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Antiview

I'm bored with email interviews.

As I've sold more books, and attracted more attention, more and more magazines, blogs, websites, and who-knows-what have decided they want to interview me.

The first time you get a laundry list of questions via email, it's great — someone wants to know all this stuff about you! But by the time you've been getting them regularly for a few years, and by the time you're averaging two interviews a month, it's all a bit too much. For obvious reasons, most interviewers always ask certain questions ("where do you get your ideas from?" "Do you believe in the singularity?"). Worse, they always ask about stuff that's either been in print for some time, or that's just been published — which means, stuff I finished writing at least a year ago, and which I probably started thinking about a year or more before that. And finally, there's the problem that answering an email interview with original explanations isn't just chewing over the same old same old — it's extremely time-consuming; a properly conducted interview can easily run to somewhere in the 3000-4000 word range.

Over the course of a year, that means I spend as much time typing the answers to interview questions as I would take writing a whole extra novella.

(You think that's bad? I could go on; the business side of being a full-time novelist is so time-consuming that I could easily spend 25 hours a week working as a novelist, without actually writing any fiction.)

But that's not what this is about, right now.

Interviews, like I said, bore me. But I've never conducted an antiview. So here's your chance to participate:

Ask me questions (click the "Comments" link below). One question per caller, please, unless I hand you a cookie (good for one more question). (Update: Please make 'em reasonably factual — don't ask me about imaginary events.) I'll endeavor to answer as many questions as I can, although I reserve the right to pick and choose. And, more importantly, every answer will be a lie. How close to the truth the lie falls is, again, a matter for my whim; I might offer you something that's almost true, if I feel like it. But otherwise? Lies, all lies! Let the lies begin!

UPDATE: The antiview is now over. You may talk among yourselves.

196 Comments

1:

Tell us about the time you swam the English Channel while engaged in a fight with Neal and Neil.

2:

How much of you is in your main characters of your books?

3:

Sean, that never happened! There were no witnesses and you can't prove it, so it didn't happen. Notwithstanding the slanderous rumors about Cory organizing a Mechanical Turk to look for us in the Earth resources satellite footage of the North Sea, after the tidal wave swamped our coracles. He didn't rescue us all in his balloon, either (blogging all the time, while wearing a red cape). These are entirely baseless rumours; I'm perfectly capable of rescuing myself from any unfeasibly dangerous situation, and I'd never pick a fight with Neal Stephenson.

(Additional note: please post factual questions if you want me to lie. Otherwise, I may taunt you with a truthful answer. Okay?)

4:

Please tell us about that one time where you defended yourself against rabid militant lemurs with nothing but hard-shelled tacos...

5:

Sebastian: How much of you is in your main characters of your books?

They're all me. And the minor characters, too. Having multiple personality disorder is really useful if you're a novelist!

Steve: Please tell us about that one time where you defended yourself against rabid militant lemurs with nothing but hard-shelled tacos...

That's not a truthful question. Do you want me to lie to you? Have a cookie and try again.

6:

Do you like jelly?

7:

What happened to your eye?

8:

Graham: Do you like jelly?

Pickled jellyfish is my favourite thing! Pickled in brine, pickled in acacia honey and crystalized -- I loves 'em! Vitreous, not so much: I'm only a middling pickled eyeball fan.

Alison: I had it replaced with a leftover prototype from the Terminator T-1000 program. I can see through the back of my own head, in the near infrared, but everything I look at seems to be overlaid with this annoyingly fuzzy green-glowing 6502 assembly code listing.

9:

Ooops! My bad. Thanks for the cookie.

Let's see... How about:

What percentage of your average day would you say is dedicated to professional writing endeavours?

10:

Are you telling the truth?

11:

Have you stopped beating your wife?

12:

What are your plans for a future career in politics?

13:

Do you believe in the Pudding Singularity?

14:

Do you, for one, welcome our new feline overlords?

15:

Steve: What percentage of your average day would you say is dedicated to professional writing endeavours?

None at all. The truth is, eight years ago a hunchbacked man with a strong Swedish accent offered to sell me the soul of Roger Zelazny in a wax-sealed jar.

I turned him down, of course — then followed him back to his Salvation Army hostel, broke in through the air conditioning ducts, and stole it.

He'd been lying; it wasn't the soul of Roger Zelazny at all, it was Philip K. Dick's twin sister Jane Charlotte Dick, who had been destined at birth to receive a half share of the mojo that went to her brother.

Being a nasty piece of work, I built a fiendish machine which allowed me to decant Baby Jane's soul into a tame macaque called Geoffrey, and installed a word processor in his cage. At night the tormented shrieks as he is possessed by his demon muse can be heard from as far away as Fleshmarket Close ... keeping Environmental Health from investigating is getting to be a real headache.

Anyway, to answer your question: I don't spend any time at all writing. That's Geoffrey's job. My mob is to clean the cage and keep the bananas flowing. Satisfied?

16:

How many innocent souls must perish to get a novel published?

Where does one find a good supply of innocent souls?

17:

do you still have the Ecco Receptor shoes?

18:

With which living SF author do you never want to co-write a novella?

19:

Not Graham @10, Greg @11: have a cookie.

Max Kaehn: What are your plans for a future career in politics?

That depends on how long it takes my tailor to get the grey Nehru suit finished. And how long it takes Labour and the Conservatives to finish imploding into one another. Then, and only then, I shall reveal myself, my orbital death ray, and my legion of brain-wormed minions, and declare that there is, indeed, an unacceptable alternative to Gordon Brown and Whatever-his-name-in-the-top-hat is called. MWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

cirby @13: Do you believe in the pudding singularity?

Immanetizing the Spotted Dick Eschaton is my sole purpose in entering politics. (Don't you think that's a fitting ambition for an Evil Overlaird?)

roy @14: Do you, for one, welcome our new feline overlords?

Frigg says I'm to answer that question in the affirmative, Or Else.

Greg @15: Sixteen souls plus or minus two, that's all it takes. I gather you can buy them wholesale from the Republican party's lower-to-middle echelons.

20:

Crappy editors: threat? or menace?

