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The sound of silence

I've been quiet lately because I've been in London, getting a life, trying not to break my neck on the icy pavements, and having a meeting with my UK editor. It's surprising how exhausting and time-consuming having a life can be, and it tends to take up moments that might otherwise have been spent blogging. (Who knew?)

There is, unsurprisingly, nothing new to report on the work front. I'm elbow-deep in the middle of "Rule 34", contemplating what I might do next — it's due to hit my editors' email inboxes no later than July — so sounding out my UK editor's opinion of various ideas is of course par for the course at this point. I will confess, however, to being slightly itchy about how little far-future/wide-screen SF I've been writing recently. I've done (and am doing) four novels in a row that are set in alternative versions of the present day (or within 15 years' time), and it looks likely that at least one of the next two books I write will be alternate-present as well. The time opera "Palimpsest" (sort of like a space opera, only with time machines) made a bid for freedom between two Merchant Princes episodes, but I managed to hold it back to novella length by writing the first third of what really wants to be a full-length book. That (and the century-later sequel to "Glasshouse") are bubbling close to the top of the stack of stuff I want to be writing — subject to the constraints of earning a living. And of course there's the possibility of revisiting the Merchant Princes universe. But at the end of the day I have to eat, and so to some extent what I write is constrained by what my publishers' marketing departments think they can sell.

Straw poll: what would you like to see me write next? (Bearing in mind that anything you vote for now will be written in 2010-2011 and won't see print before 2012 ...)



Well I haven't read any of your other books :-P but Halting State is the only plausibly realistic fictional representation of near future technology I've seen [*]. So more like that works fine for me.

[* Unless you count Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, but that's so near-future it's hardly future at all]


Skip the Merchant Price stuff is my own vote. I'm a rabid devotee of all your other stuff, but can't quite seem to go for the MP series so far. I just finished all the Laundry books (including Overtime on and it was great - even though I'm now usually into the horror/Cthulu genre. You pulled that off wonderfully and impressively. They got me through the holidays!

Accelerando was fascinating and wonderful. Halting State looks like a bit like my real-life twisted 90 degrees somehow. I'm working my way through the rest of your cannon and anticipating them eagerly.

You write the best damned current-tech SF of anyone I know. That is, not necessarily near future, but SF that takes the current tech and the tech in development into account.

So my vote: stick with the tech-based SF. Skip the M.P. series. YMMV.

BTW, if I've not made it clear, thanks for writing!



Greetings from also frigid Atlanta, GA where Hell has, apparently, frozen over.

My vote would be for anything set in "the Laundry" universe. I'm also partial to "far flung space opera" as well, so I guess I'm torn between those two votes.

That said, write and earn a living with whatever makes you happy. Life's too short to be miserable. Best of luck and stay warm.


I enjoy most of your stuff, but my personal preference would be for deep-future, hard SF. I'm not seeing enough of that out there nowadays.


I've read all your books by now and itch to read more. I still feel that your far future books and your MP series (early books at least they seemed a little less tight in later novels, not as heavy on the economic impact of such a gate). The only downside with the MP series is that is seems even less likely then far future fairytales.

I like your near future books but they are not as imaginary as they are a little easier to predict.

So if I had a vote I'd go hard, deep future SF. A follow up on glass house would be cool as would a new solution to the generation ship idea.



Toss in a vote for the Glasshouse sequel. Runner-up vote goes to the full-length Palimpsest.


It might be fun to find out what's happening to Martin and Rachel a few years (decades? centuries?) down the line and unpack a bit more detail on the nature of the Eschaton - Maybe it has to go toe to toe with someone elses Eschaton from way out beyond it's own light cone.

I was also hoping to find out what happens to Freya and chums one day...


I vote for more of "Palimpsest." That novella was great fun, and I'd love to read more of the story.

Any chance of anything more being done in the universe of "Iron Sunrise?"


Have some fun and write some reboots of some SF classics (assuming copyright allows). So how about a Charlie Stross take on:

War of the Worlds 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea 2001 Starship Troopers 1984 or any comic book hero/villain


Oooh, sequel to Glasshouse sounds very interesting to me, there were a lot of interesting ideas that were mostly just background to that story I felt at the time - they could definitely have a lot of interesting things about them.

It was a great story, but I felt that the direction of the story didn't fully exploit the setting, because it ended up going off sideways into the glasshouse and was neccessarily isolated from the the outside universe. I did enjoy it, but it did leave a feeling of "damn, I wish there were more stories about the universe outside too".

I'd also like to see a sequel to Iron Sunrise, but I get the impression (and I can't remember why) that that's unlikely.

I'm eagerly waiting for the Merchant Prince books, but much as I love them I'm not sure they're what you're best at. That sounds like a put-down but it's actually not intended to be, if anyone was going to riff off the Amber novels successfully and do their own thing with it, it'd be you or Steven Brust, but "sci-fi"er stories like Halting State and the Laundry novels are stepped up a gear and are precisely on the ball rather than "merely" excellent. (To mangle many metaphors.)

I'd hate to see you get stuck in a rut writing Laundry novels and Halting State sequels ad nauseum though, so I think my final vote goes on the Glasshouse sequel or to surprise us all and pull a rabbit out of nowhere by doing another interesting "one-off concept" novel like Saturn's Children.

Give the Merchant Princes a rest for a bit, not because they're not good, but because commiting to writing multi-volume works really seems to soak up a lot of your time and produces something with a slightly less concentrated dosage of Stross.


Another idea, instead of focusing on technology look at demographics. There have been any number of SF on the subject of over population (Soylent Green, Stand on Zanzibar, etc.) but that is not where we are going.

So how about a story set in a world of slowly declining populations, low birth rates, aging populations, abandoned farms, boarded up factories, empty cities and suburbs.

No apocalyptic bursting of the balloon or Children of Men fertility crisis. Just a slow leaking away as the world ends with a whimper instead of a bang.


Anything related to The Laundry would be great, but i'd love to see another GlassHouse.


You are one of the authors who I buy no matter what but I would vote for some "deep-future, hard SF" type stuff if I had a choice. Its all very well looking at what shit might hit the fan in the near future but sometimes some out and out escapism is good for the (entirely metaphorical) soul.


I'm very much looking forward to the last (for now) MP book mostly also because I just wanna know HOW you're going to resolve it within one novel-length book. Hope you didn't pull a Stephenson, so to speak (although of course success-wise that would be good for you).

My vote would go for far-future hard SF or the Palimpsest thingy. My REAL vote would also go for the Iron Sunrise-sequel (the whole ReMastered thing was extremely fascinating to me and I wanted to see how the whole Eschaton-thing plays out longer term) but I acknowledge that you don't want to write anything in there anymore and that is OK.



yer know, the Other Scot (the one with the Highlander lastname) also has a Universe in which he doesn't really want to write any more stories, IIRC, which I, nevertheless would love to read (engines of light universe). You guys could just trade universes! (joking)


London? Is this a move or a visit? Can we expect a few more public appearances in the South?

I'd love to see more of Halting State, more Laundry and especially more Eschaton.


I very much enjoyed "Palimpsest", but I'm not sure expanding it to novel length would improve it for me. The compression that goes with forcing it down to novella length is one of the things that makes it work, IMHO.

Put me down as a vote for far-future, though: maybe something in the chilly, pessimistic mode of "Missile Gap"? Science Fiction needs shaking up at the moment, and challenging comfortable assumptions is one way to do that.


I'm another person who'll buy whatever you write but I'd love a sequel to Glasshouse - I also want to know more about the world. Palimpsest was the best imagining of a 'time patrol' situation that I've read, and a full novel would be great.

In general it's the density of ideas in your books I love, so my vote would go for whatever you're most interested in.


You need to finish Palimpsest. You know you do.


I'd agree with those who say leave the MP series to rest once you've finished this first cycle. A new novel in the Glasshouse/Accelerando universe would be very welcome and I love the idea of an expanded Palimpsest or new work in that universe.

I do think that you are a master of the Lovecraftian sub-genre, so even if you don't want to take the Laundry any further, that might be an area to look at. How about a a Lovecraftian space-opera? Far future explorers awaken the Old Ones or something and realise that those old stories have a basis in reality. I guess that could be a tad too close to Peter Hamilton's Night's Dawn trilogy but could be fun done without the bloat.

Have you and Ken MacLeod ever considered collaborating? I'd buy anything by the two of you together in an instant.


I'd like to see some fiction about slow/partial singularities. So a world where it is non-trivial to exponentially self-improve because intelligence is too slippery and context sensitive a value to be easy to find systems with a higher value of it.

So stuff like worlds ravaged by AIs that take over the Internet and then turn on each other and fight to the last FLOP (ignoring the outside world), so we have to reboot computing with a more secure infrastructure.


re Post 16: hell YEAH, something as cheery as Missile Gap would go down nicely. Just make it kinda Peter Watts-level of optimism, I love that stuff ;)


Eschaton or Laundry, please. Love them both.


I guess I'm the dissenting voice in wanting to see more near future real tech stories. More Halting State, please. Manfred Macx, the teen years. I enjoy the Laundry, too.


The "far-future/wide-screen SF" stuff you've done is the stuff I've enjoyed reading the most, so I vote for more of that. My first choice would be another novel in the "Singularity Sky"/"Iron Sunrise" universe (though not necessarily a sequel to Iron Sunrise), but I would also love to read a sequel to "Glasshouse."


I know it won't happen but I'd like another collection of short fiction to follow Wireless. The 4th Laundry story would be good. Otherwise how about something not so scifi, like a police procedural novel, or a gumshoe story set in Scotland? I've liked Willie Meikle's Midnight Eye stories (supernatural gumshoe) mainly because the gritty side of Glasgow brings everything to life.


My first introduction was Accelerando, and I miss the rich mind-blowing world that that was. It took me days on wikipedia to grasp the layers and layers of connections and ideas. That book has shaped a lot of my thought since then; and many of the ideas dovetailed nicely with my own observations up to that point.

Glasshouse was a better story, and a similarly interesting world, but it was harder to relate to that world directly. It was a "neat" world, but far less insightful and relevant to anything I can act on today.

The Laundry books are just unadulterated entertainment. I don't expect anything except neat and fun ideas juxtaposed humorously.

Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise were ok. Not my favorites. I read them, but it wasn't really what I was looking for.

I would like either a sequel to Glasshouse... or... another Accelerando-esque novel.

Something to explore ideas in economics, law, politics, cybernetics, group theory, and how technology enables and permanently alters the dynamics of seemingly stable systems. Of course, I did love the idea of Curious Yellow and the malleability of history.

It's those ideas I love, and I'd like to see more of. I do think plots and action and characterization have improved far beyond what Accelerando gave us, but the worlds have become less rich and harder to relate to. I want stories to shape my thoughts. I've had to slip back to rereading Gibson to get some of that environmental richness.

I want to see books exploring the life log potentialities, the "Chrome Plated Jackboots" concepts, and for that matter, just the various changes taking place in the world today. Ideological competition; memetic subcultures forming via the Internet; how increased communication enables both greater cultural homogeneity and heterogeneity; the roles of banking and governmental transparency (and lack thereof) -- the State of Ohio just recently published payroll information online, listed by government employee and role; that's going to have some interesting repercussions -- the complete spaghetti that allows a "worldwide economic meltdown" because of this whole sub-prime mortgage fiasco; the ways that physical force can still trump information infrastructure (wikipedia and google over 3G don't do you much good when they've bombed the cell towers), etc.

I think there's a whole world of ideas that have been touched on and even dealt with in detail in the past, and I miss reading it. New stuff is happening every day, and you talk about it on your blog, but I want to see stories that truly run with them and explore them in ways that will probably never manifest in real life.

Then again, I know nothing about writing books that actually sell.


Mark G @7, et al: there will be No More Eschaton novels, period. There won't be a sequel to "Saturn's Children" either (aside from the short story I'm working on at present in my spare time).

MHellwig @13: here's the preliminary cover for the last Merchant Princes book. Make of it what you will.

Sam @16: "Palimpsest" the novel isn't an expansion of the novella so much as a continuation ... in unexpected directions. (I have an urge to do something as barkingly large-scale as Greg Bear's "Aeon". Okay?)

Roy @19: Ken doesn't collaborate, AIUI.


If I had my druthers I'd ask for a sequel to Iron Sunrise, but you've already said that that particular patient is dead, so that's that.

A little while ago you mentioned that you were sort of sick of the "singularity" idea. Maybe you've been staying away from far future sci-fi simply because of how much of the landscape out there is dominated by "singularity" or themes that are so close as to be indistinguishable from it.

