Me again! M Harold Page, but you can call me "Martin" (I use my very fine middle name to differentiate myself from the folk singer and the French YA writer).

I've just published Swords Versus Tanks 1: "Armoured heroes clash across the centuries". It even has a cover quote from Charlie ("Holy ####!").  So now I'm here to shamelessly plug my new book (click through and take a look at the cover... Go on! You know you want to!).

However, you're a sophisticated lot, so call the above "A word from our sponsor" and let me tell you why I think tank stories make great tech myths.

First some examples...

Here's a technological question with philosophical side-effects that's been bugging me for the past few days ...

Today, the commercial exploitation of outer space appears to be a growth area. Barely a week goes by without a satellite launch somewhere on the planet. SpaceX has a gigantic order book and a contract to ferry astronauts to the ISS, probably starting in 2018; United Launch Alliance have a similar manned space taxi under development, and there are multiple competing projects under way to fill low earth orbit with constellations of hundreds of small data relay satellites to bring internet connectivity to the entire planet. For the first time since the 1960s it's beginning to look as if human activity beyond low earth orbit is a distinct possibility within the next decade.

But there's a fly in the ointment.

I've fallen silent because I'm drinking my way around Amsterdam this weekend. Tomorrow (Monday) I'm flying out to Portland, Oregon, for the H. P. Lovecraft film festival and Cthulhucon, where I'm one of the guests of honor. And on Monday evening I aim to be eating and drinking in Deschutes Brewery in Portland from about 7pm in a desperate attempt to stave off jet lag. If you're in town, why not come along and help keep me awake until local evening?

This week's amusing (albeit arguably libellous) allegations may be grounds for mirth, but I'd caution anyone who actually believes the Prime Minister stuck his todger in a porker to first remember the words of the immortal Hunter S. Thompson, from Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72:

This is one of the oldest and most effective tricks in politics. Every hack in the business has used it in times of trouble, and it has even been elevated to the level of political mythology in a story about one of Lyndon Johnson's early campaigns in Texas. The race was close and Johnson was getting worried. Finally he told his campaign manager to start a massive rumor campaign about his opponent's life-long habit of enjoying carnal knowledge of his own barnyard sows.
"Christ, we can't get a way calling him a pig-fucker," the campaign manager protested. "Nobody's going to believe a thing like that."
"I know," Johnson replied. "But let's make the sonofabitch deny it."

I cannot speak to the nature of the bonding rituals of elitist Oxford University drinking societies, but I am fairly sure that Lord Ashcroft, as former treasurer and deputy chair of the Conservative party and being of an age to remember him, has read LBJ's play-book.

What I'm more concerned about is the question of who is supposed to replace Cameron in time to do damage control in the aftermath of the coming fiscal crisis. Theresa May, perhaps?

(This is the preamble to a complex open-ended question, below the fold. Bear with me ...)

Back in 1994-96, during the Big Bang era of rapid expansion as the world wide web expanded into the outline of its future shape, there was considerable discussion of how best to pay for everything. Back in the early days of the internet NSFNet basically forbade commercial use of internet connected systems — this went out the window rapidly once the world wide web caught on as a publishing medium.

There were two contenders for the funding mechanism in the early days: micro-billing (in which you pay pennies, fractional or otherwise, for access to web pages) and advertising (in which the page is nominally free but you pay the bandwidth overheads of downloading someone else's idea of what they want you to see). Advertising won out because in the long-ago era of modem-based downloads micro-billing was expensive; you might only need to exchange a couple of KB of data to fund a transaction, but when many folks were still using modems that topped out at an asthmatic 9600 bits/second, the bandwidth cost was just too high to support microbilling.

So we ended up with banner ads and spam, and then by a hop, skip and a jump today's hideously bloated ecosystem of ad exchanges, trackers, ghost cookies, third-party javascripts that download megabytes of libraries to figure out who you are and who is willing to pay the most for a few seconds in front of your eyeballs ... and so on.

I'm on the move again, from the middle of next week.

On September 24th, I'll be doing an interview, Q&A, and signing at the American Book Center in Amsterdam (the largest English language bookstore in the Netherlands).

This is while en route to Portland, Oregon, where from October 2nd to October 4th I'm guest of honor at the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival and Cthulhucon. I'll post my program items here when they're finalized. In the meantime, you might want to keep an eye on my twitter feed for rapid-fire updates.

