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Intermission

I've been quiet this week for a variety of reasons.

Mostly, I've been busy working. The best way to deal with finishing a big project is to start another, and with "The Fuller Memorandum" playing footsie with George Orwell's "1984" for the top spot in the SF charts on amazon.co.uk, I'm pretty certain that the prospects for another Laundry novel are good. So I'm filling time by working on "The Apocalypse Codex" until the manuscript of "Rule 34" comes back with some editorial red ink on it.

Next Tuesday I'm off to Cambridge, MA and then to Burlington for Readercon next weekend. I should be doing a reading/signing at Pandemonium books and games on Tuesday 13th at 7pm (pending confirmation). Prepping travel arrangements takes time, and I've also been sorting out my Worldcon attendance.

(Finally, I've had some family medical news which may force me to alter travel and work plans at short notice. In particular, I won't be taking on any more speaking invitations until the situation is clearer than it is right now. (Before you ask, (a) Feorag and I are fine, and (b) I don't want to discuss it here.))

And now, because I really can't think of anything else to say, Tentacles!

53 Comments

1:

Dyyeah...dogfish!

2:

Thanks, Charlie. Now I'm going to have nightmares about zombie dogfish.

3:

finished FM. It was fantastic, though I kind of miss the discussion of the influencing style being drawn from at the end. Maybe there's room for a stripped down version of that on the blog some day?

4:

I began writing an afterword, but it turned into a train wreck and I ran out of time before the deadline. As TFM is rather longer than the previous novels, we decided to do without for now.

I'm hoping to resume the habit with TAC.

5:

Good golly! Those tentacles are both squamous and rugose!

6:

They have no scales, and they didn't look particularly wrinkly to me...

7:

Just received my copy of the fuller memorandum so I'll guess I will be sat in Leeds reading that this weekend if you are around.

8:

Hi Charlie,
hope all will be well with you and your family.
Got TFM on Weds, finished on Thurs (would have been the same night but I got to the point where I couldn't concentrate despite my desire to finish).
Fab. It felt a little rushed at the end, but that was me reading when too tired I think.

As I normally do with your books I'll give it a week or 2 and start re-reading it. I tend to pick up on the subtle(and unsubtle) in-jokes then.
(It took me the 3rd time of TJM to realise the middle name joke, and TFM to actually realise what the silly name of the Intern was about . Duh, and that's pretty much the only reason why I read The Register for a long time.)
Oh the joy of a reader who misses so much stuff , it make re-reading such a big pleasure.

I only found your stuff a little over a year ago and I've read I think everything at least twice (hmm Accelerando ? that might be the exception, only cos I've not got round to it yet, the others have just screamed in my head "RE-READ ME".)

Anyway thanks for another great read, I've an Anthony Price on its way to compare notes with and in the meantime Ken McLeod's "The Restoration Game" to finish (it turned up yesterday).
I'll be ready with a longbow rather than a shotgun though - rather not attract any attention of the many angled ones .
Cheers
Uri

9:

Can't... stop... laughing... at the line halfway through the video. Have watched it three times now and cracked up every time.

10:

Pandemonium Books is definitely expecting you on the 13th, or at least they were when I was in the last, a week or so ago. Safe travels!

11:

I'm going out to see if the Fuller Memorandum's for sale in Oxford anywhere... then tentacles for tea.

12:

I just watched that with my son, both of us trying to figure out the mechanism (whilst also cracking up at the anguished Liverpudlian tones)

Then we went through the other linked videos on YouTube and all became clear, time to do some research on chemical vs electrical triggers for muscle action...

Halfway through Fuller, loving every minute ;-)

13:

Hi Charlie;

TFM arrived this morning (amazon pre-order, if you're interested...) up to p.8 (the baby's just gone down for her nap). I didn't know you were a fan of Jim Butcher's - or did you lose a bet?

Scary tentacles are scary.

14:

Got my pre-ordered copy of TFM from Amazon on Thursday morning, long after it had been available in the better class of bookshop: a lesson there, methinks.