I will say that out of all of Wireless, Palimpsest was far and away my favorite.

This is always the problem for asking the sci-fi fans what they want, because what they really want is something they can't imagine themselves :)


@Mark G: Our host has said no more E, sadly. Perhaps the muse will strike in such a way that won't make their lives an utter wreck, but don't hold your breath.

I'd be very happy to see more tales from the same setting as Saturn's Children. Heinlein-type characters in a P.K. Dick theme with beyond-Silverberg-level sexuality? Any time, thanks!

While I'm lovin' the Laundry tales, no need to rush: that's a deep mine, let the ideas fester in their squamous blastulae to ripen slowly.

I would be very happy to see more Superscience: the middle parts of Accelerando hit it: what's going on while we're in the middle of the singularity? Reengineering solar systems, breaking physical laws, etc. etc. My other faves in that subgenre include Wil McCarthy's Queendom of Sol books, Walter Jon Williams' Implied Spaces -- I'd be happy for things on that order (just don't recommend Peter Hamilton).


I love how that cover goes together with the cover blurb by Krugman. Giddy with anticipation!


Joel, you're getting a new Laundry novel in July: "The Fuller Memorandum" is due out from Ace and Orbit. The question is, how frequently is the series going to run?


Personally I prefer your near-future stuff - Halting State and the Laundry novels are particular favourites. Accelerando just sort of got away from me. Saturn's Children was a good read but it didn't stay in my brain the way that the aforementioned (and the Merchant Princes) did. My theory is that the current/near-future stuff gives you plenty of opportunity for snarky commentary on the way we live now - a subject on which you are highly readable. Just a thought...


OK so no more Eschaton. Ho hum...

Now, what about aliens? You haven't ever really done aliens, proper LGM type aliens with their own worlds, mores and motivations. Could be interesting.


I know you've said no to Eschaton, but I'll quickly add another vote for it.

More seriously, I've been feeling nostalgic for 50s/60s SF lately. It's hard to describe what I'm missing - I think the willingness to take an unusual idea and run with it.

eg the Merchant Princes premise would apply here, Iron Sunrise wouldn't.

I think for me it helps if this is present-day based, but I like divergence based on something odd, rather than your more recent books which are closer to extrapolation.


I do like the idea of "time opera" whilst not having at all liked "Palimpsest".


Love the near future stuff; also the idea of exploring the economic, political & social consequences of either changing physics slightly (a la Merchant Princes, Laundry) or advances in technology (Halting State).

In the end though, your the author; if I knew what I wanted to read I would dream it myself.


I just finished reading and it was a fun read, which was fun. In that vein, I'd love to see your take on the subject of future economics. You've touched on it in plenty of your other writing but it would be fun to read about it as a central theme.


Greetings from the chilly south of the UK.

First of all I'd like to say that there is not a single book you've written that I have not enjoyed, ever since I picked up a copy of Singularity Sky and thought "Hey, this looks interesting.".

Personally I would love to see more stories featuring our long suffering computational demonologist and general shit magnet Bob. The tales of the Laundry (and the pre-runner 'A Colder War') are some of the best and most imaginative takes on the Mythos I've ever come across. More of those please.

Other than that I would like to know more about the universe introduced in Palimpset.

To be honest though, you can go ahead and write just about anything and I'll go buy a copy, you've yet to write a story/novel/whatever that I have not massively enjoyed.


My preferences? Glasshouse/Accellerando-type material. Not necessarily sequels or series; you do a fine job building and populating a universe from scratch and well-trodden ground is ultimately less interesting.

That's not to say that your near-term stuff isn't just as good. But if forced to choose, I'd choose the longer-term stuff.

That said . . . it seems to me that the Laundry series is a labor of love for you. Excellent. If you revisit it infrequently enough to keep you and the stories fresh, I'll be a very happy and patient reader.

Someone above suggested slow singularity and such. I do think there's lots of meat still in that theme, and I'm sure there are many good novels possible. Should you be the one to write them, wonderful. If not, well, that's fine too.


To be honest, my personal favorite notes from the Stross songbook are the lovecraftian riffs from the Laundry series and (in close, but distinct second place) the entire sonata of Accelerando (it wasn't always in second place, but the Laundry is just out-and-out fun and Accelerando just reminds me of the death marches a little too much). Deep-far-future SF can't really be hard SF because we don't know enough of the math from the deep-far-future to be sure it works when we read/write it (my definition of hard science fiction being a somewhat reductionist one - namely that in hard SF, "the math works").

I don't care that we get a new Laundry book in June. By which I mean, I'm salivating, but I don't care that we're getting one now, I want one every other week. In perpetuity. That's not that much to ask, is it? :)


I tuned out of the Merchant Princes and could not finish Accelerando. Love the Eschaton and Laundry books, though, and would love to see more beyond the Fuller Memorandum.


Sorry that the Eschaton line is formally closed. I enjoyed that universe immensely. I'll quietly hope that authorial whim will revisit that decision a few years down the road.

I'll twenty-second the vote for more Laundry tales . . . I'm part-way through the recent official history of MI5, but for some reason they're concealing the bits of most interest.


I vote for more near-future stuff like Halting State.


I'm feeling contrary today, so...

Pantomime horse of historical fiction/alternate history and... (thing you wish to add. Will it be 'too soon' to write an alternate 1980's in spaaace? )


I would to see you scratch that far future/widescreen itch. I know you said not to expect any eschaton novels, but Saturn's Children and Missile Gap come to mind after those. I think your big picture, future stuff always wraps interesting ideas around a good story, where a lot of other stuff I'm reading these days seems to be limited to one or the other.


I have an urge to do something as barkingly large-scale as Greg Bear's "Aeon"

I will buy almost any old Stross, but this actively makes my wossnames stand on end. I'd forgotten how good classic wide-screen Bear was until I reread Blood Music the other week... I am a sucker for "epic" sci-fi:-)


This is actually a very hard question (short of taking the coward's way out and saying "Whatever you choose to write about".) to answer.

Any of (not in any particular order):

Merchant Princes Laundry Halting State

would be fine.

An expanded Palimpsest would be great, as would a sequel to Glasshouse.

My real regret about the (unworkable physics model of the) Eschaton series is that you've now lost such splendid characters as Martin, Rachel & Wednesday, not to mention the particularly nasty opposition.

Ah well, whatever choose to write will automatically be on the "Buy! Hardcover! Now!" list.



Too bad on the Eschaton. My first vote would also have been for more there.

Failing that? Glasshouse II would be great, but I would probably honestly spend my second vote also on Eschatonesque stuff and hope to convince you ;). The Cthulhoid stuff is fun but fluff, ditto the Merchant Princes - which have started to vex me slightly, I'm just as glad they're finishing up - and I would really welcome a return to a broader, further-out horizon.

The truth is that I'll buy it anyway, probably, although I really disliked Saturn's Children; but I did opt to get the last two in the MP series from the library instead...


Being an SF fan, rather than Fantasy, I was surprised to discover that your MP series was my favourite of your writing so far - I could not get enough of it. Having said that, I (obviously) haven't read TToQ yet, so I wouldn't ask you to throw another novel at that universe. Instead, I'd encourage you to keep on the odd short story from time to time, between work that pays well. Maybe throw Interzone a short story in the MP universe?

On the novel fronts, as unimaginative/unhelpful as it might be, but I would like to see you write something new, i.e., not a continuation of any of your franchises. Something (initially) stand-alone. That's what Accelerando, Halting State, The Atrocity Archives started out as, after all...


I'll vote for more

  • Iron Sunrise universe
  • Merchant Princes
  • Original, mind-blowing stuff like Accelerando.

I thought that 'Palimpsest' was one of the best stories that I read all year. The confused layered time war thingy was just begging to be expanded and the descriptions of the future of the galaxy were quite beautiful. In part it reminded me a little bit of Stephen Baxter's book 'Time' with it's focus on deep time.

'Glasshouse' was brilliant, but at least partly because of the overt reference to our time. I didn't think that the setting was quite compelling enough for me to rush a sequel without having a good reason.

So my vote for what it's worth is for the novel 'Palimpsest'.


As a fan of the Time Patrol series, 'Palimpsest' delighted me in so many ways I can't even begin to describe, so I vote for more of that.


If a slow end to the world is to your taste, may i point you in the direction of "Yokohmama Kaidashi Kikou"? It's a Japanese manga series by Ashinano Hitoshi about, well, the slow decline of humanity and the immortal robots who will observe and record their Creator's passing.

Sadly no Western publisher has picked it up for a commercial release but there are fan-translated versions of the manga on the Web. There are also four half-hour anime episodes based on segments from the earlier part of the story, also available on the Web under the title "Quiet Country Cafe".


A never-ending supply of Laundry novels, of as high quality as the ones already released, would be beyond wonderful.


I look forward to the gibbering horrors of "The Fuller Memorandum" - there's my Laundry fix. I'd be interested in your take on a sweeping epic like "Dune" (as an example of scope). Completely detached from Earth, political maneouverings, carte blanche on the science and social-economic organization. Just how far out there can you go in your far future settings while keeping us mere humans grounded?

And given it will be released in a US election year there might be issues you want to explore which are topical to the political climate at the time. While maintaining the marketability longer term of course, as you've said - you gotta eat.


Whatever you write, please consider using third-person narration.


I won't tease you about the eschaton stuff, but I think the reason a lot of us point to it (aside from Singularity Sky being the intro to your work for us) is that they struck a chord. So, nothing more in that universe, but perhaps something similarly far future that explores themes you're interested in and exercises the hard SF muscles.

I like the Laundry stuff, not sure how much you can write in that universe before it starts to be "there's some silly bureaucratic stuff, an unspeakable mind-eating horror, Bob saves the day, goes off with Mo for some, er, relaxation" - but then that's why you're the famous novelist and I'm not...

Liked Halting State, not real sure about a novel set in the same world though - the AR glasses etc were cool one time, but abstruse financial machinations seem more mainstream than SF to me... but again we'll see.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'd like more of the wildly imaginative, mind blowing stuff (upload lobsters to control orbiting manufactories?? wha???) than detailed financial scams - with a helping of min-sucking monsters from beyond.


A subversive, faux-Randian YA novel.


I vote for Palimpsest as it is the best thing I read last year. Then more Halting State stuff, because it seems like the mobile industry is starting to fulfill some of those predictions lately. :)


I think with the upcoming Laundry book, I'd perhaps consider something not in your current line-up of universes. Since you've concluded both Eschaton and Saturn's Children, the choices of existing line up are less appealing to me than something new. Having said that I speak without having read 'Palimpsest', so perhaps the full length set in that universe is novel (see what I did there?) enough for us now?


Wait, wait. All those questions about long-term deep space habs weren't related to the Glasshouse sequel? Because in the end I'd really like to see where those questions were going.


How about a far-future comedy? Just thinking out loud here, but there's a branch of comedy (eg Tom Holt's books) where things are taken to extremes for comedic effect. A far-future setting contains many opportunities for things to run out of control, leaving our well meaning overwhelmed hero struggling to make sense of it all. I think you've demonstrated in the Laundry novels that you could do this :-)

A Vinge/Stross collaboration would cause a fangasm... and then do it as a non-Singularity story :-)

Getting back on track, and a bit more serious... I haven't read Palimpset yet, so I can't comment on that. I do think it's time for MP to have a rest, so some hard core far-future SF might be a good thing. So from your list, the Glasshouse sequel. Or, indeed, a Glasshouse prequel!


I've enjoyed all of your writing so far, but the stuff I've enjoyed the most so far have been the exploration of very alien viewpoints to our own. The short story I enjoyed most in "Wireless" was "Missile Gap," to give you a reference. I also enjoyed the hell out of "Accelerando."

I've also been wondering how the Wunch and 4chan would interact.


My preference these days is for big stories. I like thinking there is yet another book coming from a particular universe/character combo.


Wunch vs 4chan: THIS!


This has been posted loads on this but what the hell, i love everything you write. For me i would like to see some more far future stuff so theres a glasshouse 2 vote. Or as has been said something new but with style and themes similar to glasshouse and the eschaton series. Im not to bothered about a sequal to iron sunrise etc but would be interested to know why you dont want to write more?

Whatever you write your still miles (and years) ahead of so many other authors


Like many others on this thread, I would love to see some more hardcore postsingular deep-future infowar!


Your choices of what to write have generally been pretty good and I'd be happy with anything except more Merchant Princess.

