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Readers of a central-European persuasion may be pleased to hear that I've just mailed off the book contracts for "The Clan Corporate", "The Merchants War" and "The Jennifer Morgue" to Talpress in the Czech Republic. Where they will join my other books and hopefully earn me a — no, I'm not going to finish that pun.

Readers of a more Anglophonic persuasion will also hopefully be pleased to hear that I've mailed off the finalized contracts for the next three books: the short story collection "Wireless" (due out next August), and novels "419" (a sequel to "Halting State", due out August 2010) and "The Fuller Memorandum" (the third Laundry novel, probably for August 2011). I'm doing some final editing work on "Palimpsest" (an original time travel novella that's going to appear in print for the first time in "Wireless") , and it'll be with my publishers before the end of the month — hopefully before the end of next week.

Oh, on the upcoming events front: I've accepted invitations to be guest of honour at Balticon 43 (May next year — more information here in due course), and another European national SF convention (which I'll update this entry to reflect when I'm sure they're ready to announce it). I'll also be at Worldcon (in Montreal) and at the UK Eastercon (in Bradford), and at Novacon (in Walsall) this November. So many air miles to collect, so little time ...

More immediately: this blog and website are hosted on a colocated server in London's Docklands. They've been there since some time lost in the mists of prehistory (2000, I think), and it's time to move server again. It's also time for a thorough software and hardware overhaul. If things run according to plan my blog will be moving home within the next 3-4 weeks. I'll give some advance warning, but immediately before the move I'll be taking the blog comments offline and not reinstating them until I've migrated the database, merged it with a different Movable Type installation (we're running two separate copies of MT on this box, for no sane reason: the other one is the Prattle), and upgraded the whole shooting match to MT 4.x. Then maybe it'll be time for a more substantial overhaul to, oh, I dunno, raise the dust on the other sections of my website (which haven't been touched since roughly 2003). Wish me luck — I'm going to need it! Especially as I'll be working on "The Trade of Queens" (the sixth Merchant Princes book, and the climax of the current story-line) at the same time.

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33 Comments

1:

Charlie, I've always wanted to ask an author how he knows that the translation is a good one. Having just read "The Atrocity Archives" and in the middle of "The Jennifer Morgue", it is riddled with cultural jokes that make much of the novel fun for me. But how does that translate to readers in the Czech Republic and how would you know?

2:

Alex: all I know is what my readers tell me. Those of them who speak enough English to let me know.

3:

Oh, I'm doing mah happy dance - Balticon's my regional con, so I'll get to see you next year. Yay! :)

4:

What I'd love is a sequel to 'Iron Sunrise'...

5:

Alex@4: Were you in the Room 101 panel at Mecon last weekend?

6:

Alex Tolley@1: One of my Japanese teachers, having read Charlie's stuff in Japanese translation, asked for and received the English versions. She was interested because she has ambitions to become a translator, but she pointed out some of the interesting cultural stuff to me. The bit I remember was her commenting that references to the Wee Frees had been changed to refer to a really strict Buddhist sect in the Japanese version.

7:

Alex @4: you're not getting it. Period.

8:

Ah, Balticon is in Baltimore. And there I was about to wax lyrical about the wonders of Tallinn.

9:

Tom, if I get the chance I shall try to introduce them to the wonders of Chicken Balti.

10:

If it's not too much to ask, could you give an overview of the books you have coming out for the rest of 2008 and 2009? All those other books are so far away!

/whine

11:

Chopper: read the FAQ.

(This year, nothing new is coming. Next year, you're getting Merchant Princes #5 "The Revolution Business" and short story collection #2, "Wireless".)

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12:

Woah, maybe a road trip to Baltimore next year is in the cards. Good luck on the server migration.

Alex Tolley @1: For some truly astonishing pun-preservation check out Michael Kandel's English translation of Lem's "The Cyberiad". It's remarkable.

13:

this has gotten boring. I like your books though.

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14:

I see Amazon already has "The Revolution Business" for pre order.

Charlie, after you mentioned "The Fuller Memorandum" echoing Anthony Price's books I've started reading through them - I never had before - and I'm really looking forward to that one.

David

15:

Charlie, you've made all these plans for the near and middle future. Don't you realise that the world could end in 4 days time (10 Sep 2008). If them scientists at CERN have got it wrong then we could be looking at the production of a Black Hole that would inevitably gobble up the Earth and the surrounding space. (Where's an irony smiley, when you need one!). Thursday is the day when the clever chaps & chapess's at the LHC turn the taps fully clockwise and put the pedal to the metal on their big toy.
However if it all pans out the way they expect you could be living within a mile, no, probably a kilometre from the shoe-in for the next Nobel Prize winner for Physics

16:

Charlie @ 7

Maybe there's some history with "Alex" @ 4 that I'm not aware of, but I read that comment as "I really loved the Iron Sunrise universe!" -- and if that's the case, your response @ 7 comes across as just the teeniest bit fangs.

