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Summer books

(Yes, this is a holding entry; I've still got a chesty cough and am more than a little under the weather right now. Flying while ill: just say no.)

Coming out first in mid-April is the fifth Merchant Princes novel, The Revolution Business:

The Revolution Business

And yes, that is a mushroom cloud on the cover (looks like the art director read the manuscript). This is a US hardcover release only — while "The Merchants' War" will show up in hardcover in the UK around the same time, book #5 won't be published in paperback in the UK until it hits paperback in the US as well, for contractual reasons.

Then, in early July, it's time for Wireless:


Unlike "The Revolution Business", "Wireless" will be
simultaneously published in the UK by Orbit. It's my first short story collection since 2001's "Toast (and other rusted futures)" (which, incidentally, I intend to release as a free Creative Commons download when the new book comes out). "Wireless" collects a bunch of my more recent short fiction, including "A Colder War", the Locus-award winning novella "Missile Gap", and a new novella, "Palimpsest", which you won't find anywhere else.

... And that's all I've got coming out this year. I'd like to be able to announce some short stories or pieces of journalism, but I've spent the past year frantically trying to keep up with my novel-writing schedule — and the short fiction markets aren't so much sick as on life support while the doctors give the bereaved family room to decide who's going to switch off the ventillator; these are apocalyptic times for publishing in general, and I strongly suspect that the last of the digest-format SF magazines will be dead by 2010.

Looking ahead, 2010 should see publication of the sixth (and final planned) Merchant Princes novel, "The Trade of Queens": and one of Laundry novel #3, "The Fuller Memorandum" or "Halting State" sequel "419" (under whatever title it eventually ends up with). But it's dangerous to second-guess the future that way; so, beyond noting that the first draft of "The Fuller Memorandum" is written, and "The Trade of Queens" is currently 80% complete, I'll leave it at that.



Just as long as you don't start writing about the sport of Kings. :)

Sorry to hear that the cold is lingering; many folks on this side of the Atlantic are having that difficulty despite no air travel, though. This year's cold seems to be particularly obstreperous.


As the "cold" has rung the changes through tonsilitis, fever, muscle aches, a chesty cough, and a perplexing drop in blood pressure, I feel kind of justified in taking several days (if not a week or more) off work to get over it. Hence the paucity of blogging ...


Speaking of 419, I assume you read the headlines from yesterday about Citibank getting taken for $27 million by a Nigerian scam?

Oh, those wacky captains of finance! How hard they work for us to earn their modest salaries!


BTW, that plague of a cold swept through our house too.

The boy and I got off relatively light, though he had a bad fever a couple days. My wife got a powerful lingering cold with a major aggravation of her asthma which she's still trying to recover from, and the foster teenager got full-fledged bronchitis, hawking up nasty green stuff, and is now on antibiotics.


What order are the Merchant Prince books in? I've had my eye on them when browsing the bookstore, but couldn't tell which was the first.


As a big fan and long-time reader of the digests I'm afraid you may well be right. I really don't want you to be, but the Universe rarely pays attention to my wishes. My only hope is that they live on as ebooks so that I can continue reading Analog for another 30 years.


Here Michael, I created a list on Amazon of all the Merchant Princes books in order:


I know of at least two people whom said cold as knocked flat on their ass for more than a week. Reduced blogging seems entirely reasonable.

("Cold' in my idiolect doesn't mean "minor", it means "neither fever nor vomiting are the primary symptom".)


Michael Kirkland: the running order is:

  • The Family Trade
  • The Hidden Family (these two were originally one big fat book; Tor chopped them in half)
  • The Clan Corporate
  • The Merchants' War
  • The Revolution Business (April 2009)
  • The Trade of Queens (April 2010)
  • 10:

    I have every sympathy for your cold, it is certainly doing the rounds. My partner has been laid flat, but so far I have got away with it. Must be the healthy lifestyle (not).

    Having bought the paperback of The Merchants War on a business trip to the US earlier this month, I can say that it is very good and the series seems set for a satisfactory conclusion, but a year is a looong time to wait for the last episode. Also looking forward to 419 and the new Laundry novel, and to finally reading Toast which I tried to buy just after it got withdrawn. I have just borrowed Saturn's Children from the library,so your cheque from the government will be that wee bit bigger next year. Keep taking the tablets, writing and blogging.


