November 2015 Archives

I get new book covers! On the left is Orbit's design for the UK edition of "The Nightmare Stacks", the forthcoming seventh Laundry Files novel. To the right is Ace's cover for the US edition! (You're getting different covers on each side of the Atlantic because I have different publishers in different territories.)

The book is available for pre-order: In the USA, Amazon has it here, and in the UK you can find it here. They ship on June 28th and June 23rd respectively. (I'll be adding links, including to other bookstores, to the "Buy my books" section of the sidebar in due course.)

My publishers gave IO9 an exclusive on the cover reveal yesterday, but I thought I'd announce it here as well now the cats are out of the bag. They also ran a short interview, which you can find below the fold.

You're probably wondering why I haven't been blogging lately.

The answer isn't terribly complicated. I spent October rewriting two novels, and I'm now busy writing the first draft of one before I switch over to re-writing the second half of another. Yeah, it's a really busy time for me, work-wise! But hopefully I'll have a rough cut of "The Delirium Brief" in another few weeks and a shiny rewritten version of "Invisible Sun" not long thereafter, and you'll thank me for it ... eventually. (Or, on past form, just tell me to "write faster".)

One thing I've been leery about talking about is that both these books are pushing me into what for me, as a writer, is terra incognita: "The Delirium Brief" is the 8th Laundry Files book, and "Invisible Sun" is the 9th in the Merchant Princes series (although the new books are sufficiently different that they're getting a new series title). In each case, I'm working on pushing forward a project I began in 1999 and 2001 respectively, and both series are now around the million word mark. How do I keep it all straight in my head?

Charlie here. I'm off to Sledge-Lit in Derby tomorrow, a one day SF convention at Derby Quad. In the meantime, I'd like to introduce our latest guest blogger: Madeline Ashby.

Madeline is a science fiction writer, columnist, and futurist living in Toronto. She is the author of the Machine Dynasty series from Angry Robot Books, as wells as the forthcoming novel Company Town from Tor. Recently, she co-edited Licence Expired: the Unauthorized James Bond, an anthology for ChiZine Publications. She has worked with organizations like Intel Labs, the Institute for the Future, SciFutures, the Atlantic Council, Nesta, and others. You can find her on Twitter @MadelineAshby or at

image (Picture proves cats like me back).

Something I noticed recently while wearing my (completely invisible but highly attractive) writing teacher chapeau is that the welter of SF subgenres and categories of fiction generally are terra incognita to a fair number of newer writers.

I’m okay with this. We begin as readers and viewers, after all. Many people coming into my UCLA courses are curious about speculative fiction. They aren't necessarily book-collecting, con-going, award-nominating fans. They've watched a fair chunk of genre TV and film offerings; they're up on the MCU, they can tell a spaceship from a unicorn and they even usually know which is the fantasy construct. They might have read a certain amount of fiction within their one or two favorite genres, or at least have read Harry Potter and his ilk to their kids.

A. M. Dellamonica

Hi, everyone! My name is Alyx and I'll be posting the occasional note here over the next few weeks, because Charlie was kind enough to hand me the mic. I thought I'd start with a long, musing whimsical thing about mincing subgenres and the nature of ecofantasy, because my upcoming book A Daughter of No Nation lies within that particular subgenre--when it's not passing for portal fantasy or a pirate story or crime fiction with magic.

Sadly, the opening of that essay is wayyyy too stuffy, at present, and needs to be beaten with a sack of oranges. Don't worry, I'll fix it before you see it. Anyway, I should introduce myself first, right?

So--official details: I'm in Toronto, I have gobs of stories out along with the four ecofantasy novels, the first two of which, Indigo Springs and Blue Magic, are chock fulla magically mutated animals, magical objects and queer folk. Seriously. I mention this last because a) I have the exceptional good fortune to be incredibly gay married to author Kelly Robson; b) my most recent book, Child of a Hidden Sea, was to my utter delight and astonishment nominated for a Lambda Award this year. The above-mentioned A Daughter of No Nation is its sequel. There will be a third; its current title is The Nature of a Pirate.

Weird to be Frank for a change. Oh well. Hi, I've got a story I want to share with you.

First, about the Heteromeles identity: Back when I first started posting comments here, I was working in an environmental consulting company that had a rule that they owned all their employee's creative output. My solution was to use "Heteromeles" for my private online activities and my own name for stuff I did for the company, so that if they ever did want to claim ownership, it was obvious how far they were over-reaching (they never did, of course). Heteromeles, for those few who haven't googled it, is the genus of my favorite plant: toyon, the "holly" that gave its name to Hollywood, which isn't too far from where I grew up. Toyon's not a holly (it's closer to photinias and hawthorns if you care), and it's known among botanists as the only woody plant in California that kept its Indian name. By the time I started freelancing, I decided to keep Heteromeles as my online identity more for the sake of continuity than anything else.

So about Hot Earth Dreams: Back in late 2012, I'd gotten well and truly sick of the Mayan Apocalypse (remember that? What were they thinking again?), and started wondering what it would be like to write a novel set in the deep future on a climate-changed Earth ...

Regular readers of this blog's comments will be familiar with Frank Landis, although not under that name—he comments here under the alias Heteromeles. Frank is a part-time environmentalist, a part-time consultant, a house-husband and a writer; he's one of the people who earned a PhD, in his case in botany (he's a plant community ecologist and mycorrhizast by training, with a background in environmental science), failed to land a job in academia, and got downsized out of the business world by the Great Recession. He's guest-blogging here tomorrow about his next book, Hot Earth Dreams, a look at how the Earth's biosphere is likely to change in the wake of anthropogenic climate change ...

So, I am currently investigating parasites, hyperparasites, parasitic castration, and other things that make readers go "ick". (Consider this a research question.)

I'm going to ignore bacterial and protozoal parasites for now, because my Toxoplasma gondii master tells me they're of no interest. And we all know about the mundane visible-with-the-naked-eye ones like tapeworms and pinworms, and the horrifyingly nasty Guinea worm that causes Dracunculiasis. But these are relatively straightforward parasites. Booooring.

However, parasites in general are fascinating and some of their variants are just totally bugfuck. Literally. Take Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, for example. It's a fungal parasite. Its spores hatch and brain-control its host—forest floor dwelling ants—makes them climb high up in the vegetation canopy, then digests its host's body and forms fruiting bodies to scatter new spores over the forest floor for more unfortunate ants to stumble across.

Or take the strange case of the hyperparasitoid wasps—wasps that lay their eggs in wasps that parasitize caterpillars: small cabbage white butterfly caterpillars are used as a host species by the parasitoid wasps—Cotesia rubecula and Cotesia glomerata—which in turn make a handly meal for the even smaller hyperparasitoid wasp Lysibia nana. (Thereby confirming something I've known since I was two years old: wasps are assholes.)

And then things get weird, because these are instances of parasitism where the parasitic life cycle is proceeding according to the script. When parasites go wrong, things get weird-ugly, really fast. Tapeworms sometimes run amok and end up encysting in the brains of their hosts. And then there was the recent case where an HIV-positive man contracted and died of cancer from a non-human source, namely an invasive tapeworm's own neoplasm (which became highly invasive in the immunocompromised host).

Anyway, I thought I should share the joy with you because I'm currently inventing semi-plausible parasitic and meta-parasitic lifecycles with humans as the basic host, for a future Laundry Files story (because Equoids are really just a little passé). And I thought you might like to share some of your favourite parasites and hyperparasites with me! (Nothing well-known or mundane, of course. Assume I'm already familiar with the common stuff.)

Anyone want to start?

This is by way of apologizing for the light blogging lately: I've been somewhat busy, because ...



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