Charlie's Diary

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Fri, 30 Jan 2004

Bruce Schneier on Big Brother

Bruce Schneier is not an amateur paranoid -- he's a professional cryptographer and CTO of a major security company. Rather than barking at shadows he tends to restrict his writings on the subject to what he knows about. So when he writes an article like this one it's time to sit up and take notice.

Last week the Supreme Court let stand the Justice Department's right to secretly arrest noncitizen residents.

Combined with the government's power to designate foreign prisoners of war as "enemy combatants" in order to ignore international treaties regulating their incarceration, and their power to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens without charge or access to an attorney, the United States is looking more and more like a police state.


... the Department of Justice, fueled by a strong police mentality inside the administration, is directing our nation's political changes in response to Sept. 11. And it's making trade-offs from its own subjective perspective--trade-offs that benefit it even if they are to the detriment of others.

From the point of view of the Justice Department, judicial oversight is unnecessary and unwarranted; doing away with it is a better trade-off. They think collecting information on everyone is a good idea because they are less concerned with the loss of privacy and liberty. Expensive surveillance and data-mining systems are a good trade-off for them because more budget means even more power. And from their perspective, secrecy is better than openness; if the police are absolutely trustworthy, then there's nothing to be gained from a public process.

When you put the police in charge of security, the trade-offs they make result in measures that resemble a police state.

Seriously, I'm not sure which I find more frightening: the fears expressed in the article, or the identity of the author expressing them. Bruce Schneier is not a wide-eyed paranoid or a political radical of any type, but one of the world's leading experts on security. What he's articulating here meshes neatly with my own fears about organizational dynamics giving rise to policies which are not in the interests of their own members, never mind those of the public at large. Nobody has ever seen a real computer-assisted police state before. If the prospect doesn't scare you shitless, you haven't thought about it hard enough.

[Link] [Discuss singularity]

posted at: 14:03 | path: /sing | permanent link to this entry

Thu, 29 Jan 2004

Panopticon Singularities: some feedback

Paul Hughes has posted a piece giving his reasons for believing a panopticon singularity is impossible. (I disagree with some of his reasoning -- and I'll try to find the energy to explain why later -- but I hope he's right.) My main objection is that we're already seeing a trend towards automated law enforcement -- I defy anyone to look at this case and conclude that a human being actually looked at the court summons before it was issued. Secondly, law enforcement and the penal system is a profit centre -- there's money to be made in locking people up, for construction, security services, and all the various ancilliary industries that have sprung up: see, for example, the WikiPedia entry for Wackenhut Corporation. As corporate political lobbying becomes ever-more influential in securing the election of politicians, and as profits can be made in this sector, I can see the formation of a very strong business lobby who seek to profit through deploying ubiquitous law enforcement tools piecemeal, without any of their employees being in a position to stand up and say "hey, wait a moment!" But then, as Jason Kottke noted recently, corporations are psychotic (if you evaluate their social behaviour using the DSM IV psychiatric diagnostic criteria).

It bears repeating that superorganisms composed of humans working together can exhibit bizarre behavioural patterns that are pathologically at odds with the individual best interests of their members: and that members of such organisations may be reluctant or unable to speak out against such behaviour. The consequences of dissent range from loss of employment privileges (in a western corporation) all the way up to torture and death (in a political party within a dictatorship, such as the former Iraqi Ba'ath Party). Thus, legal/penal policy is not set by individual human beings, but by a legislative superorganism which may have profoundly inhumane goals and organisational motivations. (For an existence proof of this reluctance to speak out against irrational or painful behaviour that's closer to home, consider cannabis and the willingness of politicians -- who in some cases have publicly admitted using and liking the stuff -- to advocate full legalisation.)

Meanwhile, the idea got noticed by MetaFilter, and among the peanut gallery there are some useful comments. Yes, Moore's Law is not a law of nature, it's just a temporary scaling effect: and yes, RFID chips are vulnerable to static. (So were early digital watches and pocket calculators -- this goes with the territory when evaluating IC based applications in their early phases.) These two objections do not, in and of themselves, invalidate the whole argument. Yes, there is an arms race between new surveillance technologies and technologies for evasion. But every iteration of this cycle raises the barrier to entry, making it harder for outsiders to get into the game. For example: if you're worried about drive-by RFID probing and teraherz radar, sure you can turn your apartment into a Faraday cage lined with lead. However, firstly this is not cost-free, secondly you need to learn enough about these technologies to do it properly, and thirdly, human nature suggests that most people won't bother -- thus marking out people who do bother as targets who are clearly trying to hide something.

