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I haz a new buk:
The Revolution Business - cover

"The Revolution Business" (aka Merchant Princes book 5) was published yesterday by Tor in hardcover. Yes, that's a mushroom cloud and an armoured knight on the cover. (Did I say this series straddles genre boundaries? No? Well I should have.) I'm aiming to get book 6, "The Trade of Queens", onto my editors desk Real Soon Now; it should be out this time next year.

If you don't want to go near Amazon right now, you can buy it from Powells. (British readers have to wait, I'm afraid — for contractual reasons, the MP books can't be published in the UK, where they're going direct to paperback, until they're also available in paperback in the USA. Which means twelve months after the hardback ships. Unless they want it enough to buy a grey-market import.)

In other news: it has come to my attention that my previous short story collection Toast, and other rusted futures is pretty much unavailable — there was going to be a deluxe, signed, "last edition" of TOAST last year, but I'm not sure what's happened to the small press who were supposed to be publishing it. And right now it's effectively out of print. Amazon marketplace are listing new copies from $70, which in my opinion is beyond fair, and verging on greedy exploitation.

Anyway, as July sees the publication of Wireless, my new short story collection (UK edition here). I'm going to mark it by setting TOAST free for download under a Creative Commons license.

Happy reading!




Man - Toast being unavailable is a bummer. It was the book I read right after Iron Sunrise, and both stand out in my mind as excellent, excellent work. I'll head to the local library for a celebratory re-reading.


Not that I object to you releasing a download version of Toast, since I have not yet had the pleasure of reading it, however, isn't it equivalent to this title on Amazon for ten bucks. Are there stories in the 2002 edition that are not present in the 2005 edition?


LeBleu: yes. (I dropped a rather crap story in the 2002 edition, and replaced it with the version of "Lobsters" as published in Asimov's SF in 2001 -- and a new afterword, IIRC.)


Actually, I saw it at the bookstore this past weekend! Thought it was quite garish.


Sean, lots of bookstores jump the gun on the official publication date -- they stuff the shelves as soon as the box arrives. It only really gets observed when the publisher's marketing folks enforce it -- typically because they're hoping for a first week sales burp that will send the book onto the bestseller lists.


I stayed up late finishing it last night. (I had pre-ordered it from Amazon a while ago.) I'm really enjoying how the reader's perception of what's what changes along with Miriam's. You do rather more obviously point it out in this book ("When would she learn to stop underestimating their sophistication?") but I like how each Big Reveal makes me look back on what's come before and say, "Huh. Not what I thought at the time." I have two things I wonder about.

1) How do all of the spooks pronounce the CODENAMES IN ALL CAPS, or think about them in their own heads? Do they all give a little pause beforehand, or slightly deepen their voices?

2) Why did Olga point a gun at Miriam in the first book? I still haven't figured that one out, given how the reader's view of Olga has changed. This one's been bugging me for a couple books now.

Thanks for another enjoyable read!

(And just a real trivial vocabulary point. If you're trying for an American voice, I do think that an American is more likely to say "cell phone" than "mobile."


@Diana Foss - I absolutely agree! I've been living in Boston/Cambridge for about a decade and no-one has ever said mobile as far as I can recall. And I can definitely recall locals being confused by "mobile"



When will a kindle version of Revolution Business be out?

British readers have to wait, ... Unless they want it enough to buy a grey-market import.
Or they just go and order it from their local library, which seems to be doing a fine line in Tor hardback imports. Which, naturally, I'm happy with.

Hippo @8: I have no idea. Srsly. Tor own the ebook sub-rights and they don't tell me when they sell them, or who to.


@6 & 7, That and when Miriam says she was 'in care' in the first book -just read it a couple weeks ago. She would have said 'in foster care'.

A couple weeks ago I made a comment that British idioms shouldn't be changed for American editions of books, I should have said this assumes the correct idiom's being used. These two examples are minor, so no big deal.

I'm looking forward to reading the rest, the new one will have to wait for mass-market for me, since I have the first four in paperback.

Glad I grabbed "Toast" when I saw it. Lots of fun, 'A Colder War' -very chilling, no pun intended. I'll certainly get "Wireless" when it comes out.


