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Commercial announcement

The Bloodline Feud The Traders War The Revolution Trade

This has taken me slightly by surprise—I was expecting an official announcement later in the month—but as they're available for pre-order on Amazon.com right now I think I can safely say this:

Tor are releasing the remastered, halfway-rewritten, omnibus editions of the Merchant Princes series in the US as DRM-free ebooks next Wednesday, the 7th of January:
The Bloodline Feud

The Traders' War

The Revolution Trade

Paper editions will follow in September 2014 to January 2015: dates subject to confirmation. I'll provide other, non-Amazonian ebook store links as and when I get them. More information below the fold ...

Here's a brief FAQ:

Q: How do these differ from the original Merchant Princes series?

A: I originally planned the Merchant Princes as a series of big fat paratime travel thrillers. But no series plan survives contact with publishing industry, which is why they were marketed as skinny fantasy books—and chopped to fit. I thoroughly revised and rewrote large chunks of the as-published books in 2012 for the UK release, fixing errata, polishing the prose (I think I've learned a bit since 2001), and reassembled them into more or less the original intended format: Word insists I made over 12,000 changes, and the revised edition is actually about 80 pages shorter than the first version. (Trust me, you won't miss what I cut.)

Q: Why the new titles?

A: Bookstores (and Amazon) will get horribly confused if we issue a new book under the old title. So the 600 page hunk o'words I wrote as "The Family Trade", and which was published as two 300 page hunks of dead tree under the titles "The Family Trade" and "The Hidden Family", is now "The Bloodline Feud".

(Similarly, "The Clan Corporate" and "The Merchants War" became "The Traders' War", and "The Revolution Business" and "The Trade of Queens" became "The Revolution Trade".)

Q: Are these DRM-free ebooks? And how much do they cost?

A: They are supposed to be DRM-free. If you buy them and find that they're not, then it's a screw-up and Tor will fix it. As for price: Amazon say $9.99 for the first, and $8.99 each for the second two. (Note that each volume was originally two books.)

Q: Yes, but are they better?

A: I think so, otherwise I wouldn't have spent a good chunk of 2012 overhauling an entire series. For example: a common criticism of the first series was that book 3, "The Clan Corporate", was really slow to get moving compared to the first two books. Well, that book was originally going to be the start of a 700-page doorstep, so a 150-page warm-up didn't seem excessive: but then it got turned into a 300 page stand-alone. Now it's back to being part of a 700-page narrative it's a lot less unbalanced. Again: "The Family Trade" just sort of stopped. That's because I was given about a week's notice to chop the original 600 page doorstep in two. Now it's surgically restored ...

Q: Are there going to be more in the series?

A: Yes.

I'm working on a new Merchant Princes trilogy. (You'll be unsurprised to learn that when we were kicking ideas around, this project went under the working title, "Merchant Princes: The Next Generation".) Plan is to hand in "Dark State" and "Black Sky" to my editor next month, and finish "Invisible Sun" by September, for publication starting in 2015.

Q: But what's it about?

A: Here's the draft blurb for book one, "Dark State":

The year is 2020. Seventeen years have passed since the 2003 destruction of the White House by extradimensional narcoterrorists and the Department of Homeland Security gained responsibility for protecting the United States from threats from all possible parallel time-lines. Rita Douglas, 26, is an aspiring—more accurately, struggling— actress who comes to the attention of the DHS, despite her best efforts to avoid the attention of the total surveillance state. She's a blood relative of the Clan, the world-walkers who nuked the White House: the government's labs have worked out how to activate the world-walking ability in people like her, and they want her for a spy. But Rita has secrets of her own, and the scrutiny of the paratime secret police is the last thing she wants ...

Meanwhile, it's 2020 in another time-line. Seventeen years ago the Revolution overthrew the last king of the New British Empire. The newly-constituted North American Commonwealth is modernizing rapidly, and is on course to defeat the French Imperium, set the East ablaze, and bring Democracy to a troubled world. But Miriam Burgeson, commissioner in charge of the shadowy Ministry of Intertemporal Technological Intelligence—the paratime espionage agency tasked with catalysing the Commonwealth's great leap forward—has a problem. For years, she's been warning everyone: "The USA is coming". And now their drones are arriving overhead (and being shot down) at the worst possible time. For there's a succession crisis in progress: the Commonwealth's head of state Adam Burroughs is dying of cancer, and the vultures are circling ...

Two nuclear-armed paratime superpowers are set on a collision course. Two increasingly desperate paratime espionage agencies are blundering around in the dark, trying to find a solution to the first contact problem that doesn't inexorably lead to a nuclear holocaust. And two women—a mother and her long-lost, adopted-out daughter, are about to find themselves on opposite sides of the confrontation.


(I've always wanted to write a cold war thriller: this is it!)

Any other questions? Feel free to ask in the comments.

133 Comments

1:

"Q: Yes, but are they better?"

I think so too, to the extent that not only did I buy the original hexology with my own money, but I have since bought the revised trilogy and replaced the originals.

2:

Amazon.com is telling me the price is $12.12. Has the Evil River decided that I'm willing to pay more?

Guess I'll wait for the non-Amazon bookshop links.

3:

And here I was, considering playing with the work VPN so I can buy the darn things from the UK. This is better. :)

4:

Are you a US customer? The extra 20% sounds like VAT to me. Or they may be playing their silly soak-the-customer games again. (Hint: try logging out and checking the price, then log in and check. See if the prices differ.)

5:

I have the original six books, but I have only read the first book.

And liked it very much. I have always enjoyed paratime works, and this is a very original example of the genre.

I just have had too much else to do and read to complete the series.

Is it worth reading the original series and then reading the new release, or should I just start over entirely with the new books?

Comments welcome, especially from Charlie and anyone who has already faced this decision.

6:

Just read the revised version. Seriously, I cleaned up a lot of annoying stylistic tics, fixed bugs, tightened up the prose, and got the pacing to work properly. The first version is somewhat bumpy in comparison.

7:

Paper editions will follow in September 2014 to January 2015

YAY!
Look forward to rereading them.

8:

Oh, and really looking forward to the new series.

9:

In case it wasn't obvious, I've been running like crazy to try and keep my circa-2020 paranoid US surveillance state just one jump ahead of the Snowden/NSA revelations.

It is proving really hard to out-do reality, when we learned in the past couple of months that the USA (and UK) governments are party to a secret treaty called the Five Eyes, dedicated to abolishing privacy worldwide, and launching spacecraft with mission patch logos like this:

10:

and replaced the originals.

well I'm certainly not going to do that as my originals are signed, but still. Got the British new ones already. Very much looking forward to the sequels!

11:

When I first saw that mission patch my first reaction was "Who thought that was a good idea?", followed by "I guess they just don't care what anyone thinks about them".

What's cephalopod for All Your Base Are Belong To Us?

12:

There's a lot to chew on in that "Dark State" blurb. Hints of "Little Drummer Girl"? (which I haven't read yet, may have to rearrange my Le Carré reading)

13:

There's a lot of stuff that didn't make it into that blurb. Entire major sub-plots, in fact. But no spoilers.

