I like the central premise of Charles Stross’s Laundry stories: eldritch gods are real, computers are breaching the barriers that keep them out, and the job of maintaining that barrier is left to a dysfunctional British bureaucracy known as the Laundry. But if you haven’t read The Atrocity Archives or The Jennifer Morgue, this is not the place to start. Still, if you have read them and you are a fan and The Fuller Memorandum didn’t slake your thirst, you can get a dose of what passes for working in the Laundry offices in “Overtime.”
Aside from a suitably hideous eldritch god and some games with timelike trickery, this story was unspeakably boring, but I will attempt to speak about how boring it is.
My first strike against it is that it’s a Christmas story. A scifi Christmas story. I hate this subgenre so much, I won’t even dignify it by calling science fiction.
My second strike is that it’s largely office humour. Our old pal from the Laundry, Bob Howard, spends most of the text griping about how awful it is to work in an office, how cheap the budget is, how stupid the Christmas party. Hey, at least it’s not a “holiday party.”
My third strike is that it’s so dull, by page 3 of 8 online pages, I was scrolling up to the top to check the URL in the vain hope that I was nearing the end. The entire actual story takes place on the last page. Even then, there’s lines like “Four minutes to midnight”, which had me thinking Four minutes to when I’m outta here. And “So what’s the story?” Good question. Who the eldritch god turns out to be could be construed as a joke, but only if you found anything in the preceding pages funny.
Hogfather this ain’t.