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PSA: Locus

Locus, the trade journal of the written SF field, is going online this year, with PDF and epub subscriptions available. And they're starting up a blog, and opening with daily entries from various writers talking about how they began. Here's my contribution.

Happy new year!



Still got my first owned-by-me-outright typewriter: a Smith-Corona Coronamatic. Haven't used it in a couple of decades, and I keep meaning to try it out again to see if it still works properly enough.



Forgive me for going off the point, but I wondered if you have any recommendations for forthcoming books this year... of course I already have Rule 34 on my list and I got my copy of "Engineering Infinity" yesterday, but they won't keep me going all year.

Interruption ends.



Depends what you like ...?

From the "if you like this, you might like that" department, if you liked the Laundry books, you might want to try out Harry Connolly's Child of Fire -- another Lovecraftian series, with a dark edge lacking from your generic extruded urban fantasy product. (Two sequels, including one coming in July.) Then there's the forthcoming "Children of the Sky" by Vernor Vinge (sequel to "A Fire Upon the Deep"), "Surface Detail" by Iain M. Banks (the best Culture novel since "Use of Weapons", IMO), and probably too much more stuff that I haven't read; nothing eats into your reading time like writing for a living!


Totally off topic... I just reread "The Concrete Jungle" last night, and ran across this sentence about Scorpion Stare:

"...a concrete requirement for IPv6 routing and infrastructure that must be installed and supported by all Internet Service Providers by 2004."

I know you didn't intend it to be funny, but as of right now, with IPv6 still not fully implemented, along with the current panic about the IPv4 address space, it was a very funny sentence indeed.


Thanks for pointing this out. I just subscribed and am now happily reading the January issue on my Kindle. I never considered subscribing to the print edition because of the cost and the difficulty of reading the print edition - the Kindle edition is much kinder to my nearsighted, aging eyes.


Huh. I wouldn't've called the Child of Fire series Lovecraftian, but I suppose it does fit.

It's very bleak, probably more so than the Laundry books.


Even Windows XP supports IPv6, but my ISP doesn't. They don't even admit to having a plan, while the staff at the local retail warehouses (and the company websites) don't even know it exists.

I think that all I need to do is replace my router/modem, when the above parties wake up and smell the shit-storm.


Re. cost-free editing: Did you know that the excellent Czech novelist Bohumil Hrabal (1914-1997) invented the pre-digital method of typing on rolls of faxpaper in bouts of rapture sometimes aided by beer then sobering up and doing his editing work with scissors and glue, and did so in the fifties?


Doesn't surprise me; the cut'n'paste feature in early word processors wasn't invented ab initio, it was an explicit implementation of scissors-and-gum editing. See also William Burroughs, among others.



Thanks for that, "Child of Fire" sounds fun - what I like tends to be eclectic, but I have noticed that whenever you have recommended something I have enjoyed it.


Okay, of course it's not surprising, but the image of a half-pissed author fighting with the long snakes of faxpaper to get his message just right is... endearing.


Ho Humm and Lack a Day of the .. to You Kids .. Distant Past ..Once Upon a Time and When I was but a Junior Scientific Officer .. I had the White Coat which P proves it! .. I had an Office that was one Corridor away from the Maths Dept and They HAD a Computer ... Oh! BOY ! But they had an IBM computer that was of the Very Latest Punch Tape Variety, which had to be Hoisted in to their Forth Floor Headquarters after the roof of the 1930s 'Priestman Building ' had Been temporarily removed.

This Mighty Megalith of Computing was probably one tenth as powerfully as the PC upon which I do type this /response? Not only was IT as Weak as that but also it was much prone to ..what my Chief Female Friend refers to as ... Hissy Fits ... which is NOT ME, for female Human Persons are Entirely Un reasonable when, say, Their Time Keeping IS Questioned ..but rather the uncertainties ? of a Machine that did break Down if the ? Temperature weren't Quite Right ...with a Mighty /screech of Alarm Bells ..Women DO this Too for no Reason that is Known to Man.

I could take ISSUE with such Experts in The Field as Charlie and ..way back then .. Dave Langford who - Dave That is -did say that it 'didn't much matter which word processing system that You chose to learn since ? You Can pick it up as you go Along ' ..

HA !!!! There was this system called 'Word-star ' ... who could Blame Me if I did, NOW, say .. @ I hate You Alllllll !!!! ???


My old Smith-Corona is still in my mother's attic. My own Amstrad PCW died of accelerated redundancy long before then. Amstrad PC's and Word-Star were features of my second foray into college in the 80s. "Ctrl-K, D" still haunts my fingers when finishing a piece.

And Iain Banks is in the same category as the proprietor of this blog - someone whose work I purchase the instant it appears in my local bookstores. I am looking forward to Surface Detail at least as keenly as I am to Rule 34.

Have a happy and productive new year Mr Stross and long may you continue to do so.


confused "Surface Detail" is already out in hardcover (came out in October), and this is only a quid more at than the softback (due May) - in fact are selling the hardcover below the proposed softback list price.

