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I have a new book cover

The Rhesus Chart

(Full resolution version here)

Behold: the cover of the Orbit (UK/Aus/NZ) edition of "The Rhesus Chart", Laundry Files #5. It's due out in the first week of July next year, and you can pre-order it now (here's the Amazon Kindle edition link). I'm pleased to say that this is the first Laundry Files novel to debut in hardcover in the UK—a sign of great expectations by my publisher!

(If you're on the other side of the Atlantic, do not worry: there will be a US hardcover and ebook from my usual publisher Ace: I've even got the final cover art. They just want me to sit on it until November 12th for some reason. As Ace is an imprint of Berkeley Publishing Group, which in turn was part of Penguin, who merged with Random House to form Random Penguin Penguin Random House a couple of months ago, I suspect they're still getting their internal product release procedures straightened out.)

Here's the first sentence:

"Don't be silly, Bob," said Mo, "everybody knows vampires don't exist!"

(In other news: blogging is quiet right now because I am in Brighton for WFC 2013. After which I will be proceeding cross-country to Oxford for an evening with the Oxford University SF Society, and thence to Nottingham, for Novacon, before driving home. And then it will be time to start work on the next book, and acquire a pair of kittens, in no particular order ...)

52 Comments

1:

Random Pengiun was a lost opportunity to the world.

.... on the subject of which "Don't be silly, Bob," said Mo, "everybody knows vampires don't exist!" ... seems to call for a laundry/Peter Watts mash-up

2:

"Don't be silly, Bob," said Mo, "everybody knows vampires don't exist!"

There's nothing like welcoming your guests into the drawing room and asking them to admire the gun over the mantelpiece.

Anyway, that picture is a nice compilation of the elements. A Great Seal coloured blood. A bat. Computer-text numbers in two typefaces (a bit old-fashioned, but audiences have been trained to them). Canary Wharf. A man aiming a handgun. And hmm, something unidentifiable behind the bat, but which looks as if it is suitably rugose and squamous. Nice. It should certainly stand out on a table of other books.

3:

And a cover quote from Ben Aaronovitch. Now there's impressive for you boyo.

PSN - If you like the Laundry and haven't read Ben's "Rivers of London" series then I'd suggest you try the first one.

4:

By happenstance I read Ben Aaronovitch's The Rivers of London back to back with Paul Cornell's London Falling and Sarah Pinborough's A Matter of Blood. All three strongly set in contemporary London, all three with coppers as the central characters, all three with occult stuff going on. An interesting micro-genre that I hit by accident.

Look further and there's a whole slew of books set in a London which isn't quite what we see, from Gaiman's Neverwhere on (and yes, Mike Carey and Simon R Green are also in there). But the particular Hidden London meets police procedural subset was one I wasn't expecting. I knew what Cornell's book was going to be (due to a reading at Eastercon), but Pinborough's was a bit of a surprise (I'd asked her which book of hers would be good to start with), and Aaronovitch's was due to a general word-of-mouth buzz.

In the case of this book, getting Aaronovitch to blurb it is a good way to try to attract another set of readers, ones who think 'Stross? He's Skiffy. I don't do Skiffy, I do Horror'. Intrigue those potential readers with that cover art, with London and horror and a writer they already know saying it's good, and you can sell to them.

Me, I don't do horror, I do SF. But I do do Cornell, and Pinborough and Aaronovitch. Umm. Yeah. Sometimes it's the writer, sometimes it's the genre. When I'm looking for a new writer, then I'll go by genre, but when I'm looking for a new book, I'll usually go by writer. So if Charlie can get some new readers with this, there's a decent chance some will also pick up other stuff by him even if not in-genre, and possibly like it. It's all about trying to find new readers, to expand your market.

5:

Convergence in reading tastes showing.

I've also got a Sarah Pinborough lurking somewhere in the "to be read" area.