You could write a space opera about an interstellar war between life forms which evolve from the food yeast tanks in generation ships from different parts of Earth.


I read Halo in a Years Best Science fiction, and was so impressed I re-read it twice immediately, and then went out and bought everything of yours I could find.

Although I appreciated the scope of Accelerando, I'd vote for a novel that was somehow Halo at book length.

I also have to agree with "Martin and Rachel .. and the Eschaton"


I really enjoyed the homage to Heinlein that was "Saturn's Children." I'd like to see you continue in that vein with, say, an homage to Jules Verne. Steampunk Space Opera or something along those lines. You're one of the most flexible writers in the game right now; I'm sure you'll keep us happy.


Accelerando II: The Quickening (geddit??!??!?!?!??!?!?!?!)


From most wanted to least wanted:

Laundry Series - The apocalypse can't get here fast enough.

One offs, completely original stories (non-series stuff).

Glasshouse/Acelerando futuristic anything (sequels OK)

Eschaton sequel - Star destroying Nazis in the employ of a time-bending, evil, god-like intelligence? Come on, what's not to like?

Near line science fiction: Halting State - A decent book, but you're too good of a big idea guy to be limited to 15 minutes from now.

Merchant Princes: A fun enough idea, but it just doesn't do it for me.


I loved glasshouse, so my vote would be to prioritize the sequel. I’ve not read "Palimpsest" yet so I can’t speak to that, save it sounds like this one wants out, so let it free. I’m also a big fan of the Laundry books, I know the Fuller Memorandum is coming out, but I would be happy to see more in the pipeline.

Basically I’d like to see a happy Charlie writing what keeps him happy, interested and engaged, because I’m fairly certain the result will be an amazing read.


I'd like to cast a vote for more Merchant Princes, mostly because I'd like to know more about TeethWorld (the place with the awesome dentistry ;-). Maybe that ticks some of the "far future" boxes - it does for me.

That and more Palimpsest would be good too.


I'd be interested to see you explore the economics/society of the Glasshouse universe further. In Glasshouse itself, you jammed everyone into an environment where they didn't have access to modern technology (understandably, frankly). But what are the normal "citizens" up to? What happens with millions of people with no material needs? Is everyone building their own bond-villian-tropical-space-island-complex? (or is that just me?) How do people find meaning in their long lives with their godlike capabilities. And what sort of plot would you set there....


I've enjoyed all of your books; but the ones I've enjoyed the most asked questions about what it means to live and think in a world where the framework of thought is subject to change. I would like to see more exploration of that topic; because I think it is important and I think it is entertaining.

What if you could record a log of the long-term memory stream being stored by your hipocampus? That's an async process, not tied to your real-time awareness. What if you could share that log with other replicas of you, over the internet. What kind of life would that be?

What if you were the intelligence at the core of a successful hard-takeoff singularity. What do you do with the kiloseconds and megaseconds of your life right up front, to try and manage and structure your mind. Do you fragment into voting systems? How are they managed. How do global goals emerge. What would it mean to by a story to yourself?

Suppose a smart drug hits the market. (They have, but let's suppose one 4 or 5 times as effective as pro-vigil). Does it only get used by the elite? Or are there brain-slums in the third world, where cheap offices are filled with laborers who are dosed only during work hours.

What if I could dial up or down my testosterone (and similar hormones) at will? I could shape my learning, and my social interaction to my benefit. What if someone else got hold of my controls without me knowing.

What if the reason we don't see life in the universe is that, beyond a certain level of intelligence, it becomes impossible (or at least very hard) to convince yourself that there's a point. What if there was an augmentation war, where the weapon was turning your enemies smarter until they burnt out.

What if reality was a transactional constraint solver; looking for the most believable story that has a 'good' ending. If you want to make sure something continues to have happened, it must ultimately be justified. What if the definition of 'good' was stupid.

What if you could entangle two electrons such that you could comunicate between the two outcomes of a quantum experiment. Initially, all you'd be able to say would be 'it was up on my side, so I guess it was down on your side'. But you could split compute time between the universes, and effectively collaborate with yourself. How far would you go? How many copies? How long until the military gets involved, or something worse?

I would like to see ideas like these made. I am not a writer, and am unlikely to ever write any of these myself, so I waive any claim on these ideas, and am willing to sign documents attesting that further.


The things of yours that make me go Must! Read! Now! are the socio-conomic speculative ones... Halting State and Glasshouse especially. It doesn't have to be near-future or the Glasshouse universe if you're really getting bored with those, but whatever the setting is, explore that sort of thing.

I can't understand why the Laundry isn't much better known than it is, so some more might be fun too.

Have to admit I'm leaving the Merchant Princes until the series has finished, though (and maybe until there's a big fat omnibus that would be perfect for me to take away on a work trip... hint hint?)


hampshireflyer: I have no control over the emission of omnibus editions -- however the MP series will be complete as of March 16th; any future books will effectively be "Merchant Princes: The Next Generation".


Charlie, I started reading the Merchant Princes in September, and I am already finished book 6 (which I had to order special from the U.S.). I am eager to see how these conflicts proceed, and will buy the next book as soon as it is available. Like others, I am especially interested in the "Teeth" society. And also the space travel/space station implications of the technology, if any.

I also recently finished Saturn's Children, and I'd love a sequel (but the short story will be just fine for me.)

And I think everybody would enjoy another Laundry...but I know that's coming so let me make an unusual request: that sequel to "Scratch Monkey" that you have alluded to.

Given your understanding of technology and society throughout the ages, any works on divergence would be welcome too.


Worldbuilding. Your stories and characters are engaging, but I loves me my Strossian worldbuilding. So new stuff, with interesting settings, rather than sequels. (OK, sequels with lots of WB like Glasshouse are also fine.)

This probably isn't the lucrative way to go, unfortunately.


I enjoy almost everything you write, but what I like best is when you go bleak and large-scale ("A Colder War," "Missile Gap", some of the early Laundry stuff).

Recent Laundry is almost too much fun, for example.

So, something as cheery and reassuring as "Missile Gap" would be nice.

Mostly though, just keep putting words in nice rows.


A typo - I meant to say that I had to special-order Book 5.

In any case, I am not a Lovecraft fan (my favourite interpretation of his work until reading Charlie was "Alone in the Dark") but Charlie's books and short stories on the Mythos are imaginative and fun to read. That Cold War/Nazi stuff is great.

I think a trend in my appreciation for Charlie's works is that I also favour "hard" SF, defined by poster 40 as "the math works." I find the far-future SF a little too "magical" in the Clarkian sense. (Except for "Scratch Monkey," which appears unusually plausible to me.)

BTW Scratch Monkey is what got me reading the eight novels and numerous short stories and novellas of Charlie's that I have read so far (although I had read one or two of Charlie's short stories before, in a sort of unknowing, unconscious fashion.)

One interesting idea - what if the Cold War never ended? What if, as a result of differing internal politics or something, the Soviet Union persisted into the present day or near future? How would that have altered the space program, information technology, and information warfare? As well as present-day politics within the U.S.A? And the Middle East?

Secondly, in the vein of "A Colder War," (sort of), what if some presence in the solar system impelled the governments of the late 20th century to launch a massive space effort? Or what if, as in that comic I have forgotten, Great Britain had a space program?

Here's a really interesting one - what if some impetus propelled circa-1900 European powers to launch a crash space program effort? I know we are talking a multi-generational effort here (they still probably would not be able to get large payloads into orbit until the 1930s at least), but what if there was some overriding reason for the Empires to get into orbit as soon as possible?

Finally, and this reminds me of some 1970s science-fiction that I read, but what would a realistic human-based colonization effort of the Solar System look like - and I don't mean Terran meatsack colonization. Charlie has a keen understanding of transhumanism. What kind of sentient or semisentient life forms (robotic and biological) could humanity engineer to colonize Mars, Titan, Europa, etc...? What kind of pan-Solar-System society would this create. (Perhaps this idea is too unoriginal these days - and accomplished somewhat in Saturn's Children, albeit tongue-in-cheek - which is why I point to the above thoughts instead.)

Of course, these are just ideas, but they give you an idea of the topics I think Charlie is capable of taking on.


I'd humbly suggest far-future hard SF as well; however, give us some of that which you continually deride in present-day TV/movie SF (e.g., BSG)--the lack of how humans deal with their situations, the day-to-day trials and tribulations of their existence, peppered with plausible (in your mind) expositions on technology performing wonderful things for the cast. You know, none of that prior to something happening.


About the Eschaton universe: have you written anything on why no more or will you write anything? Is it the whole FTL is too big a what-if thing?

Whatever the reasons, I'll second those who think it's time for a more distant future novel.


I vote stand-alone novels. Series are so daunting sometimes, even though I know they don't make money for authors for unknowable reasons. I also vote for robots again! Saturn's Children is my all-time favorite Stross book.


Taking the sequels to Glasshouse and full length Palimpset as givens (I want to read both of them very much) my next vote would go to more Laundry. I would like more Merchant Princes, but I can see you wanting to take a break (I'm saving "Revolution Business" to read till "Trade of Queens comes out so I can do both together, so I can be patient!).

Perhaps best of all though... go on, surprise us and give us something we don't know we want to read! (I wouldn't have known I'd have liked your stuff if it was described to me. I stumbled across Atrocity Archives when recommended by Amazon because I'd been searching a lot of Lovecraftian titles. Then I tried Merchant Princes on the "same author" principle. Then I started reading your other stuff, on the same principle - not sure I'd have picked up those books if I'd seen them with someone else's name on them, and it'd have been my loss.)


My wife and I like reading the Merchant Princes stuff together. So that's always a vote for me.

Personally, I loved Accelerando and would prefer more like it and also from the Iron Sunrise universe.


I will spare you my ideas on nuclear war stories, open or secret contact with extraterrestrials (including, unknowingly, through computer systems), and depictions of the underdeveloped country that the United States is becoming, (all areas in which I think Charlie could leave his mark, because other authors have not developed their ideas fully enough.)

But here's something that's been bugging me for a while. I enjoy Charlie's looks at other worlds, other Earths, and near-Earth. Which makes me wonder, how would present-day colonization efforts fare on "Earthlike" planets if a means were discovered of rapidly arriving at one of them. By "Earthlike," I mean it won't kill you immediately, but is wildly different from Earth while remaining "habitable." So maybe it's a crazy low-gravity planet, or a heavy 3G planet, a thin atmosphere close to the sun or a thick atmosphere far from the sun, a molten core or a hollow planet, weird gravimetric distortions, multiple moons and their effects, double-planet orbits or nearby large lifebearing moons, radiation storms, regular meteor impacts, outgassing, vulcanism, geysers of non-water liquids, and that's before we start talking about the extraterrestrial life and ecosystems. How does this affect daily life with 21st century technology?* I know this seems a little too cinema-inspired given the recent blockbuster film, but I've been wondering about this since reading "Extraterrestrials: A Field Guide for Earthlings" ten years ago. I'm talking weirder planets.

And on the subject of extraterrestrials, I'd like to echo #68. Imagine the "origin" debates of these creatures.

I have to admit that I have not read Accelerando, as I was sort of put off by its prose, but given that it appears to address some of my "needs," I will look at it again. I'm sorry about all the posting, I'll stop now! (Unless someone really needs to hash out an idea.)

One more thing: The Laundry series demonstrates Stross' propensity for "secret histories." I would love to see more of those. Either with "Mythos" creatures pulling strings in the 20th century, or perhaps extraterrestrials or unusual individuals and groups mediating history.

*Or, along the "alternate Earths" themes, what if, right now, it became possible to open gates to such a world. Except that evolution (and possibly continental drift) diverged millions of years ago. Imagine marsupials, mushrooms (perhaps intelligent mushrooms), and sentient sea life (squids, even.) How does China, U.S., Europe, etc... deal with it? The climate is Jurassic-era or Carboniferous, there are intelligent creatures - it is Earthlike, but it isn't.


Also would have loved more Eschaton :(

I guess out of the options given I would go with a Glasshouse sequel, but less confined to one area, less procedural crime, more scifi.

Accelerando was one of my favorite books of all time, I enjoyed Glasshouse too but I felt it was a bit limited being mostly set in the one place and being more of a crime thing than a Sci-Fi space thing which is more my thing... thing.

I would prefer a sequel closer to Accelerando than Glasshouse but it probably used up a large chunk of the singularity ideas.

While reading the novel I was wondering if Manfred was actually Robin where he had simply forgotten (or totally changed) who he was over a very long period of time (before he learned who he was), maybe Manfred even wrote Curious Yellow to make people forget about him for some reason.


