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Typo hunt

It's that time of year again. If you have a copy of "Rule 34" — the US hardcover edition only — and have spotted any typos, please post a comment here. I need the approximate page in the book, and a few words containing the exact text (so I can search the PDF of the paperback page proofs). No, typos in the Kindle edition are useless (the Kindle conversion process adds its own). No, the UK edition isn't much use either. No, typos in earlier books are no use to me (it's too late to fix them). I just want typos from the US hardcover edition of "Rule 34", so that they can be mercilessly extirpated from the forthcoming mass market paperback.



No kidding about the Kindle conversion process; I recently bought a copy of _Anathem_ and they had somehow managed to convert all breaking hyphens into spaces throughout. Which gave some sentences a kind of 'Og use mul tee sill a bull words!' feel to it. I'd expect this kind of thing from dodgy internet downloads, but something I paid actual money for?

BTW, signing in on the blog seems to hang.


BTW, signing in on the blog seems to hang.

Known problem since the emergency security update last week. Time to fix: unknown.


we don't need to have the conversation about gram flour and gurning again do we?

see rule 34 spoiler post from last year


No, we don't need to go there.


"Extirpated" with extreme prejudice.


Extirpate (v) - To remove or destroy completely.

At worst it's a tautology, but it's sure no typo.


The only one that I noticed was on page 192, 14 lines from the bottom at the end:

...hedged against ARIK's
national debt.

Pretty sure that should be IRIK's


Top of page 243

"sun-drenched sprawl off El Camino Reale". El Camino Real, no e.


Wish you'd told me this was coming *before* I re-read it last week...


I'm curious why the Kindle conversion processes introduces so many typos. If you have digital proofs, why isn't it exact?


Ah, found the receipt! Here goes:

p.102: s/it's/its/

"Georgia's celebrating it's thirtieth anniversary later this year, and we're throwing a party.

p.124, line 4: s/outwith/not with/ (not sure about this one)

George "Doc Green" Dixon is (a) your nominal superior, and (b) not interested in the day-to-day running of ICIU, outwith its potential to dump embarassing shit in his lap without warning.

p. 141, line 1: s/expense/offense/

Learning too much about our employers is a firing expense–they're said to favour nine millimetre–but what if they wanted to be sure?

p.257, line $-3: s/Edin-burg/Edinburgh/

We want you to tie up the loose ends in Edin-burg. Which means talking to Dr. MacDonald, then paying off that consul guy."


Also p.257, penultimate paragraph: s/aintcha/ain'tcha/

After downsizing, I want you to go to your fall-back position–you got one, aintcha?–go to that mattress.

(However, critiquing the punctuation of a character's less-than-grammatic utterances is the mark of an utter pilkunnusija, so forget I mentioned it, m'kay?)



For the record, all the above typos are also present in the UK Orbit edtion (I believe the size is called trade paperback). It might have more than the US edition, though.


p.257, line $-3: s/Edin-burg/Edinburgh/

I think that's intentional to mark the way some people on this side of the Atlantic pronounce the name of Scotland's capital.


"p.124, line 4: s/outwith/not with/ (not sure about this one)"

"outwith" is a proper word. At least it is in Edinburgh. I remember being advised to buy a train ticket that was "outwith via X, return via Y". It's one of those words with lots of slightly different meanings - in the extract above I think it means something like "apart from".

Not as baffling as being advised by a flatmate that the 4ft plank he'd made into a table had come "from the bucket".


I agree with the prior commenter who asked you to explain why Kindle conversion increases typos -- I'm trying to come up with any reasonable explanation, and am stuck. Thanks. (I haven't read Rule 34 yet, but probably will once it comes out in paperback, so this whole post is helping me!)


It's not a typo, but I remain curious about the possible continuity error on US pages 217 and 228 about whether or not Liz has a Roomba. I've brought it up before, but I have not seen anything on whether it has been noted.


Geoffrey Irving @10 & ZRD @16:

I believe Charlie once explained that Amazon likes to do their own scanning and OCR to make Kindle books, and then not bothering to do much in the way of proof reading.


I noticed a few as I was reading it but didn't write them down. Will have hubby read and note them....


Call me Ned Luld (he was right you know), I used a Kindle and I would rather read a paperback. Someday, maybe after they drop the prices down to what they were talking about years ago. But not now. I've always been a speed reader and my "turn the page" finger gets sore. FAST. I've never scanned any thing that I did not have to go back and correct spelling. That there are programs that read is something. Rut its like that the bear danced, not how well it danced.


