Hugo Award-winning author Charles Stross continues to make a name for himself in the sci-fi genre. The Jennifer Morgue is an extension of Stross’ award-winning novella The Concrete Jungle.
Bob Howard is a special operative for the British agency called The Laundry, and his task is to stop a rogue billionaire from using an artifact, known as Gravedust, with the power to reanimate the dead. The U.S. Black Agency sends the lethal Ramona Random to aid Bob’s mission, but she seems to have a different agenda.
©2006 Charles Strauss (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC
"[A]lternately chilling and hilarious....It's up to Bob and a collection of British eccentrics even Monty Python would consider odd to stop the bad guy and save the world, while getting receipts for all expenditures or else face the most dreaded menace of all: the Laundry's own auditors. Stross has a marvelous time making eldritch horror appear commonplace in the face of bureaucracy." (Publishers Weekly)
The demon dimensions exist. Scary things from your nightmares are real. And Bob Howard- a computer geek - works for the Laundry. An MI-6/MI-5 type agency with all the bureaucratic ISO nightmares, created to control the demons and other horrible things that no one else believes really exist.
In 1975, the CIA used Howard Hughes's Glomar Explorer in a bungled attempt to raise a sunken Soviet submarine in order to access the Jennifer Morgue, an occult device that allows communication with the dead. Now a ruthless billionaire intends to try again, even if by doing so he awakens the Great Old Ones, who thwarted the earlier expedition. It's up to Bob to stop the bad guy and save the world, while getting receipts for all expenditures or else face the most dreaded menace of all: the Laundry's own auditors.
This third in the Laundry series move Bob along in his life, his relationship with his significant other- Mo, his next ina series of matrix management bosses, his father-son relationship with his true mentor in an entertaining story that makes Bob into the James Bond-like damsel in distress.
The snark factor has gone down as the Laundry series has continued. And we know that while Charles Stross has a problem with religion. What he really, really, really hates is American-style, pro-life, evangelical Christianity. However, you can get past this bias and just enjoy the story.
The reader, Gideon Emery, was perfect for this book, and the material was a fascinating blend of Lovecraftian tropes, computer technical geekery, and the application of over-the-top spycraft.
And damn it if the interpersonal relationships didn't have extraordinarily satisfying arcs! Stross's characters have really begun to feel like real people in the best possible way.
This has me slavering to hear the previous Laundry book, also read by Emery. I hope you've got Emery already producing the Fuller Memorandum, now that I'm on the topic, because if you can't tell, I think Stross, the Laundry books, and Emergy are a winning combo.
Once I got used to the accent it turned out to be a really fun listen. Lots of twists and turns. Wish I had listened to Book 1 first. Have ordered Book 1 to listen to better late than never. The characters are very richly portrayed by the narration. Easy to pick up where you left off and get absorbed in the book each time you start listening.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend to any sci-fi enthusiast.
Charles Stross' dry geek humour makes the book feel like a conversation with my friends.
Bob Howard is the perfect hero - flawed, honest and dealing with all situations in dry humour.
The narrator manages to insert the story directly into the listener's mind without intruding on the narrative.
I almost fell off the treadmill laughing at several points, and chuckled through most of the story.
Lighter on the satire, heavier on the adventure, still a fun ride.
If you read the first book in this series, then honestly this book is probably better written than that one. That said, I liked the first one more. However, in terms of a Did-I-Enjoy-This-Book scale, it remains equal. The Atrocity Archives and The Jennifer Morgue are just two different books. Where the first book was a satire of office culture and adventure mystery novels with a Lovecraftian spin, this one purposely plays a dashing British Spy story straight with the formula, but all the while it taps its nose and winks at you. So yeah, there is still satire here, but it is more of a clever adventure novel that plays with the tried and true stereotypes and cliches.
As for this book more specifically, Bob is back! I was actually afraid each book would have a different character, which would made me sad. But he is back and remains the main character. Also back are Pinky and Brains with a more active role. They are hilarious, Q eat your heart out. New to this book is a drop dead gorgeous mysterious woman and a maniacal bad guy. You'll like them, I promise.
Given the archetype this book is spoofing, you can count on a lot more scenes of poor Bob having to wing it MacGyver style (with tentacles). When he isn't doing this, he is usually being screwed over by whatever heinous and unmentionable events he's been railroaded into. I mean, he is just some poor cubical rat that gets sent out on dangerous missions occasionally.
So while this book has less, or maybe just more subtle, satire and fewer Eldritch horrors, it is a great example of what someone with a creative mind can do with a novel. I recommend it to anyone who liked the first book, and I for one plan on starting the third book before long - maybe tomorrow.
I really need to start proof reading my Reviews before I post them.
I listened to this series out of sequence and I cannot remember the individual story lines now after a few months have passed. But I did love the series.
just because i started writing this review I want to finish it but … i just want to remember if this book was the one of with the killer mermaid and james bond machines or the one with the killer violin or the one where the ice giants carved hitlers face into the moon.
Any ways... buy the book, listen to it, and then go buy all the other Atrocity Archive/Laundry File books there are... cause they are quite awesome.
I enjoy this universe that the Laundry has created. The story moves quickly, is always interesting, and gets me laughing more then I would've expected. If you enjoyed the Artocity Archives this is very much of the same . I will be continuing on in this great series!
I'm the managing editor of the Fantasy Literature blog. Life's too short to read bad books!
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature. Life's too short to read bad books!
The Jennifer Morgue, the second novel in Charles Stross’ LAUNDRY FILES, is a science fiction spy thriller that’s an obvious homage to Ian Fleming and H.P. Lovecraft. Bob has been sent to the Caribbean to try to find out why Ellis Billington, an evil megalomaniac billionaire, is interested in The Jennifer Morgue, a place deep in the ocean which may be an access point into our universe by tentacled eldritch horrors. For this assignment, Bob is paired up with someone from the American agency that deals with this kind of supernatural stuff — a gorgeous woman possessed by a succubus.
As usual, Bob has been insufficiently briefed about his mission, so he’s bewildered most of the time. What is he doing wearing a tuxedo to a casino and ordering vodka martinis (shaken, not stirred)? Why does his nemesis have a fluffy white long-haired cat and insist on giving long-winded monologues every time he captures Bob? Bob doesn’t get to drive an Aston Martin, but his Smartcar swims and has an eject button. Eventually Bob discovers that he’s been hooked by a Hero Trap and he’s destined to play a role he doesn’t feel suited for.
Unpredictable and amusing all the way through, The Jennifer Morgue is a strange blend of genres that manages to work in Charles Stross’ hands. The plot is extremely far-fetched (just like a James Bond story), but that’s part of the fun. There are the usual geek culture references (e.g, Thinkgeek, and the famous 1984 Mac ad), comical office scenes (such as when all the attendees of a meeting are hypnotized by a Powerpoint presentation), and cool technology that seems more like magic (e.g., cosmetics used for surveillance). There are also undead seagulls, minions with mirrored shades and machine guns, and Bond babes. There are several plot twists and a reveal that turns the whole misogynistic James Bond trope on its head (thank you, Mr. Stross!).
At the end, The Jennifer Morgue contains some bonus material. There’s a hilarious short story called “Pimpf” in which Bob has to rescue a new intern from inside a MMORPG. Gamers will love it, I think. Then there’s an essay by Stross about the culture of the James Bond franchise which includes an interview with Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Again, I listened to the excellent audio version produced by Recorded Books and read by the perfectly-cast Gideon Emery. I recommend it.
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