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I am going away for a long weekend on Thursday. I shall take an iPad with a stack of ebooks, movies, and games, and a portable keyboard for emergency email, but nothing that would act as an enabler for actual work. (Because I need a vacation, and those things don't happen to me very often: when I travel, it's usually to an SF convention or on business. So: it's off to snowy Deutschland, to drink beer, wander round the Christmas markets, and decompress after writing a Laundry novel in 10 weeks.)

Alas, Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition doesn't look like it'll be out in time to come along me. Bah, humbug. Maybe it'll be out by Newtonmas ...

Anyway, this is by way of saying that I will not be blogging. So instead, allow me to introduce guest blogger Stina Leicht:

Stina Leicht is a fantasy writer living in central Texas. When she was small she wanted to grow up to be like Vincent Price. Unfortunately, there are no basements in Texas -- thus, making it difficult to wall up anyone alive under the house. Alas, she'll have to resign herself to going quietly mad while wearing a smoking jacket. Too bad Texas is hot, she doesn't smoke and therefore, doesn't own a smoking jacket. Her debut novel Of Blood and Honey, a historical Fantasy with an Irish Crime edge set in 1970s Northern Ireland, was released by Night Shade books in 2011 and was short-listed for the 2012 Crawford Award. She's also a 2012 Campbell Award nominee. The sequel, And Blue Skies from Pain, is in bookstores now.

(Actually, I think it wouldn't be too wrong to describe her as a Texan Goth. But she's also an interesting person, which is why I'm handing her the mike for the next week. Enjoy!)



Howdy Ms. Leicht. Look forward to your posts.


Have fun over here.

I take it that the notion vacation is incompatible with screaming hordes of fans and groupies following you around, so I wouldn't dare to ask where in Germany you'll be, would I?


Correct. (I'll be back in Dortmund in mid-March for Dortcon, though. Which is a public event.)


A quick count: what I just finished was the first draft of my 23rd book -- minus two collections and one non-fiction title -- making it my 20th novel. (Not counting training exercises before "Scratch Monkey".)


Hello, Christopher. Here's hoping I'm able to keep things entertaining around here while Charlie is away. I'm only ever so slightly intimidated by the prospect. You know, just a bit.


And yes, Charlie, you can call me a Texan Goth. They do make those.


Goth is everywhere. (I come from Leeds, home town of The Sisters of Mercy ...)


BG:EE has been a delight thus far on the PC. I'm curious/excited to see the tablet versions.

Enjoy the vacation.


Charlie, if your brain is anything like mine (in which case you have my sympathies) I suspect you'll be plagued with idea after idea after idea for new and interesting work. Of course, it could be worse - you could have my immune system instead. That tends to collapse as soon as I'm on a vacation (my school holidays were inevitably spent dealing with a cold, a sore throat, or some other form of misery). I figure I put off being sick until I had time to deal with it.

Stina, nice to meet you, and I'm looking forward to seeing what you come up with during your time at the helm.


As a native Texan, I can confirm that there are, indeed, Texan Goths. (Except that the Goth thing is dying out, as is the related Emo thing. Now it's just dark hair dye, tattoos, and piercings.)

Keep up the good work!


Hah--here in central Texas(near Austin) they are everywhere.


Ha! Austin is not in Texas. Austin is on its own planet. Austin is the California of Texas. Austin is (among many other things) the hippie capital of Texas. Austin is the [insert appropriate Scottish locale here] of Texas.

(Goths are indeed very thick on the ground around Austin.)


Ok; Austin is the "Royal Exchange Square behind GOMA" of Texas! ;-)

Also, Hi Stina.


My wiling suspension of disbelief does not stretch to the point of accommodating the notion that one would voluntarily holiday in Germany under any circumstances . . .


Christmas markets. Beer! More dead pig products than you can wave a shitty stick at. Insane monorails! What's not to like?

Also: I'm three sectors short of the number of flights I need to maintain my frequent flyer status with Sky Team -- I have to get in three more flight sectors before January 1st or I lose status. As I travel a lot, the FF card is extremely useful. I need a break, and this trip gets me four sectors, costs about as much as a return second-class train ticket to London, and it's better than lying at home in an exhausted daze.

Note wrt. the frequent flyer status thing: once I get those three sectors in, any problems I subsequently encounter for the next 12 months of travel become the airline's problem: if I run into a delay at an airport I can march into the AF/KLM business lounge, show them my card, say, "there's a problem with my flight", and they will fix it for me.

As I have four international trips scheduled in the first three months of next year, the probability of my needing this level of service is non-trivial. Being able to get it by taking a long weekend in Germany rather than in, say, London is a not-insignificant bonus.



You've presumably not been in the attractive parts of the country.

(I'll add to Charlie's list the beauties of Freiburg im Breisgau, the Museums of Berlin and the Cathedral of Koln just for three. Oh, and Munich. The Deutsches Museum in Munich makes the Science Museum in London look rather sick.)

Not to mention that the Germans make some really very nice wine. They just don't export it as much as they could, mostly fobbing us Brits off with horrible crap like 'Liebfraumilch'.


You have an interesting definition of computer-free (= iPad + portable keyboard). Will keep this in mind. Have fun in Germany!


Nice! My husband and I are going to Munich over Christmas to enjoy the very same things. Gute Reise!


I'll add the Rhine and Mosel just as sightseeing destinations, never mind the wine, Schwartzwald and Bavarian hop fields likewise, the Nordschleiffe if you have that sort of idea of fun (and I know you don't Charlie; I'm just adding another activity to the list)... Then there's Berchtesgaden, Colditz castle...