Gotta say that so far I've enjoyed everything of yours that I've read, all but the bulk of the Merchant Princes. Only two books into MP and looking forward to the rest (#3's up next as soon as I finish what I'm reading now). Am I the only to think that mushroom clouds are fascinating?

A sequel to Glasshouse would definitely be good. I have to say that it's the one book I had trouble with, got a third of the way in and was wondering where you were going with, but decided to just go along for the ride and was not disappointed, though I thought the ending was too tidy.

Palimpsest; I liked it, but was constantly thinking of Asimov's "End of Eternity", not sure if that was intended. I didn't think that it would hold up at novel length. So, a novel in that setting would have to be quite different, maybe time-traveling aliens trying to really screw things up. Or something.

More standalone work would always be good too, I like variety. I know, not much help.


Also would have loved more Eschaton :(

I guess out of the options given I would go with a Glasshouse sequel, but less confined to one area, less procedural crime, more scifi.

Accelerando was one of my favorite books of all time, I enjoyed Glasshouse too but I felt it was a bit limited being mostly set in the one place and being more of a crime thing than a Sci-Fi space thing which is more my thing... thing.

I would prefer a sequel closer to Accelerando than Glasshouse but it probably used up a large chunk of the singularity ideas.

While reading the novel I was wondering if Manfred was actually Robin where he had simply forgotten (or totally changed) who he was over a very long period of time (before he learned who he was), maybe Manfred even wrote Curious Yellow to make people forget about him for some reason (maybe to keep him off the radar of the godlike AIs, or to stop people trying to bring him back to life and let him die).


Mark me down for a Glasshouse sequel.


Full length Palimpsest Halting State sequel not Glasshouse/Accelerando sequel More Laundry stuff


I would love to see you try your hand at old-school, mildly humourous space-opera. I'm thinking of E F Russell's Wasp or Harry Harrison's Bill, the Galactic Hero or Stainless Steel Rat's Revenge. Whatever, something new, different and preferably not more in the MP series.


I really enjoyed Palimpsest, it reminded me of Olaf Stapledon's Last and First Men. So I would love to see more in that setting.


I'd love to see you venture further into the universe of Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise. But I'm also waiting (im)patiently for the follow-up to Halting State. The fact that you have yet to address a genre in a fashion that I haven't liked makes it somewhat difficult to choose...


More Laundry Please, but not so much Laundry that you get sick of it and stop writing them.


Thinking back to a discussion of spimes on your site, perhaps a year ago, leads to my wondering: for a sufficiently advanced cloud of spimes, in constant communication with each other (and at least capable of communicating with assorted other entities), what analogs to known biological processes might develop?

Perhaps something vaguely akin to slime molds or slime nets, with individual cells/units migrating independently, but coming together to form fruiting bodies for reproduction, or to accomplish other results that none of the components could alone?

Now move them into space -- local and/or galactic, with or without speed of light limits. You can have a highly distributed cloud of . . . something, with the capacity to form local nodes in response to local conditions, and to exchange information between portions of the cloud which are widely separated in space and time.

Since we won't be seeing any more Eschaton stories, here's one vote for something (in any format that appeals to your sense of humor) even weirder, and potentially even greater in scope.


Merchant Princes, Laundry, Halting State.

I do read all of your stuff, but I have much more fun with protagonists who are actual human people, and it is easier to care about what happens to them... I find it difficult to relate to books without such characters.

The post-human stuff is interesting but keeps pushing me out of the narrative flow.


Hi Charlie,

I think it's interesting that you (quite naturally) phrase the question 'what next?' in the context of what's likely to sell––and hence the prompting of your audience for what they'd like. Like most people who read your blog, I'm a fan of your work; and I'm correspondingly interested in nudging you in a direction that suits my own taste. However, I also work in the literature department of a large university, and this gives me another perspective on your possible outputs.

Specifically, when I teach science fiction I find that certain of your books are 'teachable' in a way that others are not. Accelerando, for example, I'll usually teach in conjunction with Blindsight by Peter Watts, as both texts offer takes on identity that go beyond the usual gender-class-race divisions in a sustained and innovative way. Equivalently, I can bounce off Halting State as an example of innovative narrative strategies reflecting contemporary experiences (gaming and so forth), though this tends to yield less mileage in the classroom.

What tends not to work at all are titles like Saturn's Children and Glasshouse, where the bleeding-edge initiating premise gets diluted into what are essentially quite ordinary anthropomorphic character evocations. It's not that these don't make for cracking good reads (they often do); it's just that the hard science fiction shell can sometimes seem to conceal a fairly quotidian interior.

So, in a roundabout way, I guess my point is that you've an interest in your work being received in 'literary' terms in the manner of, say, Philip K. Dick, then picking up on the conceptually-oriented seam of inspiration that delivered Accelerando might be an option. There are, of course, very many good reasons why you might be utterly uninterested in what academics make of your work; but seeing as you canvassed for opinions, I thought I'd give mine.


Allow me to go in a different direction: I'd like your next SciFi book to be a paperback first. If I see a book I like in Hardback, I'll request it from the local library. I don't care for hardbacks, and it's not just the price (though being able to buy 3-4 paperbacks for the same price does enter into the decision).

Other than that? Far future scifi, or a different fantasy world. Bought and read The Family Trade, but never got into the series. Loved most of your stuff, and I know we're getting doses of The Laundry and the Halting State world. Hate to mention a competing authors, but maybe something like Scalzi did with The God Engines - something totally out of left field.


I've read every book you've published (except Wireless -- my copy is lost in the mess) and many of the short stories.

My very favorite is Singularity Sky. It completely blew me away with its rapid-fire toss-away references to cool technology memes. SSky was the first novel of yours that I read, preceded by Lobsters, which was even more of the same. Those two hooked me on your writing in a big way.

But you say the Eschaton universe is dead. I can live with that. How about a 'blog post about why you don't like it anymore? Give it a proper burial.

My second favorite of your books is Halting State, and I think it's for the same reason as SSky. It was obvious from the very first sentence (Something implying the spam filter's near AI ability) that you were only writing down a fraction of the obvious and nonobvious extrapolations of today's tech that you'd thought through.

Merchant Princes comes in third. Although I had to wait until book 4 to find out why you called it sci-fi, it's been a good read and quite involving with its intricate plotlines. I love long, complex stories, so a hexlogy is just right.

My least favorites? The humor books. Runner-up is Saturn's Children. It was funny most of the time, but didn't really engage me. There was too much story separating the comedy scenes, and too much comedy getting in the way of the story.

Least favorite is the Laundry series, for the same reason. Plus, Lovecraft's mythos has never clicked with me.

I've liked every one of your books. They're all good reads. But only the few at the top of the list (plus Glasshouse) are life-changingly brilliant.

If you write a "barkingly large-scale" book/series, I'm sure I'll love it. You've shown you can do far future books very well, and I'd like to see more.


Write what you have the most fun writing. That ends up being the most fun to read.


Just finished reading Glasshouse. I neeeed a sequel. Preferably yesterday, and available on International Kindle from that date.


I am also an inveterate Laundry fan, but what really gives me goosebumps is the darker, universe-eating side of that genre - "A Colder War", "Missile Gap", the early Laundry.

More importantly, though, I'd like to see anything that gives you enough breathing room to get off the contract treadmill and write whatever inspires you at the moment. I got my start on "Toast" and it's still a favorite of mine in part because every story is clearly the product of an irresistible inner compulsion.


I would like to see more Laundry and far future SF from you, especially the Glasshouse sequel. But speaking of the Laundry I have to quote from "Fiction by Charles Stross: FAQ". You wrote: "...he's also involved in side-projects such as a role playing game based on one of his series." If this series is the Laundry, I relay would like to see this as your next book (At the moment I am trying to build a role-play scenario for GURPS which will transport the feeling of the Laundry series into role-play, but I am kind of stuck).


Far future hard SF, plus continuation of the Merchant Prince series.

A columnist in yesterday's WashPost was exploring words people use but don't know and one was Palimpsest


Thought about any more of the like where the freedom brought by technology never occured, as in "Big Brother Iron" and "Unwirer"?


I'm with Ben @ 28 (I read sci fi to read stuff I can't think of), Tim Bassett @ 36 (you do "plausible" slight change in physics extrapolated in a really interesting way) and especially you @ 27 and kbob @ 102 -- I'm sure I would really like whatever you did that is "barkingly large scale"


write a far-future/wide-screen SF story in which cthulhu and the rest of the mythos are real


I'd love to see an expansion of the ideas in "Missile Gap". The other disk, or even another copy of 1960s Earth in a different area.


Super-heroes. Maybe comics, even. You could write Spider-Man.

I don't think I could take much more Merchant Princes. Too long of a wait between them -- they are the most arm-cramping cliffhangers I've read anytime recently.


How about a Book of the New Sun-esque novel in the "Dying Earth" subgenera?


Sam: "It was a great story, but I felt that the direction of the story didn't fully exploit the setting, because it ended up going off sideways into the glasshouse and was neccessarily isolated from the the outside universe. I did enjoy it, but it did leave a feeling of "damn, I wish there were more stories about the universe outside too"."

I quite liked the steady drip of info about the Linebarger Cats, the censorship wars, Curious Yellow, the forbidden word, etc... Glasshouse does an excellent job of "show, not tell."

I argue that the best settings are great precisely because they have more background than can fit into the novel: any real world should be too large to be contained in any story, even with massive Weberian infodumps. This is what is so enthralling about Tolkien: his is not just a throwaway setting, existing to service the plot and nothing else. It's real, it has life, it can support stories without exhausting the available real estate.

Sweh: "A Vinge/Stross collaboration would cause a fangasm... and then do it as a non-Singularity story :-)"

If you haven't noticed, all of Vinge's stories are in some sense non-Singularity stories. (As are Stross'.) He avoids the Singularity itself precisely because he's aware of how unimaginable it has to be, almost by definition: we can only ever see posthumanity through a glass, darkly, without first becoming posthumans ourselves. Observe

Peace War: Peace Authority arrests technical progress -> no singularity yet.

Marooned in Realtime: Singularity may have happened--but we missed it. (Or civilization destroyed itself. Or aliens destroyed us.)

A Fire Upon the Deep: Most definitely post-singularity, but builds astrographic limitations into transcendence so that he can locally avoid the Singularity and tell a human-scale story.

A Deepness in the Sky: Singularity not possible for reasons well understood by readers of Fire.

Rainbows End: Approaching but not yet here.


Why not write for TV? Doctor Who even?


I love the Laundry for the twist on standard SF/ adventure tropes. As long as you're having fun with the series, please continue!

But I also love reading new imagined universes and stretching my brain around your thought experiments. If you've got a new idea stewing, it would be grand to read about it.


Simple (easy for me to say) request. I want to know what Aineko found in the "big beyond." I'll buy anything your write on that topic without a moment's hesitation.


Much as I want to see the rest of Palimpsest, I'd rather see the sequel to Glasshouse first.


I have to throw my vote in with the "far-future SF"-crowd. If no more Eschaton-sequals then I am sure your vivid imagination can come up with enough other interesting far-future worlds that I would glady know (and read!) all about. :-)


Michael B @101: if my next novel is a paperback original, it means I'm a failure -- I get paid 20% the royalty on a paperback as on a hardcover. So with all due respect to your preferences, I'm going to keep myself in hardcovers as long as I can.


Charlie, OP:

That ["Palimpsest"] (and the century-later sequel to "Glasshouse") are bubbling close to the top of the stack of stuff I want to be writing
That's my vote right there. The two people who've read my review of "Palimpsest" won't be surprised by that. I love your far future and "space opera" stories most of all. I understand why you don't want to go any further in the Eschaton universe; that won't bother me at all if you finish "Palimpsest" and write a "Glasshouse" sequel sometime soon.

And speaking of space opera, was it only prior commitments that prevented you from having a story in one of the "Space Opera" anthologies, and if so is there a chance of one in the next volume? Seems like all the other usual suspects were represented.


More of Halting State? Not, I hope, a sequel; more an overlapping novel with another 'take' on how familiar things are superficially and reassuringly the same, while deeper changes seem to pass unnoticed. How many people realise what money is (and isn't!) now, and what 'data' really means - or might mean in a decade?

Any fool can 'create' a world where criminals have better guns and jet packs - but it takes a very special kind of fool to realise that a hand-held vacuum cleaner can provide invisibility.