(Except that halfway into book one, a dying statesman ends a series of instructions to his ministers with, "... and try to find a way to save the United States for Democracy." But what he means by "Democracy" is probably not what the denizens of the ~United States think of when they use that word. This is what we in the trade call a "significant plot point", and it probably tells you what the trilogy is all about. After all, from the point of view of Mencius Moldbug and the neo-reactionaries, Communists, Fascists, and Democrats are all virtually identical politically because they base their ideologies on the same axiomatic framework -- the one that denies the Divine Right of Kings. And out there in the set of all possible alternate histories, our type of political consensus is probably a rarity.)

14:

I'm in the UK so I got to read all of these last year; since then I've read all the Laundry Files books, plus at least four others (Saturn's Children, Neptune's Brood, Halting State and Rule 34, possibly some others I'm forgetting) and I really can't wait for Dark State. That's how much I loved those books! I keep trying to talk my daughter into reading them just so I'll have someone to discuss them with.

15:

Wow; you read them even faster than I did (but I normally try and read 1 normal or classic fiction, biography or history between SF books).

16:

Is it just me, or does the missile in the "Revolution Trade" cover look like an update of a Boeing CIM-10 Bomarc or a Northrop SM-62 Snarc?

17:

I wasn't logged in when I saw the price, oddly. I am Canadian, and I suppose Amazon may have figured that out, but the Canadian dollar is trading at $1.06 per US$, so that would be an incredible surcharge for currency conversion.

The prices I see are:

Bloodline Feud $12.12
Traders War $12.04
Revolution Trade $12.12

All have a note saying that "This price was set by the publisher".

(For reference, here is the URL for the first item:
http://www.amazon.com/Bloodline-incorporating-Family-Trade-Hidden-ebook/dp/B00HFU5AUS/charlieswebsi-20)

I'll let you and/or Tor sort it out with Amazon. That kind of markup is nuts.

Hm. I've just checked Amazon.ca, and the Kindle price for The Bloodline Feud and the others is $10.99 Cdn, which is a bit less of a markup but not an extreme one. All have the note that the price was set by the publisher, which seems odd if the publisher's price was $1 cheaper for the last two books.

18:

Yes, the (British) cover designed pulled a Bomarc off the internet. I whimpered a bit and asked them to adjust it, so they did -- but the first roughs of the UK cover had the classic early-1950s missile in fully-recognizable silhouette!

(Tor in the US are re-using the UK cover art, albeit with a color change.)

19:

Thanks; the colour change made it rather more obvious of course!

20:

That's very mature of you! I'm just completely self-indulgent, I'm afraid. I probably should read 'improving' books - but I'm in my mid-40s, I've given up on all that. I do read the odd pop-science book but that's because I actually really like them.

21:

Well thanks; can I show this to people? ;-) (someone calling me mature that is)

Seriously, I'm interested in other stuff than just SF so the most I'm doing is making sure I keep up those interests.

22:

Okay, let me change that to I'm really, really looking forward to the new series.

23:

I try doing something like that; rotating fiction genres, with some non-fiction--usually something sciencey, or history/biography, preferably a mix. But it hasn't worked out that way for a while, with too many new books coming out, and my slow reading.

24:

I understand the omnibus versions are revised and cleaned up, but is there any new content in them? I'm not going to reread them because they are now shorter and cleaner, but I would if there was something new.

25:

I bought the first combined volume when they came out in the UK KIndle store early in 2013. I didn't get very far in though. It seemed like I was about to read a "Modern person ends up in medieval society" story which I loathe. From reading this page I'm guessing that's not what they are. Could someone give a brief non-spoilery description?

26:

Try the TvTropes listing for it. TL:DR; it starts out looking like "modern person ends up in mediaeval society", but its mission is to systematically trash every cliche of that sub-genre that I could get my hands on. With a side-order of development economics and cultural commentary (the moderns don't come off particularly well, but neither do the quasi-mediaevals).

27:

Depends. Lots of stuff got taken out, quite a lot got re-written, some sections were replaced completely. But there's no new plot.

28:

Sorry if this is duplicative, but from your view of the publishing business can you say anything about why paper copies lag e-books by 9 months? Is that all production time, or is there a business motivation? I still prefer the old fashioned medium and resent being forced to wait.

29:

Further to Charlie's #26, my first thought was that it was a more limited version of Roger Zelazny's Amber series, particularly what are now known as the "Corwin Chronicles" (9 Princes in Amber to The Courts of Chaos), but it's actually nothign like that at all, as is evident by about page 300 of volume 1 (either variation).

30:

100% production time. They can rush the ebook without booking printing presses and warehouse space, and marketing it to bookstores with limited physical shelf space.

31:

Just checked the Amazon link, and it appears there is no antipodean release for the ebooks. Is there any reason for this Australian persecution? Is it likely to be changed? If not why not?
I've read the original series and am looking forward to the rewrite (and really to the next)!
For all its faults Kindle is the best thing since canned beer, cheaper and faster than pulp-fiction.

32:

Come on Charlie, haven't you been following Trevor Paglen's work? It shouldn't be that surprising. Paglen's the one that figured out PATCHINT to begin with.

33:

Robert - I just followed your link (from within the USA) and saw $9.99 and two $8.89s. Very strange - perhaps we need another Canadian to report what they see.

34:

Try a different web browser. I sometimes get different "buy it now" prices on eBay depending on whether I'm using Konqueror or Firefox; it wouldn't surprise me if other vendors were doing the same thing.

35:

I believe they're already available as ebooks in AUS -- via Tor UK (a different company). Certainly they were available as dead-tree editions there when the books launched! But you'll need to use a different ASIN (Amazon inventory number) to find them -- or search by title.

36:

Rats, I think you just sold me three more books.

But: I have the first six autographed, and now I will never rest until you have autographed the new ones too!

BWA-HA-HA-HA!

37:

The books are available in New Zealand, and presumably Australia and any number of other countries, from Kobo in DRM-free epub form.

38:

The blurp sounds great - I almost can't wait!

I managed to read through the rewritten trilogy in just over three weeks, including two 13 hour night flights (yeah, I liked them that much).

39:

On the economics in the series, I was puzzled that the "main engine" trade was drugs:bullion, because it struck me that a silver:gold one driven by relative scarcities would have worked even better, what with not needing to shift the drugs once they arrived and having less exposure to adverse parties. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, i.e. to be told why that wasn't happening, or at any rate why it no longer happened, particularly since even importing 18th century metallurgy could have nearly doubled the silver yield from lead ores in the undeveloped side and could have been kept a family trade secret for a good long while.

40:

So are the new books 300 pages each or 600? Should I wait for the omnibus edition in 2020? ;-)

41:

Gold and silver will betray their origins by the mix of isotopes, so cycling gold for siver or vice versa is not a good idea for trading with The United Snakes.

42:

Interestingly enough, Mack Reynolds had a short story based on destabilising the global economy with gold that was "obviously" artificial because of its isotopic ratio; it turned out that it had been carefully separated out precisely in order to destabilise things that way - so what the indicator indicates is at least ambiguous. It might merely indicate covert mining of an unpublicised source. But to address your counter more specifically:-

(1.) That (isotopic ratio) is not an issue for the trade other than with our world (yes, I know that's not so relevant to the beginnings).