21:

Are you bloody well /ever/ going to let us off the cliffhanger you left at the end of Iron Sunrise?

22:

Do your political views influence your stories?

23:

Michael @17: do you still have the Ecco Receptor shoes?

No, I never bought them in the first place, as you well know. Crappy rubbish, those shoes: these days I wear nothing but 8" platform soled boots by New Rock, with dry ice dispensers in the heels so that everywhere I walk I am surrounded by ankle-high fog.

Til @18: With which living SF author do you never want to co-write a novella?

Isaac Asimov.

Trey: Crappy editors: threat? or menace?

I avoid Vi like the plague. Emacs, however, is quite workable.

24:

What happened to your hair?

25:

What is the earliest book you can actually remember reading and why do you remember it?

26:

Ted @21: Saturn's Children, which comes out at the end of this month, is a thematic sequel to Iron Sunrise and provides a satisfactory ending to the Eschaton novels. Unfortunately it's not the ending you're looking for.

Sean @22: Of course my political views influence my fiction; how could it be otherwise? The aforementioned Saturn's Children explores my alarm and worry about the threat of the impending arabization of Eurabia, and it should be obvious from The Atrocity Archives that I consider the Ahnenerbe SS to have been unfairly done by in history -- these people were truly unique and the sooner we all remember it and start saluting the master race and join the joyous march towards a radiant future the better! (Sieg -- mein Fuhrer, I can walk!)

Duncan @24: What happened to your hair?

During an experiment involving the use of deuterium oxide as a conditioner the follicles all got heavy, so now my hair all hangs from the underside of my jaw.

I was annoyed at first, but it turns out I can club chavs into unconsciousness by belting them with a sideswipe from my beard.

27:

META: Folks, it's getting late here and I need to grab some dinner then catch some sleep.

I won't be answering any more questions until tomorrow morning. (Truth.)

I'm about to disable further comments on this thread until I get back to the keyboard tomorrow morning ...

Sleep tight, and see you tomorrow!

28:

What is the syllogism of a jelly eater who practices the black art of green-glowing 6502 assembly code?

29:

Mostly Graham: have another cookie.

30:

I've been on a Stross Bender for the last couple weeks. You're my favorite SF author of all time. BUT! Every work of yours that I've read has been pirated. Does that bother you?

Also: I propose and intraview. Ask yourself all those questions you've always wanted to ask yourself!

31:

What are your feelings about Margret Thatcher at this time?

32:

Which soul eating monster from other planes (or from an HP lovecraft story) do you most identify with?

33:

What would be your view of gender in a post-singularity world?

34:

What are your feelings on the burning issue of Yorkshire independence?

35:

Like @30: Every work of yours that I've read has been pirated. Does that bother you?

Of course it bothers me! In my extramural capacity as the anti-Doctorow I rant and fulminate against the pirates and send my minions to lobby the government to ban those annoying piracy-enabling computery machines. Saving the world from piracy is, in my opinion, the most important task currently facing our armed forces. Those durned pirates!

(Stepping out of liar mode for a moment: strip the internet out of all the piracy rhetoric. Back in the old days, we used to have a technical term for folks who bought a single copy of a book and lent it to all their friends to read, for free: we called them "librarians".)

Guthrie @32: have a cookie.

Cicada @33: What would be your view of gender in a post-singularity world?

I'd probably have three of them. What have you got against hermaphrodites, young monosexual?

36:

Have you ever used a fountain pen to write a novel, and, if so, what sort of ink did you use?

37:

Have you ever had writer's block?

38:

What's your favorite country in the world? America or the United States?

39:

If you would have to face Scalzi in a fight to the death, what would be your weapon of choice (and why)?

40:

Charlie (via @30): Why would you avoid doing an anti-intraview, where you ask yourself all those questions you've never wanted to ask yourself?

41:

In your opinion, which is the best writing system: fonetical (European-style) or pictorial (Chinese style)?

42:

Is Mo dead?

43:

Given your recent musings on Despotic Dictators, "cults", the price of the Iraq war and Fermi's Paradox, where do you think all the Babylonian and Assyrian Demons have gone?

44:

Cookieless 2nd question (post-scarcity indeed):

Gueuze: Thoughts?

45:

If you were in The Matrix, which building would you jump off?

46:

Can you name 10 famous Belgians?

47:

why did you choose the Athens of the North?

48:

If we go into full on 'Heat' mode:

Which celebrity would you most like to have carnal relations with, and what is the most perverted (and salacious) action that you would like to inform the readers you would perform on said celeb?

What headline should it therefore run with on the cover of the magazine?

49:

Chris @36: Have you ever used a fountain pen to write a novel, and, if so, what sort of ink did you use?

Yes! I actually write all my novels using quills I pluck from my own personal writer's goose (he's called Eric; I keep him in the bathroom) and carve to shape using my rather unique Leatherman Quill, Leatherman Inc's prototype writer's tool. Paper-making is one of my hobbies; I'm currently trying to find the right grade of flax to replicate the weave and feel of the classic 1939 Bank of England £20 note, in my opinion the ultimate paper for writers. (Because, you see, it's all about money.) The ink I make by -- no, you don't want to hear about the ink.

gjm @37: Have you ever had writer's block?

That's a kind of tobacco, isn't it? No, can't say I have.

Liam @38: What's your favorite country in the world? America or the United States?

Actually, I hate the United States. That's why I'm an enthusiastic supporter of George W. Bush!

Laur @39: If you would have to face Scalzi in a fight to the death, what would be your weapon of choice (and why)?

Have a cookie. (I can't answer that question with a straight face.)

Wrong copy @40, Tetris @41, JDC @42, Levi @43, Adam @45: Have a cookie.

Luke @44: Gueuze: Thoughts?

It's funny you should mention gueuze; I live in quite an elderly apartment, and as I'm on the top floor, right under the roof space, I thought I'd do an experiment. So last time I ran a mash, instead of adding yeast I just opened the attic hatch. After the coughing subsided I was able to re-enter the kitchen and seal it up again, then I left the fermentation vessel alone for a couple of weeks.

I'm quite worried now. I'm sure it's not supposed to smell of acetone and bubble, much less tap at the glass from the other side.