I actually saw - and leafed through - a copy of Toast in Waterstones in Piccadilly (London) just today.


Diana @6 - I think it's common practice in non-fiction books on intelligence agencies to print codewords (like VENONA) in all-caps, possibly after US or UK practice in declassified documents. Given topics covered in some of Charlies other work - e.g. the Laundry books, he's probably following suit.


You think $70 is bad? Amazon UK is currently selling Toast for "2 new from £98.66, 3 used from £96.32"!


Ok, thanks. Just ordered the book. I would prefer to read on the kindle, though.


@ 12. You must have found Waterstone's last copy of Toast. Maybe they forgot it, or were reading it themselves. I tried to order Toast from Waterstone.com awhile back (just after it got pulled, as I found out later) and they eventually told me no can do.

Charlie, kudos to you for releasing it on a CC license. But if you could convince the publishers to print it, I would gladly pay a - small - fee.


aaaagh. evil amazon.de tells me I have to wait another week until I get my copy, even though I pre-ordered in jannuary or so and am an amazon-Prime-member. d'oh!


Kevin: I will prod Sean at Cosmos Books. If he's interested, he can at least put it out via Print On Demand. (If not, you can always hit on Lulu.com and print your own.)


lurker surfacing

I just read The Revolution Business last night. Great book, but after that err, interesting, ending I really want to be in stasis until the next book comes out. :)

One minor quibble. There are actually several nuclear weapons that are or were man-portable, including most of the nuclear artillery shells (W48, for example). It is only a minor quibble because clearly the SADM type weapons are best suited to your story.


If this isn't going to be available in the UK for some time, how come you'll be signing copies at Forbidden Planet on May 1st?

- Neil.


I'm there...as soon as it comes out as a mass market paperback. Hardcover books cost too much and use too many resources.


"Out of print" is the one argument that should be used in all discussions about the merits of ebooks, but isn't.


As I'm on somewhat of a tight budget these days, I can't buy both The Revolution Business and Wireless in hardcover, so I've chosen to get Wireless and wait on the Merchant Princes until they're all published, then go back and read them all at once. Unless there's a stimulus package for science fiction publishing, of course.

I've read Toast and enjoyed it, especially A Colder War. I'm a Cold War Generation baby myself, and that background sense of hysteria mixed with impending doom was very familiar, as was the "No strategy is unthinkable" attitude of the Cold Warriors. So good move letting it out, Charlie. "If you love somthing, give it a Creative Commons license and set it free."


I was going to pick up a copy today but it's not in stock anywhere in Ontario, Canada. Too bad I go back to the UK on Sunday: I'll have to wait twelve more weeks :(


@2 Yeah…I ordered that version off of Amazon.de last weekend. Also curious what the difference is, if any…


Thought I'd tell you that I picked up a very cheap (possible second-hand?) US edition of Toast in that little Scifi bookstore near the Grassmarket at the end of last year. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. It was really good ;)



Hardcover books ... use too many resources.

Price isn't the - real - problem for me, shelf space is. A hardcover takes room for about 3-4 paperbacks (need 50% more height between shelves, can't place two rows of books, and somewhat thicker), so any hardcover I buy, I have to sacrifice 2 books.

Curiously, most of the hardcover-worthy few authors I follow tend to be brits rather than americans. Such as our esteemed host (the HC is in the pipeline of my current orders, just waiting for the end of the month and my monthly book drop to land)


I preordered a while ago and I notice the price has gone up a little since then. My delivery estimate (in the UK) is 5 May. I will have to be patient :)


Jon: that'll be the exchange rate. Sterling is in the tank against the US dollar, so US imports cost more.


I'd rather have a real actual copy of "Toast" - I'll have to try the secondhand market, I suppose, since I've never seen a copy.
Are all the earlier "Family" novels still available in Pbk in the UK?
If so, I'd better get copies.....


"Price isn't the - real - problem for me, shelf space is."

Hardcover books use the same amount of paper as about 4 mass market paperbacks--That's the REAL problem. And people will blow $35 (Canadian) for a hardcover, read it, and then won't know what to do with it. They've read it and now they don't want it cluttering up their houses, so it ends up in a remainders bin or a recycle bin somewhere.

