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The IMCO/ITRE vote went through yesterday. Good news and bad news, basically; the amendments were adopted, but Notice Was Taken and to quote Professor Edwards:

the drafter, Malcolm Harbour, got interviewed by the Beeb, and reiterated that it was not not not the intention of the amendments to lay the foundations for "3 strikes and you're out".

AND - that if the amendments could be so interpreted, were too wide basically, then he'd be happy to accept other amendments making it clear this WASN'T intended to be the case. ie EXCLUDING any claim that this law legitimised 3 strikes in EU law.

He's now on record about this and it should provide an opportunity to sew these loopholes up much tighter.

This bears watching further, but I think it's an excellent result for last-minute grass-roots pressure (at 48 hours' notice, basically!) and bodes well for the future.

And now, in happier news ...

The marketing folks at Ace would like me to tell everyone that they're giving away posters of the cover of Saturn's Children. If you want a chance to win some embarassing high-quality Stross cheesecake, this is your golden moment!

My signing tour of chunks of California (plus Phoenix, AZ) is on for the end of this month. There are some minor bugs to iron out of the itinerary, but I'll be posting it here once it's frmed up, hopefully later this week.

(I've been quiet for a couple of days because I'm simultaneously guest-blogging for Ace and trying to finish a long-short story, "Palimpsest", for my forthcoming short story collection — probably to be titled "Palimpsest" — that's due (not entirely coincidentally) from Ace next summer. Normal service should be resumed just as soon as I finish battering the time paradoxes into submission ...)



Nothing like a tasty giveaway to usher those rain clouds along.

I hope they deliver to windswept Albion.


Oooh, another tour. During a week when I'm planning on being in California for work, even. Any chance you'll be talking at Google again?


Crap - I just flashed off the e-mail and then realised it was for US citizens only. (poster)

Well it looks like Charlie Stross and Cory Doctorow have saved the day again. I wonder if Charlie get a superhero costume and his own spin-off graphic novel? :P


Just finished Saturn's Children, another terrific read. Thanks! It read like a book that was very fun to write; I can almost imagine you giggling at your own cleverness as you wrote it!

California, huh? Any chance of hitting LA?


I have to confess that I've grown rather fond of the Ace edition of Saturn's Children-- virtually every aspect, from the bespandexed heroine to the color scheme to the fonts, positively screams Bantam Spectra circa 1986. It looks exactly like the sort of thing I would've bought when I was in middle school, if only for the cover.


I can just imagine the bare-chested, kilted, masked avenger of the intertube, with the uncanny ability to strike down the ungodly with a well-tossed caber.

I rather wish I couldn't imagine it.


Another thing... Three Strikes? Does that expression have any meaning in non-baseball-playing countries?

(I know nothing about cricket, perhaps they have something similar.)


Got this reply today from only one of the 7 MEPs I wrote to; Alyn Smith

"Good Afternoon,

Many thanks for getting in touch with me and for drawing my attention to your concerns with some of the amendments to the proposed telecoms package. Since the Parliament's draft report on the package was under consideration by the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee I raised your concerns with my Green/EFA group colleagues on that Committee as I am not a member of the Internal Market Committee.

The Telecoms universal services report was adopted last night in Committee with my group voting in favour of it because of the multiple benefits it will bring to consumers. Regarding the issue as to whether amendments to the proposed telecoms package would allow internet service providers to monitor or block users' access to the internet by controlling the content of users' internet activities, the Commission's original proposal allows national regulators to take measures against service degradation and slowing of traffic over internet networks. It explicitly states that users must not have their online access unreasonably restricted. My group colleagues in the Internal Market Committee agree with this because we consider that using the internet is a service of general (economic) interest and that therefore it is very important indeed to ensure appropriate network management in order to prevent degradation of service.

In addition, the Greens/EFA had tabled an amendment to add that ISPs must ensure that subscribers can send and receive any form of content without prejudice of the needs to preserve the integrity and security of the networks. The compromise amendment keeps the same idea by stating that "the ability of users to access or distribute lawful content or to run lawful applications and services of their choice is not unreasonably restricted". Recital 14 confirms that "it should be the end-users' decision what lawful content they want to be able to send and receive, and which services, applications, hardware and software they want to use for such purposes, without prejudice to the need to preserve the integrity and security of networks and services". So these provisions do not give ISPs the right to monitor or block the traffic on the internet because of the content of subscribers' activities. Their purpose is rather to avoid slowing down of the traffic.