    That thing on the cover looks like a toadstool cloud to me.

    Looking forward to everything, especially the new Laundry one.


    Get well soon, Charlie. All the best.


    Greatly looking forward to both of the above; I look forward to purchasing both of them when they arrive!

    The Creative Commons release of Toast is also very interesting news; is this something that you're doing off your own bat (presumably after the rights granted to the publisher expired), or this something that you've managed to get the publisher to agree to? In any case, it would be fascinating to learn what impact on sales, if any, you can subsequently discern.

    Finally, I have to say that the cover art for Wireless is lovely. (Indeed, you seem to have done very well with the art for all of your UK releases. Long may it continue!)

    Get well soon.


    419! 419! 419! 419!

    That's all. Not that I'm not extremely excited by a Laundry novel too (as extremely excited as you can get a year and a half before the event), but me wants more near-future Charlie goodness :)


    Any idea when Merchants' War is coming out in UK paperback? The same time Revolution Business comes out in hardback?


    re: @14, another cheer for near-future Charlie goodness! (just got finished reading Halting State -- great, great fun!)


    Speaking of book covers, I just finished reading the american paper pack edition of "The Atrocity Archives", is it any coincidence that one of the people on the cover looks like you ? Get better soon.


    I just signed up for an amazon prime trial in order to re-order the clan corporate and get it fast. (first order was for US print I assume as it was taking ages to arrive). I'm wondering, can I use it to pre-order the new batch of Stross books and get the next-day delivery, even if they are released outside of my trial window?


    Sorry to hear about your cold, Charles. What do you think about Bean's Universe? Going anywhere?


    Baen's Universe and have a very different business model to the traditional digest-format SF mags. They're not directly endangered by the collapsing magazine distributors because they're primarily web-based and they're backed by book publishers who see them as being useful marketing adjuncts (folks read short stories by authors they're unfamiliar with; if they like them, they buy the books: the publisher makes a profit).

    NelC: I believe "The Merchants' War" is due out in paperback in the UK some time in the next month or two. But then there'll be a gap, because Tor UK can't publish "The Revolution Business" in paperback until it has gone into paperback in the US (probably next April).

    David MacBride: I sold "Toast" early on, unagented, to a small publisher -- and retained all electronic rights. They agreed to a CC launch some time ago, on the grounds that it could only boost their sales (not being subject to idiot policy decisions taken high up in a multinational publishing group's boardroom). I can't do this with the books I've sold to Ace and Orbit, at least not until the rights revert or there's a significant policy change at the top of Pearson and Hachette. (If my editors at either publisher said "yes" to a CC release they could be fired for violating group-wide policy.) However, I expect the current upheavals in the publishing world to have a significant impact on how they do business within the next 1-2 years ...



    Care to make a friendly wager on the death of the digests?

    I'll bet the F&SF Hugo for Best Pro Magazine that F&SF is still around in 2010. If we're gone by Jan. 1, 2010, you get the Hugo. Would you care to match that with, say, an offer to buy a lifetime subscription ($1000.00) if we're still around?

    ---Gordon V.G.


    Gordon: F&SF is the least likely of the big three to go bust, IMO. But I should like to note that you didn't just go bimonthly because you got bored putting out an issue a month ...


    I think that Charlie's right in describing a likely SF magazine crash. However, the difference between this possible crash and the previous crash parallels the difference between the current Global Recession and the Great Depression.

    The previous USA magazine crash was nominally the fault of a single major US distributor going under. The possible new crash is different only in that the distributors are a oligopoly rather than a near Monopoly.

    The Great Depression, to appropriate Sir Arthur C. Clarke's terminology, was a failure of imagination. The intellectuals of academe and government and the boardrooms simply did not grasp the revolutions in technology, finance, and the mathematical basis of the acyual economy. The current Global Recession is more of a failure of nerve. Plenty of experts knew what was going on, but government and the boardrooms were in corrupt denial, akin to the Japanese liquidity crisis (i.e. when you have a $2 trillion debt overhang from toxis real estate assets, you can't solve the problem by grudingly and untimely admitting to $0.5 trillion).