Publishers need to realize that if they make us wait a YEAR for a mass market paperback or even a trade paperback, we're going to quickly lose interest in their product. Why wait a year when I can go to the library and pick up a copy to read?

That's lost sales right there.


I work at an independent bookstore in Iowa, and as 1 pm CST, both Ingram & Baker & Taylor ( the 2 largest book wholesalers in the US) had paperback copies of Toast on hand (Ingram also has a cloth print on demand edition as well). The quantities are very low, only about 30 on hand between the two of them, so you might want to move fast if you want one.


I'll be reading this latest installment very soon. IMHO, the 'Merchant Princes(s)' is probably the most original stuff that's been done with this trope in a long while.

Or maybe I'm missing something. Any recommendations for stories about good product, wrong business plan? I'm not thinking about stuff like 'The Man Who Came Early'.


Charlie @ 18. I will download it for reading, but if it comes out on PoD I promise I will also buy a copy.


Toast is out of print? Seriously? Awesome, I officially have a collectible.


I'm confused about "Revolution Business". I have it preordered from UK Amazon, which shows it as being available on 5 May (had an email yesterday to say it had been put back from 15 April) - presumably that's the US hardcover edition? Should they be doing that?


David: Amazon do grey-market imports. Whether they're supposed to do that or not is a matter between Amazon and the publishers. Not my department.


Speaking of release schedules - when is The Merchant's War going to get a UK paperback release?


Duh-duh-daaaah! Charlie Stross, writer by day, open rights warrior by night!


Colin F: I don't know. In a nutshell: the entire editorial staff of PanMac, aka Tor UK, departed last year (not, I hasten to add, for bad reasons: one retired, the other was head-hunted by a competitor). This resulted in the list being taken over by a new editor, which inevitably causes some degree of confusion and delay. Next, there's the current publishing climate -- the recession has hit, and some of the US publishers are panicking. I haven't any reason to believe there won't be a UK edition of TMW, and of TRB and TToQ in due course, but I believe the previous schedule has been messed up (otherwise TMW would be out in UK paperback already).

Disclaimer: Tor (US) buy world English language rights to this series, so I'm not involved directly in the UK publication process (Tor US re-sell the UK and Commonwealth rights to Tor UK).


Thank you - ordered...


Hmm, I ordered an expensive (to send to the UK) 'The Revolution Business' from Powells. Can't wait a year, but can wait a few weeks.

'Wireless' on order from Amazon UK, it has 'Missile Gap' in it too, another OOP Stross.

Are you all talking about the hardback of 'Toast'?? I see a paperback edition on Amazon UK for around £10 and new & used for around £5.

@26 you mean 'Transreal'.


As of yesterday Waterstones in Dublin, Ireland had a copy of Toast on the shelf for €15. I assume they will deliver internationally, might cost you though...


Dear sir, you are stealing my sleep chapter by chapter. Please to be stopping such activities. Please also to be ceasing the replacement of to-do lists and other "important" things in my head with large chunks of Miriam Beckstein's story. (Squints a bleary eye at you... )

Really liking TRB so far (about 2.5 chapters in), keep up the good work.

Will you be coming through Seattle to do a reading again, soon?
I heard you read at Amazon more than a year ago when Halting State was brand new. You were fantastic!


Ryan: weirdly, I will be in Seattle in about three weeks' time. No readings scheduled, but I'll be doing the brewpub thing more than once. (More info nearer the visit.)


I'm afraid that $70 is not that unusual. I've read everything by David Wishart (the novelist, not the specialist on plains Indian cultures) barring two paperbacks which generally list for $150-300 on Amazon. It would be three, but I found one of his $50 paperbacks for 99 cents in a bargain bin.

Now, sometimes you will see such a book selling for much less on another Amazon site, but if you order that, it will never, ever arrive.


What about Wildside Press (perhaps "the small press who were supposed to be publishing it")? Seems to be available at $14.95 http://www.wildsidepress.com/Toast-by-Charles-Stross_p_19.html


On ridiculous book prices:
Today I saw a Kindle ebook listed for
Let that sink in.
A $6000+ ebook. (And that was with a 20% discount from the list price of $8000+)
Admittedly, it was in a rather technical subject (Selected Nuclear Materials and Engineering Systems, Part 4). But still. For that price, I want the illustrated edition hand-copied onto parchment by the monks of Shangri-La. Ebook--just not cutting it.