6:

What I'm really looking forward to in a future Laundry book is "Bob meets his political masters"

Now, we've been told about the HoL black budget, so maybe the politcos there are not quite the same as HoC -- though note that many, many, HoL members are superannuated ex-politicos or party apperatchiks of one sort or another.

Can Bob wind his neck in, and keep his chippiness to himself? Of course not! Where's the story in that!

Of course the story really turns on the question of "what motivates our (UK) politicians?" And the answer is surprisingly simple: power[*]. What does the Laundry trade in? Power in unimaginable quantities. What UK politician worth his salt could resist?

[*] I've watched our politicians at work, and close up. It's not for the squeamish. And they're not stupid either, most of them could get better-paid jobs elsewhere (as barristers, accountants, or merchant bankers, hedgies and such like). The drug of politics is instead more addictive than crack cocaine: the kick you get out of setting up a compromise or deal, or of out-manouvering enemies (usually thought of by the general public as your "friends"). And you don't get to find out how effective you've been until much much later.

7:

Looks good, and though I can't wait, I suppose I'll have to. BTW, how did the UK audiobooks of the Atrocity Archive & Jennifer Morgue do? Well enough to justify releasing the Fuller Memorandum as a UK audiobook?

8:

Nice. Now on pre-order. And Amazon review for Equiod done while I was about it.

Writing the review reminded me that Cold Comfort Farm was itself a parody of books on the awful rural life of the time. So layers of parody. Nice.

9:

this is the first Laundry Files novel to debut in hardcover in the UK

I can just imagine someone will complain "But I have the whole series in paperback. This'll mess up my shelving!"

Anyhow, nice cover. Thankfully no mudflap type silhouettes.

10:

>>"But I have the whole series in paperback. This'll mess up my shelving!"
First thing I thought!
but if this is an achievement fot you, congratulations.

You apologized for your blooging being quiet and I have a future blog entry for you : what do you want for christmas (peace in the world and your own books forbidden!) or maybe what excellent books did you read these last months and think we should ask for christmas (again, NOT yours : we already have them ...) thanks

11:

July? Ye Gods. Now that I've finished everything amazon kindle has of Charlie's, I guess I now have time to finish the Culture books next, (and then some) which series I've just last night finished the first of; after hearing the name in so many divers and random places over the years I finally decided to dive in after seeing the regard the series is held in around here. (Very sorry to hear of Iain Bank's passing. Condolences to all who knew him.)

12:

Isn't it ridiculously dangerous, to print a summoning grid on the front cover like that?

13:

I'm fascinated by the type design of the title: it looks like a rubber stamp, expecially in its tilt, but the letters themselves resemble the output of a cloth-ribbon typewriter. That's two distinctly different signifiers of archaic bureaucracy merged into one design element!

14:

Only if you print the summoning grid in conductive ink.

15:

The reason that Charlie's blogging is a bit quiet right now is not that he can't think of subjects, it's that he's half way through a 1500 mile roadtrip, one that involves two conventions on adjacent weekends, both in the wrong half of this island.

16:

Will the US cover feature vampire boobies?

17:

I have kitten envy.

And look forward to this book; if its take on the gothic is anything like as sly as parts of Neptune's Brood . . . ( ;

18:

Tell us more about the kittens.

19:

If those pesky computer scientists can prove God exists, is Cthulhu and the rest of the elder gods just around the corner?

http://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/2013/10/godels-god/


20:

I can just imagine someone will complain "But I have the whole series in paperback. This'll mess up my shelving!"

We-ell... I was about to say that, or rather "This makes me wait more for the paperback."

I think I'll still order the hard-back. Mainly the reason for paperbacks in our house is the smaller shelf footprínt. We don't have any good device for reading ebooks, and I haven't yet found one I'd like to buy, so it's still dead tree for us.

21:

Came to say all the good stuff the others just said. Damn, your friends are fast and sharp. Good thing there's no such thing as vampires.

Want to see the kittens, though.

P. S. Mike Carey. Very Good.

22:

Hardcover: boooo!