Which is why there aren't all that many authors doing near-future SF, and Halting State stands head and shoulders above most of it. You have the gift of writing fiction that is immersively convincing, rather than 'plausible, with a bit of willing suspension of disbelief', while exploring ideas that are often stranger and more disturbing than far-future space opera.

A hint? Try being darker: have you ever written a truly villanous character, in depth and at the very heart of the story? What would happen if you took your essay on the failure modes of the DNA database, and filled-in the gaps between the points you made with the activities of (say) a two- or four-man team of Policemen? Or a venal supervisor in the low-wage data centre where the data quality is continually eroded by incompetence, sheer accident, malice and cosmic rays accelerated by envelopes of banknotes?

I will happily offer any background information you need on villains drawn from life in banking. Athough I wouldn't dare to offer any advice on economics if you're still in correspondence with Professor Krugman.

Meanwhile, I look forward to the next instalment of the Laundry: it offers unending entertainment for a reader with an taste for satire and a bent, macabre, sense of humour. But as you have immersed yourself successfully in all the tropes of horror fiction, why not write a 'straight' for-horror novel? No vampires, please, it bothers be that no-one in the genre seems to be experimenting, let alone creating anything completely new.

Also: sorry I couldn't make it to F's party (RyanAir fail). How long will you be in London?


Nile: I'm already back home. As for "Rule 34", you needn't worry about it being a continuation of "Halting State" -- it's a different novel in the same universe, only two [minor] characters from HS feature in it, and it's not about gaming/MMOs/banking/augmented reality -- it's about something else.

Oh, and it does indeed feature a truly villainous character.


Glasshouse 2 please.

Then all of the above.


I'll add my 2 cents in adding my name to the list of those requesting:

  • a Glasshouse sequel
  • a Palimpsest novelization
  • I also would really like to see more of the universe of "Missile Gap". As a novel or even a set of short stories.

    However, I really hope that you do some different, more distant future stuff with the Stross twist. I've really enjoyed your blogs on star travel, world ships and similar, and would really like to see how you put together a good story from those ideas.

    Although you are done with the Accelerando universe, I still think that you could build a really rich universe based around technologies that have reached Moore's Law limits and how that might work with biology. Most of those worlds that I've read from others tend to be too poorly thought out in terms of where technology could lead and the richness of the technology landscape and associated cultures (V. Vinge being a notable exception). This in one of your strengths and I'd like to read books where you take us on explorations in those Worlds.

    Perhaps I've been missing good stuff from other writers, but I haven't yet read anything that explores a world in which collaborative technologies are used, rather than the lone protagonist. For example, given the recent success of MIT's team in the DARPA red balloon challenge, surely there is an interesting world where anonymous people work with and against the authorities or the protagonist to help solve a plot problem. Isn't it about time that the cops stopped going from place to place to solve crimes? (Sometimes it seems Sherlock Holmes had a more modern approach).

    When I look at the SF book stacks at the local Barnes & Noble (and even Waterstones on a recent trip back to the UK) I am appalled at the general dreck that fills the shelves - war and vampires are current favorites - that one would think that there is room for really good authors to write good SF and not desert us for the mainstream or crossover markets where some SF authors are going for a larger market.

    As long as you keep writing quality work, I will keep buying your hardcovers for my library. I also hope that you can supplement your living through other avenues, of which one would be movies, even though you publically eshew the form.


    I loved Glasshouse, so I vote for more of that.


    In my mind, you're a peer to Greg Egan and the late Bob Shaw. That is, you're one of the few writers likely to take one simple idea and work the implications through to something really bizarre. With plain, reasonable characters.


    I'd love to see another Eschaton book.


    I like your work best when it's full of head-bending ideas of the massively far-future / Gedankenexperiment-only sort - the chopped-spaghetti time travel in Palimpset was fantastic, and Accelerando and Glasshouse (lots of fun personal identity shenanigans with uploading and duplication, plus far-future shininess in the form of Matrioshka Brains) remain my favourite of your many novels, so something of that sort would be my preference.

    A novelisation of Palimpset, perhaps, or another truly deep-time story - think Star Maker.


    My vote is for more Laundry stories.


    I keep bouncing off The Merchant Prince series, but I've actually bought a set a couple of times to give as gifts. (Including the ones your signed for me, they made a lovely present for a very close friend.) So if your publisher has the crazy idea of a boxed set of IMP series, with new box art, and so forth, I will probably buy one or two of those, again as gifts.

    As for what I myself want to read, more Laundry, more Escaton, more Halting State, more Accelerando/Glasshouse, or even better, something completely different. More short stories, more novellas, more novels, about more settings that are obvious in retrospect, but un-thought-of before... :)

    That should be easy, right?



    I very much want to read another Merchant Princes novel!


    I'll put in a vote for Glasshouse sequel (and prequel and anything else, I am intrigued by the universe it hinted at.)

    A Le Carre themed Laundry novel would be nice too.


    I would like you to write a sequel to Rule 34. You have me hooked on the 2nd person. I love it.


    More stuff with mindhacking. You allude to it in the Laundry verse, where various fast invaders can instantly map and crack the human brain like a poorly secured network, and mention the key extractors in Accelerando. Egan digs around in the field a fair bit. The old "The Truth Machine" is a very simple one.

    But SF where technology and science are cracking the barrier between "the outside world" and "inside our mind". There is a LOT of interesting weird "partial work" on the long road to Brace uploads.


    I would love to read more Merchant novels.


    Glasshouse sequel! Defntyl! Eh, definitly.


    From a Brazilian reader who finally managed to import most of your books, I'd love to see more of Glasshouse, which I absolutely loved and consider probably the best post-humanistic novel written so far.

    However, I'd love to see something in the far future, as sprawling and contorted as what Peter Hamilton or Vernor Vinge write--specially if they come in three or four big fat volumes. :)


    A vote here for Accelerando and Glasshouse.


    I loved Trunk and Disorderly, so in lieu of my first request (something new and original that nobody else has thought of) I'll ask for more like that.


    ++Eschaton ++Far-future/widescreen An Aeon type novel would be...umimaginably good


    How would you take over the world?


    Eschaton fans: close reading of the statements made in those books about the disposition of the human diaspora in space and time, the Eschaton's attitude to causality, and the prevalence of FTL drives, will give you some clue as to why Charlie says that universe has "hidden flaws" and he won't be doing more.

    Stross does Dune makes me go ooooooh! one of my favourite books ever, though the sequels were increasingly unfortunate. Or maybe Niven with character development?


    I, like many others here, would like to see more from the "Eschaton-Verse" (am I allowed to call it that?).

    However, perhaps you should consider a third way?

    If you're creatively fed up with both far-future and near-future approaches, but want to do "broad-strokes Sci-Fi" then why not try a Parallel Worlds type story?

    You've done homages to Heinlein and other mid-twentieth century SF writers, so why not think about something like H. Beam Piper's Paratime series?

    Just a thought.


    I want to read all of these, but the time opera most. I do hope you'll keep on with the Laundry series.


    Glad you're nuking MP - it was the least favourite of any of your novels/series I've written, nuking the site from orbit works for me ;)

    Obviously they seem to have split opinion in here, they were a bit to Amber for me - I gave up after the first two. Interesting premise though.

    I'd love more far future stuff, whether it's pure space opera or time opera. The Laundry I like, but it sounds like the story in your head has escaped on that one with Fuller Memorandum.

    I'm sure you can do far future weirdness really well, and I'd like to see you come up with a new universe to play with. I was just thinking you could probably get as odd as some of M John Harrison, for example Light, but with some stuff, you know, kind of happening in the setting.

    Having said that, whatever you come up with, I'm going to read.


    100 year later sequel to Glasshouse! Otherwise, anything far-future, please. Regardless, I will buy and read whatever it is you write.


    I like the idea of a homage to Harry Harrison's Deathworld/Stainless Steel Rat novels. Or perhaps a Star Trek or MilSF pastiche?

    I'll buy any Laundry books you write, but I do like it when you go hi-tech.


    Sadly, I'm another whose favor didn't quite fall on the Merchant Princes. While I enjoy the premise, something in the setting, or the characters, simply leaves me a bit cold.

    My vote, limited to wide screen, far future science: you've written post-singularity, so scratch that unless something new comes to you from it. What are the options available to you in a non-singularity universe? What of space and culture?

    What impacts would sub-lightspeed travel within the solar system have, once there is manufacturing in microgravity or from colonies? What impacts would shipping speeds have on the economy of Earth and its colonies? How would this slow, long burn of transit serve as the bottleneck for unexpected technological advances, at both/either end?

    Good luck finding ideas to ignite your speculative future. As another said above, write something that excites you. We'll enjoy it.


    Charlie, I vaguely remember some talk of you and Cory expanding The Rapture of the Nerds, is that dead? I enjoyed the hell out of it.

    Other than that... Still more Laundry. :)


    I know the Eschaton universe is 'broken', but if you could construct another way of examining the long term consequences of human cultural drift without being constrained by the speed of light or the cost of leaving gravity wells, I'd love to read it.

    And yes, other Eschaton lovers, you can drive very large trucks through some of the holes in that 'verse. Especially after Iron Sunrise. Though I'll always love Singularity Sky at least as much as anything Charlie does.


    I think I like the Laundryverse the best, but I think what ever works for you is the best choice to me.

    I'm happy to read all of it, so what ever keeps you at your most interesting and productive is best.


    Charlie@123: "Oh, and it does indeed feature a truly villainous character." - So either Moot or basement cat?

    Happy to hear about the sequel to Glasshouse which you mentioned in one of my previous pleadings for more transhuman scifi, I really hope this one spends less time in pseudo-20th century because I'm a huge fan of mind-bending technology, which I imagine is quite hard to write convincingly.

    I also second the idea that it would be interesting to see the Merchant Princes universe set a few centuries later.

    Additionally, having started on Toast (thanks for releasing that on your site, I couldn't find it anywhere locally and it feeds the cravings while waiting for Asher's Orbus to come out as paperback), a longer revisit to the universe of Antibodies would be interesting.


    I agree with Ron @103; write whatever you like. The joy that shines through in your writing is the appeal, I think, and it does shine through even in those of your works I haven't cared for.

    Specifically, as ideas might go; I think you're one of the very few worthy of explaining WTF the back story behind Glen Gook's "Dread Empire" world might have been; or some parallel, where some poor sod is given the powers of Gods and a world to run as a soap opera for those who condemned him to edit the lives of free beings for their amusement.

    Having been through the tech bubble as The Technician, perhaps a story of what might realistically happen to the inventor of the first AI might be doable. What if he was fool enough to send his software out polished enough to thrive and with an open use license? Would the Powers that Be merely shred him or could his horde of digital children protect him?

    Fianlly, if you've never read Alan Dean Foster's "Quozl" may i reccomend it and speculate that any ideas it might kick off (besides "novelizations pay!") would probably be amusing after processing by your vi-twisted imagination. Perhaps the platypus is stranger than it lets on and just isn't from these parts but doesn't want anyone to notice. Perhaps the aliens are among the of marmite...

  • Something entirely new would be better than anything I can imagine.

  • There are some universes which could use more stories, if you want to go that way. That of Missle Gap is one--it seemed a shame to develop the idea for only a novella.

  • A later story in the Merchant Princes universe could work. (It's hard to believe that one more novel is going to settle all the questions about it.)

  • I don't believe that the Eschaton Universe is "broken". It looks consistent enough to me. (Maybe I have different ideas about what the Eschaton is?) So another story in that universe would be good.

  • 156:

    Personally, more Laundry stories: "The Atrocity Archives" was the first Charles Stross book I read so I have a soft spot for Bob.

    IMHO, you should write stuff that you personally find exciting (contingent on commercial realities). I think it results in better books.

    There was a palpable energy & excitement that came through in the writing of "The Atrocity Archives" & "Halting State" that wasn't quite there in e.g. the mid-series instalments of the Merchant Princes.


    My votes are for (in descending order):

    a)Another in the Eschaton universe (unless you've abandoned it, or it didn't sell well enough). Since time travel is possible in this universe, in theory, you can go anywhen you darn well want to.

    B) The Laundry (Sorry, I like Bob). You know, you might want to write short stories for any universe you're planning to launch a new book into.

    C) Something that builds off of (or onto) those postings on plausible space "ships."

    D) Something following Glasshouse--the problem with this series is trying to keep it from being too strange. It's got to appeal to us baseline apes, after all, not some practitioner of economics 2.0.

    E) Merchant Princes, or a Saturn's Children. Not my favorites.


    My vote is for: 1: more Laundry (and Bob) 2: more Halting State 3: something completely different!


