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Incidentally ...

I just handed in the (hopefully) final draft of "Rule 34", incorporating some fixes to address editorial feedback. Hopefully that's the last I'll see of it until the copy edits come back to me for checking ...

Eighteen months of hard work. A narrative in second person/present tense from no less than seven viewpoints with, if I remember correctly, three different crime subplots going on in parallel: my brain nearly melted. But it's off my desk, and now I can really get my teeth into "The Apocalypse Codex".

I am amused to notice that Wikipedia's moderators have a hate on for the term "Rule 34" in its use as an internet meme; indeed, attempts to set up a Wikipedia entry for the term "Rule 34" run into a (locked) obscure American legal code entry and are flagged for speedy deletion. Thus, I appear to have written the first novel that can't be mentioned on Wikipedia. I guess I'll just have to dote on my TVTropes page instead ...



My apologies because this is certainly the hundredth time you'll have been asked, but aren't you worried about the reaction of some not-already-fans when they do a search on the title? (Or in the disappointment some of them will feel after they buy the book assuming it's [more] pornographic [than they wanted]...?)

More seriously, regardless of the associations, I'd say that there is a good reason not to title a book "John Smith" or "Cute Kittens" in these days of those young people with their search engines and whatnot.


I'm not worried; "Rule 34" only mentions Goatse and Tubgirl a few times, and mostly focusses on rather more recondite aspects of (Hitler Yaoi and the M Girls/N Cups polynomial both get a name check).

3: 1, what exactly are you searching for? My search only turns up a Warhammer 40000 supplement which isn't exactly titillating unless your tastes run very different from most people.

You've got Safe Search switched on, haven't you?

Here's a (work-safe) explanation of Rule 34.

(NB: My definition of "work safe" is flexible enough to encompass this, but yours almost certainly isn't, so I really hope you didn't click that link.)


You could try this instead:

Although I dread the thought that people will now Google for "Charlie Stross Rule 34".. ;)


Maybe you need to submit an alternate title, using a different number base?

Rule 22 perhaps (apposite, no?)


Congratulations on the final edit of Rule 34. I Look forward to reading it.

Speaking of Wikipedia, last December some anonymous person deleted the awards nominations from your WP article and moved the awards out of the bibliography. Do you think it was better the old way?


Where did the idea for using second person come from?

I mention this because I'm used to it from playing interactive fiction (which is snobbish for 'text adventure games'), but it's rarely seen in print. (The only other example I can think of is Iain Banks' Complicity.) I think it works really well for descriptive passages --- I love the opening sequence of Halting State, which shows it off beautifully --- but less so for action sequences.

Do you have a closet Zork habit?


In "Halting State" it's there because it's a novel about gaming; second person is the natural voice for the computer game.

In "Rule 34" it's because of [SPOILER] and the reason should become apparent by the end of the book, which is not about gaming, it's about [SPOILER].


I wonder to what extent la Wik has a hate-on for Rule 34 is a result of la Wik having a permanent and excessive hate-on for xkcd.


On the other hand, given the rationale used for the deletion debate, your book may be the final nail in the coffin for MAKING them give Rule 34 an article.


Not a hate for xkcd as such, but webcomics in general, many other webcomic authors have had run-ins with wikipedia.

I seem to remember Partially Clips' entry being repeatedly deleted for not being notable "because it's a webcomic" even though it was serialized in a number of newspapers at the time.


Congrats. Looking forward to reading it when it comes out, which was when again ?


Those wacky Wikipedia deletionists, eh?


July next year, give-or-take. (It's not yet officially scheduled because, while I've sent the MS in and my editors have read it and commented and I've just sent in a final revised version, they haven't officially released it to Production.)


To be fair to Wiki, why should they devote a page to a book that hasn't yet been printed?

Once it's out, "Charles Stross' Rule thirty-four" would probably get a fair review, especially if it was linked to your Wiki page.


By the way, as a professional writer, what do you think of Do you ever find it useful in any fashion, or is it merely the most evil and addicting website in the history of the Internet and you are an evil monster for providing to innocent people a link to it?