(2.) That's not an issue for the trade with our world before about the 1930s anyway (though I don't think it is, because the geological sources in different worlds have analogues in other worlds), and I was wondering why silver:gold hadn't been significant in the earlier back story as well as wondering about it for the story proper.

(3.) Even if that were a strong objection, it would still apply to the drugs:bullion trade anyway (as well as the drugs also registering in a similar way, showing up as being produced in a low background radiation environment, which - from memory - I think was brought out or at least implicit in the books).

43:

"Any other questions? Feel free to ask in the comments."

Yes. What's behind the door into vacuum?!

44:

pml540114 @ 39 asked why not gold and silver?

One reason would be the relative differential between dimensions. Opium grows well in medieval conditions, but concentrated high grade heroin doesn't have much value (even if the medieval growers could manufacture it) because heroin addicts don't produce much and quickly die without the support of welfare and hospitals. Silver and gold, though, are extremely valuable in a medieval society. Rulers in our medieval periods tended towards being control freaks when it came to such metals, so if the Clan were bringing gold into or out of the Gruinmark, they'd attract royal attention if not tithes.

Another would be the unregulated nature of the drug market. Gold buyers in the USA are a small number of libertarian survivalists and banks. The libertarians aren't much of a market. While banks have a lot more money, they're also much more fussy about origins and audit trails. No such problems with illegal drugs.

45:

What's behind the door into vacuum?!

That question is answered in "Dark State". Non-spoilery answer: something even more terrifying, by implication, than the dome itself ...

46:

Opium grows well in medieval conditions, but concentrated high grade heroin doesn't have much value (even if the medieval growers could manufacture it) because heroin addicts don't produce much and quickly die without the support of welfare and hospitals.

Actually, you're totally wrong on this point -- falling victim to decades of drug war propaganda.

Diacetyl morphine is about the best opiate analgesic we've got. It's still carried in British ambulances as a first-line drug for people suffering acute myocardial infarction -- it's an anxiolytic, a potent pain-killer, and it dilates the coronary arteries (increasing their chances of surviving the arterial occlusion that triggered the heart attack). It should be widely used in post-operative pain relief and terminal care, but it's tarred with the brush of addiction -- which is also somewhat spurious: opiates are far less addictive than tobacco or benzodiazepine tranquillisers such as Vallium™.

What causes the mortality/morbidity stats is that basically mainlining heroin under illegal conditions is nasty -- it's cut with horrible toxic dilluents, needles and works are hard to get, it's vastly overpriced, and the people who are drawn to it usually take it up because they've got other serious problems.

Back before Heroin™ addiction was first cracked down on in the UK in the 1920s, a survey of registered addicts determined that half of them were doctors and pharmacists, holding down steady, respectable professional jobs for many years while injecting heroin in their off-hours.

Back in the late 1980s when I had occasion to buy pharmaceutical grade diamorphine and cocaine from medical suppliers in the UK, a 5 gram jar of the white powder at >98% purity (call it an ounce of street-grade snow) cost around £5. Disposable plastic syringes are similarly cheap. I worked out that a heavy three-times-a-day heroin habit would be quite affordable if the stuff was legal to buy -- indeed, the most expensive part of the deal would be the syringes. And, were it legal, it'd be perfectly possible to sell it in pre-packs along with a pre-loaded Naloxone syringe (a potent opiate antidote). So a regulated, legal regime for heroin addicts to buy their gear could reduce the cost to rather less than that of a heavy beer habit, and cut the mortality and long-term morbidity rate to nearly zero.

TL:DR; blame the war on drugs.

47:

I find myself thinking thusly:-
1) I think you've misread something. The narcotics were being transported from, say, Mexico to DC via the Gruinmarkt as being a safe route that the US DEA couldn't intercept.
2) Clan Worldwalkers are weight limited as to how much they can transport each trip. This alone means that you want to move low mass high value stuff.
3) Specie are much heavier for a given value over here than illegal narcotics are AIUI.
4) Someone else mentioned isotope mixtures. Being a Scot, having some training in metallurgy, and being a (bad) historian, this immediately made me think of how the German High Seas Fleet (scuttled in Scapa Floe, Orkney in 1919) has, since WW2, been "mined" for high quality steels which were made prior to the Manhattan Project, and hence did not contain actinide residues. Gruinmarkt (and "New Britain") gold will also not contain these residues, where "Miriam's World" gold will.
The New British don't even know about these actinides so won't look; the authorities in "Miriam's World" do and might.

48:

The New British don't even know about these actinides so won't look

Yes they do -- just barely.

As William Gibson noted, "The future is already here, it's just unevenly distributed."

When Miriam first stumbles into New Britain she sees steam powered automobiles, a few airships, expensive and old-fashioned clothes. So she mistakes it for a steampunk/gaslamp world. And she's our viewpoint, initially.

But a random time traveller stumbling out of a TARDIS in the United States in 1944 wouldn't see evidence of the Manhattan Project, jet fighters, the V-2 and other ballistic missiles, or ENIAC and Colossus.

What she's actually looking at is a world where the industrial revolution was retarded for a century, and for political reasons the South isn't producing much cotton (Hanoverian monarch sets up shop in exile in New England in 1760; three-way slave/sugar/cotton trade disrupted by French naval blockade and French military occupation of England: southern plantations were mostly run by Stuart loyalist nobility who retreated into exile to escape the Commonwealth and the subsequent post-1688 Hanoverian dynasty: upshot, something even bloodier than the US civil war breaks out a century earlier than in our time line).

Fabric and clothing remain expensive so fashions change slowly. Steam power gets established slowly and the petrol and diesel internal combustion engines come along late, and there's a much denser rail network with electric traction becoming established earlier. Housing construction and urbanization follows railways and streetcars (dense row houses served by good public transport: no space for private gardens or car parking garages). So to the eyes of someone from our world it looks like an olde world Victorian fantasy.

But appearances are deceptive. The New British tech is actually 1940s level when Miriam arrives: they have radio and are developing television, and they're rolling out high speed rail (125-150mph inter-city express services). Grotesque economic mismanagement in the middle of a war causes everything to grind to a halt, resulting in something not unlike the February 1917 revolution in St Petersburg. Then, by the end of "The Trade of Queens" the first A-bombs are on their way to the test range. But steampunk it ain't.

49:

When Miriam first stumbles into X she sees Y. So she mistakes it Z.

That seems to happen to her a lot.

50:

Charlie @46, very happy to agree that heroin is harmless in a modern society. Or even a late 19th C one.

I did qualify that I thought it would be bad in a medieval society like the Gruinmark. "High grade" alcohol and other substances were historically and still are today a great way to wreck tribal societies. I don't know of any medieval examples, but the 19th C Chinese government was seriously pissed at the British for selling opium to their people, to the point of fighting a war. I doubt that even today you'll find Chinese who agree that the British opium merchants weren't really intending to cause any harm.

51:

Ok Charlie, I'll accept that Miriam grossly mis-estimated the general tech level, and even that New Britain was about to move to the test phase of an equivalent to the Manhatten Project. The actinites I had in mind were products of uranium and plutonium fission explosions, so they won't exist or be more than theoretically known until after the first bomb tests.

52:

Oh man. I'm halfway through reading the Merchant Princes books, and now I know what's happening at the end - I read halfway through the second sentence of the Dark State blurb - "The year is 2020. Seventeen years have passed since the 2003 destruction of the White House by extradimensional narcoterrorists a..."