Neil @46: Can you name 10 famous Belgians? Of course! Tintin, the Smurfs, Hercule Poirot, Doctor Evil (my role model) -- want me to go on?

50:

Maggie @47: I didn't choose Edinburgh, Edinburgh chose me.

You see, there's a buried subterranean city under Arthur's Seat. They built it during the 14th century as a refuge from English raiders, and most folks have forgotten about it -- it used to link via an underground railway running from Mary King's Close, but no more.

Anyway, over the years its natives have grown skinny, pale, and etiolated; they wear strange caps to protect their heads from the rocky ceilings, and they're incapable of functioning in the heat of actual above-ground daylight without lots of isotonic fluids, which they sip from cannisters cunningly labeled "Tennants".

They've been selectively breeding for Brains for six hundred years, in the hope that this would enable them to figure out a way around the perfidious English. And when they discovered the internet, they went on a fishing expedition.

That's why I ended up in Edinburgh; the secret underground civilization that spawned the Scottish Enlightenment wanted my sperm.

Ian @48: have a cookie. (Truthfully: I don't know enough contemporary celebrities, and those I can identify by name mostly turn me on about as much as Margaret Thatcher. Ahem.)


51:

plans for the weekend (aside from world domination)?

52:

Where in the world is Osama bin Laden?

53:

Well, a "serious" question came to me so I might as well post it just to see what kind of answer it gets:

What are your thoughts on Web-based, community-oriented publishing, both in terms of novels and literary work, and other types of content?

Specifically, are web-based, independently financed, community-supported professional authors a possiblity in the future, or is a world without big publishing companies and contracts and copyrights a thing of science fiction? Will new technology (eg. e-paper) cause more progress in this direction? Did you learn anything from putting Accelerando online for free? (I bought the paperback after reading it online, myself.)

You have mentioned before that publishers (editors, specifically, I think) do a lot of work that would otherwise get in a writer's way and prevent them from writing; would a community-based business model be able to supply and manage this labor? Could fans themselves be recruited to edit and distribute novels for online consumption?

Hmm. This question turned out kind of verbose and boring. If you don't like it, I can try again, if you give me a cookie.

54:

Where do you get your ideas?

55:

accelerationista @51: plans for the weekend (aside from world domination)?

I think I'll go for a long walk and take things easy. Maybe do a football match if Hibs are playing Rangers in town.

Johan @52: Where in the world is Osama bin Laden?

Where he's been since 1999; holed up in the main guest bedroom on George W. Bush's ranch at Crawford, Texas, helping plan his campaign with Karl Rove.

56:

Are you gay/bi?

57:

What, exactly, is your problem with George W Bush?

58:

Is it nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?

59:

The world is coming to an end. According to your calculations, there's a Pacific island which will remain mainly unaffected, but you have to leave RIGHT NOW. What are the five most likely items you will grab on the way out? They should be stuff you already own - you don't have time for shopping.

60:

Gaygeek @56, Peter Darby @57, Owen @58: have a cookie.

61:

What's your favorite comic?

62:

What do you do to escape the complications and stresses of modern life?

63:

OK; then. If a train leaves Chicago at 5:11 AM going west at 56 miles per hour on the same track as a train departing Los Angeles 37 miutes later going 61 miles per hour with a crow flying back and forth at 5 miles between each train, how long before PETA files a complaint of murderous bird toture?

64:

I hear there are some good Kendo Dojos in Scotland, due maybe to the Highlander films, as this sword art is good for those of larger proportions would you consider taking it up as an out of house hobby?

65:

Greetings in the Cavalry name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why have you not urgently replied concerning the sum of TWENTY MILLION PONDS STIRLING I have emailed to your goodself only yesterday?

66:

Owen @61: What's your favorite comic?

I love everything by Marvell and DC with an indiscriminating passion.

Alex @62: What do you do to escape the complications and stresses of modern life?

I like to dig over my vegetable garden and sink my hands up to the wrists in my compost heap (the better to fondle the slippery and decomposing bones of my enemies buried therein).

And I collect wind-up clocks. Nothing is as soothing as the endless tick-tick-ticking of a clock.

Gaygeek @63: OK; then. If a train leaves Chicago at 5:11 AM going west at 56 miles per hour on the same track as a train departing Los Angeles 37 miutes later going 61 miles per hour with a crow flying back and forth at 5 miles between each train, how long before PETA files a complaint of murderous bird toture?

Surely PETA only files a complaint about bird torture when the Lorenz contraction of the avian carrier passes 0.5? If the bird flies much faster it'll be so energetic that from a static rest frame it may appear to undergo spontaneous pair production. (It has been speculated that this is actually the reproduction method of photino birds, but personally I think it's a rather Procrustean solution ...)

67:

Velocity @64: I hear there are some good Kendo Dojos in Scotland, due maybe to the Highlander films, as this sword art is good for those of larger proportions would you consider taking it up as an out of house hobby?

In my view the pen is mightier than the sword (especially when fired out of the barrel of a shotgun). Nor am I in need of an out of house hobby.

miss julie kdogo chairman of bank of lagoss @65: I'm not sure I received your £20,000,000. Can you resend it, please? Preferably by Western Union?

68:

Would you ever write a comic? Or have you already been writing The Broons under a pen name all these years?

69:

fergs @68: Would you ever write a comic? Or have you already been writing The Broons under a pen name all these years?

It sounds to me as if you might actually want a serious answer to that question, so I'm going to take the extraordinary measure of actually not lying:

Two years ago I was in discussions with Marvell comics about taking over Iron Man.

(No, I'm not kidding.)

However. I am not really a big fan of the two major US comics universes. And I'm not current with them. Nor have I ever done any scriptwriting. After I asked for a minimal care package -- the minimum stuff I need to be familiar with to do Iron Man -- and they sent me a stack approximately eight inches deep, I considered my options -- which included multi-book contracts with Ace and Tor -- and came to the conclusion that life was simply too short to fritter away doing work for hire on someone else's creation (and it's a creation I lack sympathy with -- Tony Stark is not my idea of a hero I can relate to). I might have reached a different conclusion if they'd offered me a different property, or been willing to talk about creater-owned characters, but that's another matter.