I could go on: thanks for the feedback, everybody. As I think I said elsewhere, the essay was written for Whole Earth Review, who prefer brief overviews to academic papers -- they edited the version they were going to publish down to around half the length of this version -- and at some point I need to come back and address all the issues in minute detail. But not today ...

[thesis][antithesis][peanut gallery]

posted at: 13:02 | path: /sing | permanent link to this entry

Tue, 27 Jan 2004

How not to miss deadlines

... part 562: Do not install iLife '04 -- and especially do not install GarageBand -- until you've handed in the manuscript.

[Discuss mp3]

posted at: 22:54 | path: /writing | permanent link to this entry

Update on Dean

Looks like the original information about Dean and TCPA came from rather questionable sources -- the Register is referring to Declan McCullagh, who is not exactly noted for being a Democrat party partisan (clue: that was British understatement at work there). The stench of a political smear job hangs heavy over this story, although it's a worryingly plausible one in view of the historical association between Democrat politicans in the US and the mass media (specifically the RIAA and MPAA -- anyone else remember Senator Hollings' fun little CDBTPA proposal?).

NB: If you're new around here, kindly bear in mind that I am not an American. I don't get to vote in your elections, read your newspapers, or know all about the axes the various pundits are grinding (and whose necks they want to use them on). This was an enquiry for additional corroboration or refutation, not an attempt to disparage your candidate. If I wanted to diss your candidate I'd be comparing him to George W. Bush, a fellow who I feel was accurately characterised -- by Richard Dawkins -- as "an unelected and deeply stupid little oil spiv."

[Discuss politics]

posted at: 22:49 | path: /politics | permanent link to this entry

A definite 21st century moment

I just caught myself performing an incremental backup on one of my computers -- my mobile phone.

What I want to know is, where are my food pills and my jet pack?

[Discuss singularity]

posted at: 13:51 | path: /misc | permanent link to this entry

Singularities considered harmful

The article I wrote for Whole Earth Review is now online on my website. You can find it here: The Panopticon Singularity.

I wrote it in a spirit of contrarianism after seeing who else was on the list of contributors; I'm not a Bill Joy style singularity-phobe, but I do worry that we might be on course for one of these. (Quick, somebody reassure me!)

[Discuss singularity]

posted at: 12:05 | path: /sing | permanent link to this entry

Wrongheaded Dean

I've tried to stay away from talking about the US election process this year, because (a) I don't get to vote in it and (b) my preference should be obvious (anyone except Bush). However I've been watching the Democratic primaries with some interest. A lot of people I like and respect are leaning towards Dean, and indeed if I was an American voter I'd probably be voting for him.


The Register has got the skinny on a Dean policy that is so screamingly at odds with individual freedom that if I was an American voter (I'm going to stop saying that qualifier from here on in, but try to bear it in mind) I'd have to consider it a stinking black mark against him, as bad as taking the wrong position on reproductive rights or the right to keep and bear arms; indeed, it's the internet geek equivalent of coming out and saying "I believe abortion is evil and must be banned" (Democrat candidate) or "guns? civilians don't need guns" (Republican candidate).

... a speech that Dean gave to a conference co-sponsored by Wave Systems in March 2002 entitled "Workshop on States Security: Identity, Authentication, Access Control" reported by Declan McCullagh at CNET today, on the eve of the New Hampshire primary.

In the speech, which you can read on Wave Systems website, Dean describes privacy as an "urban myth" and explains "little has been spent to secure the most vulnerable part of the network - the PC, the laptop, the government and corporate desktop computers - all at the perimeter of the computer network system." Yes, it's the national security angle that TCPA-vendors have been peddling, with the active encouragement of the law enforcement lobby.