I mean, seriously. C'mon. Maybe just a *hint* that there's a MASSIVE spoiler coming up?

53:

>That question is answered in "Dark State". Non-spoilery answer: something even more terrifying, by implication, than the dome itself ...

The obvious answer is that it's a door to a parallel earth where the planet is missing entirely. Pratchett and Baxter already did that one in their parallel earth book, fyi.

54:

Mispgl> Spoilers come with the territory when reading a blurb about a sequel... might wanna skip this comment too.

....


Uh oh I just read the blurb (I have a tendency to click on the comments out of habit and skip the meat of the post under the cut, happened to me a few times now.)

A cold war with an enemy that shares your territory and your language but not your culture (They are commies now!) sounds quite tense. Good thing there's a freshly minted nuclear wasteland in the middle as a buffer.

55:

Oh, dear, it's the Panopticon again. The "Five Eyes" treaty is an immediate postwar (the war being WWII) agreement between a number of the allies to share signals intelligence. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UKUSA_Agreement

It is now a long-standing intelligence sharing agreement between the largest English speaking nations. Saying the goal is to "abolish privacy" is a BIG stretch.

56:

Miriam Burgeson

For some reason this fills me with glee more than the other things. I just read the new editions, and although Miriam isn't a... nice person at all times, this relationship was something that I thought was a good thing.

I'm eagerly waiting for the sequels.

57:

Would it be too spoilerific to just say that that isn't how the series ends? More than that I shall not say.

58:

Counter-spoiler: The nuking of the White House isn't the end of the first series.

59:

At first I thought MITI a reference to the Turkish intelligence service (which is MIT instead), but then I found the Wikipedia article on Ministry of International Trade and Industry. Interesting.

60:

That is the most supervillainous logo I've seen in a while.

I a) kind of want that patch, and b) wonder how the hell that made it past whatever committee picks mission patches.

61:

You might notice the major sub-thread in the first series about development traps and backward nations that fail to modernize.

If you were to speculate that the new series is partly about getting modernization right (and the consequences) you wouldn't be too far off the mark.

Hint: Meiji era Japan. Second hint: North Korea and South Korea started out pretty much even in 1953, and were still pretty comparable as late as 1973 ... then by 1993, something very strange had happened in the south: something that truly deserved to be called a Great Leap Forward. Something not dissimilar began to happen in China around 1986-87. And so on.

62:

Well, modernization starts with more or less stable (or steadily stabilizing with no visible bumps ahead) political structure, legal system and property rights. Note that these don't need to be democratic, they just need to be predictable, not too onerous and not encumbered by some insane ideology like Marxism-Leninism or Juche. Pragmatism is important. An Oligarchy or dictatorship will do just fine, if the ruling clique is stable, not too greedy and stays bought. Nobody is interested in starting new business if they think the Powers That Be are simply going to expropriate it to themselves or their cronies, but on the other hand, a predictable amount of bribes is simply a cost of doing business. As an example, the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe very effectively shot itself on the foot with expropriations and Marxism-Leninism after independence, turning the breadbasket of Africa into a basket case.

Congratulations, local enterpreuners and international business can now start running low-skilled industries in your country and your dirt poor peasants can get paid pittance in sweatshops. But remember that this is usually more than what your peasants scraped from the soil before.

Next, the ruling clique must invest as much as possible of their profits (taxes, bribes, whatever) back into the country. Socking away few million in swiss bank accounts is one thing, but building up infrastructure and educating populace cost money and are long-term investments. If these investments are not made, the modernization stalls. The Ruling clique needs few visionaries who can think on longer timescales than next few years; interestingly enough, if the rulers do not need to care about next elections, they can think on longer timescale and exchange short-term pain for long-term gains far more easily. Basic education, schools, universities... All these are needed and it takes time to educate workers. Also, you have to keep the living conditions in steady improvement, or your expensively educated workforce (or at least the most important cream of the crop) starts fleeing to other countries with better pay and living conditions.

With improving infrastructure and educated populace, your country will start to get bit too expensive for sweatshops. However, now you can start producing bit more advanced and complicated products which naturally are bit more expensive and profitable. You're slowly catching up with the State Of the Art technology and your universities and other R&D facilities can eventually start developing their own State Of the Art products and technologies.

This is the grossly simplified path for modernization as I've seen it...

63:

modernization starts with more or less stable (or steadily stabilizing with no visible bumps ahead) political structure, legal system and property rights. Note that these don't need to be democratic, they just need to be predictable, not too onerous and not encumbered by some insane ideology like Marxism-Leninism or Juche

Bullshit.

How do you think the USSR developed? (Quibbles aside, they went from a largely peasant-agrarian society to a modern industrial one for 1950s of modern in about 30 years, under Lenin and Stalin -- mostly Stalin.)

Forget property rights: what worked there was a ruthless dictatorship, top-down direction, a reign of terror, and the consistent application of policy. It can even be argued that what brought the USSR down was a slackening of that framework, with concomitant corruption and cronyism and then a naive and unquestioning adoption of the Neoliberal consensus after 1991.

(Note that I'm not advocating Stalinism here, or suggesting it's The Answer; I'm just pointing out that insisting on "rule of law" and pretending that Leninism is incompatible with development are both flat-out wrong.)

the ruling clique must invest as much as possible of their profits (taxes, bribes, whatever) back into the country.

That I'll agree with. (Stalin's set-up didn't allow much leeway for foreign bank accounts.)

Now, the education thing seems to be key. And that's something the Communist Party of the USSR was very hot on -- mass literacy because it's easier to ideologically motivate a population who can read if they're not illiterate, mass education because it's a no-brainer.

64:

USSR developed despite it's ideology, which hampered things during it's entire existence. The Built-up infrastructure was always ramshackle and inefficient. The USSR economy after Stalin was a long slide of stagnation. Russia, on the other hand, has made quite a rapid bootstrapping after Yeltsin's miss-steps with IMF shock therapy and privatization. Rising global energy prices, however, are probably responsible for large part of this boom...

You are correct: I viewed the requirement for rule of law bit narrowly, thinking of modern global economy where capital can move internationally with remarkable ease. If the country (or society) you're industrializing is isolated for some reason or another (eg. bootstrapping infrastructure on new colony world decades away from neighbours or behind a political iron curtain), you probably won't have to worry too much about capital flight or brain drain. But neither will you gain the benefits of international trade or attract foreign capital.

In any case you will need consistent policy and stable political regime. Stalin's power was uncontested until his death in '53 and the man did have a vision, which he executed. To the limit.

A Planned economy is like a relaxed-stability aircraft without fly-by-wire: You can make it work in theory, but a merely-human controller will not be able to handle it's complexity. Even at best you'll simply muddle through until a fatal cluster of mistakes accrues.

65:

Any plans to get audiobook versions for these out there this time around?

66:

Glad to see you're addressing some of the questions I had left over from the original Merchant Princes books in the next trilogy, but are you going to address where the world walker tech implanted in the Clan comes from/why its there? I think it's a fairly big question as to how and why someone would so spectacularly up-tech a merchant in a medieval culture...

