Back to: Steve Jobs | Forward to: Coming next September ...

Coming next July

The Apocalypse Codex

Just thought I'd share Ace's cover concept for the book that's due out in the first week of July next year. Orbit have signed off on it too — it should show up the same week in the UK/rest of commonwealth.

(Yes, this is Laundry novel #4.)

Elevator pitch:

In the world of the Laundry, there is One True Religion — and we know how to deal with cultists when we find them. When a prominent televangelist with connections to 10 Downing Street shows disturbing signs of being able to work miracles, it's only natural for the Laundry, the secret service for dealing with occult threats, to take an interest. But there's a fly in the ointment: the first rule of the secret services is, spying on the Prime Minister and their associates is forbidden. It's time to send in the freelancers — except in the world of the Laundry, officially there's no such thing ...
Oh, and if you're going to send in the freelancers, you probably want to send a junior case officer along to keep an eye on them. Which is where Bob Howard comes in.

66 Comments

1:

Now that is an ugly sneer!

2:

Oooh! That looks like fun. Gimmee! Gimmee!

3:

Not a bad cover - I didn't recognize it as a Laundry book on first sight, but it did catch my eye, and as you said elsewhere that's what covers are for.

4:

I can't wait to see how they sneak in the buxom scantily clad woman on the American cover.

5:

I don't know about British televangelists, but if you've ever seen Joel Osteen or Ted Haggard, you can't help but notice their big, creepy smiles, with LOTS of teeth. I suspect they learn it in seminary.

Liam @ 4: that is the American cover.

6:

British televangelists

Wasn't aware we had any...

7:

Hah! I like the action-hero sneer combined with the perfectly starched collar. My only quibble is that it seems a little "light" in tone for the Laundry-verse. Yes, yes, it's a silly universe - but at the end of the last novel, Bob Howard is pretty badly broken. And the overall arc of the series seems to have become increasingly grim. The premise is silly, but the silly premise takes a horrible toll on the characters.

But, what the hey, it's just a cover.

8:

Well, I've never heard of any, but would one from America have much influence at 10 Downing? Guess we'll find out in July.

9:

yeah! i love these books...

10:

This is the Modesty Blaise tribute, right? Can't wait.

On a defictionalization moment, it looks like your prediction about UCAVs in Rule 34 has taken one step closer towards realization: http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2011/10/exclusive-computer-virus-hits-drone-fleet.ars

11:

OK, I know you as the author have zero control, but the covers for the two Golden Gryphon issues by Steve Montiglio were so much more attractive than these. Ace hired Mark Frederickson and his work just doesn't cut it.

It won't stop me from getting the books of course, but these novels deserve the best artist. I'd rank The Fuller Memorandum as the best Cthulhu mythos novel, better than Radian Dawn even, and yet Ace is not getting the prose the art it merits.

12:

Long term girlfriend. They've been too busy to get married yet?

13:

I don't know which artist is which, but the cover art for "The Jennifer Morgue" was my favorite so far.

IMHO, Charlie's best Cthulhu Mythos works was "A Colder War." (Don't get me wrong, they're all great, but "A Colder War" totally kicks ass!)

14:

I'm still hoping Charlie can bring the Laundry tale to a conclusion without anything exceeding a Class 2 apocalypse. Bob Howard and his associates are capable, but there are too many pointy-haired bosses in the loop on Case Nightmare Green...

15:

I agree about preferring the Steve Montiglio covers. Alas, I don't get a say. (I did manage to get to keep Marty Halpern as copy editor, though.)

16:

Yup, that blurb came straight out of a San Fran Chronicle review of THE JENNIFER MORGUE, circa 2006. It is tired and wants to lie down; I'm trying to sort out a replacement.

17:

I don't think the problem is the bureaucrats. I think the problem might be the Deep Ones and the Cthonians, neither of whom is probably going to be happy with a planet full of Elder God food beaming out "LUNCH TIME!" across the multiverse.

18:

The question is, do the Deep Ones constitute god-food as well? Is it possible for human beings to conclude an alliance with the Deep Ones? (I'd assume that the Cthonians can't be negotiated with.)

19:

My apologies if you covered this to death in any of the bits on writing that I haven't gotten around to reading yet, but what causes the 8 month+ delay? I can't imagine it is printing or distribution by this point. So purely editing and legal nonsense?

20:

I think I asked that first question a couple of years ago. I'm hoping to see it answered in a book eventually :).

21:

I don't care much for CS's book covers but that's normal. This is a good one.

22:

The face is genius. I remember thinking during the 2004 elections that all US politicians looked like casino singers except for Dick Cheney.

23:

Really? I thought he looked terrified that he wasn't good enough, or that he was incompetent.

24:

Charlie, I know you have no say over the cover art, but who writes the Taglines on the covers?


  • The name is Howard, Bob Howard ... please don't kill me

  • Bob Howard may be humanity's last hope. Start praying


I find the taglines for the Laundry novels to be almost as memorable as the cover art. Do they have any known effect on sales?