The Register points the finger of guilt at campaign manager, Joe Trippi: "Trippi was a stockholder, employee and booster for Wave Systems, the company contracted by Intel to implement TCPA (Trusted Computing Platform Alliance) specifications. Microsoft's implementation of this architecture was unveiled as 'Palladium' two years ago; now it's called NGSCB."

Let's get this straight: TCPA is spy-in-the-box technology. You won't be able to boot an operating system or run an application which isn't cryptographically signed by the vendor. You won't be able to download and use content that isn't cryptographically signed by the copyright holder. It's the copyright fascist's wet dream, an end to open computing. It's one step away from keystroke loggers feeding everything you type or mouse straight to the NSA for analysis. And Dean wants this? I'll go further: if it happened it would be the first major step towards a Panopticon Singularity (about which I'll be posting a lengthy essay on Cyborg Democracy later today).

I really hope there's some mistake, because if not, this policy is going to play with Dean's internet-savvy supporters about the way that coming out in favour of banning all handguns along British lines would play with the NRA. It's shoot-self-in-foot with guided missile time. This is so hostile to the public interest (in the narrow sense of the general public, little guys like me and thee, not the big corporate interests that usually dominate US politics), and the grass-roots internet campaigners who've backed him so far that I've just got to wonder if the DLC have gotten their hands on Karl Rove's orbital mind control lasers. Unbelievable! And I don't mean that in a good way.

[Discuss politics]

posted at: 10:41 | path: /politics | permanent link to this entry

Mon, 26 Jan 2004

In an ungood way

I'm hacked off. So hacked off I haven't written anything today. Never mind yesterday -- waking up after noon with the side-effects of being at a thrash/metal club until 4 in the morning, then going out to a punk gig at 8pm, that's my excuse -- but today is a working-ish day and I haven't done anything. It's the winter blues, I tell you, I've got it bad. So as soon as I finish this blog entry I am going to get down to work ...

In an attempt to escape, I idly checked the price of flights. Turns out a return from Edinburgh to Boston in about two weeks' time comes to £220 per adult, of which £75 is tax -- so it looks like I'm off to Boskone next month. With a side-trip to New York that should help recharge my batteries a bit and get me focussed again (especially as my editors from Ace and Tor will both be at the con).

Hope the bird flu isn't as bad as they're afraid -- being banged up for eight hours in an elderly DC-10 is not a good recipe for avoiding infection. Luckily it seems to mostly be infecting people who work with poultry so far, and not to have made the jump into the general population: if it happens, this one could well deliver what SARS promised, i.e. a metric shitload of misery.

Anyway, back to work. If I hit my quota today, I will end exactly two-thirds of the way through the first draft. That would be good. But I'm irritable and distracted in the way that I sometimes get halfway through a project, which is a bad recipe for continuing. Discipline, discipline ...

Oh yeah, I nearly forgot: last Friday I signed the contract on ACCELERANDO and GLASSHOUSE, which will be my seventh and eighth novels when they appear in print. Eek!

[Discuss writing]

posted at: 19:15 | path: /writing | permanent link to this entry

Sat, 24 Jan 2004

The year of portability?

(This has been a pretty bad week for me -- not quite the grade-A gold-plated kind of shit that goes with, say, being diagnosed with cancer or having a loved one die, but bad enough. Luckily things seem to have come back under control, so I'm free-associating and goofing off and generally distracting myself in an effort to lighten up before I get back to work.)

I've had a long-term obsession with finding the ultimate portable writing gadget. (Cries of "use a pen!" fall on deaf ears, at best warranting the response "do you enjoy copy-typing?") And something tells me that this is the year it becomes possible.

In a nutshell: what I want is a word-processing platform that folds up until it's no larger than a filofax, has a full-sized keyboard and a screen I can read, a text editing environment as good as I'm used to on my desktop, has a decent battery life, and costs no more than half as much as a cheap laptop. Right now, in January 2004, there is No Such Thing: I predict that by January 2005 there will be.