Because I get asked this a lot ... the US Audiobook edition of "The Annihilation Score" has finally materialized. (Actually, it dropped a week or so ago but I've been flailing around in the guts of a novel and too busy to mention it.) You can find the Amazon Audible page here;; if you know of different platforms/vendors feel free to add a comment.

No, there is no UK/EU audio edition. Nor are there other new UK audio editions of my books. Here's the (lengthy) explanation of why this is so.

Because Amazon hates your wallet, US customers can now buy an ebook bundle of all six Laundry Files novels. This includes "The Annihilation Score". (Yes, part of the high price is a side-effect of TAS still being priced against the hardcover. It'll get cheaper next June when the paperback comes out ... then shoot right up again a month later when they add "The Nightmare Stacks" to the bundle.) There's no UK bundle option yet, but I'm going to suggest it to the folks at Orbit.

If you're a completist, you may also want to add Three Tales from the Laundry Files — an ebook-only bundle consisting of "Overtime", "Equoid", and "Down on the Farm" (which are not collected in any other volumes so far). (UK customers should go here).

I'm head-down, redrafting a book right now. But in the meantime, I am mulling over a question.

Assume you are a historian in the 30th century, compiling a pop history text about the period 1700-2300AD. What are the five most influential factors in that period of history?

Please note that this is a 600 year span—around the duration of the entire mediaeval period. Events a mere 20 years apart, such as the first and second world wars, merge together when viewed through the wrong end of a temporal telescope, just like the 30 years' war or the Wars of the Roses. Individual people, even hugely influential thinkers and rulers and tyrants, are a jumbled mass of names with dates attached. This is a question about the big issues—the ones big enough to remember half a millennium hence, like the Black Death, the Crusades, or the conquest of the Americas.

I'm not asking for specific historical events but for major trends. Anthropogenic climate change is obviously one of the big ones, and I have a number of others in mind; I want to see if I've missed anything obvious.

(For the sake of argument we assume: no singularity/rapture of the nerds, no breakthroughs that lead to wholesale invalidation of the known laws of physics, and no catastrophic events that render humanity extinct, destroy all archival records, or consign us all to a pre-industrial level of civilization.)

Hi everyone, this is Aliette de Bodard peeking in from Paris. Charlie's been kind enough to let me borrow a spot on his blog while he recovers from jet lag (we both went to Worldcon in Spokane, but I have a big advantage over him: I wasn't in the US long enough and actually never really adapted to the 9-hour time difference, so when I came back I was basically functioning normally. On the minus side, I was a pumpkin in Spokane!). Anyway... *clears throat* Today, I wanted to talk about magic systems and how I built the one in my novel.

Magic systems, for me, are a bit like the air you breathe: I've found out (much to my dismay) that I can't start writing a story without having an idea of where the magic is coming from and who uses it. Magic conditions so much of the fabric of a fantasy universe for me that not working it out in advance feels a little like setting out across a blizzard without skis, warm clothes or a distress flare.

(Charlie here. The season of guest bloggers continues with Aliette de Bodard, an incredibly talented writer, who I unaccountably forgot to introduce at the same time as Fran Wilde.)

Aliette de Bodard lives and works in Paris, where she has a day job as a System Engineer. She studied Computer Science and Applied Mathematics, but moonlights as a writer of speculative fiction. She is the author of the critically acclaimed Obsidian and Blood trilogy of Aztec noir fantasies, as well as numerous short stories, which garnered her two Nebula Awards, a Locus Award and a British Science Fiction Association Award. Recent/forthcoming works include The House of Shattered Wings (August), a novel set in a turn-of-the-century Paris devastated by a magical war, and The Citadel of Weeping Pearls(October), a novella set in the same universe as her Vietnamese space opera On a Red Station Drifting. She lives in Paris with her family, in a flat with more computers than warm bodies, and a set of Lovecraftian tentacled plants intent on taking over the place.

Or: Recent and Upcoming Debuts in Fantasy and Science Fiction... that just happen to be written by women.

Charlie invited me to come by and join in the posts helping those who may not already be in the know to find the wealth of writers who also happen to be female that they can't otherwise find when they are writing those excellent "where are all the women writers of fantasy and science fiction" posts.