25:

It does look very Stargate-ish and not very Laundry-ish or Modesty Blaise-like, which would have been nice. A distinct let-down after previous volumes.

26:

That bloke in the illustration looks like the actor Christopher Rich, especially when he was playing that horrid lawyer in Boston Legal.

27:

Yes I too got a Ted Haggard vibe from the face. The stargate surrounding it isn't quite so subtle but it might work to catch people's attention.

28:

We do, sort of, have them on Satellite TV ...turn Right just past the Soft Porn interactive " Cam Girl " - fleshy fems,in bikinis or cheap lingerie type stuff - and straight on through the various Shopping/Sales channels ..BUY BUY BUY!!!!! ..and you will find the tele evangelists ..oops, slightly wrong for I've just channel hopped on my Humax ..all right I do have a SKY box courtesy of my Nephews Young Exec Servitude to the Evil Empire, but it now lives in a box in The Cargo Bay after the Special Sub ran out sometime last year and this long after I ran out of patience on .... People PAY to watch Football???!!!!.. and so I've just found the " God Channel" before the Shopping and Sex, but after the Music.

So we do have the Tele -Evangelists who brandish Invisible King James Bibles before your left nostril.


When confronted by such people in the Real Life - Corporeal World as it were - my standard Technique was, and remains, to Nod Gravely and Say " There is Much in What you say " whilst backing away fairly swiftly ..which I can do faster than most since, when I was ' Nay But A Lad ' an Evil Little Bastard/Japanese Sensi named Kato faded away before an attack that I'd practised for bloody weeks - running backwards faster than I could go forwards and then kicking my standing leg out from under my damn near perfect side kick and declaring as he stood on my Stomach " Great ATTACK !! But Bad Fall!! " and this as I wondered if I would ever manage to breath again.

Some things you never forget.

29:

The name CHARLES STROSS is so big that it leaps out of the cover, along with that huge FACE.

So, I can't get it out of my mind that we're seeing the new, improved, smiling, digital version of Mr Charles Stross. The publisher's marketing dept would love that.

Advanced technologies helping I can anticipate that in a few years we will have animated versions of the new improved Mr Stross, going way farther than this classic enthroning:

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Isaac_Asimov_on_Throne.png

The myth of the author will become something very interesting then.

30:

Note that that Illo of Isaac Enthroned is under-printed with the line ..." No higher resolution available."

Surely Our Gracious Hosts Publishers can't let that challenge go unanswered?

31:

Arceopteryx @ 28
NO
When dealing with evangelists, its the reference to Oh you bleieve in: Bronze-Age Goatherders'/Dark-Ages Camelherders' myths that gets them exited ....

32:

The name CHARLES STROSS is so big that it leaps out of the cover, along with that huge FACE.

It may be that the artist or editors believe that what we're looking for is a book that says "CHARLES STROSS Wrote Some Words." They might be right; we'd buy that...

33:

I love the Mark Fredrickson covers. The Steve Montiglio ones are okay.

On another matter, I reckon us surface monkeys are just here to distract the Elder Gods while the Cthonians and Deep Ones go into hibernation for a few centuries. That thing about Cthulhu dreaming in R'lyeh is a prophesy, not a description, but Lovecraft didn't know the difference.

34:

Great,looking forward to it.

35:

And the one I used to get a few people reading Atrocity Archives: "Saving the world is Bob Howard's job. There are a surprising number of meetings involved."

36:

You hadn't noticed The Poodle, aka Tony Blair, earnestly pounding away on a well-worn Bible while he infested Number 10?

37:

This brings to mind the line from The News Quiz about doing an online search for poodle grooming books and getting a "you may also be interested in" for the Blair autobiography.

38:

Come to dwell on it...

I know that changing cover details at this late a date is unlikely, but is there any chance of a line in the text about how the alternate Modesty fell off a bus onto her head in front of a film poster shop and during the ensuing concussion got her hair cut like Trinity in The Matrix movies?

39:

No joke, Evangelists are a product of the Free Market. Some guy wants a living so he practices on friends and family till some other guy with a small church lets him preach. They spilt the take. If he makes enough and gets better he goes on the circlet to other small church's and makes more money. What he says and how he says it has a heavy influence on how much he makes and how well he lives. Give the people what they really want or he can't get a stage to make money. Till he gets his own TV show.

40:

what causes the 8 month+ delay? I can't imagine it is printing or distribution by this point.

I've written about this at length: grisly details here.

41:

The name CHARLES STROSS is so big that it leaps out of the cover, along with that huge FACE.

I hadn't actually noticed that until you pointed it out ... but you just made my day!

(In general, you can sell a book to a reader unfamiliar with an author's work on the basis of it's cover illo/blurbs/appearance, or by the author's name. The latter only works if the author is someone the potential customer has heard of. Hence the term "big name author" -- it's someone who is now big enough that emphasizing their name on the dust jacket is considered to be a sales draw by the publisher. Becoming a BNA is, shall we say, a big deal ...)

42:

The Laundry books have been fun, suggesting a chronologically unlikely pairing of H. P. Lovecraft and Ian Fleming.