(Serious non-lies over.)

So I settled for The Broons instead!

70:

So over the years I've talked about you, talked to you (well e-talk) and bought your books.

I've stalked you out at stores, found your home address and camped outside your darling flat waving a banner professing my feelings. I fought off Cats, other halves and the terribly probings from tentacles (one assumes attached to the things that shall not be named) all just to the effect of getting my stalker rating up high.

I've even had t-shirts made.

So all I want to know - after all this time, and I feel I deserve a straight up answer, is

If you could have an open choice of series to be converted to film/TV Mini - which one would it be?

71:

Where would I have to go to be able to pay you and your Scottish SF/geek writer friends a lot of pints and whisky (plan : getting you shit-faced and steal all your ideas), so I can tell you all how much I like (most of) your work, and for some kind of reason made me love Scotland and its weather?

PS : needs to have good beer (and whisky) though and would be able to look myself in the mirror ever again if I'd have to get you all drunk on the wrong stuff....

72:

serraphin @70: have a cookie.

Murumbi @71: Where would I have to go to be able to pay you and your Scottish SF/geek writer friends a lot of pints and whisky?

Tokyo. Or alternatively? The front bar leading to The Worst Toilet in Scotland, as featured in Trainspotting.

73:

At what age did you become aware that death was personally relevant, unfair and should be abolished or circumvented?

And, how is it going?

74:

META: I have anwered a fair few questions today, and I have work to do. So do not be surprised if your questions go unanswered for a while. For the best chance of being answered, wait until after the next comment tagged with META (to indicate I'm back from my break).

75:

Who writes all those "Charles Stross" books? And aren't you annoyed about the unauthorised use of your name?

76:

Can I have a cookie?

77:

Can I have a cookie?

78:

Have you seen the fnords?

79:

Well, it looks like I'll miss this until next week then. I'm off to visit in-laws, and while internet connectivity isn't an issue, interaction with them is, so no computer.

Looking forward to more antiview.

80:

Many writers today are able to keep producing books after they die, do you intend to be one of them? If not, have you an outline or any ideas yet for your last book?

81:

How do you feel about Cthulhu being the 'Intelligent Designer'?

82:

What do you think about the future of science fiction story telling being within video games?

83:

What's the best part of a Sci Fi con?
The socialising? The Marketing? The panels? The Ale?

84:

Does antimatter fall up or down?

85:

Have any of your multiple personalities ever developed multiple personality disorder?

86:

META: (just kidding)

Charles, after you turned down the offer of your publisher to sell digital books such that each official digital copy would cost 1 Euro, paying you 75ct and the publisher 25ct, what do you think would be a good punishment should he repeat it?

87:

As we know, all authors get their plots etc from M&S - but, do you keep the receipt?

88:

How has your background in computer science and pharmacy influenced you as a writer?

89:

Which fictional setting penned by a favorite author of yours would you prefer not to live in?

90:

Judging from the science-fiction of yesteryear, computer technology and its implications seems to have taken everyone by surprise; it's hard to read things even up to the 70's without finding jarring instances of Missing The Now-Obvious.

How long before something similar happens to modern sf? And, for bonus kittens, what's it going to be?

/ I've always thought actual alien-contact would destroy the sf industry

91:

Does the 'Family Trade' series get any less credible in the forthcoming books, as it drifts from being a good Zelazny pastiche to a less than wonderful space opera?

:->

92:

All right, well, it seems everyone is willing to dance around the real question that's on everyone's mind. I know it's a touchy subject, but due to its importance, I think someone must broach the topic. So, Charlie, my question to you is simple:

Velociraptors?

93:

How often do you find you need to rest from writing, and is the blog a rest or an effort to keep?

94:

Charlie;

The wages of Sin are death. What does Virtue pay?

95:

META

Okay, I'm taking questions again. You may now start asking them.

Anyone who posted after the previous META posting? Take a cookie and go to the back of the queue. (Minus one point for poor reading comprehension. Humph.)

96:

If you could be one other writer for the time needed to write a book, which writer and which book.

97:

What is you preferred programming language ?

98:

To what extent does your Laundry novels explore the depths of under-floor cabling, leaky medicine bottles and other horrors of your previous jobs?

99:

Why does your comments field say I may use HTML tags for style, when it would be more polite to say I can use HTML tags for style?

100:

Dave @96, have a cookie.

Malcolm @97: What is you preferred programming language ?

That's easy! I code everything in the choice of all evil geniuses everywhere, Visual CobolScript for Windows 95.

Ingvar @98: To what extent does your Laundry novels explore the depths of under-floor cabling, leaky medicine bottles and other horrors of your previous jobs?

I could tell you, but then I would be required to kill you.

Actually, that answer probably exeeds my authority to disclose. Where did you say you lived again?

Yonmei @99: Why does your comments field say I may use HTML tags for style, when it would be more polite to say I can use HTML tags for style?

Because I'm a rude boy. Next?

101:

(going to the back of the queue)

How has your background in computer science and pharmacy influenced you as a writer?

102:

Vilhelm S: How has your background in computer science and pharmacy influenced you as a writer?

Being a drug-dealing hacker was quite clearly my one true career path; I view this writing lark as just a minor distraction en route to establishing my credentials as Doctor Evil's true successor in the gloating-death-from-above stakes.

But we can't spend all our time selling powerful narcotics to innocent toddlers by day and furtively stealing the identity of senile millionaires and looting their bank accounts by night; sometimes it pays to lie low.

Besides which ... books! Small unit sales, utterly anonymous, paid for in cash. How else would you go about laundering your one meeeelion dollars?

103:

What do missing teaspoons have to do with the seasonal decline in mathematicians?

104:

When you receive the same interview question for the umpteenth time how tempted are you to just cite a reference of the last publication to ask you something that unoriginal?

105:

Is there hope for us?

106:

Given your habit for changing careers, what factors are going to encourage you to change career again (apart from instructions from the cats)?

107:

*munch*

Charles, after you turned down the offer of your publisher to sell digital books such that each official digital copy would cost 1 Euro, paying you 75ct and the publisher 25ct, what do you think would be a good punishment should he repeat it?