An amusing roller-coaster of a read; I suspect that it has much more to reveal on re-reading.

Meanwhile: yay tentacles! I wonder if it was a galvanic effect, skinning the dogfish and placing the exposed muscle on aluminium foil; or whether the lemon juice was more important. Am I the only geek here who's thinking of testing this by experiment - if I can get fish fresh enough - and dreaming up disturbing practical jokes?

15:

Me fish is movin' but it's dead!

Good to know the start of the zombie apocalypse will make it to youtube before the collapse of civilization

16:

Do you know when (or if) there's going to be an audio book release of the Fuller Memorandum? And most importantly, do you know if Gideon Emery is going to still be the narrator? I'm as much or more a fan of the audio versions of the Laundry books as the printed ones.

17:

Well that's just great, now I have to wait until the memory fades before I can eat fish again.

The twitching.... the twitching....

18:

Glen: no idea. (I would hope that Audible come sniffing for the rights to TFM in due course. As for the narrator, I have no input whatsoever -- in fact, I've never spoken directly to anyone at Audible at any point.)

19:

As yet I haven't had a chance to watch the video with sound. But my first thought was "Arrrgh! He's preparing Tentacles of Glory".

20:

What's the situation with your books being sold for the iPad? Wireless is available but nothing else. I purchased Halting State for my Sony Reader but can't open it on the iPad due to DRM issues. Do you have any say or is it in the hands of the publisher?

21:

Nick, ebook production isn't my department. It isn't even my editors' department -- very often book editors are as much in the dark about what's going on as folks like you and me, because ebook production was for historic reasons hived off into a separate vertically integrated business, like foreign rights sales.

As for DRM, my personal recommendation would be to research how to crack the DRM on one format, then buy in that format, crack the DRM on the books you buy, and use a tool like Calibre to inject the (DRM-free) files onto whatever reader you prefer to use. It's a nuisance, but it's the only way to be sure that ebooks you pay for today will still be usable in 5-10 years time.

My publishers' lawyers would probably prefer me to tell you to buy ebooks again every time you change platform, but that would be stupid, wouldn't it?

22:

Very picky question - is there something significant in the Laundry being based above a store that hasn't traded in the UK since 2000?

23:

The store in question is still trading elsewhere in the EU. And you don't really want to be living in the same time line as the Laundry. Trust me on this.

24:

I'm just glad you and Feorag are alright.

25:

Charlie, can I take that as confirmation that I'm not living in the same timeline as the Laundry? I find that quite comforting as there have been times when I've been just a little worried that you haven't actually been writing fiction. Yeh, Laundry=Fiction sounds good, no nasty tentacles...

26:

Hi Charlie

Wanted to reply to your response on an earlier thread but the spam monkeys called a halt

Please dont take this as trolling and rest assured i shall not be comming back to this topic again but i do feel that there are points in your reply i need to rebut.

Charlie's original Post:

"R. Lloyd, as a web publisher myself -- you may not have noticed it, but this blog requires its own server and gets around 10K unique visitors a day -- can I invite you to get a different business model?

Because advertising is attention theft, pure and simple -- usually larded with a good dose of behavioural psychology to induce false cravings in its victims. Evil is the only word to describe it, and we'd all be better off if the whole industry was criminalized tomorrow. Happier too: we could have the War on Advertising Executives in place of the War on Drugs!

(Final aside: I never buy products on the basis of advertisements. And I never click on web ads. But web ads steal the bandwidth that I'm paying for. Personally, I'd prefer to see a compulsory rights scheme like the BBC license system used to pay for internet content. Alas, the advertising industry lobby in the US would try to strangle any such proposal in the crib because it would utterly destroy their grip on content.)

Yours with No Love for the parasites ..."


