Back to: USENIX 2011 Keynote: Network Security in the Medium Term, 2061-2561 AD | Forward to: What am I missing?

Brief announcement

I just hit 'send' and mailed the final draft of THE APOCALYPSE CODEX (the fourth Laundry Files novel) to my agent and editor(s) a couple of minutes ago.

It's due out in hardcover next July.

From Ace's marketing/flap copy:

For outstanding heroism in the field (despite himself), computational demonologist Bob Howard is on the fast-track for promotion to management within The Laundry, the super-secret British government agency tasked with defending the realm from occult threats. Assigned to "External Assets," Bob discovers the company—unofficially—employs freelance agents to deal with sensitive situations that may embarrass Queen and Country.

So when Ray Schiller—an American televangelist with the uncanny ability to miraculously heal the ill—becomes uncomfortably close to the Prime Minister, External Assets dispatches the brilliant, beautiful, and entirely unpredictable Persephone Hazard to infiltrate the Golden Promise Ministry and discover why the preacher is so interested in British politics. And it's Bob's job to make sure Persephone doesn't cause an international incident.

But it's a supernatural incident that Bob needs to worry about—a global threat even The Laundry may be unable to clean up ...

92 Comments

1:

Hooray - I look forward to reading it!

2:

Can't wait!

3:

Yay! July can't come soon enough!

(I'll be superstitious and say that since I found full-time academic work when Fuller Memorandum came out, I'll find a tenure-track position when Apocalypse Codex comes out.)

4:

"entirely unpredictable Persephone Hazard", so we are talking about the same fan then ;)

5:

Yes, with the caveat that she's getting a peek at the manuscript and there's still time to yank her name out if she doesn't like it.

This is the Peter O'Donnell tribute novel.

6:

Let me guess: the televangelist is evil? That's a bold, unconventional choice of antagonist.

7:

No, he's not evil: he's a dupe. The Big Bad is something worse ...

8:

I find I'm reading less and less SF these days, and more Fantasy of the Laundry variety. Space Opera, Singularity and Cyberpunk stuff is too much business-as-usual. I suspect the future will be better described as magic rather than as technology from today's perspective.

9:

Very excited about this! Your best series, I think. Like the global angle.

10:

Okay, I know that your answer will probably be, "Wait until July," but I'm kind of curious if Apocalypse Codex will address the issue of just how much HPL actually knew and how much he got disastrously wrong. Since Fuller Memorandum actually mentions Nyarlathotep, but since it's dead plateau with evil things isn't Leng, I'm desperately curious to find out more about how much of the Laundryverse does and doesn't overlap with the world of the Cthulhu Mythos.

11:

Your best series

I'm torn on this, since I rather enjoyed the Eschaton novels and Scratch Monkey (I was never sure if that was supposed to be in the same continuity) but I understand that such topics are considered a bit "passe" now in terms of marketplace demand.

It could also be that those books just hold a special place in my mental space since, along with Accelerando, they introduced me both to the concept of the Singularity in SciFi lit along with all things Strossian. (A free eBook Accelerando from Amazon was my gateway drug to becoming a royalties-producing fan)

Unfortunately, we Stross fans are rather spoiled for choices when it comes to "favorite" contenders. It would be so much easier if Our Gracious Host didn't insist on putting out such quality works in such a variety of sub genres. Perhaps he'll one day oblige us partially by making a "worst" choice easy with a foray into the paranormal romance genre, though my fear in such a move would be that he fails miserably at failing and makes of us all Twihards in the process... ::shudders::

12:

Awesome! I wish it was july already...Ill have to console myself with a reread of the works of HPL for the time being.

13:

Perhaps he'll one day oblige us partially by making a "worst" choice easy with a foray into the paranormal romance genre, though my fear in such a move would be that he fails miserably at failing and makes of us all Twihards in the process...

Hey, some of us are still waiting for Unicorn School™: The Sparkling.

14:

Great news!

15:

Wahey!! I love the Laundry series - being a civil servant myself... :).

16:

Next July? Ah well, time to look into that suspended animation technology to pass the time quicker...

17:

I'm kind of curious if Apocalypse Codex will address the issue of just how much HPL actually knew and how much he got disastrously wrong.

Nope.

Because that's the subject matter for a separate Laundry novella I've got planned (for my copious spare time one of these years).

18:

Hey, some of us are still waiting for Unicorn School™: The Sparkling.

My agent's response to that press release was to say, "are you serious about this? Because I'm pretty sure I can sell it ..."