108:

wrong copy @103: What do missing teaspoons have to do with the seasonal decline in mathematicians?

I'd have thought it was obvious; the mathematicians and the teaspoons are both being kidnapped or stolen respectively by the Time Police.

They're after the mathematicians because there is a set of not-too-difficult-to-discover theorems that enable the enlightened mind to cut loose and wander in time. Those who can be brainwashed into forgetting all about this stuff can be replaced in the time flow after a period, but some are ... well, it's not pretty. Anyway, they begin their sweeps every March, because it's synchronized with the academic year (a statistically significant number of mathematicians discover time travel after studying Group Theory, so you get a burst of paradoxes just after the end of the first semester, when they're left with time on their hands) and they return the brainwashed mathematicians in time for the next academic year.

I'm not sure what they want with the spoons, but I have heard certain dark speculations about hyperbolic surfaces ...

Luke @105: Is there hope for us?

No, I'm beyond hope. Don't know about you, though.

Kevin @106: Given your habit for changing careers, what factors are going to encourage you to change career again (apart from instructions from the cats)?

I'm just waiting for a no-prior-experience opening, preferably in while-you-wait brain surgery.

109:

tp1024 @107: Charles, after you turned down the offer of your publisher to sell digital books such that each official digital copy would cost 1 Euro, paying you 75ct and the publisher 25ct, what do you think would be a good punishment should he repeat it?

I'd have to release it myself, undercutting him all the way to the bottom by way of one of those dastardly shoot-yerself-in-the-head Creative Commons thingies. Nobody gets to underprice my ebooks but me!

110:

Do you prefer a handlebar mustache or goatee for world-domination facial hair?

111:

What's your interpretation of the double slit experiment?

112:

Shoot, my browser doesn't support cookies. Maybe you could send my last one via email? Anyway, that wasn't my question, my question was:

Velociraptors?

113:

(Shuffles to the back of the queue, cookie in hand.)

If you had to send your favorite villain as a personal emissary into the setting of a favorite author of yours, which villain would you send, to which world, and to what desired effect?

114:

Henry @110: Do you prefer a handlebar mustache or goatee for world-domination facial hair?

For world domination facial hair, the only appropriate look is clean-shaven, top and bottom! Either that, or a toothbrush moustache. Toothbrush moustaches look good on everyone.

Luke @111: What's your interpretation of the double slit experiment?

I'm wavering, but I particle-ularly like it suggests about the experimenter's state of mind the night before.

Greg @112: Velociraptors?

In my experience all Velociraptors want is cheese. (The moldier and harder the better.) It's high in protein and it sits in their gizzards and, well, they just love the stuff.

Never get between a Velociraptor and its roll of Lanark Blue, let me tell you!

115:

Phil @113: Explain to me again how you expect me to lie creatively in answer to that question?

Have another cookie!

116:

Do you have any thoughts or comments on the zombie apocalypse?

117:

JD @116: Do you have any thoughts or comments on the zombie apocalypse?

Don't be silly, everybody knows zombies don't do calypso!

118:

What sort of research helped you write Lovecraftian erotica ("The Jennifer Morgue") and latex bondage fetish fiction ("Lobsters")?

119:

Do you ever find characters taking on a life of their own beyond what you originally intended to write?

120:

What newspapers and other periodicals do you read regularly?

121:

I wouldn't have got a Cookie if I'd been 20 mins later.

What piece of Gonzo tech would you most like to have seen go into full production?

122:

Soon Lee @118: What sort of research helped you write Lovecraftian erotica ("The Jennifer Morgue") and latex bondage fetish fiction ("Lobsters")?

It wasn't latex bondage fetish fiction, it was latex lobster bondage fiction. As you should know, because you read it. (Aha! We have complicity!) Actually, lobsters are big and aggressive, so I didn't research the lobster bondage bits using real lobsters -- I did a 1:2 scale simulation using tiger prawns instead. Note for anyone planning on following my example; crustaceans are kind of sharp.

As for the Lovecraftian erotica involving deep ones, She Who Is To Be Obeyed tells me I'm not to answer that qustion. Have a cookie.

DavidD @119: Do you ever find characters taking on a life of their own beyond what you originally intended to write?

Never: they always do exactly what I tell them to.

NelC @120: What newspapers and other periodicals do you read regularly?

I am a devoted follower of the diplomatic affairs pages of the New York Post, but I also find The Sun and Pravda kind of useful for their incisive and insightful coverage of world news.

123:

cDave @121: What piece of Gonzo tech would you most like to have seen go into full production?

That's easy! Nuclear-powered personal heli-jetcopters with beer fridges and 500 watt stereo systems. We had the technology back in the 1960s -- something nice and compact like the SL-1 would do as a power source, and there's really no reason we couldn't have built a flying car back in the 1960s, if they'd had the guts to do that.

Just think how much fun it would be to go cruising with a six-pack and a loud stereo at night in a nuclear-powered jetcopter! Fun for all the neighbourhood!

124:

If you could enfore one law on this fair and democratic country we ilve in. What would it be?

125:

Serraphin @124: If you could enfore one law on this fair and democratic country we ilve in. What would it be?

That's a hard one. But after some consideration I think it'd be neat to enforce the law of diminishing marginal utility, preferably by implementing a roughly logarithmic income tax; for each increase in income of one order of magnitude above a base rate, the tax rate should rise by 10%. (Keep the current 20% and 40% income tax bands. Then at £100K per year, add a 50% band; at £1M per year, add a 60% band; at £10M a year, add a 70% band, and so on. Want to soak the company of which you are CEO for over £1Bn a year? Fuck off, it's not in the public interest to let you monopolize that much wealth -- it's so much money that one human being can't reasonably use it, other than to clog up investment funds distorting the markets still further, and to generate resentment among the proles. You can damn well get by on £100M a year and change. (If you want to use your company's assets to do good deeds, you can just set up a non-profit like google.org instead.)

NB: I may or may not be lying in this answer; I can't make my mind up.

126:

How do all of your universes fit together, and when will you write the necessary crossover novels to bridge them?

