As in previous books by Stross, the writing is weakest when dealing with fast-paced action, and I felt that the last battle, although brilliantly set up, became incoherent and fragmented. Even here though there are some very nice touches referencing Apocalypse Now.
So only 4 stars, but this remains one of my best SF series in a long time. Roll on CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN!
It rushes along with the same mix of irony and fast-paced action as the others, and manages to fire-off a few interesting speculative snippets in the process.
Although I've given it 4 stars, and enjoyed the story, I do think that this series is becoming a bit formulaic, and I'm not sure I'll bother with any more. That being said ideal for loading into your Kindle for a lazy read on holiday....