19:

Yup - didn't recognise the O'Donnell reference until I looked it up, but the name suggested "Modesty Blaise" ....
As for Unicorn School, I suppose you could write the most wonderful send-up, a la Pratchett at the Wyrmberg in (?) Colour of Magic (?) ...
Or, it could start out as a teen-romance, and get darker and darker, and twistier.
Oddly enough, without the jokes, one of Kipling's short stories did this:
"The Tree of Justice" in the "Rewards & Fairies/Puck of Pooks Hill" double volume.

20:

That's... a little scary. On the other hand, I try to question my gut reaction of extreme dislike for that kind of work, since I'm not sure if it's a form of literary snobism or a legitimate dislike of distilled drivel.

Either way though, I know a lot of the young'ins enjoy the books, and to that extent I'm just glad the genre induces a love of books, any books.

21:

I'd buy it.

22:

You're kidding. Is she thinking like DWJ's Rough Guide?

23:

Not that I'm being demanding or anything, but would said novella be something that you bundled with something else like you did with the shorts at the end of Atrocity Archive and Jennifer Morgue, or would it be something you put up on the web like "A Colder War," "Down on the Farm," and "Overtime?"

Or is this still something that's mostly conceptual and at least two or three years away?

24:

It's still mostly conceptual, but it'd be published for money in some format initially, then subsequently show up in a collection of Laundry shorts (once I've got enough of them).

25:

Making obligatory squee noises now!

26:

Yay! Of course I'm rereading the Laundry series a year early...but given my track record, I'll probably be rereading again next year. *Happy squamous dance*

27:

Christmas special edition?

28:

Oh I hope so! It simply wouldn't be Christmas without Bob meeting some sort of big nasty, perhaps something exposing the true horror behind the nature of Frosty the Snowman.

29:

Squee. Charlie, you rock.

Persephone Hazard

I have to ask: where did you get the name? (I can think of at least three possibilities)

30:

Looking forward to seeing it!

31:

Persephone Hazard?!! Ah, okay.

32:

where did you get the name?

From 'Seph. (I'll give it back if she doesn't take a shine to the novel.)

33:

Next July. I hesitate to think how many times I can re-read my entire Stross collection between now and then. Ye gads, I may have to actually pay attention in class in the interim.

Seriously though, great news about Codex! I look forward to reading it next year.

34:

Great to know more is coming. Us junkies need our fixes.
But bummed it takes most of a year to get it out to us. What's up with that?! I mean come on! Sounds just like the kind of bureaucratic bullshit Bob Howard would rail against. Have to make sure the night janitor signs off too. And don't forget the grounds keeper, thank you very much and push down hard, you're making five copies.
Charlie, you delight and disappoint in the same breath. You're in charge, can't you do something about it? Kick some bureaucratic butt?!
WWBD? (What Would Bob Do?) [I smell a t-shirt. Send me one!]

35:

Charlie, I am glad to hear this particular Laundry novel is finally coming out. It has been many years since you and I had a brief email discussion about some observations I made about the implications of certain types of political activities and their potential occult utility within the Laundry-verse.

Vague, but I dare not say more; cats, bags, etc. Besides, I have no guarantee any of my observations made it into the story. Even if they didn't, it will be a long wait until next year.

I do love the Laundry stories. Good luck Charlie!

36:

That's excellent news!! Totally non, non, non, non, non heinous!

Did everyone see this:

http://www.goominet.com/unspeakable-vault/vault/395/

Note the caption. My apologies if this is old news for everyone.

37:

More Stross? Bring it on!

I can't wait to read it.

38:

Adding a calendar item for next June to begin re-reading all the Laundry stories in preparation for getting The Apocalypse Codex.

One of these days you really should write a story in which Bob Howard takes on the eldritch evils of the publishing industry. We might actually get explanations, however surreal, for some of the strange workings of the life cycles of books.

39:

Must. Wait. Until. July. ... Sigh.
Seems too long. When will the publishing business join the 21st century?

You know, Charlie, had you self-published, I could be reading The Apocalypse Codex now, and you could be spending my money on a beer at the local pub.
Just saying ...


***"Diplomacy is the art of saying 'Nice doggie' until you can find a rock." -- Will Rogers***

40:

GREAT!!!
I am a huge fan of Laundry series.

41:

This is excellent news. Of all your novel series I think I enjoy the Lanudry books the most. Looking forward to it.

42:

My thought was more along the sparkling Unicorns our gracious host seems to have developed a fancy to, that could be but to productive use in a bloody, deathly and all-in-all-dark Xmas special short story in the sparkling series.