Now, if only I could find a copy of the 2nd book of "Merchant Princes" in a bookshop _somewhere_ so I could rejoice at the release of #5!

17:

Shannon: sorry,but I get asked that question so bloody often that it has begun to annoy me.

Book #2 (The Hidden Family) came out in mass market paperback about a month ago in the UK, so it should be widely available in Waterstones if you're on my side of the pond. In the US, it might be a little harder. Amazon?

18:

Ohh tempted by Novacon as it's not too far away actually.

Are you guesting or attending Charlie? (I'm assuming you're a guest)If the former, what panels are you looking at doing?

Might finally be that chance to stand you a good beer.

19:

Charlie, my friend AJ bought Hidden Family and Clan Corporate at a Barnes & Noble in Flagstaff last weekend.

20:

Charlie @ 17
If the question has been asked often enough to annoy you, perhaps you should put the answer on your FAQ. People would still ask I s'pose, but you'd be more justified in snapping at them.

21:

Astrolabe: I've answered the questions repeatedly, in public. In general, folks who ask me haven't read the FAQ or even noticed its existence. I can add the answer there, sure, but it also needs to be more prominent on my website, which in turn points to the need for an overhaul, which in turn in a large job (overhauling 360+ web pages, an archived blog that ran for 3 years, and remastering the follow-on blog that has currently 255 entries and over 9000 comments) ...

I prefer to spend my time writing fiction at present. I'll get round to it eventually, but not just yet.

22:

The Hidden Family has come out in UK mass-market! Awesome! This means it will eventually turn up in HK, where I am forced by circumstances to buy books at the present time. I love Amazon, but their charges for shipping to China effectively double the price of books so purchased...

23:

So, I've just started reading "The Family Trade". (What kept me? It's a six book series; that's a big commitment.)

I've only got to the first chapter. Fascinated to see that the heroine is covering the pharmaceuticals sector for a VC-funded tech magazine in 2001. I was covering the pharmaceuticals sector for a VC-funded tech magazine in 2001! OK, I'm not female, American, Jewish or 32 years old...

Our heroine gets in to work and meets Emily the departmental secretary. - Wait, what? Journalists with secretaries? Well, I've never seen that before, anywhere. We tend to do our own typing. OK, let that pass.

She's uncovered a big money laundering story. Or rather her researcher has. - Researcher? She has a researcher? TV journalists have researchers; print hacks do their own, as far as I know. So if she doesn't do the research, and she doesn't do her own typing, what exactly does Miriam do all day? OK, let's let that pass too...

The story is that The Blonde has found a few dodgy exporters who are laundering (presumably) dirty money through inflated "export sales" into their pension funds, from where it gets invested in massive tranches of stock in a couple of biotech companies, Proteome and Biphase. OK so far.

And her first reaction? "Let's not say a word about this to the editor" - ouch! Poor editor! he won't be happy that his staff are keeping him out of the loop - "We'd better tell our VC owners before we print this, so they can have time to shift their money out of Proteome and Biphase."

Screeching halt. Not only is this sort of thing completely against any code of journalistic ethics; it's also completely illegal. People lose their jobs and go to jail over this sort of thing. It's insider trading. This is pretty much what got Piers Morgan into all that trouble - except he was doing the opposite; buying into companies before his journalists wrote positive stories about them.

So up she goes to see the editorial director (editorial directors aren't normally on the board of the company, but maybe this one is different), her putative accomplice in this criminal plan, and she thinks to herself "Gosh, it's weird to see a company director in his mid thirties".

Another screeching halt. Three years covering the pharma sector for a tech magazine in the middle of the 90s boom and she still thinks mid-thirties is abnormally young for a company director? That's like if she'd been covering football since 2005 and was still thinking "Wow, there are a lot of Brazilians in this game, aren't there?"
Most of the directors she'd have met and interviewed would have been that young, or even younger.

Oh, and then she has to remind her researcher "Somerville Investments - you know, that's the company that owns us" because the researcher saw the name of the company on the list of shareholders in Proteome and Biphase and completely missed that little titbit.
OK, we already know the researcher is blonde; now we know she's a natural blonde.

For some reason, when they are presented with this opportunity to make millions through insider dealing, Somerville passes up the chance to go massively short on Proteome and Biphase and profit when the article gets published and their stock falls through the floor. Very honest of them.
Either that or they're all as smart as the blonde, and they can't work out how to short a stock. Probably the latter; if they're a VC company, what the hell are they doing still holding significant shares in a publicly listed company? Sell out and reinvest in another startup, you fools! That's what you do!