I either have to wait 6 extra months, or I pay £12 for a sodding ebook. I can see why a nice weighty hardbook costs more, but it really rankles to pay so much for an electronic version.

Still, I suppose it moves OGH one step closer to purchasing that Pacific island lair.

23:

Erm...yes, well. Cough.

So, after making that post, I shuffled off to Amazon and was delighted to see that while the hardcover can be pre-ordered for £15 - a price that will surely fall as the release date nears - the Kindle version can be yours for just £7.99.

This is very not-normal in my experience. And very good. Did you have any influence on this outbreak of common sense, Charlie?

24:

Nope, pricing is not my department. If it was, I'd be trying to charge you £250 a copy :)

What I can say is that determining the best price point to maximize sales is the publisher's job, and they're still fumbling their way forward into the world of ebooks. On the one hand, cutting the cover price should increase sales of the ebook -- but on the other hand, there are a limited number (hopefully growing) of Charlie Stross readers who will buy the book at all, whatever the price (so long as it's greater than zero). So: do they sell the ebook cheap and max sales volume but at lower profits per book, or price it higher, maybe reap a smaller market, but make vastly more money per copy? Nobody really knows what to do, yet: all they know is that if they cut the ebook cover price, they can't easily raise it again.

It's all a bit of a headache.

25:

Yes, book selling traditionally works on a reverse auction basis (as Charlie has repeatedly pointed out).

First - sell to all those people who must have the book now, who will pay extra not to wait. To sweeten the deal, spend an extra 50p on the production costs and give them a nice robust hardback.

Second - once the hardback has finished its sales run, go for the next tranche of people, the ones who will buy it, but only if you drop the price. Charge them much less, but save a bit on production costs and sell them a paperback.

Third - ones sales have dropped off for those, send any remainder to the clearance houses/slash your online prices, and see if there are any more out there who'll now bite.

e-books are a bit weird, since they have pretty much the same production costs as the physical books (sans actual printing, yes, but still all the writing and editing and layout and so on, which are the labour-intensive parts), and yet people expect them to be cheaper than the paperbacks and also to come out at the same time as the hardbacks. This breaks the traditional model.

As for the Pacific Ocean island lair, we are talking the Aleutian Islands, aren't we? Or maybe something off Hokkaido? Strossen don't go well with the South Sea type of island, they tend to melt.

26:

That's why I think it would make sense to have a high start price and regularly drop it. I'm one of those who would probably pay £20 or more for your books when it first came out but if I was light on cash and new that it was coming down by 50p a month for two years (or whatever works) I could plan on when I'm going to buy it.

Alternatively lots of products are sold with extras these days so you can buy the standard edition but if you want you can buy the premium version with extra content. Not sure how that would apply to a book, I certainly don't think holding back content of the story is possible but perhaps things like a premium Laundry novel would include a poster, a timeline of the laundry, mock scientific papers regarding computational demonology etc. Stuff that adds depth to the world but has no impact on the story itself.

That I'd love to see :)

27:
If those pesky computer scientists can prove God exists, is Cthulhu and the rest of the elder gods just around the corner?

Wow. It seems Cthulhu lives on a perfect island with Thomas Aquinas...

28:

I do have the series to date in paperback. But I'm enjoying it enough that I might just get the hardbacks & charity shop/pass on the paperbacks in order to convert/corrupt others.

Incidentally, I can also recommend Mike Carey. Even if his character, Flix, does remind me a lot of John Constantine he and his world are distinct enough to be worth the effort.

29:

I think Hokkaido can be pretty warm in Summer? Maybe Vancouver Island, or something in the "Dalmation coast" of Alaska?

30:

The resemblance of Felix Castor to John Constantine didn't surprise me considering Carey's long run writing Hellblazer. There's a soupcon of Harry Dresden in Felix too, I think, but then hard boiled noirish magic users tend to converge on a type I suppose c.f. Glen Cook's Garrett books which I would also recommend if the intersection of detective and fantasy is something you enjoy.