43:

But bummed it takes most of a year to get it out to us
IIRC the reasons for this are already covered in the FAQs and prior blog entries. Briefly, with the FIFO cycle used, this is how long it takes $book to progress from author's final draft through editting, proofing, typesetting, re-proofing and actually being printed and bound.

44:

Books take time to produce, because the manuscript I hand in is not in publication quality.

You might want to read my essays about Common misconceptions about publishing, wherein you will learn more than you ever wanted to know about the process of producing a book.

45:

SwEeT ElDrIcH YuMmYnEsS.

tHaNk yOu.

46:

The supernatural-teen-romance thing you could actually probably pull off -- and it might even be non-traumatic if you managed to use it to detourn the genre's cliches. (I feel like Saturn's Children did this with the space opera genre, but I liked Saturn's Children mostly because I dislike space operas, and aggressive application of logic and science can turn any genre work into a deconstruction: cf Evangelion, which was an excellent deconstruction solely by means of having characters react realistically to those elements of the mech genre that *should* be traumatic but never are portrayed as such)

47:

wooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
*spins round on office chair until he notices the stares of coworkers*

48:

So, in the Laundryverse any actual gods are bad news indeed.

Wonder how that faith healing works...many catches?

49:

I'd guess there would be.

50:

still finishing Halting State and just ordered all 3 Laundry Files novs... have a lot of catching up to do!

51:

One thing I've been wondering is why "The Fuller Memorandum" went straight to mass market? Glad I decided to get the hardcover, instead of waiting for the trade paperback--like I was going to do, since I have the first two books in trade. It's a little annoying when a publisher isn't consistent when they are putting out a series.

52:

This is great news. I think The Fuller Memorandum may well be the best modern mythos novel, nudging out COdy Goodfellow's Radiant Dawn by a nose. The scene describing Zann's violin was truly horrific. Keep up the good work. My only gripe (and I know you have no say) is the art on the Golden Gryphon hardcovers was so much better than that provided by DAW.

53:

Really looking forward to this. I have really enjoyed the Laundry novels and the shorter stuff. As a victim of the sort of bureaucracies of which you speak, they are close, in some senses to the truth!

54:

One thing I've been wondering is why "The Fuller Memorandum" went straight to mass market?

Because ...

Book #1 was serialised in an obscure Scottish SF magazine, then was bought and turned into a hardcover by Golden Gryphon. After it bagged a Hugo Ace bought trade and mass market paperback rights -- trade to mop up the residuals left over by the initial hardcover run before the MMPB.

Book #2 was sold jointly to GG (hardback) and Ace (trade and then mass market).

By Book #3 it was obvious that the unsold returns alone could bankrupt or severely damage GG, so we (my agent and I) made the reluctant decision to sell direct to Ace, who bought hardback rights (so they could do a large trade print run) and mass market. The trade paperback was omitted because, hey, they could do hardcover instead.

Book #4 will go hardcover/mass-market, as with book #3.

55:

the unsold returns alone could bankrupt or severely damage GG

Sad to think there would be any.
I shall be sure to get #4 in hardcover. And this has made up my mind about getting that used hardcover of "The Jennifer Morgue" I spotted.

56:

Bob as Willie Garvin? Be still my heart.

57:

I'm really looking forward to the Apocalypse Codex and hope the series continues for a long time. On that I often wonder (indeed we talk of little else in Stevenage) about how series novels continue convincingly when there's an massive existential threat hanging over them.

What I mean by that, for example, is that the Laundry has Case Nightmare Green hanging over it but if Nightmare Green is fought off everything that follows will be a bit of an anti-climax (particularly if humans loose big time) and if it never actually happens it'll be a disappointing in another way. And of course if Nightmare Green does happen the whole secrecy angle of the Laundry vanishes meaning that and more to the point the Laundry universe significantly diverges from ours in terms of the background world/culture in which it operates and while that can happen I like the way you weave real (or what passes for them in our world) events into the Laundry history and Laundry current events.

So I suppose the question is how in general terms do you see the Laundry series developing? And the supplementary: will we ever seen the Nightmare Green showdown?

58:

It occurs to me that Nightmare Green is a forecast, rather than a prediction, which a lot of entities believe, or can't take the risk of not believing. It's a little like the Cold War, and MAD, and it's possible that neither side wants it to reach the Armageddon stage. Well, that's assigning human motives to the inhuman, I suppose, but is Cthulhu into sustainable agriculture?

