May 2013 Archives

I've written about the origins of Accelerando a lot, so let me try and say something new and different. (You can find my earlier Accelerando origin story here)

It's May 27th, 2013 -- roughly the year in which Accelerando was set, when I began writing "Lobsters" on a rainy day in 1998. I was sitting in the cafe In de Wildeman in Amsterdam, on Kolksteeg, being depressed by work (a first generation dot com where the workload was growing at a compound 30% rate per month, and the revenue wasn't -- yet). It was pissing down outside, and my then girlfriend (now wife) and I were taking a long weekend break because I was so stressed out by work that the alternative was to quit my job. And then I got some good news by phone (here's the whole grisly story) and sat down to get merrily drunk, and for some reason I pulled out my portable computing appliance and began to type.

Manfred's on the road again, making people rich ...

This is going to be a relatively short "Crib Sheet" piece: turns out I've already written most of it:

Here are my memories of the history of "Iron Sunrise", including an excised section with a talking cat sidekick.

Here's an explanation of the structural problems with the Eschaton universe which blocked me from writing of a third book in the series. (Note that some of the ideas for "Space Pirates of KPMG" eventually surfaced in a highly modified form, in different space opera project of mine — Neptune's Brood, which is due out early this July. Which, ahem has a fan.)

Now for a meta-note: I made a contractual mistake common to first-time novelists with "Singularity Sky" and "Iron Sunrise", which I shall talk about below the fold, in case any other first-time novelists are reading these notes ...

I'm going to be on the road next week, Monday to Monday, visiting Tallinn, Estonia, for the HeadRead literary festival. Hopefully I'll have time to write something; the server whoopsie last Monday disrupted my plans for a guest blogger. Meanwhile, coming up next: some scattered afterthoughts (and your questions answered!) on "Iron Sunrise".

I just stubbed my toe on a linguistic thread on reddit (as one does): what sentence can you come up with that would be completely incomprehensible (without a detailed explanation) ten years ago?

Some examples, culled from reddit, to get you started:

You might have noticed that my blog has been down since Monday afternoon.

That's because the server it runs on began to experience weird out-of-memory issues and then a catastrophic file system failure (sometimes RAID 1 just makes everything worse).

We've now swapped in a new server and restored from backup. Everything seems to be working again — except the backup predates the last blog entry and, oh, about 84 comments. Luckily I've got a dump of that blog entry, so I'm about to re-post it (along with all those comments as a trailer: I'm not going to try and figure out how to turn them back into actual comment records in a MySQL database! Update: the comments are toast. Sorry ...).

Thereafter, normal service will be resumed.

(This is going to be a slightly abbreviated discussion, because I discussed the book's ideas at length in the supplementary essay bundled with it, and answered a number of questions about it in the blog entry immediately preceding this one.)

So what's left to say ...?

I've been arm-wrestling with a story again, and it's running away from me; hence the lack of updates.

But as the story in question is set early-ish in the Laundry Files continuity (between "The Jennifer Morgue" and "The Fuller Memorandum"), I think it will make perfect sense if I blog about the gestation and germination of "The Atrocity Archive(s)" next. So that's on my to-do list — just as soon as I finish this novella (hopefully by the end of the week).

(If you have any questions about TAA, feel free to ask them here.)

I'm cheating here: if you want to understand "Singularity Sky" as published, you need to read this earlier piece I wrote (which uses it as a springboard for discussing why I killed off the Eschaton novels after book #2).

What I'm going to add here is merely the history of the project. Which, with 20/20 hindsight, was a nightmarish mire of despair ...

I periodically run out of ideas for blog entries—I've been doing this thing for about 13 years now—but when that happens, one of the best resources is thinking about other stuff I've written about. An idea occurred to me earlier this week that I'm going to explore over the next couple of months. Namely: every book is different! And they all deserve at the very least a small "making of ..." essay.

However, I've got a slight dilemma about how to tackle the subject.

Do I do it chronologically? If so, I'd have to start with "The Web Architect's Handbook" from 1996, or maybe "Toast, and other rusted futures" from 2000. But hang on, I wrote "Scratch Monkey" circa 1990-94, so doesn't that come first? And how do I deal with "Accelerando", which took 5 years to emerge, during which I wrote at least four other novels?

Alternatively, do I approach the problem by series? Not all my books are parts of a series, and — I'm somewhat alarmed to realize — not one of the actual series has an actual no-shit end (although "The Trade of Queens" comes close to ending the Merchant Princes; the next book, provisionally titled "Dark State", picks up the threads nearly 17 years later) ...

Then there's the question of what to write about. Do I discuss where the ideas and plot points emerged? The characters? Or do I discuss the methods I used to write the books, and the obstacles and encountered in the technical process? And what about possible spoilers or explanations of what I was trying to achieve when I wrote them, as opposed to what reviewers and regular readers thought they were about?

What would you like to know about my books, that isn't obvious from reading them? This is a serious question and I want answers, dammit. Because this project is going to be the main preoccupation of this blog for the next few months ...

Traders' War cover

Just a reminder: The Traders War is showing up in shops now, and although Amazon.co.uk think it's due out on the 9th, you can find it on some bookstore shelves right now.

(Small print: this is an omnibus edition — with extensive revisions — of "The Clan Corporate" and "The Merchants War", reassembled as the single book it was originally meant to be; in this case, the middle of a trilogy. It's published in the UK and Commonwealth territories. You can't buy the ebook in North America, but if you really want to, you can order the dead tree edition from amazon.co.uk if you're willing to pay the shipping fee. It will not be published in the USA in 2013, but will probably show up in 2014 or 2015.)

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