But glad to see Miriam's daughter putting in an appearance in the new books as it seemed an utterly supefluous bit of backstory in the original books with no apparent pay-off. So, there was a purpose to having that be part of Miriam's past as well...

And, we're going to get to find out what was on the other side of the door? Laundry series/Merchant Princes cross-over? Or can I only dream?

67:

I would also like to know about an audiobook version. Was there ever one for the previous version? Is there some level of sales volume required to justify one?

68:

Bear in mind that Miriam's daughter was mentioned in what Charlie originally intended to be the first book of three. (With trilogy-currently-in-writing being book 3.) Now consider that our host is more than loosely familiar with the structuring concept called Chekov's Gun. I confess I've been wondering about what else from "The Bloodline Feud" might be going to come back and bite major characters where they least expect it....

69:

Laundry series/Merchant Princes cross-over?

See mission patch posted up-thread? (At #9.)

70:

There are hints about the origin of the clan, but I cannot recall whether they are all published yet. Miriam has genes. Some of the characters in "Dark State" echo Miriam's ancestor with memes. And it is a book about ideas and knowledge: not so much "Who am I?" as "Why am I?"

71:

On audiobooks:

Tor purchased audiobook rights to the original series but couldn't sell them at the time.

IIRC there's a clause in the contract for the new series saying that if they don't produce audiobooks of the first series before [x months after the new series is published] then the rights revert to me (and my agent). And we've got a working relationship with Audible, who bought the rights to most of my other books directly from us.

So either Tor will sell audiobook rights (presumably to the omnibuses and the new series), or my agent and I will do so, after a delay.

72:

MirrorField & Charlie
EXCEPT, until WWI screwed it, Imperial Russia was developing at a frightening rate & some forms, post 1905, of gradual weakening of the internal controls were coming (Inevitable, in fact, unless a peacetime revolution had occurred).
One of the two reasons Imperial Germany seized the opportunity [ They were spoiling for a fight ] in 1914, was that they knew that by/after 1917 (18?) they would not be able to defeat "Russia" since their industrial production would be as great as Germany's.
The Soviets then proceeded set that system back, badly, even allowing for the chaos of the 1918-22 civil wars.
The poster boy for stable economic development is, suprise, Britain from Newcomen to Parsons.
Where a lot of the "Nobility" saw no dishonour in getting theor financial hands dirty, investing in new, profitable technologies.
The body-count was a lot lower than the SovUnions' too, even per capita, never mind in total.

73:

Where a lot of the "Nobility" saw no dishonour in getting theor financial hands dirty, investing in new, profitable technologies.

A common myth about the Victorian-era British is that they were stuffy and class-obsessed to the point of social paralysis.

In truth, they were class-obsessed. So anyone who bettered themselves did their best to have been upper class all along. There was no visible social mobility, but a huge amount of invisible churn.

74:

The Soviets of the inter-war period were obsessed with Taylorism, i.e. the principles of Henry Ford.

The Soviets also bizarrely got help from the Germans in embiggening their military industry. The Germans were looking to evade the Versailles restrictions; so both countries "benefited" by cooperation in that regard.

There is something ineffably romantic about Reed's experiences Beyond the Urals. I'm no Communist, but the idea of men and women working together in a factory by day and then taking calculus classes in the evening appeals to the left turn alternate Heinlein teenager in me. (Not that I believe it was all as pretty as Reed paints it.)

75:

@64:

USSR developed despite it's ideology, which hampered things during it's entire existence. The Built-up infrastructure was always ramshackle and inefficient. The USSR economy after Stalin was a long slide of stagnation.

The USSR's development, like everything else about it, needs to be viewed as two separate bits, before and after WWII (or rather, the start of the Cold War). Before, they spent some time floundering, including an odd swerve towards free markets in the NEP days. Yes, Stalin's USSR was a very unpleasant place in which to be a peasant, but his intention was to turn the country into a modern, powerful and balanced one. After WWII, the inherent inefficiency of a plan economy was massively enhanced by the need to compete directly with the West on weapons; a huge, disproportionate share of productivity went to the military industrial complex. It was ideologically justifiable to do this to the detriment of quality-of-life development. Also remember that while the US economy ran a deficit for much of the Cold War, and between that and exports it basically drained the productivity of the Western economies its army notionally defended, the USSR was forced into subsidizing Warsaw Pact countries out of its own purse, to match the Marshall Plan.

*Some* elements of central command, fused to a free-market economy, can produce good results both for the population (cf. Scandinavia) and for the economy (cf. China).

Stalin's power was uncontested until his death in '53

Well he certainly didn't see it that way...

76:

are you going to address where the world walker tech implanted in the Clan comes from/why its there?

I seem to remember the Clan traces itself back to a genetic mutation in a single ancestor - the effect may be machine-reproducible, but it's not unreasonable to think the missing-planet civilization arrived at it separately, and it really is just a fluke. It doesn't necessarily need to all tie together...

The Soviets also bizarrely got help from the Germans

It's only retroactively bizarre - Stalin intended to divvy up the world between himself and Hitler (then turn around and stab Hitler in the back). They were best buds for the first two years of WWII; given Hitler's experience of WWI, it was natural for him to want to avoid having to worry about an Eastern front for as long as possible; and the USSR was a much closer and more bountiful source of Germany's much-needed raw materials than Imperial Japan...

77:

@76

The cooperation was mainly 1920-1933. Hitler, unbizarrely stopped it.

Considering the dynamics of the undeclared civil war in Germany after WWI, the politics of the Weimar Republic working with the Soviets were complicated to say the least, despite the intense pressure for the two pariahs to help each other navigate the diplomatic/military desert.

78:

I seem to remember the Clan traces itself back to a genetic mutation in a single ancestor - the effect may be machine-reproducible, but it's not unreasonable to think the missing-planet civilization arrived at it separately, and it really is just a fluke. It doesn't necessarily need to all tie together...

That's all plausible, and I'd really rather not know the "official answer", at least not yet.

79:

I got the impression that the Clan's ancestors were possibly refugees from the high tech society that created the ruined dome, who fled to the Gruinmarket world to hide out when things started to get all orbital beam-spammy. The itinerant tinker just happened to have enough of the right ancestors for the genetically engineerd world-walking hack to re-manifest itself.

80:

You nearly nailed it.

The original tinker was a deserter from the people who created the dome, running as far and burying himself as deep as he could. (For reasons to be explored in books 10-12, if I ever get that far.) The world-walking hack didn't breed true, hence the limitations of his descendants ...

81:

The original tinker was a deserter from the people who created the dome, running as far and burying himself as deep as he could.

I'm just wondering how many generations it took and how the braid was preserverd, or re-discovered.

I'd very much like to read the books 10-12, because I like that you write this as scifi. Also the exploration of possibilities of the world-walking and scientific research in-world by multiple parties is a very nice thing in the books.

82:

I'd very much like to read the books 10-12, because I like that you write this as scifi. Also the exploration of possibilities of the world-walking and scientific research in-world by multiple parties is a very nice thing in the books
Likewise, and at least partly for much the same reasons.