    Loved Atrocity Archives. Disliked Jennifer Morgue. Liked Glasshouse. Disliked Saturn's Children. Liked Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise.

    I vote for either more Cthulhuesque stuff (because there's no such thing as too much Cthulhu) or a sequel to Glasshouse or something utterly new.

    Now since nobody pays me to write, you ought to quit reading my shite and get back to the work that pays you and entertains me.


    Sequels to "Palimpsest" and "Glass House" would be most welcomed, but even more desired,is a story set in the universe of "Missile Gap". That story really made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and there is so much more that could be further explored in that universe.

    Regarding time travel, I recall coming across a paper where the author points out that a time machine would make it possible to efficiently solve NP complete problems. So maybe a story could be written where the goal of time travel is not to change human history as such, but to solve the NP complete problem. The story need not involve the Escaton.


    I liked the Eschaton universe, and it's been a bit too long since I read it to remember exactly what the flaw was. However, as others have said, I would far rather have you write something you enjoy and trust you on the details than read some thing that you had been forced by fan-pressure to put in that universe.

    Apart from that, the book I have liked the least so far was Saturn's Children. I mean, it's still good, just not as !amazing! as the rest of my Stross Shelf.

    How about a future Laundry novel, after the events of Code Nightmare Green? Or even a cross-over between the Laundry and MP - the US government's investigations of the Clan's ability take them into the dangerous areas of mathematics, and because of bureaucratic infighting and the high priority of the project, the US version of the Laundry does not pick up on it in time...

    I like Brendan @82's suggestion of a "steampunk space programme" and TechSlave @149's idea of slow solar system colonization, with long travel times and economic effects thought out to customary Stross depth.

    Apart from that, any wide-screen big-idea Stross SF is fine by me, and goes straight on my Amazon wish-list.


    I always thought there was an interesting story to be told in the early Eschaton universe, where a set of post 21st century types are dumped, without any ceremony, on a strange alien world.

    Its all very well to have the basics of survival, but being wrenched from sociality constructs/norms and having to deal with it is easier said than done for an entire cultural group. Don't think anyone has ever done such a story except for earthbound dystopia and shipwrecked small groups.

    Maybe its not space opera, but it would seem to be a neat way to meet the desire to play in that universe again without coming up against the problems of playing with a god.


    the new 1984 or Brave New world?


    My votes as a reader would all be for a never ending series of Laundry books. If I could have just one Laundry novel and one Dresden Files novel each year I could live a satisfying life.

    However as a prospective (aka wannabe) writer I'd have to suggest going where the money is and doing a contemporary novel that could be a best seller.

    If you were to mash together Halting State and The Laundry and then remove all future tech and mythos elements, restricting yourself to only currently available tech, there would be potential for a bigger breakout than Halting State.

    I find that restrictions promote creativity (in more ways than one!) so try writing a modern day novel using only available tech.

    It's the characters in the stories that make them good, not the tech.


    Not sure I can add anything except write what stirs your imagination. You said you wrote the draft of "The Fuller Memorandum" in about a month, when it wasn't due to be written until this/next year. I enjoy the Laundry novels and look forward to it and possible future visits.

    Beyond that, and given your intention not to be typecast to a particular genre so

    Post Singularity - explored, not going back Parallel worlds/Paratime - no plans to return Alternative world - Laundry universe -future visits probable Near future - current project then what?

    Grand space opera-? Military SF -? This is a crowded arena, what twist could you bring to it? Pseudo Historical -Leonardo creates modern Azo dyes and Jacquard loom revolutionises clothing industry - what are consequences? (sorry shouldn't suggest idea constraints) Colonisation/exploration - generation ship or some form of dimensional sidestep tech? Comedic - possibly the hardest to bring off (and I love the subtle twists of Pinky and the Brain in the Atrocity Archives) and sustain for an entire work without degenerating into farce. Away from SF Biography Romance - move over Barbara Cartland! (ok I'm persona non grata!) Cookery book RPG book The tribulations of gardening X floors up

    Ok I'll shut up now.


    Some things you've definitely shown you can do but have not yet done at novel length: Utopian, biologically-oriented, mid-future SF. So let's put them in the blender and see what Earth looks like in the next century. Our civilization managed to survive without mass extinctions or major warfare. Clean energy is taken for granted. Biotech is much more powerful and cheaper than silicon. But people are still as diverse and cranky and crazy and credulous as ever, maybe more so. And there surely is a next problem that will have to be dealt with somehow, if they can.


    Ignoring the danger that I'll sound like a total bootlicking fanboy (Ooops. I am :-): Close your eyes, listen to yourself and write want you want to write, not what we or the marketing guys want. I suspect this will be best for all of us (including the publisher). You've earned it.

    Otherwise: Merchant Princes. Laundry. Merchant Princes. Laundry. Merchant Princes. Laundry. Or maybe you have some non-fiction ideas up your sleeve?


    Ever regret asking too many questions, Charlie?

    I haven't counted but it looks like what the fans want is more Eschaton. Is there scope for a "Down in Flames" type short story to put it to bed finally. And explain the physics problem.

    Could you also get a move on with A Dance with Dragons?


    Given the choice I'd read more about the adventures of a little coke can sized starship of plucky post-humans exploring the router network, mainly because I want to know what happens to Aineko.

    However, I hope you're already writing and not reading the hundreds of comments here ;)


    I've very much enjoyed the far future stories you've told, and I like the idea of returning to epic scale space opera (Bear's EON does set a bit of benchmark there, doesn't it?). With conspiracies. I enjoy your conspiracies tremendously!

    Regards, Harry


    Oh for heavens sake!

    Charlie, please don't let your publisher's marketing department, us, or anyone else dictate what you write. I guarantee we'll all be a lot happier (yourself included) reading the stuff you really want to do.

    I know you make your living writing. But I think you have to go with your gut and write about the things that inspire you. Let the sharp folks in marketing argue about the cover art. And if you listen to us, all you'll do is rewrite the stuff you've already done.

    If it makes you feel any better, I promise I'll buy with my hard-earned pound one of those Merchant Prince books I've been avoiding, as long as you promise to write whatever the hell you feel like.


    Here's a contrarian suggestion: write a novel set in the past, perhaps along the lines of the snippets that appeared in the Laundry universe. Neil Gaiman wrote a rather good story like this - A Study in Emerald. It would be a change of pace for you and you might enjoy the research.


    A couple of points.

    a) "Glasshouse" is my worst-selling SF novel, in the US market. Selling a sequel would be challenging, although (1) it should be fairly obvious that Robin is a horrendously unreliable narrator and you can't take any of his/her observations as the truth, and (2) the end of the novel is the setup for a generation-ship-rediscovers-civilization sequel.

    b) Daniel @144: if you want H. Beam Piper's paratime, just persist with the Merchant Princes. (I had a provisional plan for books 7-9, but Paul MacAuley already wrote something very like it -- let me commend "Cowboy Angels" to you: best spook/paratime novel in many years).

    c) The off-screen universe of "Palimpsest" is almost infinitely bigger than the small corner (2.5 trillion years!) that pokes into view in the novella. I am talking Stapeldonian scope here. This is not space opera, this is time opera.

    d) No more Eschaton, sorry.


    As much as people insist on "a sequel/side story from X", I don't think it's interesting. Or, well, not as interesting as New Stuff. If there's new stories to tell, they'll come; if not they won't.

    (and yep, I'm also an unabashed Eschaton fan. Too bad)

    Whatever you do, I'm sure you'll get it good. All your stories so far "delivered", so we should not worry.

    One fresh direction: put something "impossible" in position, and work from there. Without trying to explain or justify. Sample idea from that genre: 10 years ago, some kind of (minor) asteroid fragments, strike earth, and around each blast radius, the ecology gets instantly transposed into a version of "what if". So you get a massive chunk of Tibet with real Yetis (8-foot tall fat guys with massive hair all over), a californian enclave where every single mammal is hermaphroditic, and so on. Shake for 10-years, and the U.N. decides, as a political boondoggle, to have a mixed peacekeeping unit with all these diverses homo xxxx species.

    That kind of thing.


    My vote is for epic, far future worldbuilding.


    Vincent @174: on the subject of your fresh direction, I suggest you go read "Chaga" by Ian MacDonald. Or David Gerrold's Cthorr books. Or ...


    A near-future (or near-past) novel with a guerrilla/resistance/4th Generation Warfare theme and realistic hacker tech. What happens when the bandits get RepRap and the US counter-insurgency advisors are using unauthorised iPhone XMPP apps to talk to the drone, because the Son of JTRS tactical radio system still doesn't work? And why does $terrorist still manage to broadcast global TV despite the jamming and air raids?

    Basically, similar themes to HALTING STATE, but with Sterlingesque favela chic rather than chilly Taggart stylings. In fact, there's a lot of exporting cops going on at the moment through various EU and NATO initiatives; the French are providing POMLTs (Police Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams) as well as the army OMLTs in Afghanistan. So you could send one of your Scottish police characters to the crumbling frontier of empire with its continual Greenelandic compromises and ambiguity.

    For extra points, set it in a United Failed States of America, so the blue and yellow stars can wave over the partly flooded streets of Miami.


    Unfortunately, Mr. Stross, it seems that the Eschaton has already decided that it doesn't want to be chronicled further by you in its non-causal schizophrenic annealed-intelligence sort of way. Any hopes that literary voyeurs may glimpse some of its awesomeness in the work of other authors? (i.e. a Creative Commons-based Wiki of some sort where the Grand Poobah has a say on which bits are canon or not?)

    But, economic black-hole digressions aside, I'm pretty much interested in most stuff that leaks from the Anointed Brains of Stross. I'm therefore a fan and clearly not representative of the economic masses that will actually feed the aforementioned Anointed Brains. I'm one of those guys who don't care that the next "Song of Ice and Fire" is late: As long George R.R. Martin believes it's not finished, it's not finished!

    Stross doing Steampunk might be fun, Stross doing Lovecraftian horror is DEFINITELY fun, and Stross doing Space Opera is what originally hooked me. If I can't get more Eschaton, I'll just have to read the Laundry and whatever the heck the Anointed Brain comes up with.


    I like the idea of Steampunk too. Something in a completely different direction that what you've done before could be fun. Even if it was just a couple stories or a novella.


    Do for E E "Doc" Smith what you did for Heinlein with Saturn's Children. Blow our minds.

    If not then, please, surprise us. Sequels only work if they're unforced, but I appreciate that eating is important too.


    A Laundry sourcebook for the CoC RPG.


    A Laundry sourcebook for the CoC RPG

    Trouble is that would be a lot of work for very few sales. Certainly fun for those of us that would buy it but not economically rewarding for Charlie.

    Times are hard, times are very hard for SF authors, and Charlie is in the position that he needs to write something both commercially viable and that won't make him ill to actually write.

    Getting the balance right is a hard decision because writing a novel is a major investment in time and resources.

    Charlie has probably already made the decision (most decisions seem to be made subconsciously after all) but needs to see it reflected back at him before he realises.


    2012 publication, so stick the knife into the Olympics? No need to set it anywhere near 2012, no need to feature the Olympics, but twist the knife.

    No? Just me, then. ;)


    The Laundry stories are my favorite. That would be my first choice. I also wouldn't mind seeing a far future Stross novel exploring the interactions between humans and aliens (of the non-singularity variety)--or pretty much anything else that's something you haven't done before.


    Alex@177: Veering only slightly off topic: those are good ideas, why don't you write them? I've enjoyed the journalism (and occasional fanfic) on your blog for a while, I reckon you're up to it.

    Moving back on-topic: I think Charlie should write whatever Charlie feels like writing. Those of his stories which I've most enjoyed all give me the same sense that he really enjoyed writing them. So, indulge yourself.


    Tell us again - you said the Eschaton universe was broken .... Please remind us of the problem.

    THEN we'll see if we can fix it, maybe?


    @173 the problem with Glasshouse is that the cover and blurb does not tell you what the book really is (yes I do have a US hardback version even tho I'm in the UK.)

    Personally, I think the answer is to write whatever you want to write. Unless there is a compelling demand for a sequel you run the serious risk of losing potential readers for stupid reasons (such as I won't buy the latest Merchant prince book because the last one featured too many cats). At least with a new book the cover and blurb has the chance of attracting potential readers.

    The real question probably comes done to book series and how often you need to feed those addicts. Assuming the sequel to Halting State is a success I can see publishers wanting another a Laundry book for 2013 and a Halting State sequel sequel for 2014. It may well be that the next book is your one chance to look into the far future or even past for a while.