    The Great Depression had physical runs on banks; the current recession has had 2 USA banks a week nationalized this year; I saw the lines outside IndyMac (their HQ being 5 miles due south of me); this run was mostly in cyberspace (the shadow banks of moneymarkets and derivatives repackagings and the other Rocket Science of the Quants).

    What we learned from the Great Depression and from the previous magazine crash is this:

    (1) These crises all began with huge speculative bubbles;

    (2) Don't let the banking system fail; don't let the magazine system fail.

    (3) You shall not crucify the economy on a Cross of Gold, i.e. don't protect your currency; likewise don't prop up subscription base with debt or cover price cuts, mergers as needed; partial migration to online magazines must be accepted.

    (4) Let the deficit grow by Keynesian government stimulus; work a grand deal between magazines and authors with IOU payments for stories for a fixed time, and then higher word rates later.

    I would watch the semi-pro magazines to see what's really going on; they have more transparency. Will Warren Lapine succeeed, for instance, in re-launch of the rolled-up Absolute Magnitude mini-empire?

    I'm thinking out loud here; I have not crunched the numbers as a Mathematical Economist, being tied up with little things like:

    (a) my wife having returned home after 3 months of sabattical in Australia;

    (b) my having been laid off as a high school Science teacher on 18 December 2008;

    (c) being up against deadlines for an Appellate Petition for Rehearing and a state Supreme Court Request for Review; and

    (d) Late March through mid-June I have to pay teacher's college tuition (actually by loan or scholarship) to do 75 days full-time "directed teaching" unpaid in an assigned high school, i.e. negative wage Math teaching, which seems insane to me as an ex-Math professor.

    That's part of why I rushed to complete and submit to editors over 50,000 words of science fiction since Xmas: I know I'll have no time to write fiction intensely for a while.


    Nice looking covers; those should sell!



    Of course you're right to point out that F&SF changed to bimonthly for economic reasons. I said so myself in the March 2009 issue.

    And you may well be right that we'll be defunct by 2010. I don't have a crystal ball, but I do know that a lot of forces are currently working against magazines (particularly the postal service).

    The wager I offered still stands. James Gunn said in 1975 that the SF magazines would all be dead by 2000. Many other smart people have made similar predictions. They're easy to make. I realize you didn't actually predict anything in your post, but still, isn't your post encouraging people to expect the digests to die? Doesn't that make people think twice about subscribing? I know I would think twice before subscribing to a magazine if people told me it was about to go under.

    ---Gordon V.G.


    Do you know of Orbit's version of Wireless will carry the same cover? The US cover looks lovely.


    Also can you do a referal clicky-thing for the revolution business on I'm too impatient to wait for the UK release so I'd just preorder the US one via instead.


    Jon @26: no, it'll have a different cover.

    Yes, I'll add the books to the sidebar later today.


    Excellent, as a late arrival to the MP party I'm expecting books 1 - 4 for my birthday in just under a month, so this is great timing for me. I should just have them under my belt in time for #5 hitting the shelves.


    GVG writes: "Doesn't that make people think twice about subscribing?"

    It also discourages people from making the effort to submit to the slushpile. I know I'm discouraged.


    Gordon @25, I suspect people will be more likely to subscribe if they think they'll be treated fairly if the digest goes under. I stopped subscribing years ago to F&SF because there was too much fantasy. I still get Asimov's. But I also subscribed to SF Age and when it stopped publishing, we didn't get money back for the rest of our subscription, we got Realms of Fantasy. If I wanted to read fantasy, I'd buy it to start with.


    J. H. Woodyatt and Marilee Layman---

    Thanks for your feedback. Your posts reinforce my growing conviction that it hurts our business when people predict doom for the digests.

    (Not that I fault you at all, Charlie. I understand completely where you're coming from and I respect what you said about short fiction in your initial post. In fact, I agree that these apocalyptic times for the printed word. I just hope you weren't offended by my proposing a wager in order to make the point that F&SF isn't going away any time soon.)

    Anyway, in the unlikely event that you want to continue discussing F&SF, I suggest that we move the discussion to the F&SF message board ( and Charlie's blog focused on Charlie's work.

    ---Gordon V.G.



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    This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on February 21, 2009 4:00 PM.

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