83:

The English class system got right what the CPSU got wrong - it never let itself get too big, ruthlessly cutting younger sons loose to genteel poverty or high-stakes adventuring. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cpsu informs us that the CPSU ballooned to 10% of the population - both inefficient and very bad politics. I suspect that the Nazis would have gone the same way, if nothing else had taken them out first. It will be interesting to see what happens in China, which is allegedly trying to listen to social scientists. Primogeniture and death duties should in theory stop the UK falling to an inequality version of this, but I suspect the massive expansion of University education is the middle classes version of this.

84:

And as my brain slowly dissolves with old age: I was of course thinking of John Scott, not John Reed, writing Beyond the Urals.

85:

Just ordered all three on my nook, can't wait. I have never finished them as the singles though I own them. I kept getting to the second book and though I enjoyed it was never able to finish. However after reading this and about the rewrite as it was happening abroad I kept thinking this was how they were ment to be read.

86:

Looking for legal sources here (that don't involve fiddling with technical stuff):

Kobo isn't selling them in Canada. (Or maybe they're not pre-selling them, but the link says "not available" not "pre-order".)

Amazon.ca wants $11 each ($10.99 if you're picky), so $33 for the set instead of $28 (that's before taxes are added). ($31 US doing a straight currency conversion, so adding a 10% markup of their own to the "Publisher set" price — unless your publisher has set higher prices in Canada.)

iTunes is charging the same as Amazon.ca ($11 each).


So Charlie, depending on how your royalties are calculated, I'd have your agent check the pricing structure for Canadian sales to make certain it was your publisher that decided to charge more here, and not the booksellers.

87:

In the early to mid part of the series it really bugged me that the "first" world walker sort of just got born with this ability, happened upon a symbol that would let him (or her) use the ability and figured out that it was a regressive gene. And all this from a medieval trader? Just did not make sense to me. After "seeing" the dome and their quite advanced technology, I figured that he was probably a refugee of some sort. That, naturally, opened up a lot of other questions on how all that got forgotten, but I suppose that it either did not get passed on or died during one of the internal purges ... now I'm looking even more forward to the continuation of the saga!

88:

Yes, I was also wondering how the "first" world walker came about. After my previous comment I started thinking that the first one could well have had the pattern with him or her and then just passed it on as a heirloom.

The next world-walkers could have come in two generations, but that would've meant quite close relationships. I now started wondering how the "first" world-walker worked: was the pattern required at all? And did they know how you generate them? (Probably?)

I like the world building aspect of this, obviously, though the story is also nice.

To scratch the world-building itch, I'm now reading other British fiction: the RPG where in the grim far future there's not only war. In other words, Rogue Trader. Reading roleplaying books (as opposed to, well, playing the game) is very much like reading the world-building part of fiction instead of the story. I like it, but I like the stories, too.

89:
I now started wondering how the "first" world-walker worked: was the pattern required at all? And did they know how you generate them? (Probably?)
The pattern is a good way to control when to use the ability so you don't do it in your sleep, as well as a way to specify which world you want to visit. So my guess is that the first world walker needed a pattern and had at least one with him. I also suspect that he would have had a way of generating new patterns, as he generated at least one (to get to our world). But like a modern laptop, it would soon run out of power or break down, so the knowledge would be lost, but a "sacred" artifact could still linger somewhere?
90:

#87 et seq - I'd sort of presumed that the first World-Walker had the MW-Grunmarkt pattern, and was bright enough to realise that looking at this knotwork gave him a splitting headache but also flipped him between these 2 Worlds.

The genetics stuff got discovered by research in MW (it doesn't make sense to me for it to be knowledge from Domeworld or Missing?World, because why would some fairly arcane even to us genetics get remembered in the Grunmarkt but not "now to draw patterns for Nth_World"?) Remember that the Lees found their way to New Britain accidentally.

91:

I remember reading about the UKUSA years ago -- this is what is also referred to as Five Eyes. In fact, the NSA's web site has a page about it:

http://www.nsa.gov/public_info/declass/ukusa.shtml

So certainly the existence of this pact was not revealed by Snowden.

92:

Very excited to hear that these are about to come out in the USA, I've been waiting to read them until the re-writes became available here. :)

93:

Ok. Further to my earlier post I have now started reading Bloodline Feud. I'm about halfway through and I have to say I'm really enjoying it. Wish I'd stuck at it earlier :)

94:
I'd sort of presumed that the first World-Walker had the MW-Grunmarkt pattern, and was bright enough to realise that looking at this knotwork gave him a splitting headache but also flipped him between these 2 Worlds.

Yes, provided MW refers to our world, that is what the mythology of the Clan says. However, it does not answer the question of how the knotwork was found. Accidentally coming up with it is extremely unlikely if you do not know what to look for. The first world walker *may* have been found as an infant with a knotwork, but that still raises the question of where the ability and knotwork came from.

The genetics stuff got discovered by research in MW
As I remember it, the history of the Clan is more than a few centuries old, much older than our scientific understanding of genetics (before the last civil war in the 60s or 70s, there were 10,000 of them). The issue would have been apparent to the children of the first world walker, but urging them to intermarry to make a new crop of world walkers seems a bit prescient unless the first world walker had some knowledge of genetics.
Why would some fairly arcane even to us genetics get remembered in the Grunmarkt but not "now to draw patterns for Nth_World"?

The genetic knowledge would be imperative for the long term survival of the Clan, and it does not require any significant technology to understand the concept. The elders of the Clan could have decided to keep other secrets under wraps, so only a few would know. These few could easily have been killed during one of the vicious civil wars within the Clan. Indeed, we know of at least one such secret that was known, but lost to the Clan.

Remember that the Lees found their way to New Britain accidentally.

Yes, but they already had a knotwork to work from. It may have been from memory, a slightly damaged knotwork or some tinkering with their Clan knotwork, but they did make the discovery themselves: They already had access to the general idea.

95:

I cannot pretend to understand Amazon's pricing policy. I looked at the pre-orders three days ago on Amazon.de, and they were over 10€ each. The (British?) edition of 2013 was (and is currently) sold for €5,95 each. (Are those the same except for the differently-coloured covers? Or are they unabridged? The page numbers don't match, especially for the second volume.)

Looking again now, the pre-orders are only €4,77 each. I ordered all three of them. But I cannot pretend to understand it. It's all very confusing for my German book buyer's mind, which is trained to have fixed book prices.

96:

MW from "Miriam's World"; I'd already used it in full, and Charlie says that it's not the same as our Earth (at least in detail; some political figures gain different offices, Paris Hilton is dead...)

Anyway, let us remember that one of OGH's favoured devices is the "unreliable narrator", and here we could well have one example of same being filtered through 2 or 3 more (assuming we work from a base text; add somewhere between 10 and 20 to that if we have to rely entirely on narrative sources and memories)...

Lastly, my memory says that the Lees' New Britain knotwork was created from the branch founder (note singular used advisedly from memory. That tends to argue against him being able to do the requisite calculations. It also suggests that the level of any required "genetics knowledge" would be "keep marrying your own first or second cousins", rather than discussion of "a recessive gene found on..."

97:

Ok, I don't know German law in detail.
Some years ago (well 20) the UK had something called the "Net Book Agreement", which in practice meant that most new books could only be sold to the public at the cover price. Does something like this operate for "high street" sales in Germany?

