« Home again | Main | Marking time »

Next year's books ...

Now that I've got my schedule for next year untangled ...

First up in print in 2010 will be "The Trade of Queens", book #6 in the Merchant Princes series — due out in April, this concludes the current story arc (the one beginning in "The Clan Corporate" and most recently continued in "The Revolution Business"). That'll be a hardcover release from Tor, at around the same time that "The Revolution Business" shows up in paperback (and hopefully in the UK).

There are more stories to tell in that universe, but I'm taking a couple of years off from writing them: I need a break.

The second novel in 2010 is a surprise substitute: rather than the previously-scheduled sequel to "Halting State", it's going to be book #3 in the Laundry files: "The Fuller Memorandum":

In the shadowy world of the Laundry, there is One True Religion. Bob Howard is about to become a true believer -- and he really wishes he wasn't.

Stressed-out and looking for a quiet life after a work-related fatal accident, Bob Howard thinks that a spell working in the Laundry's secret archives and catching up on the filing is just the ticket. But when his boss Angleton falls under suspicion and a top secret dossier goes missing, Bob is determined to get to the bottom of a puzzle: what was in the missing Fuller Memorandum, and why are the Russians so interested in it?

I've always had a secret hankering to write cold war spy thrillers; thanks to CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN, the Laundry, and a hidden nameless horror from the NKVD's files, I'm getting my opportunity ...

(Why the switch? Well, I was just settling down to work on the "Halting State" sequel last summer when the news went nonlinear. That book is meant to be near-future SF, which means it's highly dependent on the state of the world today. It was bad enough when, as I was waiting for "Halting State" to work its way into print, bits of the plot kept turning up in the news; this time around, one of last year's major news stories ate my plot! So I decided to (a) go back to the drawing board, and (b) wait for the financial crisis to settle down a bit. I'm now in the re-planning stages, and the book should see the light of day in mid-2011.)




I'm sure many people won't mind having another laundry book first. Glad to hear it is coming out next year, it would be a shame to have it sitting around for a few years in the queue.


About 419: NOooooooooooooooo! :)

I was seriously hoping to see that this year, so if you have any ideas on what should we change in the world so it won't be eating your ideas, just say it :)

Otherwise the third Laundry novel will be a good enough substitute :) I don't mean that the Landry series is bad, but to me it just doesn't have the depth and fun that was/is in "Halting state".
(well, probably because I'm also an IT junkie)


Using the name 'Angleton' and the word 'suspicion' in the same sentence is a stroke of genius. See:



Wait for the financial crisis to settle down? Lots of luck! As Annie told Daddy Warbucks.

Please refresh my memory and post a list of the Merchant Princes novels in order: I think I've missed one.



Yay! Release date for last Merchant Princes. Bummer! I have to wait until April.


Mr. Stross,
Since I assume you will be changing the plot the sequel to Halting State, could you divulge which major development from last year was your first draft's plot based on?

I have to agree that the financial crisis is not even halfway over as (a) European banks are very vulnerable to Eastern European defaults, which haven't happened yet, (b) nobody in power wants to make significant changes to the US financial system, (c) American consumers have been living beyond their means prior to the crash and so their demand is unlikely to revert back to previous levels. The Great Recession is likely to be a very long drawn out affair, so hopefully you won't wait to see how it ends before starting on your book.


AC @6: I had an elaborate plot revolving around the world's biggest 419 scam -- one an order of magnitude bigger than anything I'd ever heard of (including the Banco Noreste affair).

Then Bernie Madoff crawled out of the woodwork and made me look like a piker. I'd only been thinking in terms of my villains embezzling ten billion or so, after all!

Truth, it seems, is stranger than fiction.


Hey Charlie,

Any plans to revisit the Singularity Sky/Iron Sunrise universe? Just reread Iron Sunrise and remembered how much I liked that set.


rick @8: I'm not our gracious host, but I do recall he's said to be 'finished' with the Eschaton universe.


rick: that universe is dead; so dead it's positively pining for the fjords.


Will you be doing a reading from Fuller Memorandum at Anticipation?


Brad: quite possibly. (Although I prefer to read from stuff that's already in print.)


I use to never watch television, i use to read all the time, now i recently started watching television, and all these csi show writers, don't even do any work!
i mean they take the stories from teh news and change the names, like the pulonium 211, thing, and then i mean i've seen several shows where it seems, they handed off the script to the other show because they probably thought who would know?
my favorite ones are the cereal killers with the mass graves, i love that.