And the situation shifts from a threat of outright Armageddon to a threat of terrorist movie-plots, except that they are real. And Cthulhu (or whoever) wakes, and bellows "Git orf my land!"

Whatever happens, the Laundry is still a bureaucracy. Some things don't change.

59:

The Artocity Archices established that there are parallel universes out there. Who needs sustainable agriculture when there is an infinite number of victims out there. I expect the stars are always right somewhere.

60:
The Artocity Archices established that there are parallel universes out there. Who needs sustainable agriculture when there is an infinite number of victims out there. I expect the stars are always right somewhere.
That reminds me more of "A Colder War" than the Laundry series. And "A Colder War" remains absolutely brilliant.

But what I was asking about is how an author maintains the same, erm, velocity and suspense if the $BIG_THREAT takes too long to happen or does happen, and if it does where do you go from there.

61:

well obviously the sparkling of the unicorns is cherenkov radiation,,

62:

So on the subject of teen romance and the Laundry...

What happens to teenagers who accidentally learn too much? Are they shipped off to a magical castle in Scotland where a humorous and wise old man would teach the young witches and warlocks there valuable life lessons as well as the wonder and mystery of magic?

And which would be scarier to Bob, paying a visit to a school with a bunch of adolescents with too much magical power or a return trip to the Funny Farm?

63:

Okay, I'm officially adopting that idea. Thanks!

64:

Sweet . . . you the man, Stross.

65:

These Unicorns, tm, have to be gifted with magical retractable horns so that most of the time they look like ordinary ponies but when magical occasion requires it their narwel like horn ..

http://www.google.co.uk/search?q=narwhal+horn&hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=0Us&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&prmd=ivns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=iQ9QTtHFEo6EhQeGkrjjBw&ved=0CDcQsAQ&biw=1267&bih=965

springs forth, flick knife like, thus ..her ' narwel went Spung!'

66:

I look forward to more Laundry!


(Hey, is it too late to comment on _Rule 34_? I picture a NeilGaimanesque moment where an ancient Greek goddess gets her first prayers in YEARS, and has to puzzle out what's meant by "Great and wise ATHENA, strike these content farm abominations from my search results!"

Anyway, thanks for killing spammers.)

67:

@ 66
Athena Nike ...
Goddess of knowledge, justice and victory!

68:

@67: ... and now, thanks to our dear Mr. Stross, she also gets to be goddess of antispamming!

Seriously! Tho I'm a lifetime atheist, there are moments -- when sorting out my inbox for what to report to whom, or when sifting through evidence of lame attacks in my system log -- when it would be good to have a proper name in the sentence when I mutter, "... give me strength!" In other cases, I'd call upon "Bob," but "Bob" is probably on the side of the spammers.

69:

Goddess of child shoemakers...

70:

@#52--Radiant Dawn? Great. Ravenous Dusk? Better, I thought...nice to see Cody Goodfellow get some luv...

As for Case Nightmare Green, I suspect the four patients Bob visited at the Funny Farm are working on something to stop/blunt/mitigate CNG-what else would be important enough to put them there undisturbed, unnoticed, and undetectable to the likes of Fuller Memorandum's pro-CNG cultists?

And last---maybe Charlie can be bribed to up the pace with a custom left-hand-drive Lincoln Town Car???????

71:

Think carefully about writing that sparkly-unicorn novel- if it takes off big, you might find yourself turning it into a 10+ novel seies, Laurell K. Hamilton-style!
Of course, Hollywood will grab the movie rights immediately. Robert Pattinson, horn glued to his forehead, will play the sensitive, brooding unicorn lad...

72:

Actually, a set of Unicorn School e-books would be a dandy way for malware-weilding social engineers to recruit a whole generation of little girls.

So sure, publish Unicorn Schoolâ„¢: The Sparkling, but as an add-on byproduct, like Where's My Cow? Then have the real book explain to parents how it is we hijacked little Jenny right out from under their noses. (And where to route payments.)

73:

@62 Anyone read "Life of Pi" by Yan Martell? Looking at Harry Potter in that light, what awful things has Harry been through so he needs the Hogwarts confabulation to suppress his true memory?

74:

I have. I thought it was one of the most annoyingly twee and McSweeney-fied books I've ever met.

But I do like the Laundryverse Psychiatric Hogwarts as a concept.

75:

Yes. Maybe I read something wrong, but I thought that ending your story "and it was all a dream" was one of the deadly sins of fiction writing.

