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Another one bites the dust

I have very little to say right now.

I've just spent the past five days (yes, including December 25th) chewing over the copy edits on "Rule 34", so that you don't sprain your eyeballs on any typos. That, and sundry other bits of work, have kept me from unwinding for a while now. Next on the agenda is to get started on "The Rapture of the Nerds", then go back and finish "The Apocalypse Codex" while Cory is chewing on it. If it's true about there being no rest for the wicked, then I must have been very naughty indeed.

The internet, which I rely on to funnel distractions past my eyeballs when I'm feeling burned out, has itself been pretty meh for the past few days. I can live without the Christmas cheer just as surely as I can live without the more dismal news that our planetary consensus narrative is generating right now. So, rather than doing an end of the year summing-up, I think I'm going to back away from the keyboard for a bit, take a day off, and give up blogging for the remainder of the year.

Happy new year, and may 2011 be better than 2010 ...

50 Comments

1:

Really?
Let's see ....
Religious nutters in poor old Persia (which didn't vote for said nutters) start WWIII.
Ditto religious nutters in N. Korea, because they have nothing to lose ......
Cameroons' tories lose plot, forget any vestige of non-nannying, and go soft (sorry, even softer) on religion as part of the "big society", meanwhile NuLab revrt to authoritarian nannying, whilst urging more money wasted.
Julian Assange "legally" kidnapped to, and then murdered in US by wingbats .....
Any more horrors?

2:

Charlie, I was just thinking of your opinion re: monarchs and modern dictators when I came across this:

"A dictator is one who seizes power arbitrarily and rules without consent. A totalitarian regime is a twentieth-century concept implying a government that intrudes into every aspect of citizens' daily lives. Absolute monarchy was neither: It was ruled by a generally accepted, legitimate king according to established norms and procedures."

William Beik, _Louis XIV and Absolutism: A Brief Study with Documents_ (try Google books)

3:

there is no narrative.

4:

"The internet...has itself been pretty meh for the past few days."

The absence of your wit and insight will make it even more so for the rest of us for these few days.

5:

Happy New Year, Charlie. May you and yours be blessed with good health, prosperity, and joy.

6:

we actually ordered a book from one of these links, instead of amazon, wich seems to not deliver ordered books or completely lose them outright!!!!!!!!
man i like reading this blog, evertime i read this blog it reminds me about how much more i should be reading...

7:

May I suggest freezing some catnip in a couple of ice cubes, then setting them out for the cats to lick on and play with? Laser pointers too, perhaps?

Just remember, if they cats are happy, generally the people are too.

Happy New Year Charlie!

8:

The internet seems to have shut for christmas. no keyboard was stirring, not even my mouse...

9:

one can of course do worse than watch some of the videos from 27c3 (chaos communications congress, going on in Berlin right now). Might be something interesting there for you and un-meh the internet.

10:

When you next want to comment on the publishing industry, I'd be interested in your reaction to this posting: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2010/12/bedtime-story.html

Thanks for your work, and for this blog. And best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2011.

11:

Sounds like an eminently sensible idea. Much as though I enjoy this blog, the idea of having new books from you to add to my collection is something to cheer up my holiday season. Be well and enjoy the new year.

12:

Maybe "don't blog, tweet and otherwise use the internet in the holiday season" is a pretty good guideline. Maybe I'll follow it ...

13:

Its NOT a good time of year.Stuff the Cheery Christmas Stuffing!

Even if you have the advance knowledge that many of your predecessors in writing ... Imaginative /Science /Fantasy ..et al did die altogether too young and ..in the ever present threat that they would wake up one Fine/ish day and discover that their Talent had Fled them .. then there was always the prospect of advancing age and ill health and.. whatever ... I'd supply you with a list garnered over the past few decades,of authors of my aquaintence and frienship who did die far too soon, and under far too great a weight of stress, but the knowledge that at least you live within the boundaries of the British National Health Service is unlikely to be comforting since who can be glad at the knowledge that they are proofed against the miseries of those who trawl the literary mid-range list of Beyond Our Borders?


You have a Tough and unhealthy profession Charlie! A profession that is inherently as damaging to health as were the jobs of many of the dwellers in heavy industry whose workplaces I used to visit and record photographically when I was little more than a child way back in the late'60s of the last century ... amazing the way people who were on what was then called 'PIECE RATE ' Would excercise their imaginations to discover how to turn off, and evade the safety guards on their machines so that they could beat the odds on loosing fingers and thus make a few more pounds just before Xmas ... there's got to be some sort of reflection on the nature of Human Sacrifice there hasn't there?