31:

pretty warm in Summer

That does depend where on the island you are. The more northerly coastal cities peak in the low 20s C in August.

32:

I'm guilty of it too, so nothing personal against anyone. I generally prefer paperbacks, for cost and space reasons, and I find them easier on the eyes.

I've been buying Charlie's books (and a handful of other authors) in hardcover, in store, since "Saturn's Children", partly to do my bit to feed the kitties, and as a fairly invisible show of support. The only exceptions were the last couple Merchant Princes books because I had the previous books in pb.

33:

Hecate island looks like a great place for a North Pacific secret lair. It's not that far from some Canadian pubs serving genuine britbeer. It's just 100 km North of the Northern tip of Vancouver island. Vancouver Island itself has too many vacationers on it, not to mention the capital of B.C. at its Southern tip.

34:

thorne
Sorry, but codswallop.
The Aquinas' argument is known to be false, anyway.
I also LURVE the Lawrence Krauss quote about Theology:
"A subject which has produced no new results or insights in the last 500 years"
( I'd say since 1665, but that's just me )

Alternative proposition:
"No god is detectable, directly, indirectly, or as an emergent phenomenon."
If the theists want to prove me wrong, then all they have to do, is do some detection, isn't it?

35:

Err, regards where regfards are due, since it was not Thomas Aquinas (1225 – 1274) but Anselm of Canterbury (1033 – 1109) who came up with the pothead's proo, err, the ontological argument, which seems similar to Gödel's ideas:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ontological_argument

Please note Aquinas was not that fond of it. He had his own share of arguments though, see

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quinque_viae

which are only slightly less nutty.

As for theology, there is one thing that might make the whole endeavor somewhat less futile, since there is some overlap with general philosophy.

And then, there is the slight change of somebody putting Aquinas et al.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_law#Christian_natural_law

on their feet again in a discussion with transhumanism...

(Sorry for surfacing somewhat erratically, I'm somewhat out of time ATM, and there are some posts in the queue, especially one try at exegesis

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exegesis

on the idea of reincarnation in the Laundryverse...)

36:

All previous posts are no doubt inocent of all Supernatural Intent, save that... Are you SO very SURE that your Attention hasn't been commanded?

You may know that our Host is even now down South of the UK? And that upon his Way there he has found it necessary to visit IKEA in the interest of buying an office type desk and then assembling the same? This same wasn't of the Arcane Power of The Billy Bookcase...which is a, well a, sort of several dimensional Summoning Grid that also can be used to hold Books of the Traditional Dead Tree variety. Consider the Sheer Power of Bookcases that have been assembled Just So and then equipped with just the Right Kind of Books that are arranged in just the Right way.

Anyway, I have just received a Communication of Scandinavian Supernatural Arcane Central, aka IKEA, which says...


"We're inviting little inventive minds, to bring their imaginary friends in-store, to take part in our exclusive IKEA FAMILY member children's competition.

All they need to do is draw him or her and we could magically bring their invisible pal to life as a soft toy. Something that they can hug, hold and hang out with.
Book your place "


Hummmm ... " Get inspiration, tips and ideas. IKEA specialists share the latest news and trends at member workshops and courses in local IKEA stores.

Book a time to enter our drawing competition by selecting your local IKEA store below.

Find out what’s happening at your IKEA store. "

What can possibly go wrong?

37:

Oops, I forgot to include the precursor to the IKEA invite text that has in its illustration... ““DOES YOUR CHILD HAVE A GIANT ‘FRIEND ‘WITH WIGGLY ARMS. WHO LOVES MUNCHING ON CRISP SANDWICHES? “

WELL, Does She ?!!

38:

Right, that does give me a dilemma. I've been buying the US hardbacks (I like to have hardbacks) to keep and sometimes the UK paperback to read (if available sooner) - so do I now get the US version, to match the ones I've already got, or the UK version (I think the UK covers are nicer)... or both... or what?

This isn't making my life simpler, or helping me justify my book consuming habits to the rest of the family.