127:

Where did you meet your wife?

128:

Nickm @126: How do all of your universes fit together, and when will you write the necessary crossover novels to bridge them?

That's easy; my dirty little secret is that I'm actually sharecropping Robert Heinlein's universe (specifically the multiverse in "The Number of the Beast"). Coming up next: the crossover novel in which Miriam Beckstein outs the Laundry but escapes their terrible revenge because Manfred Macx blogs it for her from a balloon (while wearing a red cape).

129:

Who will write the Perl script that handle your future e-mail interviews?

130:

Ron @127: Where did you meet your wife?

The truth is probably stranger than fiction, but I'm in liar mode right now, so have another cookie.

131:

Would you agree the Deuchars is the best session beer .... ever!

132:

Which historical guests at your dinner table? Limit of three.

Who would you want to be stuck in a foxhole with?

Xbox 360 or PS3?

133:

If it says �the liar is �IN� then the liar is out, and won�t/can�t answer questions.

How can we know if the liar is lying or telling the truth ��

Or, of course (classically), how would the OTHER person answer this question?

BTW for Luke @ 111 on the Double-Slit � we DON�T understand it, so the Liar should give the standard Copenhagen interpretation as the answer �.


134:

What "make"/"model" of computer do you use?

135:

Do you prefer English Biscuits or American Cookies?

136:

Which other SF writer would you most like to collaborate with on a story, and what kind of story would you want to write (Space Opera, Steampunk, Labcoat Romance, etc.)?

137:

When we are forced into servitude by our robot masters, will you betray the human race or join the resistance?

138:

What's your opinion of the Space Western/Space Opera genre?

139:

(Warning: This is a spoiler)

Having just read my pirated preview copy of "Saturn's Children", do you really think your fans are going to accept an ending in which the Eschaton turns out to be merely a figment of the author's imagination?

140:

Charlie @49: Of course! Tintin, the Smurfs, Hercule Poirot, Doctor Evil (my role model) -- want me to go on?

I'm sure we all have one edition or other of the Smurfipedia to fill the list out to 10.

141:

Do you think a "Mental Health Act (Corporations)" is a good idea?

(Yes I know, I've not got a cookie....)

142:

Keyboard of choice? (love to know the truth, too)

143:

Are you really a ninja, or is Cory Doctorow a DAMN LIAR?

144:

When constructing the lair from which your army of remote-controlled drone minions will march forth, conquering the world and crushing all opposition beneath polymerized treads, what would you choose: an island with a volcano, a castle in the deep Carpathians, an undersea bubble-city, or an orbiting low earth love palace?
If none of the above, describe alternative location (penthouse in Manhattan, ancient haunted gold mine, converted neo-Aztec temple) and possible reasons for choice.

145:

Jack @131: Would you agree the Deuchars is the best session beer .... ever!

No, it's much too dark and strong, and the lack of hops means it's just overwhelmed by the crystal malt. Wood glue, in other words.

EricL @132: you asked three questions. Have a (single) cookie.

G Tingey @133, have a cookie; Eric L @135: you already have yours.

Andy W @134: What "make"/"model" of computer do you use?

Oh, it's just this mainframe I bought on the cheap after Ernie Blofeld's fire sale -- he had to move house suddenly after an annoying visitor from MI5 pushed the red button.

Bruce @136: Which other SF writer would you most like to collaborate with on a story, and what kind of story would you want to write (Space Opera, Steampunk, Labcoat Romance, etc.)?

I should like to collaborate with Tom Kratman on one of his nazi anti-islamic epics; I could add the comic relief Tom of Finland cameos. Failing that, I don't suppose Harlan Ellison needs a copy-editor to work over The Last Dangerous Visions ...?

Benjamin @137: When we are forced into servitude by our robot masters, will you betray the human race or join the resistance?

What makes you think I'm human?

Nathan @138: have a cookie.

Adrian @139: Having just read my pirated preview copy of "Saturn's Children", do you really think your fans are going to accept an ending in which the Eschaton turns out to be merely a figment of the author's imagination?

They won't have much in the way of alternatives, will they?

To put it another way, they ought to be grateful that I left out the talking cat sidekick and the sex robot, shouldn't they? I mean, it's my book, and I'll do whatever I like to the protagonists! Bwahahahaha!

Kevin @141: Do you think a "Mental Health Act (Corporations)" is a good idea?

Yes, as long as it doesn't apply to my corporations! (Which aren't mad, they're just the kind of deeply paranoid organization you'd expect of an evil overlord bent on world domination.)

Luke @142: Keyboard of choice? (love to know the truth, too)

Sinclair Spectrum. The one and only.


146:

No, no, no. The SL-1 is too big for a jetcopter (and there's that nasty tendency to skewer people to ceilings with control rods). See Idaho Falls by William McKeown.

Try something more like the Convair X-6. Would that qualify as a steam powered airplane?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convair_X-6

147:

Brian R @143: have a cookie.

Techslave @144: When constructing the lair from which your army of remote-controlled drone minions will march forth, conquering the world and crushing all opposition beneath polymerized treads, what would you choose: an island with a volcano, a castle in the deep Carpathians, an undersea bubble-city, or an orbiting low earth love palace? If none of the above, describe alternative location (penthouse in Manhattan, ancient haunted gold mine, converted neo-Aztec temple) and possible reasons for choice.

This one's easy: I'd pick Buckingham Palace. It'd be necessary to take out the current occupants, but with the aid of some appropriate rubber masks and a wardrobe department I and my minions ought to be able to masquerade as the Royal Family quite easily.

The reasons for using Buck House are obvious: (a) everybody knows it's occupied by a bunch of scheming eccentrics who've made several attempts to take over the world, (b) replacing the current occupants comes with certain perks, like the ability to take possession of a whole bunch of pre-existing nukes, and (c) if anyone notices something weird we just refer the press to Mohammed "who he?" Fayed and/or David Icke and drop broad hints about coats that fasten up the back.

Disadvantage: if the House of Windsor really are flesh-eating alien space lizards, this plan could need a radical re-think.

JamesPadraicR @146: How about we split the difference (the X-6 being a bit too large to park outside) and go for a Tory IIC?