So the Eschaton universe is gone:( Well, as long as Bob is alive or undead or..something!?


Damn the evil, plot-eating reality of Madoff's madness. Well, at least there's the Fuller Memorandum to look extremely forward to!

And isn't "pining for the fjords" sort of a undead activity? First stop, BRAAAAAAAAAINNNNNNNNNNNS....second stop, the fjords.
I could be wrong, my memory of that parrot sketch by Python is faint by now.


Hmmm... So Madoff beat you to it. And, on a larger scale, it's arguable that the credit bubble which preceded the credit crunch was a sort of Ponzi scheme, too.

But somewhere in the current mess, there is surely some overlooked peculiarity of finance which a little lateral thinking and a warped sense of humour can turn into a near-future plot.

Tell me: do fanboys-who-buy-you-a-pint-at-Eastercon ever get to see the brainstorming sessions where you cystallise (or congeal) these ideas?


The new Halting State book came true too quickly so you wrote a new Laundry sequel instead?

Well, we can all thank our lucky stars that it wasn't the other way around.


...Bob Howard thinks that a spell working in the Laundry's secret archives...

I interpreted spell incorrectly on the first read. On the other hand, it could describe the book accurately.

#13 my favorite ones are the cereal killers with the mass graves, i love that.

Must... resist... cereal killer... pun...


Anonymous coward at #6 - nobody seems to want to change the UK financial system, to judge by the gvt actions of the last few months and the opinion of the new private eye.
So we're doooooomed.

Charlie - only 10 billion? Even before Madoff I would have said that wasn't much at all, given what the story was supposed to be like. Ahh well.


Ah, I missed that bit of news and the end of Iron Sunrise seemed to leave things open. Too bad as I liked both books. /mourn... Thanks for the reply though.


Well I'm certainly happy that the schedule changed, especially after it seemed set in stone from an earlier blog thread. I get a great kick out of the humor of the Laundry books.


"The second novel in 2010 is a surprise substitute: rather than the previously-scheduled sequel to "Halting State", it's going to be book #3 in the Laundry files: "The Fuller Memorandum":"

Woohoo! Thankyouthankyouthankyou :D


This is good news, Charlie, at least as far as "The Fuller Memorandum" is concerned. I've had a major jones for a new Laundry story ever since I finished reading "The Jennifer Morgue". I'm also glad to hear that real world events haven't preempted Bob Howard; having CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN come early and in RL would not be good news at all.


This news made my day thanks Charlie :)


Charlie, I assume by now you've seen the blurb from Paul Krugman regarding the Jennifer Morgue. Looks like you've got some important fans.


Haar: I have indeed seen it. (I didn't post about it, however, because that would be tacky.)


Just finished reading _Halting State_ for the first time over the weekend. I enjoyed it, but _The Atrocity Archive_ is thus far my favorite work of yours so I'm looking forward to the new Laundry book.

I'm struck by how many inside jokes you stick in your books. Halting State had the gag about somebody damning whomever it was who invented the Slaad. Another book of yours-- I forget which-- made a Serdar Argic reference --and when I read that, I thought to myself: there's probably only a couple of hundred people in the world who were on Usenet back in the mid-1990s and would get that-- or at least, there's probably only a couple of hundred people in the world who would get that reference _and_ who would be reading the book in the first place. Made me feel special.



Yeah, I especially missed at least some vague hint of what was threatening the Eschaton. I can live with not knowing the future of the 5 main characters and the state vector of a sixth, or the future of the ReMastered. But what could be that threat to the Big E?

Maybe our dear host may one day write a page or two addressing the nature (and perhaps the name) of this threat and finish it with something along the lines of:

1. I am the author. I am not your god.
2. This story was written by me in the past.
3. Thou shalt not violate causality within my story. Or else.

And then, leave the rest to fan fiction. (No, I wouldn't dare to touch it with anything more tangible than my neurons.)


@20: The threat to the Eschaton is the Fermi Paradox writ large. Big Herman doesn't want humanity to create Little Hermans which will try to overthrow/eliminate him, but at the same time he's looking over his shoulder worrying if there are Bigger Hermans out there and hoping that a) they don't notice him and b) those pesky humans don't make so much "noise" that they attract the notice of said Bigger Hermans.

Basically it's a Bigger Hermans All The Way Up universe.


@27 I think the Argic reference was Accelerando. I only remember because, alas, I did have to google the reference as I had no idea who/what it was.