The report as adopted does not provide for "internet policing" by internet providers. It does not give ISPs the right to block anything unlawful for content purposes. My group believes that the public shoul be informed about activities that are unlawful, in particular because many parents do not know what their children do on the internet.

Like my group, I believe internet access is a service of general interest and a minimum quality of service must be guaranteed to all users. This report will go to the Parliament's plenary session in September and in the meantime we remain open minded to any ways in which to improve the proposed telecoms package further.

Yours Aye



Ooh! a signing at The Tattered Cover in Denv. I'll try to make it (slight shlep from CO Springs, gas being what it is). Don't know about WorldCon though, haven't been to a con since I was 12 --twenty-some years ago, never really got into them.

Saw the poster giveaway when you did the Ace blog last time. Can't quite get myself to do it. Also figured they'd get their 15 e-mails quickly-ish.


As an aside, it's a bit of a shock to realise where Lillian Edwards has gotten to, but I have rather lost track of people.

And there's something slightly odd about the picture on the University of Southampton site. It's hard to say, but there's something about it that looks horizontally stretched. A quick check suggests that the HTML is rescaling a smaller image in the browser. and in different proportions.

Now the only puzzle is whether it was Lillian Edwards or Christina Lake who was wearing the green stockings at the Novacon room party, all those years ago. No, for some reason I can't recall the face.


Various questions need various answers:

No, I'm not scheduled to talk at Google this time round. (SATURN'S CHILDREN is a very different novel from HALTING STATE. Plus, my time in Silly Valley is really short on this tour.)

Yes, I will be in LA (for one day only!) -- details TBA later this week.

No, Three Strikes has no meaning outside the context of Rounders "baseball" (as you colonial deviates call it :). It's just a typical piece of imported bullshit rhetoric over here.

Age 12 is waaaay too young to get what an SF convention is about; if you live in Denver and the worldcon's coming to town it'd be worth your while to spring for at least a day pass.


"... battering the time paradoxes into submission..."

A paradox can be paradoctored. [Heinlein]


And this cause it went to my trash is also an interesting read from another MEP (tell me to stop if you don't want me to post any more replies if I get any, wouldn't want to spam):

"Thanks for your mail, which is one of many on the subject of the Telecoms Package.

Below I share with you an internal note which exlains the position of my political group on the issue.

Best wishes Ian Hudghton MEP

Telecom Universal Service Directive Some questions and answers

July 4th 2008

Greens/EFA Group

On July 7th the IMCO Committee will vote on the proposal for a Directive on universal service and users' rights relating to electronic communications networks (= USD: Universal Service Directive). The Rapporteur is Malcolm Harbour (PPE, UK) and a working group involving shadow rapporteurs from the 4 main political groups (including Heide Rühle for the Greens/EFA) has met several times in the last few weeks in order to come to compromise amendments. Controversial points of view have been recently expressed by sectors from the civil society about the draft directive, the amendments and the draft compromises in IMCO, in particular by the BEUC, by "Quadrature du Net"or by CMBA.

The purpose of this note is to clarify the position that Greens/EFA have defended in IMCO regarding the main issues at stake and to explain our strategy.

  • According to some interested parties, IMCO "politicians" would be engaged in summer manoeuvres, relying on the fact that nobody watches them a week before parliamentary holiday, to divert the telecom package from its primary objectives of consumer protection. There would be currently a series of secret, backroom negotiations between a handful of MEPs who would not always understand all the implications of these issues.
  • The Commission proposal has been issued in 2007 and since then the IMCO Committee has had several public debates about it. The Rapporteur has drafted his Report on April 14th, the amendments by IMCO MEPs were tabled by the end of April and since then there have been several discussions among the shadow rapporteurs, who are all very well informed and follow closely the dossier. The time schedule (vote in IMCO beginning of July) has nothing to do with "manoeuvres" and the strong reactions by civil society prove that if anyone in IMCO expected that "nobody watches them", well they were wrong (fortunately) !... Attempting to arrive at compromise amendments on EU legislation is the normal procedure in the European Parliament. In any case Greens/EFA would not support compromises which would not guarantee citizens' rights.