43:

Sweet! I've been wanting a new Laundry novel...

James wrote: "I suspect they learn it in seminary."

You'd be surprised what folks learn in specialised colleges. A few years back (when we still lived in the UK) I fell in drinking at Kings Cross, with a bunch of final year veterinary students. When they were very pissed, one of them confided in me that their course had a whole unit on rhetorical manoeuvres to make pet owners feel stupid, so as to be able to put them off when they started asking awkward questions.

44:

Looking on Wikipedia, it seems Osteen didn't go to an actual seminary, but he and Haggard both went to Oral Roberts University, several years apart. Maybe that's where they learned it? Haggard isn't a televangelist, but has had nearly as much exposure. It was announced he's going to be on "Celebrity Wife-Swap" with Gary Busey. The man will not go away.

45:

How Others See Charles Stross.

Brighton Library has recently produced a leaflet with lists of recommended SF writers under a number of the library's own hastily-chosen sub-genres: Humorous, Near Future, Time & Space, Technical, and Space Adventure ( "Epic Stories, often involving galactic empires and space battles" ), under which is listed Charles Stross (*).

Ken MacLeod makes it into Time & Space, Richard Morgan is under Near Future, JG Ballard is in Technical.

(*)They have copies of Accelerando, Hidden Family, Iron Sunrise, Rule 34, and Singularity Sky.

46:

Thanks, that explains a lot. I had no idea the process was still that manpower-intensive after the manuscript leaves your hands.

47:

I know, I KNOW, and yet ..there's just GOT to be away around this ..anyone know if Our Gracious Hosts C.E.O of the Publishers for the Laundry Series is, shall we say , the Owner of a Racehorse that we might " "Make him an offer he can't refuse"

48:

Such a long time 'til July.
Sadness.

49:

"When confronted by such people in the Real Life" and close to the bible belt it happens. I say that the RC bible is the only one that's real and they are heretics who will go to hell. That gets them real red and THEY move away.

50:

I once scared away some Jehovah's Witnesses by raising 'errors' in their translation of parts of the New Testament. When they told me it was my translation that was wrong I pointed out that I wasn't using a translation and produced a Καινὴ Διαθήκη they ran away. (Just as well they didn't challenge me to actually remember any of the NT Greek I did at University.)

51:

Cool!!!

But... JULY?! Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu...

Okay, I'll wait.

52:

Definitely something to look forward to.

53:

"Well, I've never heard of any, but would one from America have much influence at 10 Downing? Guess we'll find out in July."

Billy Graham most certainly does - he'll gets a visit to the PM every time he comes to the UK.

As an amusing aside Mr. Graham was the target of the best piece of creative defacement I have ever seen. His face was plastered on the side of a Sheffild double-decker bus and someone had very carefully used white tape to modify his eyes so the pupils were tiny compared to the whites.

Took me a while to work out why his face, staring at me from the side of the bus, looked so outright demonic.

54:

{American covers?}

Here you go, Liam - An advanced preview ;)

55:

Damn you!
(Carefully wipes tea from monitor.)

56:

Does this mean that Freya makes an appearance in the book ?

57:

#25 - Strongly seconded. My first thought was of an SG1 tie-in novel and not a Laundry novel.

#42 - "The Jennifer Morgue" in particular perchance?

58:
But there's a fly in the ointment: the first rule of the secret services is, spying on the Prime Minister and their associates is forbidden.
Since when?
59:

Since precisely that incident!

This is how the secret services currently operate, not how they operated during the Crazy Years between the Philby/Burgess/Maclean/Blunt spy ring and the plot to overthrow Harold Wilson in the early 1970s. (Which failed, leading to numerous early retirements, and the imposition of this directive -- which makes a certain sense, because by the time anyone climbs through the British political framework to cabinet level the security services have already had a couple of decades to vet them, so if the PM is a KGB mole, it's evidence of gross incompetence on the part of the Security Service.)

60:

Well it looks like the top of the security service killed the idea. Or at least the getting rid of him. But they had been looking at him for years, that's why they wanted him out.
By then I think it was too late to do much good anyway. Look at what the USSR knew about American and NATO forces. The only way to stop them before the water would have been nukes.
Who do you think had a lot to do with sinking our Pres. Jimmy Carter? People at the CIA who had worked for Bush when he was head of it.

61:

I have it now: that is Qbert Farnsworth all grown up and transported back in time and I claim my 5 pounds. Obviously, one of his senior clone's numerous doomsday machines would be handy in Case Nightmare Green and he is there to service the contract.

62:

Where is your copy of $Laundry_6? ;-)

63:

Is it just me, or does anyone else think That Face is what Boris Johnson actually looks like when the cameras aren't on him?

65:

Splendid, I'm rather looking forward to this - I've been a big fan of the Laundry novels etc. so far.

66:

This is the guy I thought of as fitting the cover.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0048414/

Sure is a better cover for the US then many these days.

Specials

Merchandise

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on October 7, 2011 5:40 PM.

Steve Jobs was the previous entry in this blog.

Coming next September ... 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