The Fuller Memorandum is the first book to truly intimate an overarching timeline for the burgeoning Laundry series.
Where Atrocity Archives featured occult space Nazis and Jennifer Morgue had advanced deep-dwelling alien civilisations, The Fuller Memorandum has blood-crazed, sacrifice-happy cultists and dead gods on distant arid planets. Stross also takes inspiration from the novels of Anthony Price, replete with secret histories and clandestine operations, with a dash of lethal office politics in the mix.
Stross fleshes out elements of the Laundryverse’s history, with a strong element of exposition-as-archaeological-venture: He peppers the prose with transcripts of historical records: letters, memoranda and classified reports, and lets the reader connect the dots. It’s a narrative technique that feels rewarding and authentic.
Stross takes steps to bootstrap the series from a couple of Lovecraftian spy thrillers written on a lark to a much more extended narrative leading up to an apocalyptic climax: CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN, where the stars align, the boundaries between universes get porous, and the dead gods awaken.
As the stakes heighten, so do the power levels of the characters. As the series progresses, so does Bob’s place in the bureaucratic pecking order, mediated both by his apparent abilities and by increasingly desperate circumstance. It creates a pleasing narrative gradient that impels continued reading, just to see how far Bob will go.
The Fuller Memorandum takes horror to new levels of existential dread, with its bleak, apocalyptic imagery rivalling the terrifying, lunatic visions of Lovecraft. The most striking image, of a sleeping horror in a pyramid on an arid world illuminated by the cold light of distant stars, watched over by still-sentient corpses impaled upon a ring of stakes surrounding the pyramid – Stross is disquietingly good at conjuring up such visions of inhuman, cosmic terror.
I give this book: 4/5 clandestine bomber flights