But I'm glad that your UK publishers have seen the light. And I hope that in the process of seeing it, their eyeballs didn't fill up with glowing worms.

39:

Yes ..Plus ONE on that.

I usually order the American Hardback on the basis that its physical - Dead Tree plus rag - Quality is better than the UK hardback ..but, this time I ordered using paypal from bookdepository.co.uk on the basis that a uk order would get to me that bit faster than Amazon.com from the US of A this despite the fact that the UK Hard Cover wont be as nice as the US of Avian edition and wont match my previous US of A hardbacks in the Laundry series.

Oh, well ..I supose that some time in the future I can always buy a US of Avain Hardback that has been remaindered and then give my pristine - un-coffee or wine stained - UK H/B to some worthy but inpoverished person.

40:

As long as the kittens can type they'll be a worthwhile investment. Else they're just a money sucking source of brain parasites. Cute though.

41:

of course cats can type!
Its just us that cannot read their subtle prose, and instead shoo them from the keyboard

42:

@Arnold -
That sounds very strossian ; hacking flatpack designs so that buyers/assemblers INADVERTENTLY PERFORM THE RITUAL.

Lovin' it.

43:

"hacking flatpack designs so that buyers/assemblers INADVERTENTLY PERFORM THE RITUAL. "

Presumably, up to and including blood sacrifice (in my experience an inevitable part of plat pack assembly).

Once you begin to think that way there are so many possibilities for propagating a ritual... dance steps... sport...

44:

Well ...
...there are so many possibilities for propagating a ritual... dance steps...
Precisely, why do you think so many Morris Dance sides also have both a ritual "beast" & often do a Mummers' Play, usually involving a death-&-Rebith theme, admittedly suitably disguised with humour & a quack "doctor" ....

45:

Ah presumably the Laudry probably has a folk dance club who perform the Anti Morris (as per Pterry) presumably with Mo doubling on the accordion of doom.

Though as a coworker who was a member of the local "party" side said after 2 pints you can't see the sticks any more

46:

I've occasionally thought what with global warming, the nuclear annihilation threat ( as was ) and various other existential threats to humanities existence wouldn't it be nice to leave a bootstrap message to the future in case we or the universe makes us extinct. But what kind of message could survive for the geological deep time it takes for a new species to evolve? And would a new intelligent inheritor ever arise? Our lasting legacy will apparently be lead and radiation. And bricks and bronze.

But what should the message say? "To make a stream engine, gather these things"? And think of the booby traps and jokes you could lay... in a Lovecraft and ordinary, IKEA sense... gotta be worth a kickstarter project...

47:

I have deep suspicions of bellringing. All those permutations. And taking place in towers, among the stars, as it were. Do we really know what goes on up there?

48:

I'm the president of the Oxford University SF society.
Hopefully Charlie won't mind if I give details of his talk tomorrow, in case anyone here is interested.

The talk will be tomorrow (Wednesday) evening in the Okinaga Room, Wadham College, Oxford. Doors open at 8pm. Non-members are welcome, admission £2.

49:

Just pre-ordered! Bummed that I won't get it for a year, though.

The conundrum over pricing seems to me to reflect the concentration in the market. If there were a little more competition or some more easily evolving digital exchange -- kind of like a currency exchange -- it would become clear what the pricing should be very rapidly, seems to me. Just a little blurb of a five-second thought.

50:

Charlie: pre-ordered. As a book. Unfortunately, from the US site: the UK and commonwealth versions are much nicer. In fact... I am looking forward to how you make vampires are creepy as you made unicorns.

51:

I shot over to amazon to preorder, only to find that I'd already done so.
In other news, even hearing the word 'unicorn' gives me a case of the creeps.
I have a daughter who is turning eight this weekend. Do you have any idea how impossible it is to avoid unicorns with a girl that age????

52:

Please don't mention unicorns again, they've got wings as well these days in various plastic pastel shades. [shudder]. I am reliably informed they are called Alicorns by my 5 year old.

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