Seems like the arguments for deleting it are also reasons to keep it. If they're bitchin' about it so much, there must be something to it. Or something like that.

Writing questions: Do you write the various plot threads separately and weave them together, or just keep writing along and try to keep everything straight? Is everything outlined so you know where you're going? And do you get surprised by new ideas as you go?


Mild compared to some of the hilariously-presented stuff on Scary Sex Toy Friday.


Great, that's screwed my chances of publication for my new opus, "Citation Needed".


"Half Asleep in Frog Pyjamas" by Tom Robbins is another example of second person present tense. Unfortunately it was the only one of his books I found difficult to read and I never got to the interesting bits.

I am looking forward to Rule 34 as Halting State worked very well.


See also "Bright Lights, Big City" by Jay MacInery. And in the short form, I believe "Poor Little Warrior" by Brian Aldiss is notable for being told entirely in second person future tense, which is mind-manglingly hard (I kept it up for about 500 words at a time in "Palimpsest" and it's ... not easy).


Then again, Wiki has relatively few articles on books overall. (And unless Rule 34 is a spectacularly well disguised SICP or TAoCP there's no real reason they should mention it either.)


But it just might be the real-world notability thats tips the balance for a Wikipedia article on the meme in question, which would be an interesting discussion to watch – from a safe distance.


I would vote for evil and addicting. Linking to TV Tropes is a terrible thing to do when you KNOW I have a deadline this week.


Have you tried creating a wikipedia page named "Rule 34 (novel)"?


For a probably fairly complete list:

Other than the aforementioned Complicity and our host's Halting State, the only other one I've read is Simon Armitage's All Points North.


Consult WP:CRYSTAL. Future events which would be notable and which will happen can support an article. For example, an article on the 2012 US presidential election already exists in substantial detail.

Rule 34 is obviously going to happen - it's finished and under contract - and equally obviously will immediately pass the notability guidelines after a few reviews. (Advance copies mean it'll probably be N even before it is official published.)

I am amused to notice that Wikipedia's moderators have a hate on for the term "Rule 34" in its use as an internet meme; indeed, attempts to set up a Wikipedia entry for the term "Rule 34" run into a (locked) obscure American legal code entry and are flagged for speedy deletion. Thus, I appear to have written the first novel that can't be mentioned on Wikipedia.

Use-mention distinction. Rule 34 != Rule 34.

Rather, it will be ironic that the novel named after the concept will have an article while the concept will not, inverting the usual order of importance. But this would also be true if you had named the novel Belly Lint I Found on July 12th. Important things can be named after unimportant ones.


It appears WP has a hate-on for xkcd in particular because Randall will mention Wikipedia in the occasional strip, and then an obnoxious group of his viewers will persistently vandalize whatever article got a mention.


Or attempt to create one. Malamanteau is the last one I remember, and it was an attempt to create a word and get it mentioned often enough to get it on Wikipedia.


Internet Meme Buys its Way Into Wikipedia

Supporters of a censored Internet meme had the last laugh over Wikipedia's feared Deletionists today, when they hired an award-winning author to put their meme into the title of a notable work of fiction. The meme could not be reached for comment.


I've been looking for porn about deleting Rule 34 from Wikipedia and just cannot seem to find it anywhere. Or, wait, does that count as Rule 36?


I'm not worried; "Rule 34" only mentions Goatse and Tubgirl a few times, [....]

That's the problem: the over-pornophobic will be scared off by the googles results, and the over-pornphiliac will get their hopes dashed.

And why does "Goatse and Tubgirl" suddenly sound like a bad Murkin detective show, as in "Jale and the Fat Man" or "Starsky and Hutch"?


Elizabeth Bear wrote a short story titled "The Chains That You Refuse" that's entirely in second person future perfect. That may sound like a gimmick, but it's a really effective and very moving piece of writing.


@ Janne #3: That xkcd strip also nicely demonstrates Rule 35: If there is no porn of it, it will be made.


Will there be pr0n about Rule 34?


Actually having read the discussion on wp I can see why there isn't a page of it and for me I'm relieved. Internet 'in-jokes' aren't especially funny and it seems like the only reason 'Rule 34' gets touted is because anytime some suggestive picture is found someone posts it up with a 'rule 34' caption. Maybe I'm just getting old, kids today with their internet, when I was a lad all we had was Jet Set Willy.