  • Net neutrality. Will Internet Service Providers (ISP) be able, due to the content of subscribers' electronic activities, to filter, monitor and eventually block subscribers' access to the internet, thus substituting themselves to the judicial authorities ?
  • This is not what the current compromise amendment on Article 22 says. The original Commission proposal said that the national regulatory authority can set minimum quality of service requirements, and that the Commission may adopt measures to ensure that such requirements do not slow down the traffic over the internet. Greens/EFA in IMCO agree with that because they consider that using the internet is a service of general (economic) interest and that therefore it is very important indeed to ensure appropriate network management in order to prevent degradation of service. Furthermore, we had tabled an amendment to add in this article that ISPs must ensure that subscribers can send and receive any form of content without prejudice of the needs to preserve the integrity and security of the networks. The compromise amendment keeps the same idea by stating that "the ability of users to access or distribute lawful content or to run lawful applications and services of their choice is not unreasonably restricted". Recital 14 confirms that "it should be the end-users' decision what lawful content they want to be able to send and receive, and which services, applications, hardware and software they want to use for such purposes, without prejudice to the need to preserve the integrity and security of networks and services". So these provisions do not give ISPs the right to monitor or block the traffic on the internet because of the content of subscribers' activities. Their purpose is rather to avoid slowing down of the traffic. Some sectors of the civil society may consider that there should be no restriction at all, even for unlawful content but this is not the Greens/EFA position.

    On the same kind of topic, the current compromise amendments on Articles 20 and 21 specify the contractual and non contractual information that subscribers must receive and that operators must provide.

    It is true that the compromise on Article 20 makes it clear that contractual information must include "information on any restrictions imposed by the provider regarding a subscriber's ability to access, use or distribute lawful content or run lawful applications and services". But if such restrictions exist, it is clearly in the subscriber's interest to be informed of it in the contract. Besides, the same provision existed in the Commission's proposal, which imposed that the contract should include information on "the action that might be taken by the undertaking (...) in reaction to security or integrity incidents or threats and vulnerabilities".

    In order to clarify further that any restriction should be motivated by network management purposes, it is envisaged that we and the PSE would propose an oral amendment in Article 20, specifying that information on restrictions concern restrictions imposed to ensure the security and integrity of networks.

    Regarding Article 21, the current compromise amendment adds a paragraph 4a which specifies that the operators will be obliged to distribute public information produced by public authorities in order to inform the public about "the most common uses of electronic communications services to carry out unlawful activities or to disseminate harmful content, particularly where it may prejudice respect for the rights and freedoms of others, including infringement of copyright and related rights and their consequences, and means of protection against risks to personal security, privacy and personal data". So again, that does not give ISP any right to block anything lawful for content purposes, it only says that the public should be informed about activities that are unlawful. Greens/EFA in IMCO consider that this is justified, in particular because many parents do not know what their children do on the internet.

    The current compromise amendment in Article 33 (2a) says that national regulatory authorities shall promote cooperation among ISPs regarding "the protection and promotion of lawful content". This seems admissible for Greens/EFA as part of a compromise to avoid precisely that ISPs could cut internet connections without prior judgment. But in order to make it clear that we are not in favour of over-protecting intellectual property rights, Greens/EFA and the PSE could ask for a split vote to delete the words "protection and".

  • Contract duration. How easily will it be for subscribers to change ISP ?
  • This is a key aspect for Greens/EFA because the duration of contracts should be short enough to promote a truly competitive market and to facilitate access to contracts especially by younger subscribers. We have tabled an amendment obliging ISPs to inform subscribers every year about their more interesting tariffs. In addition, and together with the PSE, we have tabled a consolidated amendment for a new paragraph in Article 30 to ensure that ISPs must offer users the possibility to subscribe to a contract with a maximum duration of 12 months, and that in any case any contract shall not exceed 24 months. The Rapporteur is opposed to this provision but it seems that we can win on it because we would be supported by the ALDE Group.

