Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross

The Fuller Memorandum (A Laundry Files Novel)
The name is Howard...Bob Howard. The United Kingdom's secret agent in Stross' latest novel doesn't even pack a pistol, much less have a license to kill. He's married, and likes to lay in on Saturday mornings enjoying a leisurely breakfast. He works for The Laundry, a super-secret agency responsible for tracking and combating paranormal manifestations before they get out of hand. Most  of the time he's just a paper-pusher, but every once in a while he gets up to a bit of mischief, as he does in The Fuller Memorandum.

Stross is just so deliciously snarky in this book! Towards the end, as things get intense and our hero finds himself in the clutches of some really nasty cultists, the sarcastic wit disappears, but it's pretty tough to keep a sneering upper lip when they're carving sushi from your body.

One of the best examples of Stross' British humor comes when Bob goes to replace his smartphone.
"About the only smartphone that doesn't stink like goose shit is the JesusPhone. But I've steadfastly refused to join the cult of Jobs....The JesusPhone, I swear it is smiling at me: Come to me, come to me and be saved...That's at least a class five glamour."
"Mo (Bob's wife) rolls her eyes. 'Bob loses saving throw vs. shiny with a penalty of -5. Bob takes 2d8 damage to the credit card.'"

This isn't exactly urban fantasy, but something similar. Stross borrows heavily from Lovecraft's mythology, as well as other dark tales. It appears that we humans are living in a universe far stranger than we think, and the beings that inhabit that universe are either indifferent to us, or find our souls to be tasty snacks. The end of the world is nearer than we think, as the combined thoughtwaves of humans on the planet is rapidly approaching critical mass, and are about to draw the attention of very bad things.

People who know about the coming apocalypse either are working for The Laundry or one of its foreign counterparts to try to delay the inevitable, or they have decided to throw in their lot with the elder gods and demons, to try to negotiate a favored position when the time comes. Bob runs afoul of one such group, and has the devil's own time getting free.

You really should read this one, and the previous books in the series, The Atrocity Archive and The Jennifer Morgue.

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