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Hold the front page

Okay, in the past month that's three (count 'em) sets of page proofs processed; that, and I'm halfway through a secret writing project™ (don't worry, I'll explain all when it's finished) while twiddling the plot wheels on "Rule 34", the "Halting State" sequel (and my main bread-and-butter work for the year ahead). I did a guest of honour slot in Copenhagen, and a long weekend at a convention in Dresden, and was sandbagged by a lovely chest infection (probably some species of con crud picked up during all the travel). And you know what else? I'm exhausted.

Luckily I have no travel commitments for the next six weeks, then two brief trips, then nothing unavoidable until February. (Among the theoretically avoidable stuff is a routine Christmas shopping/friend-visiting excursion to London, and one or more visits to family who don't live on my doorstep — but those aren't in the same league as a GoH appearance in another time zone.) So I've got time to catch my breath, do some serious relaxing, and hole up in my office to write.

However, when I'm this tired I run low on creativity. Blogging becomes a chore, and the rate at which I spontaneously generate essays drops through the floor — especially challenging stuff like What is the sensory bandwidth of Scotland? or Gary Gygax, World Dictator.

On the other hand, this blog's been going for a while. In it's current incarnation (running on Movable Type) it's hitting 414 postings and just shy of 25,000 reader comments — and that's after a five year run on top of Blosxom. I've got plenty of material ... enough that I've even been tempted to whack a bunch of the more interesting stuff together and turn it into a book. And if I continue to run short on blogging ideas over the next couple of months, I'm probably going to revisit some of those earlier essays, bring them up to date, and have an argument with my earlier self.




You should take an easy(ish) route and bring out a 'five years of antipope' book. Collating all your favourite blogs, with choice excerpts of comments.

Everyone'll buy just to see if you include one of their posts. Then just sit back and let the money roll in.

Seriously, foolproof, what could go wrong?


...and have an argument with my earlier self.
Oh, oh, Against boredom The Eschaton himself struggles in vain.

Actually sounds like the new Ratchet & Clank game to me:

A Crack in Time offers a brand new game mechanic: "time pads." Time pads allow you to make a copy of yourself and move through a series of action, then shift back to "real time" and interact with your past self.


Serraphin: uh-uh, can't use the comments. I put some boilerplate in the moderation policy to cover my ass, but I suspect a publishing lawyer would advise me to contact everyone before actually, like, republishing their comments in a for-profit book; and there are too many folks (and not all of them use valid email addresses when they post).

Besides, some of these threads are long. The High Frontier, Redux, for example, ran to 825 comments and 144,000 words ... or about the same length as "Accelerando"!

So it'd just be my essays, with maybe some afterthoughts.


Oh my word... it's "Rule 34" now? I wonder how much the plot has changed since it was going to be "419". Advance-fee fraud porn?

Anyway, I've updated the wiki page. I've never cited anything on wikipedia before. I feel all tingly and special.


I believe when Scalzi runs into this problem, he just posts a picture of his cat and lets the peanut gallery amuse themselves on that for a day or two.

Take it easy!


Rosy: yeah, it's been re-titled (because Bernie Madoff ate my original plot). "Rule 34" in this case is a reference to the Lothian and Borders Police "Rule 34 squad", protecting the citizens of Edinburgh from the kind of internet meme that turns up on your doorstep at 3am, dripping in blood ...



Wow, 825 comments for the essay "High Frontier, Redux",
did this essay attract the most user comments ? As a matter
of curiosity, which topics tend to attract the most comments ?
Thank you


David: that was a record, but I've had several that pushed past 200 comments.

If I was comment-whoring in earnest, I'd be looking for holy cows to attack with a sledge-hammer. Telling the Space Cadets that Santa doesn't exist is a good example; but trolling is tedious. (I finished my trolling decade circa 1999; haven't felt the need to go back -- it's too easy.)


"protecting the citizens of Edinburgh from the kind of internet meme that turns up on your doorstep at 3am, dripping in blood ..."

Man, I hope that ends up on the back of the book.


At least when you argue with yourself you know it's an argument you'll win. :)


Perhaps in a future "Laundry" story ?


Really Charlie? Rule 34? Rule 34 which states, "If you can imagine it, there is porn of it"? I'd read it. Twice.


Andrew G @10 Not if you're really trying.


You could always start doing the "Open Thread" blog-thing when you have nothing much to say. Your readers as a group never seem to run into that problem.

Whether and how it works depends to a great extent on how many and what kind of regular readers you've got, and whether they cohere into any kind of community without having to wave the Sledge of Clueiness around. I suspect you've probably got enough in total numbers, no idea on the other.


Excuses, excuses ...

We bought a place in Naples Fl, so after 5 years, we won't be going back to St. Martin FWI for a year or two. So, we won't be running into the Stross's there (I figured you had to have visited there after "Jennifer Morgue" -- we absolutely love the place ...).