  • Our voting strategy in IMCO
  • Greens/EFA in IMCO have co-signed the compromise amendments, not only because these compromises include a series of our concerns, but also because they avoid the worst amendments to be adopted, in particular those amendments tabled by certain, mainly French MEPs, which would enable ISPs to act as a sort of internet police or jeopardise the right to privacy in electronic communications. Therefore we carry on negotiations with the Rapporteur (Harbour) and the shadows so that we can find a joint and stable solution.

    IAN HUDGHTON MEP SNP GROUP LEADER - EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT PRESIDENT - SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY 8 Old Glamis Road, Dundee, DD3 8HP 84 North Street, Inverurie, AB51 4QX 825 Great Northern Road, Aberdeen, AB24 2BR"


    Does your tour include the San Diego Comic-Con? And if so, do you happen to know your schedule? The official schedule is not out yet (barring some web-site oopsies).


    Bleyddyn: yes, I wil be at Comic-Con in SD. I've got one panel so far, Saturday 26th, 10am: "Looking at our world: eye on the future" in room 8. It's going to be followed by a signing at 11am at table AA1 in the signing area. All times subject to change, of course. I'll also be dropping in at the Mysterious Galaxy booth (which Ace are shuffling their authors through).


    I'm pleased with the Telecom Packet outcome, and confident that it will be properly patched. Thanks to all for contacting their representatives, and to you for ringing the alarm! All aboard the Maglev Cluetrain - Toot Toot!

    (are they beer-battered time paradoxes? mmmmmm ..)


    Thanks! Looks like Mysterious Galaxy's schedule isn't ready yet, either :)


    James at number 9 said "Ooh! a signing at The Tattered Cover in Denv."

    Where did you see that, and what was the date? I check their site daily and haven't seen anything yet...

    giddily yours, yancey


    If I'm home in silly-con valley when you come thru, I suspect I owe you a Pint.. doesn't sound like their giving you enough time collect.. but .. well you have my email address!

    I'm sorry to see that the SFBC cover is NOT the one that would make my wife cringe when the kids start to read it.. If I can get a Signed copy with the shiny cover, I'll return the SFBC one. .. hm can I find a business excuse to be in San Diego while you're there? jbd


    Yancey @ 18: Go to Charlie's link above for the poster giveaway; click on the book cover, on the next page, on the left, is a link to Tour Dates. The Tattered Cover Date is Aug.7. Not sure yet, I may be helping cater a Bat Mitzvah then. I'll figure something out.

    For what it's worth (little I expect); when I was 8 my reading comprehension tested at college level, so I was reading some unusual stuff at 12. However at one con I borrowed way too much money from a friend to buy Dr. Who stuff.


    Charlie, I've just recently discovered your fiction, thanks to Cory, and it's freakin' ah-mazing. Can't believe I hadn't found it sooner. I also read the excerpt for Saturn's Children and loved it, so I wanted to ask: is there an ebook version coming out for those of us who can no longer read paper because we've spent far too long staring at the screen?


    Joel: bad news is, there is an ebook edition already, at least in the North American market -- trouble is, they released it with DRM at the full retail price!

    (Disclaimer: I had no input into this brain-dead decision. Neither did my editor, or her boss, the marketing VP, both of whom know how I feel on the subject.)


    I know a publisher sends an author several copies of each edition.

    Did they send you any copies of the eBook, and would they allow you to treat them as you would a physical book?


    charlie - any plans for a signing tour of the UK?


    Dave: no, they don't send me copies of the EBook. They're not set up in such a way that they can do that.

    Accelerationista: no, no plans for a UK signing tour. On the other hand, I'll probably be signing a bunch of stock at Forbidden Planet in London in December, I'll be at Novacon and next year's eastercon (in Bradford), and if you bug Mike at Transreal Books in Edinburgh he can sell you books by mail and pester me to come in and sign them.


    Any plans for visits to Toronto for signing tours? If not for Saturn's Children, then for later books?

    One of the branches of the Toronto Public Library specializes in SF-- they have a closed stack of magazines and first editions. Toronto also has its share of SF bookstores.


