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The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross
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The Fuller Memorandum (edition 2011)

by Charles Stross

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8573510,427 (4.03)18
Member:roseread
Title:The Fuller Memorandum
Authors:Charles Stross
Info:Ace Books 2011-06-28 (2011), Paperback
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:***
Tags:Laundry

Work details

The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross

  1. 30
    Declare by Tim Powers (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: There is a shared delight in mixing Cold War paranoia and the mystical/fantastic in these two novels.
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English (33)  French (2)  All languages (35)
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
The third in the Laundry series by Stross, but only the second I have read. From what I can see, it isn't critical that you read them in order - but some things in this book will make more sense if you have read the Atrocity Archives first.

The Laundry is Stross's imagined cross between an intelligence agency and police force whose task is to deal with magical and demonic entities. Magic, it appears, is really a consequence of advanced maths and computation and so the books are full of computing humour as well as spy spoof and Lovecraftian detail.

I'm ambivalent about this book, and it definitely doesn't rate with Stross's best work for me. There's lots of good ideas, and a plot that never stops moving, but at times I felt I was being shouted at. The voice of Bob becomes tiring after a while and the book needs considerable editing. Characters and situations are introduced and explained more than once, as if the book was originally written as a sequence of instalments that each needed to work as a standalone story. This sort of thing should get picked up and eliminated when it is all brought together, and it does get annoying at times.

If you liked the Laundry, you'll love this. If not but you want to try, start with the Atrocity Archives, not this one. If you haven't read anything by Stross, I would start with something like Singularity Sky. ( )
  kevinashley | Aug 19, 2014 |
Reread. Fairly horrifying consequences for our protagonist. Less funny. Suspenseful, though. ( )
  mbmeadow | Feb 5, 2014 |
Have you ever seen the xkcd comic about regular expressions? (If you don't read xkcd, you probably won't enjoy this book, so I'd advise skipping this review.)

Basically, the plot of The Fuller Memorandum is this comic strip, but in novel form and with an invasion of Lovecraftian beasties.

I'm not sure if this book is a 5, or just a 5 by comparison--I've somehow hit a batch of not particularly fun reads lately. In either case, I recommend this read iff (if and only if) you fulfil the following preconditions:
--you like fantasy
--your sense of humour is slightly black around the edges
--you are a computer nerd.

The last is the most important. All urban fantasy books seem to use pop culture references heavily; in this case, all the jokes are math, computer science, and physics, from complexity theory to emacs to iphones (referred to as The JesusPhone) to recursion to Turing machines. For me, this was the first time I've ever read a UF novel and got all the jokes!

The plot: Bob Howard works at the Laundry, the top-secret magical police department in the UK, as a computational demonologist--think James Bond with a pocket protector, a desk job, and a gift for the occult. Other than constant incursions from Lovecraftian horrors, random cults (referred to by Bob as "the goatf*ckers"), and quite a few explosions, everything seems to be under control until Bob's boss disappears. Suddenly, Russian agents are everywhere, a mysterious occult object called The Teapot seems to have been taken, and Bob and his wife are under attack. It all looks like apocalypse has been rescheduled for quite a bit sooner, and Bob's one of the few people who can slow it down...

The story is fast-paced and often frenetic, with quite an enjoyable mystery component. To me, at least, it never quite left spoof territory, and if you're unfamiliar with James Bond and his ilk, Lovecraft, and a little background in math and computer science, I am not sure this is the greatest match for you. (I'm serious; two major plot points involve entanglement and dangling pointers.) The story is told in first-person present, and I really enjoyed Bob's wry, satirical narration. (I did wonder, however: why present tense? It's supposed to be a report for the Laundry. Who the heck ever tells a story in present tense in real life? I find it unnatural and quite irritating, but that's a minor detail in the overall story.) I liked, and could relate to, both Bob and his rather more terrifying wife, as well as his semi-sociopathic boss and his hyper-competent manager.

I've been told that the first novel in the series is a bit choppy, as it was written as a set of magazine short stories. I can attest that trying the third book out of context works fine, and it makes for a totally hilarious read. ( )
1 vote page.fault | Sep 21, 2013 |
Very good - a lighter version of Mike Carey's stuff - more jokes less gloom and angst. ( )
  SChant | Sep 8, 2013 |
My favourite of the Atrocity Archives series. ( )
  findantonia | Jun 4, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
The Fuller Memorandum is not a perfect book, but there are more things I like than dislike about it. It’s definitely not a sequel that skulks in the shadows of its predecessors, trying to repeat what was done before; it’s braver, and branches out into more unfamiliar territory. And fails a little bit, but manages to get pounding on shore in the end.
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Stross, Charlesprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
DeFex, Annette FioreCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Frederickson, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In memory of
Charles N. Brown and John M. Ford.
We miss you both.
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There can be only One True Religion.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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While recovering a missing top secret dossier that his boss is accused of stealing, British super spy Bob Howard must safely navigate Russian agents, ancient demons, and an undead entity called the Eater of Souls.

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