Then there were The Suits who turned up to ass - ces the AWFUL truths of the document that I did submit after I discovered that my latest Charge .. A Theater of My Very Own !!! OH JOY ! A Stage, Wings off the Stage, banked Seating, A Theatrical Lighting system .. upon which you could fry bacon ..oh all Right, a Real, theater to be used as an improvised lecture theater given the, then, recently HUGE intake of foreign students, for We were desperate for the Money and I didn't help since I cost them a lot of money in putting right the Safety problems that were along the lines of .." NO you cant do that since its been illegal for nearly a hundred and fifty years " putting that in Writing that could have been produced at a Coroners Inquest..and then facing down Suits who responded to my 'well if you know this is Deadly Dangerous then why are you doing it! ' with a calm and cheerful ..." because we've been told to "

Oh how my then employers Human Resource Dept did LOVE me ...on the same lines as The Laundries HRM people did love your Operatives Charlie. Words do have power don't they? And mine were in Writing.

Strange that they were Eager to accept my early retirement through ill health. And Me so cute and lovable!

But, you don't have that option of early retirement Charlie ..at least not an option that will deliver a modest but inflation linked pension at public expense .. and you ARE over doing it more than a little and so you do fit into the world of the late Great John Brunner or Bob Shaw who both died far before their time .. sorry but you do and you are pressing your luck far too hard!

I too have had a bad time over the X -factor -mass Hols but I do have that modest pension and a certain freedom from the horrors of earning a living through the use of my Talent.

Its a bad time of year to be pressing on your luck Charlie, and this Winter has been worse than most.

Be Careful Out There ... in the Wilderness of Letters.

14:

@ 3 (Colin)

Of course there's a narrative. No bloody spoon though...

15:

It's going to be a pretty tough year or two in the United States. I hope things go better for you over there. Our financial systems are still in a shambles, and the dimwit wing of the Republican party is in control of our legislative branch while the Dems continue to be light weights incapable of passing health care or finance reform that 70% or more of our populace want, just for two examples.

16:

Best wishes for the coming year to all in Chez Stross. May it be a successful one, and may the stories keep flowing.

17:

I wish congress didn't happen when i had SAD, I sooo wish I was at congress right now

18:


Geez. I dont know what to say. 2011 will probably be pretty bad in someways. A mini-WWIII with Israel, Iran, and maybe an imploding N. Korea is a real possibility. Same with financial collapse because of Spanish or Japanese public debt; that seems a big risk. There are also lots of wildcards like the electrical/communication grid suffering a major hit from a solar storm, or wierd global warming weather disrupting something in unexpected ways.

Welcome to the age of the Long Crisis, where everything seems vulnerable and chaotic. At the same time, I think standards of living in much of Africa and India are less awful now, with signs of hope and improvement despite gloom in the developed world. Maybe our collective rotten mood is more a function of myopia than an objective sense that the world is going to Hell. At least, that last idea is a comforting delusion.

19:

Here, have some useless brain rot.

http://kottke.org/10/12/sword-tip-video-camera

You may have seen this but
Missing Pages, a short Japanese sf/horror time travel film made with still pictures and computer magic

Part 1
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBFriZnGVCQ

Part 2
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KqOdSLd8L80

Part 3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCSTTedKT8o

For some strange reason I'm thinking of Palimpsest.

May 2011 suck less than 2010. Insofar as one can make overarching statements of this kind. Hard to quantify perhaps. I will refrain from saying depressing things about global warming and internal combustion engines and their continued use. *sigh* Let alone everything else. The lots of it there is.

With you there.

20:

Archaeopteryx: I knew John and Bob, I know what they died of, and I have no intention of following either of their examples. Not entirely coincidentally, the existence of the NHS is a major enabler for the self-employed; if you hang out on sites targeting the American entrepreneur, it's fascinating to see how Americans think it's a young person's game, and view the health insurance "problem" as a major deterrent to setting up a new business after age 35. (A healthsome dose of socialism in the right place is generally an excellent booster for small-scale capitalism.)

21:

How do you read a book when you're looking for mistakes? Do you do it a paragraph at a time (trying to not get caught up in the story)? Do you take notes of character name spellings?

22:

How do you read a book when you're looking for mistakes?