    Given the scope something in the Palimpsest universe seems a good idea (but please note this opinion is sight unseen as I owned everything else in Wireless and couldn't justify the price for 1 novella).


    I'll correct my statement above having checked the table of contents for the 2010 SF best of collections looks like I will have to buy Wireless for Palimpsest. ho hum.


    Any chance of another foray into the Saturn's Children universe?

    Either that or more new Laundry works. (Thanks for Overtime!)


    Out of left field thought:

    Send Bob to the Universe of Big Brother Iron and strand him there.


    Palimpsest expansion sounds excellent, especially considering the comments you've made in this thread. "Time Opera", indeed!

    I can see how Glasshouse didn't make a splash; it's got a different feel to it than most of your other works. But a sequel would be well worth giving a whirl, at least to me.

    Space opera, well done, is always welcome!


    There are two of your universes where I think there are more stories waiting to be told - Trunk & Disorderly and also Snowball's Chance. Especially the nice climate change with supernatural patrons in the pub...


    More Laundry would be nice.


    Never been much interested in alternate history stories. Too much familiar ground with unexpected potholes of "twist".

    How about something alternative near (pre singularity) future? Regression style bio-hacking somewhere in the Greg Bear "Blood Music" / Bruce Sterling "Heavy Weather" / Alistair Reynolds "The Prefect" triangle?

    The kids love the vampires, so even something with a "resource sinks" vs "sources" theme. (You faintly touched on it in Accelerando with Enclaves of tech-luddites vs the nano-accended)

    Good luck and keep feeding the passion, which in the end will keep you fed.

  • More Laundry

  • "A colder war" is IMO one of your best short stories. I hope that at least one of the alternate universe novels you wrote about will be set there.

  • How about something set in the age of the BBS ? Life at 300 baud. Ah Nostalgia.

  • 196:

    More Laundry!


    Accelerando was a book that I cannot aptly describe in words. Anything else like that (or even more epic in scale) would make me weak in the knees with happiness.

    Halting State and the Laundry series are great, but not in that same kind of way. Although I do need to read the Merchant Prince series now that everyone is saying they love them in the comments.

    Something on the scale of Greg Bear's Aeon? DO IT.


    I got hooked on your writing with Accelarando, and I would love to read another far-future, idea-dense SF novel like that.




    Looking around my book collection, you're one of the few authors I think could come up with an original story.

    Commercially, put a photo of Bella on the cover and you're guaranteed sales :-) Either that, or it will be just in time to cash in on the Twilight backlash.


    As Roy@19 hints: sequel to the Laundry books, in space.

    ...where space is vast, uncaring and Lovecraftian. You've spent some blog time pointing out how bleak it'll be to get to the stars with existing technology, so imagine an Earth infested with tentacled horrors from beyond the depths, who are bored, bored, bored of the taste of human brains. Take away their ability to short-cut through dimensions, trap them in the physical world, and what's left for them but to take over humanity's space programmes and try to return to the stars?

    Or something completely different.



    "... a) "Glasshouse" ... the end of the novel is the setup for a generation-ship-rediscovers-civilization sequel."

    So that's what all the generation ship discussion was in aid of.

    "... c) The off-screen universe of "Palimpsest" is almost infinitely bigger than the small corner (2.5 trillion years!) that pokes into view in the novella. I am talking Stapeldonian scope here. This is not space opera, this is time opera."

    Brilliant! That's my vote, then - Palimpset the novel (followed, naturally, by Palimpset 2: Tabula Rasa)


    My vote is for as much far future stuff as we can get away with, starting with whatever happens after Glasshouse. Thanks as always!


    doowoper: that sounds a bit like Jack Vance's Dying Earth to me, although he takes it further and places it even after magic has risen and fallen again.


    You're kidding right. Sorry, Charlie, but you have not written the definitive/ultimate novel in any of your Verses, so why are you crippling yourself by walking away from such rich source material.

    You've got dozens of novels you could write in the LaundryVerse that has nothing to do with the Laundry. You have dozens of novels you could write in the EschatonVerse that has nothing to do with the Eschaton. You can do all that without once repeating yourself.

    You can write something vast like Eon, but what is the point if you won't follow through and flesh out the new Verse with future stories.

    You are like my friend at work. There are over 80 places to eat here in town, and we have been to most of them over the decades, but each day he whines about there being no place to go eat when lunchtime comes around. His real problem is that he has too many places to choose from.

    Art is made by the artificial limitations set by the choice of material. Take what you have already done, see the events going on outside the novels that already exist, and start expanding each Verse that you have.

    To be a writer playing in one unique Verse is to have a career. To be able to play in the multiple, unique, Verses that you already have is a gift to your readers, and we will be happy to keep reading whatever you choose to write.


    Since you have asked...I would like another Eschaton story...perhaps giving closure to that universe given its implicit underpinning flaws.

    Palimpsest aced the Time Patrol & End of Eternity in one fricking novella...that really deserves a follow through.

    On the other hand you have a gift for working in other peoples voices; 'Trunk & Disorderly' was pure Wodehouse and the Laundry series have taken on Deighton and other themes.

    To be honest, I'll buy whatever you write, what is the relative success of your various universe's?

    -- Andrew


    I have to admit, I'm another one in the "More Eschaton, Please" camp. You've barely touched around the edges (literally, the leading and trailing edges of Eschaton's light-cone, as I understand it), and the Remastered are a unique take on "genetic fascism", much more interesting and deep than the Draka.

    But absent that, I'd like to see more about the Laundry.



    178: "Stross doing Steampunk might be fun, Stross doing Lovecraftian horror is DEFINITELY fun, and Stross doing Space Opera is what originally hooked me."

    You know, it might be possible to combine all three. If you had a Laundry-organization of the past (say, the Victorian age), dealing with some Lovecraftian horror, and a means of allowing some intrepid paranormal experts access to space...

    Then again, that's pretty close to a certain book by Baxter.

    I have to say that a study of the activities of the Laundry-equivalent of Victorian England would be very interesting, especially seeing as how the Laundry-type organizations combine the most cutting-edge, avant-garde technology and thinking with time-tested devices and prejudices.


    Looks like there's more than one person who wants to see more of "Big Brother Iron," "Missile Gap," and "A Colder War."

    BTW, 200, I think a story about how bleak human colonization would be, even without supernatural elements, would be compelling. How about a Mars base, even. How sad would that be in reality?


    Charlie @ 176: Already did, a long time ago (my, are the Chtorr that old? I suddendly realise)...

    I wasn't suggesting alien biological or whatever themes per-se; I was suggesting the overall theme of "something weird and completely unexplicable happens, and then society has to deal with its consequences". There's a ton of possible ways to have that, weird biology being just one.

    A different take in the same "life is going to be weird" vein: Pangaea. For whatever reason, all continents and islands and whatnot reassemble, and you get a jumble of geography. The UK is no longer an island and has only one coast left (north scotland). One can take a car ride from Tokyo to San Francisco, while Florida has to manage hordes of african refugees walking across Cuba to get there...

    Take an impossible "miracle", and work out from there without explaining it away.

    (which, if you think about it, is a bit what you did with the Merchant Princes, in a less flamboyant way. But you're almost explaining it - we'll know in 3 months)

    Jan @ 177: "Stross doing Steampunk might be fun"

    Now that one sounds pretty good.


    What I would love to see is a farish future novel set entirely in our Solar System, which takes into account all the ways in which it has changed from the traditional picture of nine planets, sveral dozen moons and some small change.


    Now that someone brought it up, I want to add to my Far-Future vote that I too would love something that is set in the universe of "A Colder War".


    Personally, I my favourite novel was Accelerando, but it's not one I can lend to too many people because it's so dense with allusions and references (which is exactly why I like it). On the other hand, the MP series has always struck me as being the most accessible to 'normal' people. So, if you're looking to expand your audience, perhaps something a bit easier on the normals like MP. On the other hand if you're happy with us geeks then just keep going as you are :)


    How about medium term SF then? Something 30-50 years out.

    The singularity has been called off in the last 5 years or so anyway, so why not have a look at what ordinary, continuous progress can do, or made possible? In a time-frame of 30-50 years, the pent-up development possible with current technology alone is enormous.

    If China follows the path of South Korea or Japan, it's going to reach something like 50% of the per capita GDP of the US some time after 2030 or so, but it won't feel like it.

    China is (by necessity) committed to invest in infrastructure and improve conditions people live in (or risk falling apart). China now has the fastest train in the world, because it doesn't use 50 to 100 year old rail routes that are upgraded, but brand new ones. The same will happen with all kinds of structures, simply because they start from scratch. The result of all that will have huge implications on the development of the rest of the world, because - hopefully - the rest of the industrialized world will realize just how far it fell behind its own potential.

    That is what I think is so shocking about the world we're living in.

    At the same time everybody thinks we're at the pinnacle of technology, when we've in fact adopted very little of it, mostly because of the lack of governmental commitment to improve conditions for the people (as opposed to businesses, but that doesn't work when people are in fact impoverished and/or indebted) and the natural lag due to the fact that you can only rebuild your infrastructure every few decades or so.


    I'd like something similar to Scratch Monkey. There is a shortage of quality sf horror, and nothing would compare to a book that'd give the singularity people real nightmares. I liked the plausible mind-eating horrors and the sheer bleakness of that universe.

    Things never turn out the way one expects, and I'm pretty sure that a lot of earnest communists did not expect the terror revolution brought.

    @steampunk Good for China Mieville. Steampunk contraptions(those that were not made in our history) mostly would not work. For the same reasons no military is ever going to field mecha (would get stuck in the first swamp, profile too high, no real advantage over tanks.. etc etc) Steampunk makes little sense unless you put it into a really peculiar enviroment, such as Karl Schroeder's Virga..or where the ambient magical field is just too strong(electronics don't work, and something keeps eating plastics* )


    I'd like something similar to Scratch Monkey. There is a shortage of quality sf horror, and nothing would compare to a book that'd give the singularity people real nightmares. I liked the plausible mind-eating horrors and the sheer bleakness of that universe.

    Things never turn out the way one expects, and I'm pretty sure that a lot of earnest communists did not expect the terror revolution brought.

    @steampunk Steampunk contraptions(those that were not made in our history) mostly would not work. For the same reasons no military is ever going to field mecha (would get stuck in the first swamp, profile too high, no real advantage over tanks.. etc etc) Steampunk makes little sense unless you put it into a really peculiar enviroment, such as Karl Schroeder's Virga..or where the ambient magical field is just too strong(electronics don't work, and something keeps eating plastics* )

    @Merchant Princes I hope something more will be revealed about the absent progenitors of worldwalkers. It's really awful when writers leave just hints, and one never finds out what it was all about. (kind of like real world stuff, for example the CIA & drug trade & Venice airport thing)


    I wish I was smart enough/well read enough to enjoy the Laundry novels more. I'm working on the latter, the former however, well... I think I only get every 10th reference/joke.

    Singularity Sky was the first of your novels I read and really got me hooked. Loved loved loved the dichotomy between the New Republic and the Festival. No more Eschaton eh? Sad face :(


    213: I agree on the lack of SF-horror, something that was highlighted by Scratch Monkey and its unique universe. A universe that contained godlike, but limited AIs (limited in part by the laws of physics, in part by their own blindness, in part by the ultrabrights' unfamiliarity with the real universe). Everybody is dangerously plodding along, it's a ripe situation for conflict, misery, and fear.

    On the issue of Steampunk, when I advocate it here, I do not mean its traditional comic-book mecha sense, but rather straining the technology of the steam-era. That's why I advocated a 1900 space race (at least you'd get something semi-Steampunk) or a means to put real steam technology in orbit somehow (aliens accidentally drop off a space elevator?) That could be fun.

    Or, Steampunk is given a boost. Baxter, I think, wrote about an alternate reality where the English discovered nuclear power much too early, and their steam-era technology - while receiving a great energy and productivity boost and new insights into technology, proved too difficult to contain and understand, as the nature of atomic waste eluded them, and they horribly and irreversibly polluted the planet. It was just a few throwaway lines in a book, but imagine a novel centered around it.

    Also, and this is really crazy, so bear with me!

    A while back there was a science-fiction story about aliens who discovered ways to manipulate matter and energy that allow them to travel in just about any object across interstellar space, to other planets.

    In fact, humanity is revealed as the only species crazy enough to use mathematics and the scientific method, approaches which miss certain fundamental cosmological constants that everyone else in the university picked up on. [In other words, mathematics and physics as we understood them is a dead-end in some regards.]