Hello Stina.

The last time I came across mention of you and your work it was a review of the two books that Charlie mentions on Strange Horizons that had me giggling to myself for the better part of a day. So what are you working on at the moment?

As for Texan Goths. I knew they existed from Flem comics, and the first one I met for real turned out to be an old friend of the creators. Texan Gothic seems like a perfectly decent concept to me. I'm too fat to be a Goth though, so I go with Steampunk styles myself.


Munich is one of my favourite cities. We were last there for a wedding at the Neuschloss at Schleissheim Palace, and I took the opportunity to renew my acquaintance with the DM.

(I've driven there and back from here - East Anglia - but it is quite a drive, worse than Freiburg. If I ever do it again, I think I won't do it in one day. 1200+ km in one stint is getting a bit much for me — these days that's easier by train.)


Ah yes, the Rhine.

We got a flier for Rhine cruises through the door a few days back: Amsterdam to Basel (or vice versa). A little over a grand each for a week on board ... not cheap, but not as expensive as it could be either.

Also, probably very relaxing — it takes 2 days to get from Strasbourg to Basel, which is (IIRC) 77 minutes on the fast train.

(It arrived as we were sorting out our annual trip to Basel. Train to Strasbourg, £111 each return from East Anglia via London and Paris. We'll stay in Strasbourg a few nights before heading up the Rhine to the joyous insanity that is the Basler Fasnacht. We might do Chienbäse again too.)


The iPad Mini is sufficiently low-powered that I won't be tempted to spend the whole weekend redrafting the novel (which I plan to redraft after I get home). Although yesterday's release of iWork 9.3 for OSX and Pages 1.7 for iOS is worrying: suddenly it can do change tracking and interoperate reasonably painlessly with DropBox and my AirStash. It's in danger of growing up into a real word processor.


It's at the level of a paper notebook, as long as you don't forget the kit to recharge the battery.

Plus, as long as you have an internet connection, you have a tool that can replace guidebooks, maps, and stuff. That's maybe in the territory of being careful which tablet you buy, not all have GPS, and it overlaps with a smartphone, and then you have all the hassles over international roaming.

Speech recognition and machine translation are maybe good enough to be useful to a tourist.

Mea navis volitans anguillis plena est!


Speaking of international roaming, I've FINALLY convinced O2 to apply the O2 Travel bolt-on to F's and my phones. £1.99 per day for 25Mb of data in Europe, plus £0.69/Mb (around US $1) above that. You have to hammer a smartphone pretty hard, or download videos or software updates, to go over 25Mb/day; that's good for email, twitter, and some light maps and web browsing. Phew.

Now if only we could do that in the USA (where data roaming costs us £3/Mb).


Indeed they do - I happen to be married to one.

Greetings from the Texas Panhandle, Stina.


I'm still wondering how whoever-it-was managed to fuck that up so badly. For my account it was on there from the start, unless my O2 page is lying outright to me.

(OTOH, my account has my name in all-lower-case, my address in all-upper. I can live with that)


One can also take someone up on an offer of a cask of Amontillado.


It took a visit to the O2 shop, a session of online chat with one of their call centre staff, and finally a freaking PHONE CALL, to get O2 Travel enabled on both phones. Anyone would think they wanted to soak customers for £0.69/Mb rather than offering the first 25Mb for less than £0.10 each ...


As far as I can see, it ought to be trivially possible via Add Bolt-ons and/or Manage my bolt-ons. Not that I had to, since I got a reasonably clueful shop assistant, even if she had difficulty with the CAPS-LOCK key entering my details.

I suspect you met someone who needs a clue-by-four for Christmas.

(Disclaimer - I have the Simplicity plan, and got it about an hour after your initial muttering elsewhere.)


Just yesterday I was trying to get served a pint of snakebite and black and put The Sisterhood on the jukebox, for old time's sake. The barman wouldn't do snakebite, and of course the jukebox didn't even have anything by The Mission, let alone the Sisterhood's 'Finland Red Egypt White'.

Settled for London Pride and a silent pub, which I probably prefer these days.


Have fun on the H-ban!

Wish I was there!


... You're right. It should be trivially manageable. Except "O2 Travel" doesn't show up as an addable bolt-on for either of my phones. It's invisible! And it took some non-trivial human intervention to get it set up. Possibly because I'm on a less common tariff.


Charlie & Bellinghame ... Please don't! I am rapidly approaching the point where I'll have to carefully write down all the things my nice new BackBerry is supposed to do, but won't & the services I'm supposed to be able to access, but can't ... Take said list to the shop, wher I bought it on 19/11/12, and tell them: "fix it or else". The "or else" being Waltham Forest Trading Standards, who, I'm sure would lurve Orange/EE's head on a pike for a pressie! I mean, a mobile phone/service provider that DOES NOT HAVE an e-mail contact - you what?


Germany. Is that near Grunmarkt?


It's not just Munich's sights (which are beautiful indeed.) It's the laid-back attitude that I like. I know snooty Berliners view Bavarians as yokels, but I must say, personally I prefer the yokels. Their lovely Biergartens and the generalized Gemütlichkeit! Plus, as mentioned by Bellinghman above, the Deutsches Museum is so worth a repeat visit. I've only been to Munich during summer so far, so I'm really looking forward to the Christmas markets.


please surf for us


I do understand the frequent-flyer thing - I travel internationally a great deal, too, and the Gold status perqs really become necessities if one travels a great deal.


It's not so much the place itself to which I object, but the climate (cold in winter!).



And hot in summer. That's a continental climate for you.




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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on December 4, 2012 7:45 PM.

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