Our large South American River operates a more complex pricing model (at least in the UK and USA), where the price quoted is determined by stock in hand, numbers ordered/sold, and ability to obtain further stocks.
This means that, when you're (pre)-ordering a popular title, the price can vary by as much as -50% to +100% more or less hour by hour. They may also (as they do here) offer a "pre-order guarantee" where the price you're quoted at time or order is the most you will pay (neglecting any change in purchase tax), and you may pay less since the price you will eventually pay is guaranteed to be the lowest price the item reaches between the time of your order and the actual release data.

98:

Regarding the Lees' knotwork, the Clan said that the Lees came from the 7th (or was it 6th?) family in the Clan and that they had disappeared going West. Miriam theorized that they had fallen on hard times, ended up with a different knotwork and felt abandoned by the Clan. However, I do not think that any of the Lees ever confirmed either story.

As you note, the application of this particular insight is rather simple and does not require much knowledge. However, when it was discovered that the children of the first world walker did not have the gift, it is not necessarily obvious that if the children intermarry, their children will get the gift. More so as the gift does not become apparent until the children hit puberty, where their mothers will be close to menopause.

On the other hand, farmers did have some knowledge of how to enhance certain traits by selective breeding, so it may have been more obvious than we think.

99:

Hm. Amazon.ca prices are now $10.99 for the first book, $8.99 for the next two. Not that I'll be buying from them (as I don't have a Kindle).

100:

Charlie, your description has managed to get me even more excited for MP:TNG even though those books have proved to be my most-enjoyed of your stuff besides the Eschaton Universe—despite the fantasy marketing that originally kept me away.

Probably going to pick up the reworked originals, too. At sub-$8 prices right now they look like a good thing to inaugurate the new iPad I'm thinking about getting.

101:

Do we get to find out who MYRIAD is? (Or should we know already? I've had a suspicion since first reading Revolution Business that I ought to be able to work it out.)

102:
The issue would have been apparent to the children of the first world walker, but urging them to intermarry to make a new crop of world walkers seems a bit prescient unless the first world walker had some knowledge of genetics.

Given that most people intermarried to a greater or lesser extent prior to the nineteenth century (I wouldn't be surprised if a rather large fraction of humanity intermarried even now), I'd say this one is a non-issue. You could even argue that expressing this singular trait may have given them a leg up on the science of genetics.

103:

Even two carriers would only have a one in four chance (per child) of producing a world walker. The trait behaves like a recessive gene, if w is the recessive allele and W is the dominant then a carrier would have the genotype Ww. Two carriers could produce the following genotypes:

WW 1/4 chance
Ww 1/2 chance
ww 1/4 chance

So it may have taken even longer to figure out exactly what is going on.

104:

I'm not sure what you're getting at here with these figures. There seems to be a fundamental (though common) misapprehension that recessive traits are lost which expresses itself here as a question as to whether "figuring it out" wins the race with "recessives dying out". No, this isn't remotely how inheritance works.

105:

Maybe this means that my genetics are as dodgy as Ryans's but I think what he's saying is that you only have a 1/4 chance of producing a WorldWalker from 2 recessives, even though you have a 4/4 chance of passing the gene on to the next generation.

106:

Well, yes, that's obvious, trivially so. The question is, why is this point (which applies to any recessive gene after all) relevant?

107:

That's not what I'm saying at all. I'm saying that even if there was inbreeding between two carriers there is only a one in four chance that their offspring is a world walker. It's a simple monohybrid cross

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

108:

Hit send before I was finished with my last comment. It's relevant to your comment that as interbreeding is more common it's a non issue how the world walking genotype was recovered. Whilst I agree that given enough time it's likely even with two carriers interbreeding only a minority of their offspring is likely to be capable of world walking.

109:

You have a 3/4 chance of passing the recessive gene on in a cross between two heterozygous individuals as one of the potential three offspring genotypes is homozygous dominant.

My biology isn't dodgy (would probably have to quit the biology phd I'm on if so) but it seems to me that SoV either didn't understand my point at first and then didn't understand how it was relevant. I admit it's not game-changingly relevant but it's a consideration. Especially with regards to how quickly early world walkers could figure out the pattern and "give them a leg up on the science of genetics"

110:

Hint: the Clan's founder already knew. But he didn't pass on everything he knew to his kids, let alone the grandkids.

(And it's neither a purely chromosomal trait nor a natural one: rather, there's some very advanced self-replicating engineered objects taking passage inside the world-walkers' central nervous system, and a hack to control them. And the hack is somewhat broken. This gets explored more in the next books ...)

111:

The Clan's founder knew? Interesting. I thought that the founder was someone who discovered the trait by accident. I remember that the ability is due to some petty advanced artificial organelles but thought that the recessive trait refereed to a gene which allowed the activation of the devices upon observing certain patterns. Not sure if I'm remembering that from the books or a blog post though.

Might be time for a re-read ahead of TNG...

112:

Ok; the bit where the Yousay manages to more or less weaponize it now makes way more sense.

113:

"Yes, I was also wondering how the "first" world walker came about. After my previous comment I started thinking that the first one could well have had the pattern with him or her and then just passed it on as a heirloom."

I'll take a wild guess that "The Dome People" were able to visualise the knot patterns required to access specific world-lines internally from (possibly artificially enhanced) memory and that the (physical) knot patterns used by the world-walkers we've met so far represent what remains of a number of patterns passed on to their descendants after being hand-drawn for their use.

Or maybe some manifestation of the world-walking mechanism makes (some of) it's carriers compulsive doodlers who subconciously reproduce fragments of the patterns and just occasionally produce an accurate enough rendering to trigger the mechanism on an "infinite number of monkeys" basis...

114:

Our large South American River operates a more complex pricing model (at least in the UK and USA), where the price quoted is determined by stock in hand, numbers ordered/sold, and ability to obtain further stocks.

Uh, and demand.

115:
My biology isn't dodgy (would probably have to quit the biology phd I'm on if so) but it seems to me that SoV either didn't understand my point at first and then didn't understand how it was relevant.

Rolls eyes. Okay, Ryan, since you obviously don't get it: in an isolated population, the gene for world walking will spread to the point that there is a fair likelihood of two carriers mating (modulo the lethality of the gene itself; it certainly won't 'die out'), at which point it's just a numbers game. Any one cross? Sure, one-in-four. Any ten random crossings? There's about a 95% chance that one of them will result in a viable world walker.

I'd suggest, Mr. biology phd, that you actually study some, you know, biology. Or at the least, some basic probability and statistics. And cut down on the snark if you don't want it to come back and bite you the way it did this time.

117:

Wow, you've completely misread everything I've said. I wasn't being snarky, not was I arguing what you seem to think, I wasn't even disagreeing with you except to add a small qualifier.

Perhaps you only see venom because you think everyone posts with the same intent as you?

118:

It was a list of factors I knew in a complex model; not a comprehensive list, OK?

119:

Seconded about statistics; I'm more confident with that bit than the biology bit.

120:

Out of interest why? I wasn't arguing that the trait would die out or that it wouldn't appear which seems to be the criticism levelled against me. My first post was simply highlighting that it wouldn't be easy for the early world walkers to figure out what was going on.

121:

We already know that the dome people could do crossings in at least one way the world-walkers cannot: the 'door into vacuum' which almost certainly (as Miriam hypothesises) leads into another paratime in which the Earth does not exist (or leads into another location in space-time as well as / in addition to a paratime jump, which is even more impressive).