In my case, in one word: badly.

23:

Happy New Year, Charlie, and all other applicable homilies!

I shall attempt to cheer you up a small fraction of bugger-all of a percent by pushing the multiple copies of your books I keep buying and losing in my copious piles of reading material onto my relatives, who have just realised that science fiction is actually awesome. Even my mother, in her sixties, just read Diamond Age and Cryptonomicon and caught the Stephenson bug! So I'll see how she likes the Laundryverse, as well as the Culture. At this rate, all my relatives will be converted into hard sci-fi fans just in time for the death of paper publishing.

Success!

Archaeopteryx, never stop being awesome. I think I'm starting to understand one sentence in three.

24:

That's common to all creatives - if you thought something was right when it flowed off the keyboard the first time, why should your brain change its mind the second time, when you're only a little more divorced from the original thought.

It's why the very last person who should test code for bugs is the programmer.

25:

Hi Charlie,

I think I remember reading somewhere that Sir pTerry spots errors in his Copy Edits by having them read aloud to him. It focusses both the reader through pronunciation and the listener apparantly spots the structural stuff or somesuch..

Also, here's wishing you and all you hold dear a Safe and mahoosively prosperous 2011.
Jelliphiish

26:

** SPAM ALERT **

Both 'Katharine Vanderzanden' at #27 and 'Alisha Marold' at #28 are pharmaceutical spammers.

29:

speaking of Julian Assange...the ufo fringe is certainly waiting with baited breath over the release of Wikileak documents concerning aliens...yes indeed 2011 is already shaping up to be an interesting year. Perhaps they don't have gravity wells on their planets enabling them to travel vast interstellar distances with the sole purpose of visiting our tiny backwater planet. On the other hand, Charles has obtained copies of certain Benthic treaties and knows more about the Deep Ones than he's telling us.

Happy New Year to all...

30:

Copy edits ...
Had that happen to me on a Physics paper.

Typed it up, proof-read it.
Head of Dept read it, 2 minor corrections .....
It wasn't until we sent a copy to our internal library, that somoene spotted an important paragraph had been missed out in the introduction!
Oops.

31:

Haven't noticed it in your books, but a writer (Best left unnamed.) of entertaining space opera often has jarring usage errors that spell check is powerless against.

32:

More copy edits...

I took a rotational dynamics optional module at A level and because there were only 2 or 3 of us doing it (the rest wanted to do optics or medical physics) we were simply issued a (new) textbook each and left to get on. We soon realised that the book was riddled with proofing errors, but reworking and correcting everything probably gave me a much better introduction to the subject than anything else would have. However this (25 years ago) being the pre web age it didn't occur to me then to send the corrections to the publisher.

33:

I raised the "universal healthcare as entrepreneurship enabler" issue with Paul Graham once (by email), and he replied that no, he'd never encountered any entrepreneurs who thought of lack of healthcare as a problem. This is probably because he only funds naive highschoolers and college students fresh-faced young idealists.

34:

Yup; it's observer bias.

He never runs into entrepreneurs who have issues with lack of healthcare because people who have such issues don't dare become entrepreneurs.

35:

Unfortunately, the Human Resources departments of modern Britain don't want to bother with anyone of questionable health, even though it doesn't cost them anything. Workers are treated as the Legos of industrial organisation, interchangeable, ready to drop into place, and always bright and cheerful.

Unfortunately, I'm the brick with the teethmarks from the family dog.

36:

You're over 35, Dave. Older workers are believed to either expect more money (to fill up those pension pots) or to be slow to adapt to new technology. And they're not worth training because they'll leave and have a baby retire at 65, so it's wasted money. And they don't take bullshit the way youngsters do.

(See also: why age discrimination is bad. Especially in view of the current projection that one in six of us -- now alive in the UK -- will live to 100 or older. And that's on the basis of current medical technology; Cthulhu only knows what's going to happen to our age demographics if/when the fruits of the genomics boom finally begin to trickle out of the productization pipeline.)

37:

I've been feeling the lull in internet content myself. Even boingboing has been less interesting than usual (and when interesting, less look-at-this-happy-banana-just-look-at-it and more wikileaks-politics-corruption-bla-bla-the-world-sucks than usual). On the flipside, I spent money on some of your books lately. Best of luck with the new year.