1: My business model works for me, yours works for you, To be honest you are more of a web advertiser than a publisher as the purpose of this blog is to sell books (it works, at least with me), anyway the blog is funded 100% by your book sales.
2: I dont understand the argument that advertising is attention theft as a point in favour of running ad block, advertsing is PAYMENT by attention. Adblock is blocking "my" ability to recieve payment for my work.
3: I dont see how webadverts steal your bandwidth when you are on "my" site , do you mean you don't like paying for viewing "my" content, since as noted if "you" don't want to see the ads "you" are welcome to push off.
4: the advertising is evil thing is, well, a bit odd, but you're welcome to your opinion on your blog.

Yours also with No Love for the parasites (probably different parasites)...

27:

Here's the attention theft angle: if you come to my website, you're looking for stuff by me. The advertising is implicit. If I go to J. Random ad-supported site, the ads are entirely orthogonal to whatever I'm looking for -- they don't contribute anything, despite Google's propaganda about relevance -- and they suck bandwidth like crazy.

A couple of years back I did a dissection on a web page at salon.com. 1000 words of content -- that's 5.5Kb in pure uncompressed UTF-8 -- came with 1Mb of assorted junk and cruft attached. Stripping out the ads but leaving layout elements still ditched 75% of that 1Mb payload.

Now, this may strike you as trivial, but if I'm using a mobile device -- as I increasingly am, these days -- I'm paying through the nose for bandwidth. And three quarters of a meg of junk in return for three minutes' reading is not a good exchange; if you extrapolate it, it works out at 40-45Mb of junk per hour of web use, which on a mobile tarriff is nose-bleedingly expensive. (30 hours a month and I'd be through a basic bandwidth cap.)

Next, there's sensory bandwidth. Advertising in general is in a race to the bottom to acquire a lock on my eyeballs. For cognitive reasons my eyes are drawn to moving brightly coloured objects. The seconds spent resizing the web page to block out the irritant are seconds of my life I'll never get back, and they add up.

Finally, there's marketing psychology. Much of which is based on the invidious practice of trying to make the target audience feel insecure about their self-image, and then offering a product on the basis of a promise to redress the insecurity. It's vile and disgusting.

28:

Knowing what lies in store for the Laundryverse, I feel safe in saying that you really don't want to live there!

29:

I dont understand the argument that advertising is attention theft as a point in favour of running ad block, advertsing is PAYMENT by attention. Adblock is blocking "my" ability to recieve payment for my work.

No. That would be if your advertisers didn't pay you. Adblock is exactly equivalent to not looking at the ads. Your argument eventually calls for the direct and compulsory injection of ads into the visual cortex - hey, isn't that called an iPad?

30:

Times I have responded to an advert on a web-page - 0, zero, zilch, nada, none... Enough said guys?

Times I have bought something as a result of a recomendation by someone I "know" on-line - lots. (and "lots" is or can be a number remember).

Speaking of i-Pads etc, I got the latest Iain (M) Banks last week, saw a sticker on the cover and thought "Banksie; there's an app for that". ;-)

Finally, I'm pleased you and Feorag are ok, and totally respect your right to not discuss family further.

31:

Wait a minute: there are *audio* versions? How did I not know this? Audiobooks are how I make 2-3 hours of commuting seem less of a waste of life.

*goes off to Audible to check*

[as an aside - look, a website with no advertising generating a possible sale. Amazing...]

32:

Charlie

thanks for replying and not wanting to get into a further argument so i'll agree that it might not be worth your while going to salon for example as it costs you too much, whilst pointing out thats exactly like choosing not to buy any other magazine, its not worth that much to you, fine and dandy.
paws4thot at 30 - i STRONGLY suggest you have indeed bought things, voted for people watched programs read books , gone on holiday etc that you have been influenced to buy/do by advertising some of this would be direct others more likly indirect(i agree with charlie on how it actualy works, without the evil bit). I have been selling ads for 20 + years and EVERYONE says advertising dosent work on the

33:

That should be

dosn't work on THEM.

thanks for discussing this Charlie and no more from me on this subject.

Off to buy Fuller memorandum and Trade of queens now for my holiday reading...

34:

I really wish I could understand publisher's ebooks policy. I know charlie you have said before you have no input.