On the otherside - I'm pleased that you did manage to switch books as it were Charlie. Hopefully it's not gotten you any black marks or derisive sneers.

Both I, and my many tentacled friends from the bottom of the Mandelbrot set applaud you.


Dennis @ #27:

Can't say I recall any "serdar argic" references in any of Charlie's books (though I'd of course be delighted to find one), but I did see one in Ken MacLeod's Star Fraction (and, yes, it had me giggling). I must say I'm more fond of the references in one of the shorts (um, maybe "the short", thinking about it) in The Jennifer Morgue, that had a frightening skull in a cloister.


Your problems with planning the "Halting State" sequel sound strangely akin to dealing with the Singularity. I suppose the major difference is that you expect the financial situation to stabilize again, sooner or later.


Your problems with planning the "Halting State" sequel sound strangely akin to dealing with the Singularity. I suppose the major difference is that you expect the financial situation to stabilize again, sooner or later.


> Stressed-out and looking for a quiet life after a work-related fatal accident...

If I had a fatal accident, I'd probably appreciate some peace & quiet as well.

Seriously, looking forward to the next installment!


Argic wasn't obscure, but naming two very insignificant bad guys in Singularity Sky Grubor and Boursy was inspired.


Great to hear that a new Bob book is coming out. I've been waiting forever! Thanks!


Charlie @10: if that universe is _that_ undead, those will turn out to be the last two Laundry sequels, right?


Add another tick to the "pleased that Laundry 3 got bumped up" list!

OT other author advice: I'm halfway through Consider Phlebas and reading it is a chore. Does it get better or should I abandon? How do Matter and Player of Games compare?

(I've read so many good reviews, I feel like I should stick it out, but it's not fun and I've got a long queue.)


How do Matter and Player of Games compare?

Player of Games has a more quick plot progression - it's more conventional, progression from defeating a problem to defeating the next problem, etc. If you don't like Consider Phlebas, you probably won't like Matter.


It's a funny thing, but even though Player of Games is the best Culture novel, it's not my favourite - that's Use of Weapons.

Matter I've found really disappointing, after the return to form that was the Algebraist.


Excellent news - as much as I loved Halting State I can't wait for more Laundry action. Looking forward to hearing what content from your nascent novel is finding its ways into the news though...


Fuller Memo sounds seriously cool. Can't wait!


I've been reading the UK paperbacks of the Merchant Princes. Is there a planned release date for #4, the Merchant's War?

Can't find on Amazon, nor can I find any information on Tor's UK release schedule online.


Colin F: I am awaiting a reply from my editor at Tor UK ...


WooHoo! Sorry that RealLife(TM) messed with your plots but really very pleased to know the Fuller Memorandum will be coming along... I keep checking my bookshelves to see whether a new 'Laundry' has miraculosly appeared (so far: No) so the news that I shall be able to get one through more conventional means is great.


Now that I've got my schedule for next year untangled ...

Tasty. I'm very much looking forward to reading all of the "Clan" books that I haven't been reading because of the cliff-hangers. :-) Need instant gratification on cliff hangers.

And a new Laundry book! Yippee! You rock!


Deb: Merchant Princes #6 doesn't end on a cliff-hanger. It ends on a parking spot for the series (not everything is tied up: I reserve the right to go back to it later) but the big cliff-hangers are resolved.

Really, books 1-2 can be read as a stand-alone, and books 3-6 constitute one big novel. Except current binding technology isn't up to holding it all together (or so I'm told) ....


Thanks, Charlie. :-) You promised that #6 would have an arc-finisher, so I've been waiting for it.

I loved 1&2, and they're a very nice stand-alone. After finishing #3 (and whimpering), it was clear that waiting for #6 would be the anti-whinging choice.

Thou rockest.


A new Laundry novel? *does little happy dance of happiness*. But I'll take the next Merchant Princes one too...


Charlie @ 47:

Except current binding technology isn't up to holding it all together (or so I'm told) ....

Oh, crap. If the technology exists to keep Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler's "Gravitation" together (1215 pages, 5.7 pounds shipping weight, 10 x 7.9 x 2.3 inches, pound for pound the best deal in physics paperbacks around, and not bad as a doorstop either), then the Merchant Princes books shouldn't be a problem. I've seen copies of "Gravitation" that have been in fairly constant use since publication (1973), that are still in fair condition. For that matter I have a paperback containing all four of E. R. Eddison's Zimiamvia novels; it's huge, and has held together for about 15 years so far.