148:

The Large Hadron Collider is warming up. Black hole, or Foucault's Pendulum?

149:

Dear Mr. Stross; you appear to have quite a firm grasp of American pop culture, twentieth century edition. I therefore have to ask you (and at the risk of asking two questions) Samantha, or Jeannie, and why?

respectfully,

-michael

150:

The 1st edition D&D Fiend Folio had Stross-created monster entries. The 3rd edition did not. Now that 4th edition is coming out, what do you have waiting in the file cabinet for when Wizards of the Coast comes calling to correct their oversight?

151:

levi @148: The Large Hadron Collider is warming up. Black hole, or Foucault's Pendulum?

Higgs Boson!!! Haz cheeseburger!!!

michal @149: Dear Mr. Stross; you appear to have quite a firm grasp of American pop culture, twentieth century edition. I therefore have to ask you (and at the risk of asking two questions) Samantha, or Jeannie, and why?

/me Looks blank: "who?"

Rob @150: The 1st edition D&D Fiend Folio had Stross-created monster entries. The 3rd edition did not. Now that 4th edition is coming out, what do you have waiting in the file cabinet for when Wizards of the Coast comes calling to correct their oversight?

[truth] I have no idea, not having played D&D since, oh, 1983 or thereabouts. [/truth]

152:

One more, and not even a blatant try for a cookie.

Best information technology currently in development to bet on for the next 100 years. Consideration to migration of existing infrastructure with an eye towards the nearly exponential problems of secure communications and data storage.

153:

Techslave @152: Best information technology currently in development to bet on for the next 100 years. Consideration to migration of existing infrastructure with an eye towards the nearly exponential problems of secure communications and data storage.

If we don't get peak oil, global climate change, and our own propensity for fucking up real good under control, I pick papyrus.

154:

You are on desert island disks, what music do you choose and why?

155:

Would you consider lending your name and writing talents to the upcoming cable sitcom about the Coruscant Imperial IT department "Sith Admins" ?

156:

I've heard that you wrote some Teletubby fan fiction. Any chance of publishing it?

157:

If a murder were to occur within the SFF community, who would be the murderer, the victim and the gravediggers?

158:

guthrie @154: You are on desert island disks, what music do you choose and why?

Don't be silly; I bring my iPod!

Larry @155: Is that a Star Bores question? Have a cookie.

James @156: I've heard that you wrote some Teletubby fan fiction. Any chance of publishing it?

I'm afraid the terms of the BBC's restraining order and my entry in the sex offender's register prevent me from responding to that question with the rigor and in the depth that it deserves.

Flippanter @157: have a cookie.

159:

You've turned your hand to and have had a modicum of success writing in different genres (SF, Fantasy, Horror) in what has been a clear (nay, even naked) attempt to capture as much of the fiction genre readership as possible. Do you intend to complete the set (Charles Stross Westerns & Charles Stross Romance)?

160:

Soon Lee @159: You've turned your hand to and have had a modicum of success writing in different genres (SF, Fantasy, Horror) in what has been a clear (nay, even naked) attempt to capture as much of the fiction genre readership as possible. Do you intend to complete the set (Charles Stross Westerns & Charles Stross Romance)?

Indeed, yes: and I plan to combine the two, forming a revolutionary new sub-sub-genre: the western romance! Set in the far west of Wales, it will be a sultry and stormy tale of a love affair between the scions of two sheep rustling dynasties from LlanfairPwllgwyngyll and Bryngwran, who -- anomalously -- fall for each other rather than the livestock; and the high sheriff of Blaenau Ffestiniog, who, desiring the fair female one, organizes a posse to hang his rival high. Will love conquer all, or will the moustache-twirling eastern sheriff get his goat man?

161:

Did you steal Neal Stephenson's orgone box?

162:

Have you considered turning some of your novels into zork-style text adventures?

163:

I know you're going to hammer me for posting again so soon, but I have a burning question: is this a Touring test?

164:

Do you think of yourself as having an particular style of writing, and if so is it a style that you have to work towards, chipping away at early drafts until the pages reflect the sound of your voice in your head, or is the rewriting/editing process more a matter of getting the pieces you want down, rather than one of voice?

165:

Three questions:

What role did you *actually* play in the Roswell incident, 1947?

Have you found Jesus? What did he smell like?

When you transform yourself into a being of pure mental energy, can I get your laptop? I could do with a replacement.

166:

but who's 'Tour's' been tested…

Charlie: have you ever Kippled?

167:

Do you foresee parallelization standing on the hose? I mean, we already suck at writing software for a single core.

168:

Three questions because I only managed to get through on the third day. Time differences suck.

169:

Henry @161, 163: have a (single) cookie.

Flippanter @164, Luke @167, Maggie @166: ditto.

(Sorry, feeling tired this morning.)

Tony @165 (because you're in New Zealand and find it hard to get through):

What role did you *actually* play in the Roswell incident, 1947?

I'm not exactly sure, yet: the thing is, I was born in 1964, so I don't get to do anything in the Roswell Incident until I've invented my time machine. So I can't really say -- it still lies in my future.

Have you found Jesus? What did he smell like?

Jesus works in the chip shop over the road. I can't tell you how he smells because of the deep fat fryers. (I assume "Jesus smells like a haggis supper" wouldn't satisfy.) If you want, tonight I'll nip across and ask if I can give his underarm a good sniffing?

When you transform yourself into a being of pure mental energy, can I get your laptop? I could do with a replacement.

You're welcome to my 1992-vintage Apple Powerbook 145B whenever you cough up the postage. (Warning: you'll need to get a new battery for it!)

170:

W00t, I got through. Your circadian rhythms appear to be a mirror image of mine, Mr Stross. Anyone would think you live on the other side of a sphere.

On that note: To what extent are your future prognostications based on the premise that the world still has some major paradigm shifts to throw at us?

(Eschaton non-withstanding, of course, and the person above who came out with the spoilers is welcome to contemplate that not all of use get advance copies of books)

171:

I'm currently reviewing and transferring large numbers of patient mental health records for the NHS (really, I'm at work!) - Whose would you like modifying?