Incidentally, it doesn't seem clear why Somerville are so worried. The money laundering is happening through dodgy garages and computer exporters. Once the money gets laundered, it's being invested in Proteome and Biphase.
Now, the dodgy garages are clearly criminals; but it's not clear that Proteome and Biphase are. It's not illegal to have a criminal buy shares in you with his ill-gotten gains, especially not if the shares are publicly listed. There's no way a company can pick and choose who buys its shares, if they're being traded on the stock exchange. So even if the story gets printed, Proteome and Biphase should be more or less all right in the long run, though the media attention might not be great fun; their fundamentals will still be exactly the same as they were, and they're innocent of any involvement in the money laundering, just as, say, a car dealer is who sells a mobster a limo.

Furthermore, Somerville is a step further removed from the crime - there's certainly no way you can be punished for buying shares in a company that a criminal has also bought shares in! And at worst, as noted, their Proteome and Biphase stock will take a slight dip. But hello? Somerville is a VC in the pharma sector? I'm thinking they're pretty calm about the prospect of their investments changing in value...

Instead they fire the criminal journalist and the blonde, thus helpfully creating two embittered people with the means and the motive to go straight to SEC Enforcement and Eliot Spitzer at the DA's office, and get Somerville Investments taken to the cleaners for being accomplices after the fact in money laundering.
Because they are, now. Even if (as I argued above) they were innocent before - through being two steps removed from the money laundering - they've now acted to cover it up and that makes them culpable...

24:

Ajay: a departmental secretary is not a personal secretary. Journalists with secretaries would indeed be a first. And yes, we do our own typing. (Here's a hint: been a magazine columnist, done that.) Other than that ... hmm. My experience of company directors is that in pharmaceuticals they are indeed somewhat older than in IT or biotech; mature industry and all that. And if you consider the VC as being a money laundering arm for the Clan (read the next 200 pages) then they're not so much worried about the SEC as they are about the mafia. Although your point is taken.

25:

I'm sure there are many pharma directors older than 30; the board of Roche Pharmaceuticals are all rich in years. I'm just saying that I was pretty much doing Miriam's job, when Miriam was doing it, and if someone had said to me "isn't it weird that guy is a director at a venture capital firm and he's only 35" my response would have been "...er, not really, no".
Never seen a newsroom with a departmental secretary either, but I'm sure they do exist. I suppose there are office managers and the like.
I will read on, anyway...

26:

Ajay: if I'd recycled experiences from my time doing shit for one of Dennis Publishing's weirder offshoots, nobody would have believed me. (The friend of mine who turned up at Shopperlabs to do a sysadmin job, and got a tour of the estate in the editor's hovercraft, for example. Or the incident with the stately home, the wireless network, and the hound of the Baskervilles ...)

27:

This is Alex@4, and this is also my second ever post to this site. (in answer to Charlie @ 7)

I can understand that a writer can become bored with a theme, and want to explore something else, that's fine. I didn't ask you to write, just expressed desire to hear a continuation of the story. And appreciation of a Hugo nominated book.

For the record, I did read the FAQ, and as much else on your site that I could find. I'm not a 'fanatical fan' that goes to conventions, so I'm sorry, I've never seen anyone ask or answer a question about the 'Iron Sunrise universe'.

Shannon @ 16 summarised my feelings pretty well.

28:

@Alex: ten or so blog entries before this, there was a lengthy discussion where it was explained why the probability for an Iron Sunrise sequel is approaching zero. Personally, I too would like to read that, but I guess Charles Stross isn't writing it. Maybe someone else should try ... (I'm not sure if that would be possible, "intellectual property" etc., but would be cool nevertheless ((Maybe the Iron-Sunrise-Universe could be CCed ...))).

29:

Till @28

Ta. For reference, the relevent post is here:
http://tinyurl.com/6r329z

30:

So there I was, Googling on Zombies and CERN, as you do, and I discover that Google has removed a page from the search. It gives a link for more information. Apparently, the URL that they dropped was identified as a child porn site by the Internet Watch Foundation.

I think that's the nearest I've ever come to any child porn. Most of the web pages listed seem to be using "zombies" as Unix jargon, and it is slightly mind-boggling that the search would have brought up child porn.

31:

Alex @27, fans who go to conventions are rarely fanatical. ;)

32:

Mainly because those that are really fanatical already have restraining orders and aren't allowed within 300 yards...

33:

I've just bought halting state and I love the picture of you on the cover. I know you are not fan of graphics on web pages, but when you do the site redesign why not commission the artist to do some book related icons to scatter round the place. Who knows, perhaps they'll catch on and you can move into action figure merchandising.