I get to check PDF proofs. The publisher's outsourced typesetting bureau, who are using InDesign, correct any errors, then press two buttons: one to generate the final PDF (which goes direct to the PDF-driven printing press) and one to generate an ePub file. The ePub file then gets distributed to ebook vendors.

Amazon does not publish in ePub; it publishes in AZW format, which is a variant of MobiPocket. Both ePub and MobiPocket are wrappers around a subset of HTML/CSS plus metadata, with a DRM (encryption) layer on top. Amazon takes in ePub files from publishers and automatically converts them into MobiPocket files.

You've probably realized at this point that MobiPocket and ePub are based on different subsets of HTML -- ePub is based off HTML5, but MobiPocket is older. I'm not clear on the precise details of what goes wrong, but Amazon's conversion process is notoriously buggy at handling things like non-breaking spaces, optional hyphens, and some less common fonts or formatting attributes. And no human being at Amazon checks their conversion program's output before it goes on sale.

Hence the frequent problems with Kindle fires.


Thanks. A couple of points:

George is a singular entity (a nation) so arguably the possessive applies when evaluating the need for apostrophes.

"Outwith" is a Scots word, roughly synonymous with "outside of" -- nothing like "without".

"expense"/"offense" -- well-spotted! That one got past the spell checkers as well as the eyeballs.

"Edin-burg" -- deliberate, a lot of foreigners mis-pronounce the city's name in various manners (including that way: like Leicester, it isn't pronounced the way it's spelled).


In theory the Orbit trade paperback is typeset from the same InDesign files as the US edition, merely reflowed for a different paper size. In practice, the front matter is obviously somewhat different and I can't guarantee that there are no other differences, so I want to stick to one reference version (the one they're typesetting the mass market paperback from).


I'll look into it and see if I can fix it easily without borking the pagination. It may not be possible at this page (publishers hate making substantive changes once a book is in print).


"The publisher's outsourced typesetting bureau, who are using InDesign, correct any errors, then press two buttons: one to generate the final PDF (which goes direct to the PDF-driven printing press) and one to generate an ePub file."

It's slightly more complicated than that!


Regarding GeorgeGeorgia's possessive: the apostrophe that Christopher is objecting to is the one in it's, which is incorrect. The one in Georgia's (not a possessive in this case) is not in question.

(It's also your most common typo. If I were to attempt to fake a new Charlie Stross novel, I'd add a light sprinkling of its/it's transpositions.)


Agreed; the sentence in question uncontracted reads "Georgia is celebrating it is thirtieth anniversary... "


At page 304, the second MacDonald quote mark ("But it's not funny) is opened but never actually closed after 'Toyota'.


Or conceivably it has.

So much debate over such a tiny speck of ink.


I always thought of outwith as simply the opposite of within, nothing like without, but what the word without SHOULD mean. (my friend google => suggests this is the 'archaic or literary use of without', so i guess that should be what the word without did mean once)


Outwith is very much one of those regional linguistic markers, similar to the way that you all is for the US South, or the non-reflexive avail of is of Ireland.

(I have this awful urge to deface Irish signs that say "Please avail of $foo" with the insertion of 'yourself'. I restrain myself: if I were to mess with the way they use English in Ireland too much, they might switch to using the Irish language instead and then I'd be screwed. (Seriously guys, 4 consonants in a row, and they're all silent?) No, their usage is different. Not incorrect. Different.)


It's worth noting that it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to spot one's own mis-spellings or grammatical errors. This is why we're supposed to have external proofreaders. However, external proofreaders cost money. (Back in the early 1990s techpubs environment it was standard wisdom that you can only properly check around 50 pages/day; consequently, checking a novel means paying for a week and a half of working time. And you try convincing publishing house senior management that it's money well spent.)


Yep. Ditto for code errors: you read what you meant to write, even when you wrote something different. That's why in coding it's really worth trying to explain to a colleague what you wrote. The colleague doesn't even need to be a coder, they just have to be there: their value is in making you look at your own code differently.

(I'm not sure whether a cat can be substituted in this case. Possibly.)

In the case of it's/its, I will point them out at as early a stage as I can because they're not going to be picked up by spell checkers. They do however jump out at me.


It's worth noting that it is almost IMPOSSIBLE to spot one's own mis-spellings or grammatical errors.

A good way to do it is to read backwards: by words to spot misspellings, by sentences to spot grammatical errors. It seems to break the flow - if you're reading forwards then you get the 'sense' of the sentence and ignore errors, whether you wrote it or someone else did. Reading backwards means you can't understand what it says, so you don't get distracted. Not perfect, but better.

Sorry if this is teaching people to suck eggs...