38:

Yes. I agree with you: may 2011 be better than 2010. Just started reading - actually, listening - to your stories, by the way. I've been downloading the audiobooks to my iPod and listening away. They're great stories. I'll have to check out the written versions the next time I'm at the library.

39:

I recently read a book by someone whose other books are very good. They clearly ran only a spell check and missed a lot of context errors, too, on this one.

40:

Over 35?

[Checks Calendar]

Oh, yeah, right, but they don't even offer the kids a company pension these days. Or training.

As for the bullshit... Well, I was a farmer, so I reckon I might recognise it.

41:

Wishing everyone a Happy New Years. Lets hope 2011 is a better year than 2010. Thanks also to our generous host.

Broca

42:

Charlie @ 36

Oddly enough, the Daily Telegraph is running a comment piece on this, right now.

I have suffered badly from this one, as told in previous comments.
Noted one comment in the DT, that said, approximately: "If you hear a politician, or leader of industry, or the CBI or the IoD tell you: We cant get the trained staff" - they are LYING"

And in spite of new anti-ageism legislation, it is going to take a long tme before employers wake up.
They all appear to be too stupid/shortsighted and greedy.

Actually, Charlie's other point is very pertinent ...
Employers really don't like experienced, older people, apart from the money aspect: older people won't take the bullshit, and "it's all for the good of the company" ra-rah that so many younger people swallow.

43:

In a different life (in a financial services company) I remember talking to people from either HR or Occupational Health - faulty memory - about the age distribution of people throughout the firm ... effectively, everyone was in their 20s, 30s and 40s ... by the time people got to their 50s, if they weren't in an executive echelon, then they were on their way out ...

multiple factors at work there ... official retirement age was 60 so when you got to within ten years of that, you were thinking of baling out early, more people in their 50s have health problems (and give up work), more people are burnt out or simply fed up - ie get to late 40s, in a middle management job or lower, and think, "I don't want to do this for the next ten to fifteen years..." hence go off and do something else if they can afford to ...

also have a friend, a contemporary, who is female and works in financial services ... despite legislation to outlaw discrimination, there is no law that will force young blokes to to listen to "old women" (ie over 45) ... she reckons she is taken less seriously now than she was when she was in her 30s (she has a fairly demanding job but without any executive clout) ...

ah hell, it's New Year's Eve ... I'm away to eat nearly out of date Tesco Indian snack foods, drink Fraoch and read a John Le Carre novel ... many thanks for the entertainment in the last couple of years Charles - long may you run

44:

oops, quick caveat - i meant i only came across you as an author a couple of years ago ... no disrespect to your pre-2008 output intended, obviously (actually, was browsing Waterstone's in Princes St looking to see if Neal Stephenson had written anything new lately when my eyes were drawn to Halting State a little further along the shelf ... after that it was back catalogue and new books ahoy ...

45:

"Really?
Let's see ....
Religious nutters in poor old Persia (which didn't vote for said nutters) start WWIII."

Iran has been predicted to have nuclear weapons 'in a few years' since the 1980's.

IIRC, Iran has invaded 0 countries in the past 30 years.

If the government of Iran did throw a nuke at anybody, they'd be annihilated instantly.

Meanwhile, the religious nutters in Israel **could** get away with doing as they pleased with a couple of hundred nukes, and have been drifting into Dr. Strangelove territory for years now.

46:

Blimey, guys... Cheers up!

Anyway, I thought this was a meeting-point for followers of the same cheery religion. I mean the Church of the Imminent Singularity...

(Er, you don't believe in fatwahs, do you? )

47:

companies do seem to think that a fresh-out-of-school worker will stay at the company and be a much more loyal worker than say, a 40 year old. they are utterly wrong.
once mr Bouncy Teen has worked a year or so and bought all the toys that the Ottaku could want - they go looking for another job.
Ive seen it, they go off and work in Ibiza or whatever. The living with the parents crew arent chained in by credit as securely as us Old Gits.
they never learn though

48:

while you're copy-editing:
if you're using German words, pleeeaaaase(!!1!eleven!) have a native speaker cross-check them?

(F.E. Super-Human, meh, Nietzsche reference. But Super-little girl? and a grown woman referencing herself as thus? not likely for anyone with a scrap of self respect, let alone with someone bragging. Besides, 'Mensch' is already neutral or female human, no need to feminize it further; man-the-male is 'Mann'.)

49:

The above comment is spam, with the url in the name of the commenter, and you can guess what it is about.

50:

Spotted and nuked, thanks.

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