Currently available on Waterstones are 4 of your works:
- Saturn's Children, Halting State, Wireless, Singularity Sky. The first two list the publisher as Little, Brown and the latter two are from "Hachette Digital". If I recall, Little, Brown is part of Hachette. Separately, Tor has quietly got the first 3 Family Trade novels up for download on Baen Webscriptions (you are in good company as in a very small list they also have several Vernor Vinge titles up). Tor is also a Hachette imprint I believe.

35:

R Lloyd, I didn't say that "no advert has ever worked on me". I said that I've never responded to an advert on a web page; that means click-throughs etc resulting in my buying a product I'd not otherwise have bought, but not seeing an advert for, say TFM, and thinking "The new Charlie Stross is out; I must buy a copy of that".

Some adverts actually have a negative effect on me; for example I don't buy brand-name washing powder because they all seem much of a muchness, and I see no point in paying for expensive Tv adverts for "brand name" when "local supermarket own brand" is noticably cheaper. Ok?

36:

Tor is not part of Hachette; it's a subsidiary of St Martin's Press, itself in turn a component of Macmillan, which is the English-speaking arm of Von Holtzbrinck.

Orbit is an imprint of Little, Brown which is owned by Hachette.

(Are we having fun yet? :)

37:

I boycott companies who engage in annoying advertising. I find 99% of online advertising to be annoying, therefore by blocking ads I am doing said advertisers a favour by not allowing them the opportunity to annoy me and so guarantee that I never buy their (obviously crap, or annoying advertising would be unnecessary) products.

When I want to buy something, I am perfectly capable of doing my own research and, when I am looking for something, a simple text ad next to my search is remarkably non-annoying.

If companies want me to buy their stuff, the best they can do is have an accessible, informative web site with no silly shit. For example, recently I wanted a GPS for geocaching. There were two models recommended on the relevant forum, so I went to the companies' websites for more details. Garmin's one isn't bad - detailed specs and geocaching included in the pre-canned options for things you might want to do with the gadget. A bit of a pain to work out where to download software for it, but that's the main complaint. The other company? So ridden with marketing and Flashy cruft that I never found out if their GPSs would work for me. The large lump o' cash went Garmin's way and the reason I'm not mentioning the other company is because I can't remember who it was!

This isn't much help for website owners using business models more appropriate for printed newspapers, of course.

38:

Ah, the well-known publishing house of Von Holzbrinck! Right.

40:

Your nearest competitor is a book published in 1949 by a long dead writer?

SF publishing must be in a worse state than I imagined.

41:

No, you forgot to consider the possibility that a work of SF from 1949 by a long dead writer might be on the national curriculum for English literature here in the UK, guaranteeing it about a third of a million sales per year on an on-going basis.

42:

Ah yes! And your point is?

I know they are one of the world's largest publishing groups, so what? They themselves are not exactly a household name here in the UK (unlike, say, penguin - which publishes charlie in the us - macmillan, or even hachette, which most people with some interest in the publishing industry have heard of.

43:

What, you've never heard of Macmillan? (aka Holtzbrinck.)

44:

Well, I think you are being snarky about my syntax which is fair enough as I missed out the end parathesis. Shoot! it's an internest blog-post-thingie.

And, Ok, sure Macmillan (which is, i think, quite a well-known name) is an imprint of VH (which isn't - it's basically just a holding company)

45:

My neurologist says I'm ad-blind so it doesn't matter if there's ads, on paper, too. I usually look things up when mentioned by friends or are in the paper. Today I have a URL for where to dispose of meds if I have extra.

46:

Enjoyed TFM, lots. Very funny, well plotted, and liked the ideological subversion of Lovecraft, from 'nameless horrors', to rational, knowable, named ones. (That are too powerful and that will get you in the end...).

I'm still hoping that you'll keep the Laundryverse teetering on the edge of apocalypse, without ever falling in, in a parallel timeline not too distinguishable from our own. Consumer products and all. (I mean, we made it through the cold war... that fear we all had as children, that nuclear war would get us long before we 'grew up'. Keep the fear, and the constant stay of execution).