I suspect that the publishers are afraid that not too many people will buy a book that big.


Bruce -- how much does "Gravitation" cost?

(The amount of money publishers are willing to throw at binding a midlist novel is probably rather less than what academic publishers will spend on a text book that sells for several times as much money.)


I'd also like a capsule summary of what would have happened with the Eschaton universe. Am I right in assuming that it didn't sell enough copies?

Also, if you can tell us about it, is "The Fuller Memorandum" your "Le Carre" novel in the Laundry series?




Alex @ 52:

I thought "The Fuller Memorandum" was the Tom Clancy novel in the Laundry series...


I'm quite happy to be getting another Laundry book; while I liked Halting State, I much prefer things a little further out there.

That said, my real preference is for trans-(& post-)human scifi, and Glasshouse is possibly my favourite charliebook so far. What's the outlook on more like that (not necessarily same universe)?


Remember, everyone, that J. F. C. Fuller ....
Was a really serious case of fruitcake.
Try looking at some of his mystical writings listed in the Wiki entry, and think of his association with Crowley et. al.
Could be fun, though, provided the Old Ones don't eat our brains in the meantime!


Randolph Carter: in what was is Tom Clancy a British spy thriller writer? (Hint: British series.)

Quux: I am contemplating a sequel to "Glasshouse" -- but first I have to write the sequel to "Halting State", and maybe Laundry #4, so it won't be written (much less published) for a year or two. You might, however, like "Palimpsest" (the new novella, forthcoming in the collection "Wireless").


Is the Fuller Memorandum again going to be one of these lovingly put together Golden Gryphon books or have you become to big for them? Possibly again with a nice extra novella or short story?


Charlie @ 51:

Exactly my point; I was objecting to the excuse about binding technology limitations. IIRC, "Gravitation" cost $60 when new in 1973, today (it's still in print) it costs about $125. So the reason for not printing that big a mid-list book is simply that the publisher is unlikely to make a profit on it, whereas a best-selling technical book, which might sell 2 orders of magnitude fewer copies can sell for enough to pay for the binding costs.

Which raises an interesting question: what effect might electronic distribution of books have on acceptable lengths? We've already seen that publishers are willing to e-distribute individual short stories and novelas as "books" for prices in the US $1 to $3 range, depending on length. I wonder if there will be a move on the other end of the spectrum, with all the volumes of a "series" that's really one large book bundled together, perhaps for a somewhat lower a price per page than the separate parts might sell.


I should point out as evidence for the usefulness of publishing 2 and 3 book series as a unit, that this evening I finished reading the recent omnibus edition of P. C. Hodgell's "Godstalk" and "Dark of the Moon", and was very happy that I could find them together so easily. And I owe a thank you to Charlie and whoever else was so generous in praise for them. I happened to see the book on the shelf in my local library, and immediately grabbed it, took it home, and read it. Epic fantasy is not normally appealing to me; Hodgell has an unaffected style combined with a sharp eye for character and setting that reminds me a little of Andre Norton at her best, though Hodgell is, I think, a better writer.


Goetz: TFM will appear in hardcover from Ace (in the US) and Orbit (in the UK), with an afterword but no novella (this time round -- I hope to have one in the back of book #4). The print run will likely exceed Golden Gryphon's largest ever by a factor of two.

Bruce: you may be pleased to know that there are two other novels in Hodgell's series, and she's working on the fifth (as I understand it, she retired recently, and so has more time for writing now).


I too request a short summary of the likely outcome of the Iron Sky series.



!!!What!!! Singularity sky setting is done? :-(

I was really looking forward to seeing more of the Eschaton.


And if we are speaking of life imitating art (or vice-versa) I am still trying to figure out if the current financial crisis was in fact caused by a beta version of the Economics 2.0 engine. I still think Accelerando was a fabulous book - especially the first part.

Okay maybe not a beta, but definitely an alpha version of Econ-2.0.


Having just finished rereading The Jennifer Morgue I was delighted to see a new Laundry novel is appearing. I'm even more delighted as a fan of assorted spy fiction to see the title.

Please tell me it's a Quiller style book!
As a former IT person (who got into IT in 1968), Lovecraft, Science Fiction and 60's spy novel fan I can't wait... Now we need the Le Carre, Adam Diment and the rest of the crew.

And this is not to say I haven't read (and enjoyed) the rest of your writing, but the Laundry just hits the right notes.


Charles, here's an interesting and possibly relevant to the Halting State sequel piece of information.