So, unless you have extreme moral objections to Amazon, why wait?


My first typewriter was a little Royal portable. I learned to type on the industrial strength Royals in junior high (7-9 years here in the US). I was not very good at typing because I, too, had a prejudice against it. I was not to be a secretary, but an archaeologist. Karma will out, and I did end up being a legal secretary and then a paralegal before injury took me out of the game. When I first did any typing at all on the electric IBMs, or any of the stand-alone word processors, I was told my hand was too heavy! But I never got carpel tunnel syndrome. The heavy hand was from those darned old Royals, and I think the strength it demanded kept me from being a keyboard operator coming up lame. Break a keyboard, yes! Carpel Tunnel - no way! Bless those manual typewriters of our youth.


OT but relevant to The Laundry: that ever-reliable fishwrap, the Washington Post, reports that the US Air Force is about to deploy a new drone surveillance system in Afghanistan named "Gorgon Stare". Maybe they heard about CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN and thought it was an Al Qaeda operation?


Moral objections to Amazon? As it happens, yes. I also hve an immense sentimental attachment to local, real, bricks 'n' mortar bookstores and will support them as long as I can.


I tried several times to learn how to use a typewriter back in the 60s and 70s. I bought books, went to a summer school. None of it worked. I had cramps all the time. I was trying too hard to do it "right" like they said it should be done, with the fingers at the exact correct places like all the touch-typists were supposed to do. Then, in the early 80s, I bought a Commodore 64. It changed my typing life. I never tried to do it right on that machine. I was just having fun. After a few months I got the hang of some kind of weird self-invented speeded-up multi-finger hunt and peck method. I was never able to touch-type, I still had to look at the keyboard all the time but I was going blazingly fast compared to people who typed with only two fingers. The fun part was that this new skill could be transferred to my use of manual typewriters. When my printer was busted or when I had to fill out forms I could take out my dad's ancient Underwood typewriter and use my new speeded-up multi-finger hunt and peck method.


Really? Our Esteemed Host writes a nice little essay on typewriters, and everybody focuses on that, ignoring the curious factoid lurking in the parentheses?

Namely, that monsters Our Esteemed Host once submitted to White Dwarf made into D&D canon by way of the Fiend Folio.

The question that must be asked now is, just which critters was he responsible for, and more importantly, have they been mocked by Steve and Zack in WTF D&D?


Hmm, the Vinge novel doesn't seem to be in the amazon database yet - any ETA?


Eagerly looking forward to the Vinge sequel. Anyone who has not yet read "A Fire Upon the Deep" should do so now - yes, NOW.


My first typewriter (aside from the Massive Olympia Of Doom that I learned on in high school) was a stout little Olivetti which labored mightily for over a decade after receiving it as a high school graduation present (and from which I made some serious money typing papers at college). Alas, I dropped it, it landed badly, and was never the same after. I killed a couple of largish electrical typewriters after that (also typing student papers for extra money, plus several novels). With the Commodore 64 and a Star Micronics 9pin printer, I made the perfect ditto masters for my apa (previous ones had been corrected with the aid of an angled paring knife), and though the ditto machine itself needed its sponge dampened manually, getting it for free from the local school district was a very good price. I began writing in nine-page chapters, since that was the memory capacity of Word Writer 3.

In 1992, we financed our first real computer (still played Red Dragon on a local BBS with it, though), and even though people laughed at Windows even then, trust me, it was much faster than the Commodore; and being able to work in longer file lengths eventually led to really huge epics.

We still have an electric typewriter around for forms and the like, though now nearly all forms can be done on computer, and I prefer that.


they come in different colours they are a tad chaotic its not the carebears is it?

come as a side dish with steaaak?


I forgot to say -- I learned about their digital subscriptions here, and subscribed. I got my first issue yesterday, but haven't looked at it yet. Pour encourager les autres, mainly.


I've just finished the second in that series after having followed your recommendation, and I agree with you - it looks to be one off the more promising urban magic sub/Chandler, Hammett, etc. series ...a high body count though! Makes Country House type mysteries - wherein the 'Tec is introduced to a novel venue - look rather tame.


@bkd69 Yeah, what monsters made it into the D&D canon? Hadn't read WTF D&D before, but Fiend Folio was one of my favourite 1st edition D&D books. That and the old Deities and Demigods.

Great article btw, Mr. Stross.


Try the Githyanki, Death Knight, and Slaads. All mine (except I nicked the name "Githyanki" from George R. R. Martin's first novel; he was most amused when I told him).

The evidence can be found in the credits at the back of a first edition copy of the "Fiend Folio", or in the first 20 issues of "White Dwarf".


Dug out my old 1st edition Fiend Folio off the shelf in the basement, and had a look. Congratulations on the Githyanki and Slaad, two signature monsters that are still (to my impression) still a well known part of the D&D canon. Heck, the Githyanki made the cover!

Flipping through it now in a fit of nostalgia.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on January 1, 2011 4:34 PM.

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