Let's take it from the top. No larger than a filofax: there is a reason people carry those things around. They're information-dense, but they're also small enough to be portable. A filofax will go in a jacket pocket (at a pinch) or in any bag. You can clip it to your belt without too much trouble. Anything bigger, the square-cube law kicks in. Say you've got a widget that approximates to a cube -- like any vaguely brick-shaped item, emphasis on approximate. If you double the length of the edges on a cube you square its surface area but cube its volume, and its weight is proportional to its volume. Quite a small change -- say, increase the length of its edges by 40% -- results in a huge increase in weight -- in this case, tripling it. I'm going to assume that it's intuitively obvious that you don't want the portable writing platform to weigh more than a kilogram; anything heavier and either it's a pain to carry or you need a servant to follow you around with it on a silver platter.

We also have the intersecting issues of decent battery life and a screen I can read with costs no more than ... The screen is the most expensive component of a PDA, and is likely to remain so as long as we're stuck on LCD technology. The screen cost scales as the square of its diagonal size. Moreover, so does its power consumption -- and again, the screen is the most power-hungry component of a PDA -- because it's presumably backlit, and the backlight consumes power in proportion to the surface area to be illuminated. Now, I can read really tiny typefaces, but I like them to be clear; thus, for me, resolution is a higher priority than area. I'm used to writing on a word processor where, as with the typewritten page, I can see textual context above what I'm adding -- I'm a child of the 80's 80x25 green screen text-only display. To do 80x25 with reasonable clarity demands a resolution of at least 320x240 pixels (ancient mono CGA) but preferably more. In practice, the graphical screen crap word processors inflict on us -- toolbars and status bars and menus, oh my -- eat up a third of the screen, to the point where the 320x320 pixels of a Palm Tungsten C are not quite enough. for me. (The 512x160 of the Alphasmart Dana is more than adequate width-wise, but slightly irritating height-wise.)

The ideal would be VGA resolution, 640x480; currently this is available in a PDA if you're willing to import a Sharp Zaurus from Japan, mess with the software, and put up with a two-hour battery life. Currently the best option is a Palm Tungsten T3 (480x320 display) which is, indeed, very clear and sharp; but I suspect a pixel-count war is about to break out in the world of PalmOS and it'd be very rash to buy a T3 at this point in its product life cycle (it's been on the market for almost four months) unless you can find one that's been heavily discounted.

The keyboard issue is, frankly, a done deal. Think Outside announced recently that a bluetooth-enabled version of their XP folding keyboard would be coming out around March. The big problem with earlier versions of this otherwise-wonderful gadget was the edge connector between keyboard and palmtop -- a bluetooth version basically solves the problem completely.

Software is a headache, but the state of the art on PalmOS is moving on. Previously, about the best word processor for the Palm seemed to be WordSmith from Bluenomad, but Documents to Go has been making a lot of headway on features lately, and TextMaker, when it arrives on PalmOS, looks likely to provide full 1995-grade desktop world processing functionality on the newer PalmOS machines that can run it. PalmOS 6 is likely to be a necessity for this sort of application, however (adding in multi-threading and better ARM processor support). My guess is that PalmOS office suites, which were rudimentary accessories in 1999, are going to overtake the desktop state of the art circa 1994 by the end of 2004.

Anyway, I'm guessing that in another two to three months you could pick up a portable office consisting of a discounted Tungsten T3, a bluetooth folding keyboard, and a copy of TextMaker with change from £300. By the end of the year, the PDA specification will have expanded to include a better battery life, a 640x480 resolution screen, and possibly WiFi (currently an extra restricted to the expensive Tungsten C) or telephony features as well as bluetooth. We will, for the first time, have something that you can stick in your pocket and carry round with about the same screen resolution, processor performance, storage capacity, and application quality as a 1995 PC or Mac. Which should tell you why I'm not buying a new PDA in the next few months.

[Discuss writing]

posted at: 15:05 | path: /writing | permanent link to this entry

Wed, 21 Jan 2004

State of the Union Redux

CNN gives us the full story:

Wild Chimp? Or President?

(By way of Avram Grumer, Atrios, and numerous other sources.)

posted at: 14:27 | path: /politics | permanent link to this entry

Mon, 19 Jan 2004

Nothing to see here, move along now ...

Just passed the 50,000 word mark. (Which is worth noting, maybe, because the novel's only meant to be 100,000 words long. So I guess it's the halfway point, except that thematically I should be writing the halfway scene tomorrow or Wednesday. Then it starts to move faster.)