Well if things bog down too much, one could always have a Windows 7 Release House Party. Since this most likely corresponds to when the Great Old Ones return from beyond the stars to eat our brains, it might be fun.


Chris@15: We haven't been to St. Martin/St. Maarten at all, much to my annoyance. I'd most like to be on the beach there should Air France decide to send one of their A380s there...


@Rosy #4 "Advance-fee fraud porn?"

Send a nude picture of yourself to the seven addresses below. Then make seven copies, moving the list down one item, dropping the bottom name and putting your own name at the top. Send the copies to seven people.

Do not break the chain!

(OK, so that's a pyramid chain letter rather than advance-fee fraud, but it's of the same ilk...)



A Crack in Time offers a brand new game mechanic: "time pads."

If you're looking at a time-travelling game, there's Achron:


It's a RTS entirely based on time travel. Get attacked? Go back earlier and change your unit orders (of course, the other guy does it as well).


David @7: Proof that Slashdot is still good for something now that it's been over-run by My Mac Is TeH H4XX0R See It Has A Command Lines!!!! fanboys... why when I was a young web-thing, etc, etc.


Chris L: Just to prove something-or-other, my slashdot user name is "charlie". And I have a low four-digit user ID.

A Crack in Time offers a brand new game mechanic: "time pads." Time pads allow you to make a copy of yourself and move through a series of action, then shift back to "real time" and interact with your past self.

That mechanic actually seems to be borrowed from Braid (more specifically the Time and Decision world), where it is one of the many time-manipulation mechanics that the game basically consists of.

If you're looking at a time-travelling game, there's Achron
Still in development, but promising. The designer of Braid said he was thinking about how to make time travel work for strategy games, and these guys have a good idea.

Is Rule 34 going to avoid World-of-Warcraft-like parts? I found that part of Halting State to be a turn-off in an otherwise quite enjoyable novel.


Is Rule 34 going to avoid World-of-Warcraft-like parts? I found that part of Halting State to be a turn-off in an otherwise quite enjoyable novel.

I liked those bits, too. (Not that I play WoW myself, you understand, but I do pick up things ....)


Charlie @21: that, um, you predate fanboys who think they're l33t because they can run traceroute?


@Charlie >uh-uh, can't use the comments

Surely it would be okay to paraphrase some of them to expand on the topics though?

In particular your responses to other people's comments form an excellent commentary or expansion on the original post and it would be a shame to lose those because of copyright issues.


Robin: yes, I can paraphrase (and provide URL footnotes pointing to the original comment threads). But there are limits to how much paraphrasing I'm happy about doing.

Not going there for the time being, anyway -- just written a short story, taking a couple of days off, then about to go back to work on the novel.


Chris @20: In my experience the /. crowd is a lot more likely to be arguing that Apple's a monopoly just like Microsoft because that they can't put OS X on any arbitrary PC. Plus complaining that mass-market consumer devices like Macs and iPhones aren't designed for maximum hackability for, what, about 1% of the customer base.

We must read different articles. I see a fair amount of stupidity (some of it from the "editors"; was Jon Katz the only person there who could write well-formed English?), and some of the posts are as newsworthy as the sky being blue, but the crowdsourcing of info there on some topics (eg, physics and computing) is extremely valuable and time-saving, and the moderation system while not perfect by any means does tend to highlight the best comments. Not sure where these putative Mac pseudo-l33ts are hiding...


Bruce@28: You may be right. I haven't looked at /. for a long long time -- I probably only ever caught the tail end of what it was originally like, but enough so that as time went on my own knowledge of "stuff" crossed over the declining average as exhibited in the comments. If that makes sense.


re: slashdot --- I find more & more that I just go there for the lulz. I do agree that some topics still result in reasonable threads, but the majority seem to be written by_&_for script-kiddies & fanboyz

caveat: I had an early 5 digit id -- but it got lost sometime in one of my many moves


Hah! I'm so l33t that I've never had a Slashdot user ID. Top that if you can!

(J/k for the sarcasm-impaired.)


We did a couple of 5 island caribbean cruises, somehow wound up taking a cab from Philipsburg to Marigot and really liked the feel. My wife found the Grand Case Beach Club (http://www.grandcasebeachclub.com/) and we went there the next year, and four times since. It's only like a 3 star place, but has everything you need. Its restaurant (the Sunset Cafe) is very good (if a little slow some evenings), and is indeed great for sunsets -- I've seen 2 green flashes from there. To the north is Le Petit Plage, a public beach. And, a three block walk (we have yet to rent a car) and you're at Grand Case Boulevard, "The Gourmet Capital of the Caribbean". We alternate eating at the fancy, mostly french places ($100 or more for 2) and the LoLo -- slab of ribs or 1/2 chicken, 3 sides for $10. Grand Case Beach is a nice 3/4 mile walk, even in February you might see at most two dozen other people. Really laid back, and a real place -- chicken coops between fancy restaurants, no hyperreality here. Around half the tourists there are french. Highly recommended.