Wednesday (ok, Thursday) Review - The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross

Thursday Sep 09 2010
by Jack

Among the most interesting reads in our store are those that marry seemingly contradictory (or at least unlikely) genres and make them work.  An outstanding example is provided by Charles Stross, the science fiction guru, who has now written three books that successfully combine spy fiction and fantasy-horror, wrapping the two in a blanket of very amusing satire.  The latest version is entitled  THE FULLER MEMORANDUM.  The protagonists are Bob Howard and his wife Mo McGuire, who work for a highly secret British agency affectionately known as “the Laundry,” which specializes keeping track of and the lid on all the myriad paranormal activity going on in the world.  Bob is a computer geek – no other term will do – who has found his métier in the constant battle against creeping evil of various persuasions.  The agency for which he works, like most such agencies around the world, suffers from a surfeit of stultifying committee meetings and an excess of bureaucracy.  It loves to count the paperclips and punish those who have used too many.   Bob has to fight – on the one hand -- Russian agents, ancient demons, zombies, and other supernatural forces, including something called “the Eater of Souls”, while at the same time navigating the intricacies of a hide-bound British civil service organization and the perils of the modern London transportation system.  Stross constantly makes reference to more legitimate and serious work; this book features a Russian spy named Nicholas Panin (lifted from the Anthony Price espionage series) and a British spy named Arthur Ransome (the real-life secret agent who later created “Swallows and Amazons”).  The result is a very clever romp through the fantasy world of horror and the real world of civil service constipation.  Not to be missed. 

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