June 2014 Archives

(Note: this chapter was manually converted from the final manuscript. It may contain minor typos and other errata that differ from the published book.)

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

I froze with my chop sticks halfway to my mouth, the tiny corpse of a tempura-battered baby squid clutched precariously between them, while I flailed for a reply to her non sequitur. We were dining out at an uncomfortably pricy conveyor-belt sushi restaurant just off Leicester Square—it was my treat, although I had an ulterior motive. Unfortunately I was in the dog house for some reason. I didn't know why, and it might not even have been related to the deed I'd brought her here to apologize for, but dinner showed every sign of turning into one of those rare but depressingly unfocussed marital arguments we had every few months. And the most prominent warning sign was this: the replacement of reasoned discussion with peremptory denial.

"We can't be sure of that. I mean, doesn't that take us right into proving-a-negative territory? The ubiquity of the legends, the consistent elements, all suggest to me that maybe we've been looking in the wrong place—"

I'd like to take this opportunity to remind you that "The Rhesus Chart" is officially available from next Thursday, July the Third. And to whet your appetite, it got a starred review in Kirkus:

Laundry regulars by now will be familiar with Stross' trademark sardonic, provocative, disturbing, allusion-filled narrative. And, here, with a structure strongly reminiscent of Len Deighton's early spy novels, the tone grows markedly grimmer, with several significant casualties and tragedies, perhaps in preparation for Angleton's feared CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN.

Stross at the top of his game--which is to say, few do it better. Pounce!

You can buy the US edition—and other Laundry titles—here, or the UK editions of the series here.

And tomorrow I'll be posting the first chapter here, on my blog!

This is the keynote talk I just gave at YAPC::NA 2014 in Orlando, Fl.

YouTube video below: click the link below to read the full text instead.

As we're two weeks out from publication of "The Rhesus Chart", we in Human Resources at SOE (Q Division) thought it would be amusing to run a competition for the worst, most embarrassing, disciplinary hearing we in the Laundry have ever had the misfortune to be involved in.

I'm in transit tomorrow (Tuesday), flying Edinburgh-Orlando for YAPC::NA, where I'll be giving a keynote speech (and unwinding/doing tourist stuff—I haven't had a proper vacation since April last year).

Because we're now just over two weeks out from release of "The Rhesus Chart", I'm making some changes around here:

You might have noticed (if you scroll down a ways and direct your eyeballs to the sidebar on the right of this web page) that my blog now features a discreet advert. No, this isn't a massive change in policy: rather, it's the semi-official Laundry (SOE Q-Division) souvenir shop. Now selling t-shirts, office mugs, and (in due course) materials designed to drive home the message of the MAGIC CIRCLE OF SAFETY public information campaign. Is your family prepared to survive CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN? Are they paying enough attention to the Twitter and Facebook campaigns or the public information posters (vintage 1974, designed by the same team who brought us PROTECT AND SURVIVE)? If not, why not help jog their memory by waking them up with a lovely coffee mug, or help reduce the risk of eldritch intrusions with a Health and Safety Warning tee shirt?

Also coming later this month: a Laundry Employee of the Month competition, and an extract from "The Rhesus Chart" ...

Normally it doesn't matter to me if two bands of over-paid primates kick an inflated pig's bladder around a muddy field. I just don't care. As long as they don't do it near me, I can live with that. (You can put this hate on football down to my having grown up Jewish in Leeds in the 1970s. Enough said.)

However, we're now into World Cup season. And I am in full-on Grinch mode, and I assure you that when I become Planetary Supreme Overlord all team sports involving goals and spheroids will be banned forthwith (except for elephant polo on ice skates, which oughta be fun, as long as the elephants give their informed consent beforehand).

Let me enumerate the ways the world cup has pissed me off so far ...

Caution: this essay contains politics. Specifically, Scottish politics. And lots of it.

As a general rule I try not to discuss politics on my blog. It's an endlessly complex subject, it is self-evident that any two people of goodwill can look at any given political problem and come up with two different and diametrically opposed ideas of how to resolve it, and (puts on marketing hat) I'm here to interest you in my writing, not recruit you for my Army of Minions™, although now that I think about it that'd be kinda cool, once I make my run for Total World Domination and appoint myself Supreme Planetary Overlord.

But there's a point where politics impinges directly on the circumstances of my writing, and that's when it goes nonlinear, and by nonlinear I mean "depending on the outcome of three upcoming elections, I may be living in one of three different countries in two years' time." (Two of which would be called "The United Kingdom" but would be very different from one another, and one of which would be called "The Kingdom of Scotland".) It makes it really hard to even think about writing that next near-future Scottish police thriller when I can't predict what country it will be set in, much less what its public culture will look like or where it will be ruled from.

Most of you aren't Scottish and politics, like adventure, is always a lot more fun when it's happening to somebody else a long way away. So let me give you a brief guide to the Scottish Political Singularity, hedged first with a few caveats: (a) this is quite a serious problem for those of us who live here, (b) the climate of politics in Scotland is in general utterly unlike anywhere else in the so-called Anglosphere, and (c) my political sympathies put me firmly out on the fringe, so you should consider me an unreliable guide with a whole bushel of axes to grind (which, in fairness, I will try not to conceal from you or misrepresent as mainstream opinion).

pile of UK hardcovers of Rhesus Chart

It's that time of year again!

We're now 26 days away from the release of The Rhesus Chart, the fifth book in the Laundry Files series. And indeed, the photograph above came from my UK publisher Orbit's office, where the first stack of hardcovers arrived earlier this week: this means they're on their way to warehouses and shops in time to go on sale on the 3rd of July. (I'll have some shots of the American hardcover by and by ...)

For the first time on this blog, I'm going to be running a competition to promote the Laundry Files! Details to be announced, but the prizes will include signed first edition hardbacks and some surprises from the Laundry Souvenir Store. I'll be running extracts from the story, And if you're lucky enough to be in Edinburgh I'm be reading from "The Rhesus Chart" and signing copies at Blackwell's bookshop at 6:30pm on July 2nd!

(Expect more exciting messages from our corporate sponsors to follow over the next month. Meanwhile, we now return you to your usual blogging service.)

So, the US Secret Service has issued a requirement for software that can detect sarcasm in tweets. And lo, there was much rejoicing in the land, especially among post-doc researchers looking for grant money to pursue research in algorithmic applications of semiotics with a side-line in heuristic knowledge processing and associative networks. And Agent Smith scowled furiously, and was perplexed.



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