Charlie- I am a massive fan of your work. As well as being a great blog could you also put a permanent reminder somewhere on the homepage (with a countdown to publication perhaps??) of what books you are working on with a line or two about what they are about?

If all authors did this it would help us fans remember to buy them on the first day of release. It's also something to look forward to.

Best of all would be a single site that did this for all the *good* sci fi authors. Eg excluding doctor who, vampires, all fantasy, unicorns etc


What you're looking for is listed under the FAQs in the right-hand sidebar (Quick Links) -- you're looking for "FAQ: Who am I?"

Yes, I need to update it with this year's titles.


I know of the "reading backwards" trick. I just can't do it. Like reading upside down: my head can't cope with it.


Um, nevermind.
I guess I remembered (@18) half-wrong, or perhaps that comment was about older books.


Sorry, read the U.S. hard cover Rule 34 a couple of weeks ago but didn't keep track of typos.

For report proofing, I use a list of my previous most common typos then do a 'search & replace'. This helps me focus on the immediate context and not get caught up in the 'story'. (Also use this for checking names/acronyms.) For some words, i.e., "its" and "it's", I'd do the 'search & replace' twice.


P5, paragraph 1. This whole paragraph/sentence is a little odd - I had always thought that semicolons only occurred after a colon. but leaving that aside, we have the chunk: "actually: all that"

whereas, further down the page (5, paragraph 4) we have "worse: At least".

I suspect that you should be consistent in your capitalisation.

pse excuse the non use of line numbers - this page starts with a "* * *" and blank spaces which makes it tricky to count.


I had always thought that semicolons only occurred after a colon

Where on earth did you get that idea from? Semi-colons may occur after a colon, but it's not the only place: a semi-colon is a clause divider with a higher weight than a comma and may frequently occur where a comma is too lightweight.


I'd never heard that "semicolons only occurred after a colon" one either, and since we're materially different ages and went through different education systems I think we can say that's something that generally not taught in our experience.


Semi-colons/colons are a vexed issue, but you're wrong about semi-colons only appearing after colons. (That's when they're used as list separators, not as sub-sentence separators.)

Also, capitalisation rules differ on opposite sides of the Atlantic (and even between my different US publishers -- groan!).


On page 259, in the first sentence, I believe you have the wrong word: "Bhaskar may have his high-rose presidential pleasure some to squat and gibber in, but it is beholden* to you ... to run your operations from a hole in the ground."

I suspect you meant something more like "given unto" or required of, or needful that.

I enjoyed the book - it's great getting to see Liz K. again - and look forward to the further frightening adventures of ATHENA.

(* beholden: Adjective: Owing thanks or having a duty to someone in return
for help or a service: "I don't like to be beholden to anybody".)


Thanks! Given how remarkable a malapropism that usage is, I'm startled to note that you're the first person who's called me on it!


Not a typo, but ... As a former resident of Palo Alto, I'm somewhat worried by the suggestion it has "beachfront property" on p. 243. Last time I looked, all of P.A.'s waterfront was either protected baylands or an airport--and none of it ocean beach.


Not exactly on topic, but this is the most recent (and open) thread directly related to publishing atw, so I put it here, and hope it won't derail the thread.
(note to fellow commenters: please refrain from replying about this until/unless Charlie greenlights it.)

I'd be very interested in reading your thoughts on this:

I reckon this is your kind of hornets' nest to poke...


page 117, third paragraph: I think you mean "PR flacks" instead of "PR flaks"

295, 1st paragraph: "buses' fuel cell" could use some pluralness agreement

344, 5th para.: "a clump of officers climb." "Climb" doesn't refer to the officers, but to "a clump," and thus should be "climbs."

348, 2nd para.: split infinitive: "to mostly want."


OK, fair cop re the colon semicolon thing. Here's a few other suggestions:

217 2nd para: "six gigabytes of metadata" IMHO metadata refers to information about the data: who entered it; tags; date; etc. "six gigabytes of attachments" might be more correct.

p230 3rd paragraph: "CAN I COME ROUND? She capitalizes and uses correct written grammar" Should that then be "Can I come around"?

p72 1st paragraph. "Voight-Kampff" See "The Voight-Kampff machine (or device) is a fictional interrogation tool, originating in the book where it is spelled Voigt-Kampff".


Should that then be "Can I come around"?

No, because she's specifically using correct grammar. "Can I come round?" is the correct UK usage. (See here for details.)


Even if it were not correct "UK English" it is perfectly normal "Scottish English colloquial usage", and as such in character.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on March 7, 2012 9:52 AM.

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