    I haven't read the book yet, though I plan on buying it. To those who have read it, how does it stack up to Friday(Yikes!!! Definitely no pun intended :-[) The most charitable interpretation I've heard for that bit of late Heinlein is that it is the story of a damaged person trying to put themselves back together. Maybe so. Is Freya doing a similar riff on this, or is it just an adventure yarn and a busman's tour of the future?

    Nothing wrong with that, of course, but though I detest the man and his ideology, I will say that I don't want to see Heinlein systematically kicked into the ground. Not that I'm accusing Charlie of doing any such thing of course, but lately, Heinlein criticism seems to have become immensely more fashionable.


    Ah—I think I'd rather get a good hard copy shipped down to Australia than go for the DRM :) Thanks for letting me know!


    James: I might be in Toronto in late October/early November, but it's not definite. (If I am, I'll sign stock at Bakka Phoenix Books.)

    SoV: yes, Friday was the target, and no, it's not a trashing exercise.


    Just got my copy of Saturn's Children. Love, love, love the cheesy cover. I can't help it, sorry. Anyway, I have today off and am going to unplug my phone and just read. Bliss.

    P.S. The people who set up your signing tours must have sadistic tendencies. Phoenix at the end of July? God, it gets hot then. I lived in Phoenix for five years, and "dry" heat or not, I just couldn't take it. Hope you don't melt.


    Connie, I moved to Scotland because summer in London was too much for me. In Phoenix, I plan to stay entirely in A/C buildings until I run away to an air-conditioned hotel in Denver.


    No no no. I did not mean to imply that it was a trashing exercise. I thought I made it clear that I didn't expect it to be. I just wondered how Freya differed from Friday, and why. But I'll read the new book soon enough; it's in the queue about four down. I've promised to read some other stuff first for our library's One Read program (sigh.)


    Re #7, #11:

    I agree that it would be a mistake for the EU to imitate the chaotic attractor of American Police State Law. Especially for repeat offenders against insane laws about data transfer.

    Excerpted from Wikipedia (he said, busy today with two unrelated suits against two different misbehaving lawyers):

    Three strikes laws are statutes enacted by state governments in the United States which require the state courts to hand down a mandatory and extended period of incarceration to persons who have been convicted of a serious criminal offense on three or more separate occasions. These statutes became very popular in the 1990s. They are formally known among lawyers and legal academics as habitual offender laws. The name comes from baseball, where a batter has two strikes before striking out on the third.

    On March 5, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court held by a 5–4 majority that such sentences do not violate the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which prohibits "cruel and unusual punishment." In two separate opinions handed down on the same day, the court upheld California's three-strikes law against an attack on direct appeal from conviction, Ewing v. California, 538 U.S. 11, and a collateral attack through a petition for habeas corpus, Lockyer v. Andrade, 538 U.S. 63 (2003).

    Writing for the plurality in Ewing, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor analyzed the serious problem of recidivism among criminals in California and concluded:

    We do not sit as a "superlegislature" to second-guess these policy choices. It is enough that the State of California has a reasonable basis for believing that dramatically enhanced sentences for habitual felons advances the goals of its criminal justice system in any substantial way … To be sure, Ewing's sentence is a long one. But it reflects a rational legislative judgment, entitled to deference, that offenders who have committed serious or violent felonies and who continue to commit felonies must be incapacitated.

    ScentOfVioets: My understanding is that Heinlein was quite liberal early on. Certainly his fiction became increasingly conservative as time went on, and by the time Friday was written, rather tiresome. But early on, he was something of a breath of fresh air with his more realistic view of human nature.

    I have just read Friday to keep it fresh in my mind as I read SC. Just got into the first 50 pages of SC and I'm loving it. (But I still don't like the cover).


    Did you know you've been labeled an "information radical"?

    Don't let anyone pair up your electrons. Stability is for wimps.


    Am I the only one who thought Friday was actually rather good, and certainly better than the tiresome number of the beast stuff? And it has one of the most amazing indictments of bigotry, too.


    I never did like the way Friday ended. And the pattern seems to be a late-Heinlein weakness.

    Freya may be missing some pretty big clues, same as Friday, but her ignorance makes sense.


    David @36, I loved Friday. One of my fav first editions.



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    This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on July 9, 2008 3:37 PM.

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