76:

It can work, but usually only when the reader ends up unsure whether Zhuangzi was dreaming of being a butterfly, or a butterfly has been dreaming he was Zhuangzi.

(In popular culture, there is the Buffy episode 'Normal Again', in which Buffy wakes up from her delusions to discover herself in the lunatic asylum. That one works because Joss Whedon was also careful to make it ambiguous as to which was the dream, which the reality.)

However, in neither case is the story actually ended with the waking up. Doing that is about as acceptable IME as the first person PoV character in a story being killed, permanently, half way through. (That actually occurs in one of this year's Hugo novel contenders, in a real display of stunt writing.) In the end, if the writer manages to bring the reader with them, then OK, because in the end, that's what matters.

77:

I didn't mean to say that you could never break the rule, but that you needed to leave the user of the work with something more than the feeling that "and it was all a dream" was all it was. Another example of the "something more" would be eXistenZ, where the whole point is to question question where total immersion video games memories end and real life starts.

Good choice of example for me with "Normal Again"; more or less any example from Buffy (or Angel, Firefly, or Dollhouse) would be a good choice to make a point.

78:

Ah yes, eXistenZ was the other example I would have given of it working well.

79:

Doing that is about as acceptable IME as the first person PoV character in a story being killed, permanently, half way through. (That actually occurs in one of this year's Hugo novel contenders, in a real display of stunt writing.)

Ahem!

<smug>I got there first!</smug>

80:

Are you sure? Willis was there in 2001 with Passage.

81:

Let me add my voice to the chorus of "YAY!" :) I love this series, and really enjoyed the Fuller Memorandum, especially the bits surrounding the true nature of Bob's boss :)

82:

Doesn't Algis Budrys's early 60's story "Rogue Moon" feature a main character who dies a large number of times? I don't have a copy to hand so I may have misremembered it.

83:

Indeed so. But there there was at least a continuing character, another version of that PoV, which tempers it considerably in my opinion.

And Budrys was a pretty good writer, able to do it. It's when there aren't multiple copies, or resurrection, or any other way for the reader to ever encounter that character again. Doing that halfway through a novel is pretty sneaky.

84:

Passage is about Near Death Experiences, so to some extent killing the protagonist partway through is not so weird. (I had an NDE during the second renal failure.)

85:

[literary mafia intellectual poseur]That doesn't count because you're "only an SF writer, not a real novelist". [/end]

This is a comment on my feelings about the "literary mafia intellectual poseurs".

86:

And the contenders for the Hugo do count?

(Remember that this is the first year in a while in which none of Charlie's works were shortlisted for the mentioned award.)

87:

AahhhGGGGGGGHHHHHHHH!!!!

Brain burp causing me to confuse the Hugos with the likes of the Bookers!

88:

There are a number of stories where the 1st person POV is already dead when the story starts and where they may or may not be aware of the fact: Lovecraft and Wolfe spring to mind. Not to mention, a certain Bruce Willis vehicle. And if the POV dies for good in media res, is the whole 2nd half of the novel like the last few seconds of the Sopranos or does someone new take over. In which case, GRRM and I daresay, many others. And if it is a "there are many copies" thing-a-mijig, then there's oodles: Varley, Chalker, ad nauseum. Come to think of it are there any 1st Person POV's who DON'T die in their novels? Doesn't a little bit of us die each second. Going to lie down in a meeting now...

89:

All this talk of unicorns is making me nervous, reminding me of the new My Little Pony phenomenon, I don't think there's much overlap of cartoon watchers in this blog so for those not aware: The 80s girly cartoon My Little Pony was recently remade into a new series, and it has become inexplicably popular among adult human males.

I have not watched it myself as I fear it's some kind of virulently possessive meme but increasingly more people I follow online suddenly start posting cute pony image macros. It's rather terrifying. The laundry should look into it.

90:

Speaking of My Little Pony, just saw this video:

My Little Top Gear Friendship is Ambitious But Rubbish

91:

Or, as another thought, maybe the My Little Pony fad is supposed to spread like that as a memetic vaccination against some even more appalling pop culture phenomenon. (My Little Nylarathotep? Cthulhu Crunch cereal? Maybe I'd better stop guessing.)

I can imagine Bob Howard coming home stressed from inserting fnords into the new CGI Smurf movie...

92:

Some My Little Ponies are into BDSM.

Specials

Merchandise

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on August 18, 2011 3:59 PM.

USENIX 2011 Keynote: Network Security in the Medium Term, 2061-2561 AD was the previous entry in this blog.

What am I missing? is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Search this blog

Propaganda