172:

Chris L @170: On that note: To what extent are your future prognostications based on the premise that the world still has some major paradigm shifts to throw at us?

Don't be silly! Everything that can be invented has already been invented, at least in outline; we know where Moore's law is going to terminate (in about five to ten years) and our PCs will be no different in a century from how they'll be in 2018, to use just one example. Big Science is getting so difficult to pursue that we're going to run out of things that can be discovered, and without new inputs, we don't need paradigm shifts.

Andy W @171: I'm currently reviewing and transferring large numbers of patient mental health records for the NHS (really, I'm at work!) - Whose would you like modifying?

I think if you can modify Anthony Charles Lynton "Tony" Blair's records to show that he is not, in fact, suffering from a narcissistic personality disorder, you will be doing the International War Crimes Tribunal at The Hague a huge mitzvah. Alas, I do not believe George W. Bush's mental health records have been uploaded onto The Spine yet ...

173:

Chris @ 170: You too can get a pirated advance copy of Saturn's Children for free download *here* (Is this HTML working?)

At least, I think it's the genuine article - the spelling of Charlie's name on the title page looks a bit strange, and I also had to transfer temporarily a large sum of money into a Nigerian bank account; purely as a guarantee of good faith in the imminent existence of the Eschaton of course.

174:

Three cheers for Charlie and participatory antiviews! Your stamina, tolerance and good humour are admirable. Just don't let it interfere with the manufacture of our drug of choice ^_^.

Hrm, you could even use us as a distributed mad-lib generator thingy for a side project -- a possibility uniquely suited to an established speculative fiction author with a wired readership.

175:

Given that so much of what we take for granted is based on the premise that the electron will forever meekly do our bidding, what happens if one day the electron decides it doesn't want to cooperate anymore?

176:

Charlie;

I'll take another crack at it then :)

My desktop PC is literally a thousand times faster than the model I had ten years ago (and my phone has more processing power than anything involved in the original moon landings), yet it actually takes longer to open a document now than in '98.

Why, and more importantly, cui bono?

177:

Russel @175: Given that so much of what we take for granted is based on the premise that the electron will forever meekly do our bidding, what happens if one day the electron decides it doesn't want to cooperate anymore?

We'd die.

Postulate that all electrons suddenly lose their charge.

Side effects: I think that in the absence of electron degeneracy pressure holding up the core of the sun you'd get a rapid collapse into something not unlike neutronium (and probably enough energy back out to resemble a small supernova). This assumes that the gravitational attraction of the solar core is sufficient to overcome the repulsion of all those suddenly-totally-electropositive nuclei.

But the exploding star on our doorstep wouldn't matter because we'd already be dead, eight minutes before the shock front from the sun reached us; because? All the atoms in all the molecules that our bodies (and the rest of the planet) are made of are held together by bonds (be they covalent, ionic, or van der Waals force) between clouds of electrons which in turn are help in stable orbitals around their nuclei by ... electromagnetic charge. We basically blow apart in a fine haze of extremely rapidly-moving charged nuclei. Along with the rest of the condensed matter in the cosmos (except clumps -- such as the cores of some stars -- where gravity is strong enough to overcome the mutual repulsion of those charged nuclei).

(Any astrophysicists in the audience? If so, you're welcome to correct my errors.)

178:

wait... i thought you said you'd lie to me. i want lies dammit

179:

I'm thinking we need a thread just to discuss the ideas and lies put up in this one.

180:

My favorite kind of cookie is probably oatmeal with chocolate chips, closely followed by gingersnaps. What's yours?

181:

(munching on cookie)

Which of your books do you think would make the best film?

182:

My sweetie asks: Which of your deep dark secrets would most embarrass your mother should it be revealed?

183:

Re 177 cannot resist obligatory Ghostbusters quote:

Venkman: I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, "bad"?

Egon: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.

184:

Mr. Stross: You seem to have a great deal of cookies lying about. Are you a baker? Have any favorite recipes you'd care to share?

185:

UPDATE: The antiview is now ending -- I won't answer further questions, but I'll mop up the ones posted prior to comment 185.

Flippanter @180: My favorite kind of cookie is probably oatmeal with chocolate chips, closely followed by gingersnaps. What's yours?

Girl Scout cookies. Make with real Girl Scouts.

(With apologies to the team of Hollywood scriptwriters who came up with that one.)

186:

Can I take my cookie as one of his cakes? (166)

187:

What's that watermelon doing there?

188:

Will your answer to this question be a lie?

189:

Ron @182: I'm not going to answer that question.

Erik: nope, I use a breadmaker.

The antiview is now over. You may talk among yourselves.

191:

Adrian: nope, I ain't answering any more questions with lies. And I reserve the right to participate in this thread from now on as a conversation, not a trained hamster in the big chair on Mastermind.

192:

Greg, @187, the watermelon is in my fridge. I ordered a little baby round one delivered with my Peapod order yesterday and it's a bit bigger than I expected. I'll be eating watermelon all week.

My favorite cookie is snickerdoodles, but I haven't had any mass-produced ones I like yet.

193:

185, I think that might be an original Charles Addams gag. I can't be sure because I'm away from my library. His original cartoons appeared in the New Yorker before being rebuilt for the TV Show. Lots of his one frame cartoons/gags were shoehorned into the films. He's probably my favourite cartoonist. I'd think you'd like him.
I was trying to decided which is my favourite, there are so many - maybe the strip of the werewolf watching the planetarium show (quick change), or the workman digging a huge ditch in the cemetery replies to a query from Morticia "No, it's a gas main".

194:

If I had to fight Scalzi, I'd use a vintage WWII flamethrower from the Pacific Islands.

That way, if he changed to gaseous form, I could still git him.

195:

I'd just like to mention that these two questions looked somehow connected:

#31: What are your feelings about Margret Thatcher at this time?
#32: Which soul eating monster from other planes (or from an HP lovecraft story) do you most identify with?

196:

Rob@150: It seems that at leats one of Charlie's long-ago monsters has attracted the attention of the lead developer of 4e. See the forum thread at:
http://forums.gleemax.com/showthread.php?t=1043296

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