@Charlie There's an interesting article in this month's Fortean Times about attempts to magically defend Britain during WWII which sounded just up your (Laundry) street.
'The Great Beast 666' gets a mention of course :p

39: Various 1 - I'm fairly sure there can be a page for "Rule 34 (Novel)" too; in fact, that was my first thought. Various 2 - They're Americans; they mostly have a hang-up about admitting to the existance of sechs (mis-spelt to make sure of getting through my firewall). I don't see why there shouldn't be a "Rule 34 (Internet meme)" page though. 36 - Are you really saying that isn't funny?

Re: TVTropes - first time I was made aware that Accelerando and Glasshouse form something like a series/shared universe sequence. Should I have recognized that earlier, or is TVTropes somewhat flexible with serializations here? In my memory, Accelerando (which I read on the screen) and Glasshouse (which I read as a printed book) aren't that closelly related, neither in style, nor in content, nor (as it happens for me) in the physical setting while reading them.


They're not a series, Till.

(I was thinking about turning "Accelerando" into the root of a trilogy when I began "Glasshouse", but got cold feet very fast when I began contemplating what I'd have to do for book #3. And a good thing that was, because "Accelerando" and "Glasshouse" have got virtually nothing in common from a thematic perspective.)


I suggest that people write to Wikipedia, politely requesting that rune 34 be undeleted, giving the reason that it is the title of a forthcoming novel by noted/famous SF author Charles Stross?

And censoring books is not part of Wikipedia's remit, is it?

( I just have done that thing, btw ... )


Complicity is about gaming, also, partly. Both seem a good fit for this.


paws I'm not saying that it's not funny, because a picture of one tank stuck under another is pretty funny -but - and its a big but - that doesn't mean that that sort of picture is a meme in and of itself. To me the whole 'rule 34 internet meme' seems forced as if someone were trying to make it real by repeating it as much as possible. To each their own anyways.


Robin, fair enough.

That's basically how memes and catchphrase comedy always work though; by getting you to wait and/or look to see how they're going to get worked in this time.


Congratulations to those who posted the references to Rule 34 and Charlie's upcoming book here:


"All your base are belong to us!"

"Take off all zigs!"


The universe of Accelerando could be the forerunner for the universe of Glasshouse, but then again given the havoc done to Glasshouse's history by the censorship wars and Curious Yellow any number of near-ish future SF-nal universes could be precursors to Glasshouse.

Personally I have a soft spot for Implied Spaces as a novel set at the start of the censorship wars.

Regards Luke


Congratulations, Charlie! Looking forward to reading it.


There's good page Fanlore Wiki with quite a lot of history on Rule 34 as an Internet meme. I did some research and added references as far back as 2001.

The wikipedia absence continues to confuse people, and with continuing discussion on the Rule 34 talk page.


Take off EVERY zig, Charlie.


I've just noticed a perhaps psychologically-significant typo in my post @ 41.

I said: "rune 34"

Erm ....


Toatally off-topic, and yet... This article suggests that there is a CONSTANT weak (very weak) force operating across space. Very interesting.


Apropos to Rule 34 and your past creation of D&D monsters, Something Awful had a contest for entries in the "Erotic Monster Manual" [via BoingBoing]. The entries get better towards the end, though the Xorn in lingerie on p.6 was sufficiently horrifying. Boobs and Mindflayers really shouldn't mix IMHO.


There's also a very striking novel by Ron Butlin ("The Sound Of Your Voice") all in second-person, although it's not sf, and I suppose you might argue 118 pages isn't enough to constitute a novel.


Here is an unrelated future shock moment: a discreet worm targeted to compromise a designated machine. Besides a use in industrial espionage, it can compromise and sabotage embedded controllers used for production. This is a different angle to the malware scene, and might be applied to spying, extortion, or disruption.


Someone needs to write fanfic in which Goatse Man and Tubgirl team up and fight crime.


I think 091710 xkcd references this thread.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on September 14, 2010 2:46 PM.

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