[Discuss writing]

posted at: 23:34 | path: /writing | permanent link to this entry

Fri, 16 Jan 2004


Got a horrible cold. Meanwhile, it turns out that The Atrocity Archives (which has just been proof-read and is off to the printer) can be pre-ordered from Amazon, as can Iron Sunrise! And remember, if you buy via the links on the right I get a small kickback to offset against the horrible Amazon discount structure.

[ Discuss writing ]

posted at: 22:54 | path: /writing | permanent link to this entry

Colour photographs from 19th century Russia

19th century Russian woman

Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, working in the years just before World War I, developed an ingenious process for creating color image projections -- three black and white photographs were taken (using red, green, and blue filters) and recombined later via a projector. Now, Addison Godel has gotten hold of a bunch of these images from the Library of Congress archives -- and, using Photoshop, has recombined them to provide unique colour photographs of turn-of-19th/20th-century Russia.

[Link] [Discuss history]

posted at: 22:54 | path: /misc | permanent link to this entry

Mars Attacks

(I originally posted this on Cyborg Democracy ...)

Of course, Bush's Mars expedition makes much more sense when you evaluate it as a policy initiative from the US Defense Department -- it's entirely consistent with his diplomatic track record to date:

  • We believe the Martians posess weapons of mass destruction (heat rays, tripod death machines, red weed).
  • The Martians are believed to have repugnant political goals (suck Earthling blood).
  • Okay, all our reports on the subject of Martian policy come via the well-known journalist and foreign correspondent Herbert George Wells, but he's got no motive to lie to us about this, has he? (Besides, we've got a name in common, so he must be on the level.)
  • Despite repeated attempts to contact them the Martian government has refused to return our calls.
  • We have called upon the Martians to disarm, but they have maintained a stubborn, sinister, silence.
  • It is possible that Osama bin Laden is on Mars. (Image enhancement of the background to bin Laden's videotapes rebroadcast via Al Jazeera are suggestive of a boulder-strewn desolate wasteland. We know that Osama bin Laden cannot be found in Afghanistan, and Mars is also a boulder-strewn wasteland, so Osama bin Laden may indeed be on Mars.)
  • The Martian goal is to exterminate and subjugate the free peoples of the world. Osama bin Laden shares this goal. Working together, the Martians may provide Al Qaida with weapons of mass destruction. We have to stop this now, before it's too late!
  • Tony Blair has asked us to allow time for diplomacy to work, but the Martians have stubbornly refused to talk to the British Beagle 2 lander.
  • Nobody in the UN is going to veto our motion calling for the Martians to abandon their policy of supplying weapons of mass destruction to Osama bin Laden, on pain of invasion.

So let's invade Mars before Mars invades us!

[Discuss space]

posted at: 21:38 | path: /misc | permanent link to this entry

Tue, 13 Jan 2004

Fries to go ...

Grabbed from The Guardian without apology:

Staff at a department store in the German city of Kaiserslautern called detectives after an angry customer tried to return a computer stuffed with potatoes to the shop twice on the same day.

The man berated sales assistants in the store, complaining that the computer he had bought only hours before did not work, according to police reports.

The store's staff opened the machine and discovered it was not functioning because its working parts had been replaced with small potatoes. The bemused shop assistants gave the man a new computer free of charge.

But bemusement turned to suspicion when the shopper returned a short while later with another computer - again potato-filled.

Police were called and the man was arrested.

A spokesman said: "The second time he said he didn't need a computer any more and asked for his money back in cash." Roman Zukoan, a computer technician who works in the Nexos computer shop, also in Kaiserslautern, said: "It is hard to imagine how the potatoes could get into a computer's casing.

"When computers leave the factory they are packed in plastic to prevent damage from condensation.

"If they are running for a long time they get hot and in theory it would be possible to cook a potato in a computer, but who would try that?"

Meanwhile, in other news, the King of Swaziland is asking his government to build new royal palaces for each of his wives (all eleven of them), Tokyo and Seoul are heading for the diplomatic deep-freeze in a row over postage stamps, and a Cardinal has gone on record as saying that while abstinence is preferable, he thinks it's acceptable to use a condom to prevent the spread of AIDS -- as long as you're already HIV-positive.

Somebody shoot the script-writer, please.