And for me, both price and space are problems with hardbacks. I'm a book junkie--almost every single book I buy I read in less than a day; even giants like Storm of Swords and Cryptonomicon rarely take more than two or three. To keep entertained, then, I can either reread books I already own or buy more. I do both, of course, but rather more of the latter (there are, after all, always more, interesting books to read). Obviously, to keep up such a habit, I need to keep costs down. Thus, the mass-market paperback as my supply of choice (except for certain giants or otherwise hard-to-get books--and even there, I favor the trade paperback). I also need somewhere to put all those books, and the mass-market takes up much less space. Of course, the fact that I'm also going through college right now, and in a technical subject, means I spend a lot on textbooks, too.


Bloody Scots!

Here I am in Atlanta, on my laptop in the bedroom, listening to my wife downstairs in the living room, listening to a scotswoman hand Simon Cowell his ass again and again on YouTube, and blubbering. Oh, and today is our wedding anniversary. Color me, oh, long-time married, I guess. I'm away to the off-license. Or whatever they call them in Atlanta. (Irish guy who swam away, swam away, a long time ago.)

Anyway, I just finished the book, and posted a review at Amazon. I didn't hard-pedal it, but I'm kind of disappointed at the way Europeans have been having a go at the American political system these last few years, especially given that they've lived so comfortably behind its aegis for so long, with no real understanding of the country that provides the aegis. Small matter, but it does rankle. And it may well make the book look a little stupid, years hence when GWB has Truman's reputation. Just wait for it.

I enjoyed the book, though, as I remarked, the series suffers from the time between installments. Once it's all done, best create a version that combines all the installments into a single book, with the references for the newbies removed.

Oh, and come to Atlanta sometime on a promotion tour. We have an actual decent collection of brewpubs, and a great local brewery, Sweetwater. I mean, if beer's to your taste.


That's a very classy thing to do. I'm especially glad that people will have easy access to _A Colder War_, which is probably my favorite apocalyptic fantasy. I'd love to see a graphic novel or film adaptation of it.


I read the first installment of MP a few months ago, then read the next three in the space of a couple of months. Naturally I will keep going, but my question is, are you going to wrap this story up by v. 6? They're like chapters in one bigger book, which is o.k., but I need there to be an ending.


Miracle Max and Patrick Carroll: there is a huge series climax in book 6, which will almost certainly take you by surprise.

Yes, it's an ending. No, it doesn't kill everybody off -- there may be a MP: The Next Generation series some day -- but I need a few years away from the series first, so I'm wrapping as much as possible up at the end of book 6.

(Finally: "The Trade of Queens" is due on my editor's desk at the end of the month, and I've got just a couple more days of writing to go. Which is why I'm not blogging much right now ...)


The signed, limited edition of Toast is listed on Wyrm Publishing's website as to-be-published in May/June 2009. I preordered it last year. Are you saying it isn't going to happen, or just that you haven't heard from the publisher in a while?

The URL is: http://wyrmpublishing.com/catalog/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1&products_id=11


Chris: Wyrm bit off a little more than they could chew last year, but I am now assured (over the weekend) that the special signed, final edition of Toast is indeed on the way for June, and I shall of course be giving it a plug here. The cover's gorgeous, by the way. This is going to be the final official published dead-tree edition of Toast, and the only signed limited edition (of course).


52: Excellent. Thanks, CS.


@45 Charlie, what will you be in Seattle doing, then? (I assume that checking out a few brewpubs in our region is not sufficient incentive to visit here, correct me if I'm wrong... )

I look forward to you visit, and hope that I can stand you a pint of something delicious during your time here. What sort of brew do you prefer? (I like stouts and porters best, myself. Beer you can stand a fork up in, with hints of chocolate and coffee, or in some cases actual chocolate and coffee.)

While you're here maybe you can try Elliot Bay Brewpub in the West Seattle neighborhood. Tasty beers, and some of the best pub grub I've had.