    In nearly every other way, the aliens are seventeenth or eighteenth-century in technology and society, but they have been able to discover the secret of FTL. Their cosmological understanding does not include the scientific method, so they are blind in many regards.

    Naturally, they land on and invade Earth, stepping out of their spacecraft (made of leather or canvas or something) in files, muskets at the ready. They are mowed down on their LZs, and humans appropriate the technology.

    The story ends there, I think. Does anyone remember it? What gets me is, what kind of crazy situation results when, assuming that the free-FTL-and-antigrav technology is released, just about anyone could build a spacecraft (or cruise missile) and go wherever they want? The implications are staggering. You could pack a mission to Mars like a trip in an RV. Singapore could fund an interstellar colonization mission.

    Or, for Steampunk, what if the landings happen 100 years earlier?


    Any hope of finessing "No more Eschaton" by requesting a non-fiction piece deconstructing the underlying problems of the Eschaton Universe and authorial discourse on the problems of writing about Space, Time, and Powers Beyond Our Ken?


    No more Eschaton makes me a sad panda. Iron Sunrise was my first Stross novel, and I wasn't at all pleased to find out it was going, well, nowhere.

    Perhaps a far-future subset of the Laundry universe, space opera with eldritch horrors from beyond the stars?


    Charlie: Well, I loved Glasshouse. And in many ways I think it's the best novel you've written so far. In fact, I think it's the best science fiction novel that came out during the naughts.

    But I thought Glasshouse took place in the far future of the Eschaton universe. Not? So it gratifies me to hear that you're thinking about doing a sequel. I vote for that!



    @216 Brendan, if nobody answers that question, try posting it over at

    I'd like to know what story that was as well.


    @219 Wulf: You are incorrect. Glasshouse is set in the Accelerando universe.


    "The Road Not Taken" is a short story by Harry Turtledove.


    Please please please write the sequel to Glasshouse!


    Christopher Carr @221: not exactly.

    I originally intended for "Glasshouse" to be set in the far future of "Accelerando", but decided that on second thoughts, it would probably be best to cut it loose. So to date, "Accelerando" and "Glasshouse" are best viewed as stand-alone novels.


    I think that with everything you have done, you are happiest when you do something completely different. Looking at the diverse and wide ranging things you have covered in your books, you enjoying doing things outside of the conventional. We enjoy it, because we can see you playing with our expectations in your writing, and then changing them in the book, so we feel that we have experienced something refreshingly fresh and new.

    So do something that is different, something that challenges you.


    To: @222 errolwi and: @216 Brendan

    Awesome! Thanks...

    The Road Not Taken (short story)

    [quote] The story is told through limited third person point of view, with most of the story concerning a single Roxolani captain. During a routine journey of conquest, they happen upon Earth. The Roxolani anticipate a simple and rewarding campaign, as they can detect no use of gravity manipulation, the cornerstone of their civilization. Humanity is awed by the invaders, as the maneuverability granted by that technology suggests the rest of their civilization is equally impressive. But as they begin their assault, things take a turn for the absurd - the Roxolani attack with matchlock weapons and black powder explosives. Humans retaliate with automatic weapons and missiles. The battle is short, and most of the invaders are killed. A few are captured alive. [/quote]


    If you're looking for it, it was in the Turtledove anthology "Kaleidoscope". Out of print, but probably available in your local used bookstore/amazon marketplace.


    Firstly I must admit to not reading all of the posts, they where many and long.

    My vote is for some kind of generation ship far along its travels, but not even near the end. Origins of journey forgotten

    Factions has begun to form and conflicts appear now and then. Timeframe somewhere between near-future and spaceopera. It could make for an interesting novel or perhaps a trilogy.

    I belive you could pull it off (consider this the part where I join the choir, praising your work and thanking for good reading)


    It sounds like you have a lot more to say about Glasshouse and Palimpsest. By all means write about them. I am really looking forward to the "Fuller Memorandum" Anything where the story grabs you by the collar and slaps you saying "Write Me" sounds really good.

    I would like to know more about the society in Glasshouse. What does it mean that everybody has access to armanents equal to a US infantry platoon, can live nearly forever, and has the sum of the world's knowledge easily available? You could write: Six Billion Gods.

    You stated once that you hated Star Trek because they specifically avoid discussing how technology changes people. As long as you keep focussing on what new opportunities will mean for people's lives, you'll do fine.


    @207 "In the Hall of the Martian King" John Varley

    The ReMastered are already here .... they call themselves Khalifists, at present. Yes, they are Nazis.


    @227 Vincent Archer

    I was lucky. I already had the October 1984 Analog for the sequel Herbig-Haro, and I had the anthology Warrior, by Jerry Pournelle in his There Will Be War series. The Road Not Taken was in the anthology.

    I love the internet.


    I'd like to see your take on what a post-singularian would consider science fiction to be from their POV.


    Charlie@173'"Glasshouse" is my worst-selling SF novel, in the US market. '

    I'm intrigued as to what you and your publishers know about the why's of your sales in the US. The comments in the fan base on this thread, including mine, indicate a strong preference for more in the "Glasshouse" universe. So why did "Glasshouse" not do well? Which novels did do well and can you pin point why - content, promotion, recommendations?


    Glasshouse universe please! :)


    Charlie @224 Thanks for the clarification. I think I'll have to read it again with that in mind.


    Laundry. Lots more laundry.
    Could we see other examples of "wrong" Science e.g. Victor Schauberger and his imploding vortex? Powering a Dymaxion vehicle? On the Archiboreis land bridge? Lol.


    While I like the Merchant Princes series, I'll be happy enough if book 6 wraps up the story. (Unless there's a Big Reveal that practically demands another look...)

    The Laundry series is fun, and if you keep writing, I'll keep buying.

    But really, so long as you can avoid the trap of self-indulgence, write what you want to write (publishers and bills permitting !). If the expanded Palimpsest is demanding to be written then do it.


    Re: requests for frequency of Laundry novels

    As often as will not burn you out on Bob Howard. The fact that the Fuller Memorandum bubbled out of you when you 'should' have been writing a different book delights me. If you have a direction of where the epoch of NIGHTMARE GREEN will head, please apply your thoughts in that direction.


    I've enjoyed all the stuff you've written so far,thanks a lot for writing them, though the Merchant Princes isn't my normal sort of thing.

    A good, big space war, baseline humanity vs The Remastered. No real need to involve the Eschaton at all..

    End of the world stuff appears to be in vogue.. how about the Stross take on a John Wyndham cosy catastrophe ?

    Other than that, More Laundry, and I'm looking forward to the Halting State sequel.


    One more voice in a long long thread, and seemingly not a majority view, but fwiw:

    Granted that I'm pretty much going to read anything you will plausibly write anyway, I would:

    Strongly like to see: a novel exploring what's up with the cosmic background oddities and where the router network came from in the Accelerandoverse; a novel expanding from or related to "Missile Gap"; likewise "Palimpsest"; more Merchant Princes; something entirely new in the deep space/time direction.

    Quite like to see: More Laundry.

    Not be as drawn to: more near-future stuff; more Glasshouse; more in the universe or the mode of Saturn's Children.



    Surprised to hear that Glasshouse is your worst-selling novel in the US. Sorry we have such bad taste. How many copies should I buy to convince you to write a sequel?

    Failing that, your thoughts on how the "starship" concept is broken were interesting. Any novel there?


    I'd be fascinated to see your take on the consequences of a "first contact" scenario with an alien race.


    I'll buy just about anything you write, but on the MP series I am waiting until it is done, and will read it as a single item. Keeping track of everything is tougher when read months and years apart.

    I know above you said you make more with a hard cover vs paperback, but how about a mid priced NON-DRM'ed e-book? Also a way to convert a existing book to a legal e-book?


    Hi Charlie, My suggestion would be something along the lines of the blog posts in the last few months. A story based on a generation ship (get most but not all of the tech sorted), and let the characters develop. Do they bow out and disappear off ( actually that might be a decent policy of the ship), is there revolutions and the ship turns back ? blah blah blah . There are plenty of things you can do with this, but I leave it in your hands . Cheers Iain


    I just re-read "Palimpsest", and I'm thinking it definitely needs expansion. Or at the very least, the universe needs to be explored more.


    All things considered I want to be surprised by what you write for me to read in 2012. You have successfully managed to do it so far, and I don't want you to stop. I think I would be more pleased if you started something new rather than expanded an existing world. I think a mystery or a fantasy would be nice.

    I linked a blog to 'Overtime' and a friend showed the page to his mother with the comment "Look at the cute rocket". She is a Presbyterian-retired-maths-teacher and by the time they had wrested her away from the computer she had read six and half pages. She responded positively to the 'nuts in the family muesli' phrase. One by one you're corrupting us!


    My opinions, FWIW:

  • My favorites are the Laundryverse and related stories. Looking forward to Fuller and CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN later this year, especially more clues/ideas about how to prepare for "when the stars are right". :::grin::::

  • I loved Accelerando but was a bit blah about Glasshouse, except for the pre-experiment parts of the story, where Robin is fighting in the censorship wars. BTW, I love the term "cognitive dictatorship", it (almost) gets me hot and bothered. ::::grin::::: Any chance of some sort of prequel story to the universe of Glasshouse, not just a sequel?

  • Eschaton bks were very good and Merchant Princes were somewhat good.

  • Looking forward to seeing you later this yr when you visit the States.


    You have the advantage of having characterized your "brand" with diversity. What have you been sort of wanting to get around to trying? What sort of break from what you've done recently has been on your mind? Whatever you do, I'm almost certain to pick it up as soon as it's in paperback, but that's my 2¢s worth.


    Sequel to Iron Sunrise! I know you don't want to, and I do love your other work, but you set the stage for a mindblowing and awesome finale and some corner of my mind has been on the edge of her seat for over a year now! The Eschatron marshalling its powers, human response to this (probably widespread alarm), the mysterious Other...


    I'd like to see a full length atompunk Cold War paranoia / nuclear armageddon novel with a twist in the vein of A Colder War and Missile Gap. Really dial it up and let the nukes fly, then write an homage to the pulp sci-fi stories where society somehow manages to maintain advanced technology despite almost complete obliteration of civilization.

    Or if you really want to scare us, write a post-oil eco-apocalypse novel.


    I don't think anyone's posted this yet. . . but how a Charlie Stross assault on the non-fiction market? Possibly based on those memoir posts about your struggles in the software trade, with added crunchy bits. Some titles suggest themselves:

    'The Charlie Stross Guide to Life'

    'Charlie Stross Speaks to Young People'

    'Chicken Charlie Stross for the Soul'

    I jest of course - but I'm serious about the non-fiction thing. Most of the techy stuff on this blog goes over my head, but the more sociologically-oriented things you post from time to time are what keep coming back.


    Many of our current social issues are cross-generational and are usually resolved once the older generation dies out. Racism, the role of women in society and gay rights are great examples. What would be the social implications of sufficiently advanced life extension technology? If humans lived for a few hundred years, would would progress completely stagnate? Perhaps societies would fragment based on age? I'd like to see a story exploring that question.


    Let me guess -- you're not black, female, or gay?


    @253 Hmm - how about the USA starts REQUIRING even casual entrants to be "True Believers" (TM) since it is well-known that atheists are more evil than muslim suicide bombers ......


    Glasshouse is my favorite of your novels, with the next few being, in no particular order, the Eschaton novels and Accelerando. I've read a variety of your other works and honestly I'm not likely to buy any more Merchant Princes novels or Laundry novels. I liked Halting State well enough, but it's not what really excites me about your work.

    So what would make me more likely to buy your novels in the future would be more "big," far-ish future (or at least very technologically advanced) science fiction in the general style of Glasshouse, Accelerando, or the Eschaton novels. Whether such a hypothetical novel were strictly a sequel to one of those would be more or less irrelevant to me.


    I'd love it if you brought the same pragmatic (realistic) viewpoint to bear on near-term-ish conflict, as you did in "Halting State".

    I know it's not sweeping space opera, but it would be nice to see something realistic (and mildly subversive) as an alternative to all of the thinly-veiled 19th-century naval novels reset in space, or John Ringo. No-one's done a really good take on it since "The Forever War", although "Ender's Game" came close... (apologies if I've missed a glaringly obvious selection; and no, I'm not suggesting you go off to war and write a book as therapy).

    As an Edinburgh resident, have you read Jack Alexander's "MacCrae's Battalion"? Or George Macdonald Fraser's "Quartered Safe Out Here"? Both are more about people than fight scenes... (and well worth a read)



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