No closure, just constant covert crisis management.

(And with this Nightmare Green story arc concluding with Mo & Bob's newborn. Bris optional.)

47:

>I have been selling ads for 20 + years and EVERYONE says advertising dosent work on them

Gosh, so your business is a complete scam then?

It's possible that people are right and they aren't overly affected by advertising. But that would be terrible news for the advertising industry wouldn't it?

I remember when the first web booom was in full flow companies were paying through the nose for advertising because the advertising companies were basing the costs on a similar model to magazines.

Until, thanks to the technology of the internet, it was possible to actually measure responses to web advertising, and then, suddenly, prices for web advertising dropped to the floor.

Advertising, the sort used on the internet and in periodicals, demonstrably doesn't work. Companies selling adverts like to keep that quiet.

48:

My points are:-
1) "little England" =/= "The World"
2) I could find out all I wanted to know about VH in about the time you spent saying "never heard of them".

49:

That's a bloody disgusting video. Lets hope this will cause a lot of people to go veggie, those damn meat eaters.

50:

Replying to Robin

Was going to have stopped on this but in response:

"Gosh, so your business is a complete scam then?" - no

"It's possible that people are right and they aren't overly affected by advertising. But that would be terrible news for the advertising industry wouldn't it?" - "people" are wrong, "people" are generaly wrong about a lot of things that affect tme in particular, ads actualy do work (even spam sadly) people just dont like to think it works on them.

"I remember when the first web booom was in full flow companies were paying through the nose for advertising because the advertising companies were basing the costs on a similar model to magazines." - like charlies e-book series you would be surprised how little of the cost of publishing is in print and paper and delivery.

"Until, thanks to the technology of the internet, it was possible to actually measure responses to web advertising, and then, suddenly, prices for web advertising dropped to the floor." - not just a responses issue this is also an over supply issue, coupled with a (in my view incorrect) view amongst many advertisers that the internet is all about response only (As opposed to brand advertising) and a confusion about targeted v untargeted advertising.

"Advertising, the sort used on the internet and in periodicals, demonstrably doesn't work. Companies selling adverts like to keep that quiet." - OK you got me its all a big conspiracy theory...... or just perhaps you are incorrect?

51:

Was going to have stopped on this but in response:

First; then why didn't you? (hint: you can't win, all you can have is the last word; how important is that to you?)

Next; Yes advertising works -to an unknown extent. Click through is a poor metric despite being better than any other. Even 'voluntary' registration of your new toy 'to activate your statutory consumer rights' (and I've seen the latter phrase used) with enough questions to furnish a complete identity cloning kit, is a poor method of pinpointing where and what influenced a purchase. People lie, can't remember or are unaware of the moment the desire was crystallised.

I tend to be ad blind - except when it is for products I have an interest in. Outside of that I literally cannot remember an ad five seconds later (I discovered this by accident when a particular website had a advertising awareness survey which I filled in on a whim - and haven't been back to that site since, it was way more advertising than content.

Finally; an apology to our host for perpetuating thread drift in unsavoury directions and a virtual bouquet to Feorag, a kindred spirit when it comes to advertising.

52:

The TFM is longer than previous novels? It didn't feel like it. The book was an easy read, so much so that I zoomed through it in 2 or 3 hours, and it did not feel long at all.

53:

Sticking with the "advertising" theme, the only way adverts work on me is to tell me that a new product I might be interested in is available. For example, I do not buy brand X soap products over brand Y because of advertising. Yes I buy Fairy Liquid for washing dishes, because experience says that it shifts gease better and holds it in suspension longer than other brands (so it's better at its job) but the same doesn't apply to hair shampoos, so I buy own brand, or brand names when they're on offer (so experience says that brand doesn't matter to my hair).

If I'm spending £significant on a product, I'd agree with Feorag that I want to know that it will do what I want and work well. If you hide that from me, you'll lose the sale.

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on July 2, 2010 2:48 PM.

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