I began to make a list of 'next-generation writers' who also happen to be women. (Since we don't write with our gender identities or genitalia, I figured it would be fine to not modify the word "writer," but for the search engines, I'll add it at in the end, so you know, they can find us. When they look.)

The problem seemed to be that there were so many of us who were otherwise hard to find! The entire list would crash the Internet out of pure hard-to-findness! And so Charlie set me a boundary, limiting me to 20, leaving off many excellent writers. I've thus kept this list focused on 2014 and 2015 English-language debut books in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and YA SFF. Many of these authors have new books coming out in 2015 and 2016 as well. I'll let the comments about those I've not put on this very short list stand as a reminder to you that we are NOT, in fact, hard to find.

  • Andrea Phillips - Revision (Fireside Fiction 2015) Science fiction
  • Zen Cho - Spirits Abroad (Fixi Novo, 2014) Linked short stories/Fantasy
  • Silvia Moreno Garcia - Signal to Noise (Solaris 2015), Fantasy/Slipstream
  • Ilana C. Myer - Last Song Before Night (Tor, 2015) Fantasy/Epic
  • Stephanie Feldman - Angel of Losses (Ecco, 2014) Historical Fantasy/Slipstream
  • Genevieve Cogman - The Invisible Library (Tor, UK) Fantasy/Alternate Worlds
  • Beth Cato - The Clockwork Dagger (Harper Voyager, 2014) Steampunk
  • Alyc Helms - The Dragon of Heaven (Angry Robot, 2015) Fantasy
  • Karina Sumner-Smith - Radiant (Talos, 2014) Fantasy
  • Stacey Lee - Under a Painted Sky (Putnam, 2015) Alt-Historical Western, fantasy
  • Sabaa Tahir - An Ember in the Ashes (Razorbill, 2015) YA Fantasy
  • Jacey Bedford - Empire of Dust - (Daw 2014) Fantasy
  • Susan Murray - The Waterborne Blade (Angry Robot 2015) Fantasy
  • Carrie Patel - The Buried Life (Angry Robot, 2015) Fantasy
  • Heather Rose Jones - Daughter of Mystery (Bella, 2014) Romance/Historical Fantasy/Queer
  • Nicola Yoon - Everything, Everything (Delacorte, 2015) YA Science Fiction
  • A.C. Wise - The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again (Lethe 2015) Linked short stories/Sci-fi/Queer
  • Monica Byrne - The Girl in the Road (Crown, 2014) Science Fiction
  • Camille Griep - Letters To Zell (47 North, 2015) Fantasy
  • me - Updraft (Tor, 2015) Fantasy

As I stipulated above, this list is defined purely by time, debut-status, and the number 20.

I'd love to add the writers who debuted in the years before us - including but not in any way limited to: N.K. Jemisin, Ann Leckie, Marjorie Liu, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Jodi Meadows, Genevieve Valentine, Justina Ireland, Jaime Lee Moyer, Stina Lecht, Jacqueline Koyanagi, V.E. Schwab, Mur Lafferty, Nene Ormes, Sarah McCarry, Leah Bobet, Natania Barron, Aliette de Bodard, Emma Newman, Alyx Dellamonica, Jaye Wells, Emily St. Jon Mandel, Kameron Hurley, Charlie Jane Anders...

AND the writers who came before that, including Nnedi Okorafor, Elizabeth Bear, Nisi Shawl, Kate Elliot, Kandace Jane Dorsey, Jo Walton, Martha Wells, Laura Anne Gilman, Amanda Downum, Gwenda Bond, Suzanne Collins, Nalo Hopkinson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Sarah Monette, Naomi Novik, Caitlín R. Keirnan, Rae Carson, Linda Nagata, Catherynne Valente, Kelly Link, J.K. Rowling,...

And those who came before that: Emma Bull, Judith Tarr, Elizabeth Lynn, Jo Clayton, Robin Hobb, Suzy McKee Charnas, Pamela Dean, Ellen Kushner, Brenda Cooper, Tanya Huff, Janet Morris, Robin McKinley, Michele Sagara, Tricia Sullivan, Delia Sherman, Sherwood Smith, Jessica Amanda Salmonson, Karen J. Fowler, Cecelia Holland, Nicola Griffith, CS Friedman ...