If, as OGH suggests, the hack is 'somewhat broken', I suspect the original implementation had either visualization of patterns or a simple wish 'jump *here*', and the patterns were an internal implementation detail and not even consciously visible.

But we'll have to wait to find out :)

(Like others here, I ground to a halt in book 3 of the original series, and will retry with the revised version. Publishers: demanding that books be ripped in two at the last minute does no good to them! Which should be obvious.)

122:

(And it's neither a purely chromosomal trait nor a natural one: rather, there's some very advanced self-replicating engineered objects taking passage inside the world-walkers' central nervous system, and a hack to control them. And the hack is somewhat broken. This gets explored more in the next books ...)

Of course! The objects were described in the books, but I didn't realise they weren't built by regular protein synthesis.

Speculation hat on!

So, I'd assume as a first hypothesis that they are inherited via the egg cell, that is, in a maternal line. The needed chromosome might inherit through "normal" means, but the world-walk organelles would then be inherited like mitochondrios.

So, they'd be in all the descendants, but only passed through the maternal line? (Sorry if the terms are not correct, I'm not a biologist.) This would mean that the first Clan member (the refugee) would have needed to be a woman, because otherwise the organelles wouldn't be inherited, as they wouldn't fit in a sperm cell.

123:

Talking about the availability of your works: I note that UK customers are not allowed to buy "The Fuller Memorandum" from Audible, because, I assume, of "rights" idiocy.

Is there any legal way that I might obtain it? Or are your publishers begging people here to torrent?

124:

Seriously? Your question is "why do I feel I understand statistics better than biology?"

Ok; I've never even done a school certificate level course in biology, but have studied statistics at college leven and actually use the subject at work.

125:

Talking about the availability of your works: I note that UK customers are not allowed to buy "The Fuller Memorandum" from Audible, because, I assume, of "rights" idiocy.

No, the UK audiobook of TFM doesn't exist because recording an audiobook is frickin' expensive. (Hint: you have to pay a voice actor to sit in a studio for a couple of weeks. Then you have to pay an engineer to mix down a couple of weeks' recording work.)

The US audiobook market is big enough to justify the expense. However, the US edition is owned by Ace, a different publisher. To publish the US edition in the UK, Orbit would have to buy the master recording, and the owners (Audible US, actually, who sub-licensed the rights from Ace) want more money than Orbit could make from selling the audiobook in the (small) British market. In other words, they'd lose money on the deal.

Good news: Orbit are working with the RNIB (Royal National Institute for the Blind) to split the costs. RNIB provides studio space and half the money in return for the right to use the recording free for Talking Books for the Blind and Hachette pay the other half (which they hope to recoup through sales).

They released "The Atrocity Archives" and "The Jennifer Morgue" this way in 2013. I'm hoping they'll do "The Fuller Memorandum" and "The Apocalypse Codex" next.

It's your decision whether or not to torrent the files. However, every time you do so a fairie dies[*] it's one less sale for the (eventual, does-not-yet-exist) UK audiobook, which makes it less likely that subsequent books in the series will get turned into Audiobooks.


[*] Actually, dead fairies are a really good thing in the context of the Laundry universe. Because Laundry fae are about as loveable as Laundry unicorns ... but we don't get to see this until book 6.

126:

Spoiler free but teaser acceptable reply to question based on the footnote please?

Are your fairie all Unseelie Court, some Seelie and some Unseelie, or does the concept just not exist?

127:

Are your fairie all Unseelie Court, some Seelie and some Unseelie, or does the concept just not exist?

Concept exists but was invented by illiterate or barely-literate human peasants, abducted as slaves/playthings, who somehow escaped. They had no insight whatsoever into this other hominid species' psychology or societal organization, so bolted a farrago of superstition onto political frameworks they were familiar with.

Elf-related mythology bears about the same relationship to elves in the Laundryverse that mythology and symbolism about unicorns bears to the Equoids. And approaching elves with these myths in mind is a really good way to get yourself killed.

(Hint: it's a Lovecraftian horror series. So the elves are Lovecraftian horrors ...)

128:

Hm, the slave/playthings angle reminds me somewhat of the "Dark Eldars" with Warhammer 40K, though those are still quite close to humans, at least the sociopaths with us.

OTOH, if you see alien abductions[1] as a modern equivalent of fae abductions, just like those are an early medieval equivalent with the Wild Hunt[2], then it might be interesting to look at some of the ideas about the hidden motives of the Greys or Greens or whatever, it's been some time since watching the X-Files...

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

[1]Well, I'm an adherent of the psychosocial school of UFOlogy,

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

namely the one mixing up neuropsychology with transcultural psychiatry. Which means just like the human visual cortex has some discrete failure modes, corresponding to specific hallucinations, which get coloured according to cultural beliefs, where said cultural beliefs are influenced by certain quirks of human neurology,

http://people.mbi.ohio-state.edu/golubitsky.4/reprintweb-0.5/output/papers/6120261.pdf

http://psychedelic-information-theory.com/Entoptic-Hallucination

humans have a number of failure modes which explain abduction by fairies or aliens, e.g. hypnagogic hallucinations and like. And it depends somewhat on the culture you belong to if you interpret it as fairies or aliens, where I wouldn't be that surprised if there was some cross-contamination, e.g. ideas about fairies color alien abduction and vice versa. OTOH, hypnagogic hallucinations have some specific components, e.g. sleep paralysis, there might be some paresthesia in genitals and like etc., or, on the contrary, dissociation that keeps sexual ideas at bay, and these are going to influence the beliefs of people into alien abductions somewhat.

[2] Not the most ridiculous idea if you watch a really nice storm, BTW.

129:

Thanks Charlie.

Trottelreiner #128[2] The "Wild Hunt" is often (not always) characterised in the myths I know as an activity of the Seelie or Unseelie Court.

130:

Well, yes, but it seems like in many non-British Isles sources there is made a connection to Odin or Frigg, like in names. There might be similar phenomena in other ancient Indo-European cultures, like Rudra in India.

Since most of the cultures in question also have some nature spirits or nymphs that could be conceptualized as an equivalent to fairies, and we could argue quite a few tales about faes are remnants of pagan gods, it's somewhat tricky which one was first, the fae or the god interpretation.

131:

It's quite remarkable that customers are getting rewritten books essentially true to the original concept of the trilogy.

This qualifies as a sort of "director's cut" version of these books. Suggests some exciting new possibilities for e-books. Perhaps other authors (or Charlies himself) will go farther, and include "expanded editions" with early drafts, alternate endings, short stories featuring some or all of the main characters is prequel or sequel stories, etc.?

132:

I assume this thread is quite dead by now but I have to say, I'm most of the way through the second book and am greatly enjoying myself.

133:

I just finished reading the new editions. I am upset that Mike STILL just kinda barely does anything the end of book 3 and we never get any kind of indication as to what happens with him and what he was trying to do. Paulie similarly just vanishes. What was going on in New Britain was left somewhat hanging (not nearly as annoying now that I know more is coming), but I don't see much happening in terms of Mike and Paulie's storylines. It just feels like out of everything in the books those two just got forgotten about the longer the books went on. I was hoping they would get some kind of conclusion added in for the new editions.

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