[Link][Discuss dumb]

posted at: 16:54 | path: /weird | permanent link to this entry

Sat, 10 Jan 2004

Busy, busy ...

Excuse hiatus; the second round of long-range network admin stuff for my family took me out of town for a couple of days, then the washing machine broke down and necessitated a rapid search for a replacement.

Writing continues; more on this later. Meanwhile, some happy-joy reading: the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists publish a paper suggesting that current estimates of the effects of a nuclear attack ignore predictable fire effects, effectively vastly underrating the destructive power of a typical single strategic weapon against most targets. The author, with reference to a single 300Kt airburst, discusses the flash and heat effects of the bomb and concludes "virtually no one in an area of about 40-65 square miles would survive." (So much for duck and cover!) I feel so relieved, knowing that a typical ICBM carries multiple warheads of this size, and that even Pakistan can put together several weapons this large and deliver them by bomber, and that we now live in a multipolar world where the traditional deterrent regime seems to be out of fashion ...

[Link ][Discuss ww3]

posted at: 09:03 | path: /writing | permanent link to this entry

Tue, 06 Jan 2004

Deeply unamusing

Well, I've been ploughing on -- passed 15,000 words of new material yesterday.

In the meantime, I was deeply unamused to notice the US dollar continuing its slide on the world currency markets. Never mind the Euro being at an all-time high; you can now buy 1.8025 dollars with a single pound sterling. That's the weakest the dollar has been in 11 years.

Leaving the macroeconomics aside, the dollar was at 1.50 to the pound for almost the whole of the 1990's. While I've now got a UK publisher, the majority of my sales -- the majority of sales for anyone writing SF in the English language, for that matter -- are to publishers in the United States. Contracts are negotiated and paid in US dollars. If the dollar loses 15% of its value against the pound between a contract being negotiated and the books written, delivered and paid for, then the author loses 15% of his or her pay packet for the next year or two. If the dollar goes back up, this won't necessarily fix things -- if the cheque has already been deposited and converted into sterling at a poor exchange rate, that money has vanished into the haze of might-have-been.

Of course, currency fluctuations don't mean an automatic pay cut for writers. For one thing, currencies that go down may also come back up. For another thing, authors are paid both a lump sum advance (a non-returnable loan) against future earnings, and a royalty (a percentage cut of the earnings from their books, from which the advance is deducted). A book that sells well and earns out the advance will pay a further royalty, a year or two down the line for the time when the contract is signed. And authors usually hope that their next book will sell more copies than the one before. So if the second and third (and subsequent) books sell 15% more than the first, the effect of the exchange rate fluctuation is cancelled out. Of course, I'd rather have the 15% pay rise ...

But the fact remains, if you're a British SF/fantasy writer, then almost by default (if you want to earn a living) you're a one-person export industry aimed at the North American market. Which is why headlines like this one (No end in sight to dollar's descent) do not fill me with joy and goodwill towards all Federal Reserve bankers.

[ Link][Discuss writing]

posted at: 11:36 | path: /writing | permanent link to this entry

Fri, 02 Jan 2004

Today's work

I cheated slightly; yesterday I did a thorough re-org of the directory tree I stashed the notes and previous two books in, to pave the way for starting work today. I went through the previous 39,000 word stalled draft and excised the 19,500 clearly salvagable words from it, ready to recycle. And I set up the file templates to use, and mucked around a bit more doing the computery housekeeping. Then I caught myself writing about 250 words -- barely a first page -- just to warm up, and made myself stop.

Today the work stands at 4,600 words, so I guess I'm not exactly blocked on it. Mind you, it took me three hours to write the first thousand words, and about one hour to write the last fifteen hundred. Now if the quality holds up, and the output rate holds up, I might even nail down the first draft before I get to go hang out in a courtroom for a couple of weeks. (Except that would entail averaging 4500 words a day for seventeen consecutive days, and I'm not that mad -- I mean, I've done it before, but I've never planned on doing it before, because after writing at that speed for just two weeks I end up in a state approximating a jellyfish in the Sahara desert at noon. First law of writing: don't screw your health over to meet a deadline, because if you do, you won't meet the next one.)

[Discuss writing]

posted at: 22:47 | path: /writing | permanent link to this entry

That time of year again

It's the time of year when I get the itchy urge to write a novel.