And the Grands and Great Grands and so on, like Pat Cadigan, Joan D. Vinge, Margaret Atwood, Kate Willhelm, Jane Yolen, Connie Willis, Andre Norton, Nancy Kress, Ursula K. Le Guin, Octavia Butler, Lois McMaster Bujold, Doris Pischeria, C. L. Moore, Carol Emshwiller, Leigh Brackett, Joanna Russ, James Tiptree Jr., Anne McCaffrey, Diana Wynne Jones, Joan Aiken, C. J. Cherryh, Andre Norton ... all the way to Mary Shelley and beyond. AND everyone here:, here:, and here:

AND the coming wave of 2016: here are just a few - Ada Palmer, Laura Elena Donnelly, Mishell Baker, Malka Older... And the editors. And the critics. And the publishers.

And and and... (honestly, I asked five friends to list their favorites and after fifteen minutes had to beg them to stop because my buffers overflowed.)

Oh my goodness, you would think it hard to find women writing fantasy and science fiction given those blog posts and articles.


Hi ho, Elizabeth Bear here, coming to you with a special report from deep in the wilds of eastern central North America, just underneath the left end of that wobbly looking blue bit that looks kind of like a kersplotchy asterisk. And I'm here at Charlie's Diary today to talk about slate voting for the Hugos, and what some potential developments of its tactical use mean to the individual artist.

I'm still recovering from jet lag. But in a desperate attempt to hang on to your attention—and to continue the discussion on women in SF that kicked off here over the past month—I've invited another guest blogger, first-time novelist Fran Wilde. Her first novel, Updraft, debuts from Tor Books on September 1, 2015. Fran's short stories have appeared at, Asmiov's Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Uncanny Magazine, and Nature. Fran can program digital minions, set gemstones, and tie a sailor's knotboard. She also interviews authors about food in fiction at Cooking the Books, and blogs for GeekMom and SFSignal. You can find Fran at her website, Twitter, and Facebook: and, shortly, here.

Filmmaker and comic author Hugh Hancock here again. Charlie's in mid-flight over the Atlantic at present, so I'm here to entertain you in his stead. And I brought statistics.

How many notable feature films can you think of that came out last year? Really good, solid movies?

Take a moment. Count. Maybe make a list.

How about really good TV shows, or computer games? Again, make a quick list.

I'll explain why we're doing all this list-making in a minute.

I've been considering the state of storytelling media in 2015 for a little while now, and one thing keeps cropping up in my personal media consumption: I'm consuming more media that wasn't released in the last year than ever before.

Indeed, my default reaction to something interesting arriving has become "I'll get around to it in a year or so".

So I started digging to find out why.

I'm still at the worldcon, so too busy to blog regularly; won't be home until the back end of the week.

But for now, if you want to know what the sound and fury over the Hugo awards was all about, you could do worse than read this WIRED article, Who Won Science Fiction's Hugo Awards and why it Matters (which gives a pretty good view of the social media context), and if you're a glutton for punishment File 770 has kept track of everything (warning: over a million words of reportage on the whole debacle).

Also, props to George R. R. Martin for talking sense, keeping a level head while everyone was running around shrieking with their hair or beard (sometimes both) on fire), and for salving the burn of injustice with the Alfie awards at his memorable after-party.

I've been seeing a lot of disbelief and anger among the puppies (and gamergaters—there seems to be about a 90% overlap) on twitter in the past 12 hours. They didn't seem to realize that "No Award" was always an option on the Hugos. They packed the shortlists with their candidates but didn't understand that the actual voters (a much larger cohort than the folks who nominate works earlier in the year) are free to say "all of these things suck: we're not having any of it". By analogy, imagine if members of the Tea Party packed the US republican party primary with their candidates, forcing a choice between Tea Party candidate A and Tea Party candidate B on the Republican party, so that the Republicans run a Tea Party candidate for president. Pretty neat, huh? Until, that is, the broader electorate go into the voting booth and say "no way!"

They packed the primary. The voters expressed their opinion. The problem is, the Hugos aren't an election, they're a beauty pageant. And my heart goes out to those folks who found themselves named on a puppy slate and withdrew from the nomination (such as Annie Bellet and Marko Kloos), those who were on a slate but didn't know what was going on and so lost to "no award", and to those folks who would have been on the Hugo shortlist this year if not for a bunch of dipshits who decided that only people they approved of should be allowed to compete in the beauty pageant.




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