The Fuller Memorandum by Charles Stross

One of those books I tried several times to read, failed to get into, and finally just plowed through.

I’m glad I did. Stross has created a fantastic updating of the Lovecraftian mythos, blending it with computer science, government bureaucracy, spy thrillers, and comedy (yes, all four).

The result doesn’t have the creepiness or the horror of the source material anymore, but is much more entertaining.

(Incidentally, this is the third novel in the series. Yes, I started with the third one. No, I didn’t feel lost, but I did feel silly for not starting at the beginning.)

Three things I learned about writing:

  • You can still get tension from a narrative told as a memoir. When your characters can go insane or become disembodied spirits, terrible things can happen to them but still leave them able to narrate.
  • Writing what you know can give you interesting twists on old material. Stross was a programmer for a while, and that kind of thinking is what makes his take on Lovecraft’s old gods feel new.
  • Even in a first-person story, you can still show non-POV character scenes by cheating a little, and having the narrator imagine how they would have gone.