In this case, I've got a deadline, a 7000 word detailed outline, and a sense of urgency (see deadline). I've also got some interesting variations on the writing environment to try out.

The novel in question is titled "The Clan Corporate". It's the third volume in a fantasy series, to be published by Tor in the US (British publication details not yet decided). Book #1, "A Family Trade", is due out in October this year. Book #2, "The Hidden Family", is due probably around summer 2005. This one should appear in winter '05 to spring '06, assuming everything goes according to schedule. Books #1 and #2 were written as one text; my original outline for "The Clan Corporate" was long enough that to fit it into the length Tor decided they wanted I'd have to take three volumes. So I've spent the past couple of months re-thinking everything, and now I'm about ready to get back to work.

The only antidote to the mallaise of a long period of writing is to write about something different. So I'm probably going to vent about the writing process in this blog from time to time over the next few weeks. More later ...

Oh yeah. Once more, with feeling: genre category is a label they pin on your work to make it easier to sell. What matters is what you write.

[ Discuss writing ]

posted at: 13:59 | path: /writing | permanent link to this entry


Is SF About to Go Blind? -- Popular Science article by Greg Mone
Unwirer -- an experiment in weblog mediated collaborative fiction
Inside the MIT Media Lab -- what it's like to spend a a day wandering around the Media Lab
"Nothing like this will be built again" -- inside a nuclear reactor complex

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Missile Gap
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The Jennifer Morgue
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The Clan Corporate
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The Hidden Family
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The Family Trade
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Iron Sunrise
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The Atrocity Archives
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Singularity Sky
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Some webby stuff I'm reading:

Engadget ]
Gizmodo ]
The Memory Hole ]
Boing!Boing! ]
Futurismic ]
Walter Jon Williams ]
Making Light (TNH) ]
Crooked Timber ]
Junius (Chris Bertram) ]
Baghdad Burning (Riverbend) ]
Bruce Sterling ]
Ian McDonald ]
Amygdala (Gary Farber) ]
Cyborg Democracy ]
Body and Soul (Jeanne d'Arc)  ]
Atrios ]
The Sideshow (Avedon Carol) ]
This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow) ]
Jesus's General ]
Mick Farren ]
Early days of a Better Nation (Ken MacLeod) ]
Respectful of Otters (Rivka) ]
Tangent Online ]
Grouse Today ]
Hacktivismo ]
Terra Nova ]
Whatever (John Scalzi) ]
Justine Larbalestier ]
Yankee Fog ]
The Law west of Ealing Broadway ]
Cough the Lot ]
The Yorkshire Ranter ]
Newshog ]
Kung Fu Monkey ]
S1ngularity ]
Pagan Prattle ]
Gwyneth Jones ]
Calpundit ]
Lenin's Tomb ]
Progressive Gold ]
Kathryn Cramer ]
Halfway down the Danube ]
Fistful of Euros ]
Orcinus ]
Shrillblog ]
Steve Gilliard ]
Frankenstein Journal (Chris Lawson) ]
The Panda's Thumb ]
Martin Wisse ]
Kuro5hin ]
Advogato ]
Talking Points Memo ]
The Register ]
Cryptome ]
Juan Cole: Informed comment ]
Global Guerillas (John Robb) ]
Shadow of the Hegemon (Demosthenes) ]
Simon Bisson's Journal ]
Max Sawicky's weblog ]
Guy Kewney's mobile campaign ]
Hitherby Dragons ]
Counterspin Central ]
MetaFilter ]
NTKnow ]
Encyclopaedia Astronautica ]
Fafblog ]
BBC News (Scotland) ]
Pravda ]
Meerkat open wire service ]
Warren Ellis ]
Brad DeLong ]
Hullabaloo (Digby) ]
Jeff Vail ]
The Whiskey Bar (Billmon) ]
Groupthink Central (Yuval Rubinstein) ]
Unmedia (Aziz Poonawalla) ]
Rebecca's Pocket (Rebecca Blood) ]

Older stuff:

June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
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December 2004
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October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
(I screwed the pooch in respect of the blosxom entry datestamps on March 28th, 2002, so everything before then shows up as being from the same time)

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