January 2016 Archives

I think I mentioned this last year, but it bears repeating: my UK publisher, Orbit, have been working on bringing some of my books out in Audiobook formats. (For licensing reasons, the US audiobook versions aren't sold in the UK.) The Rhesus Chart and The Annihilation Score are now available for pre-order in the UK (and, I assume, EU) as audiobooks from Audible; they'll be released in June, and hopefully subsequent Laundry Files books will be available as audiobooks faster.

See "Excuses, excuses" below; I'm still furiously scribbling/typing on the first draft of "The Delirium Brief", which ain't due out until mid-2017, but hey. It should be baked by the end of the month at which point I can put it away to cool for a while and do something else—which may include blogging.

Meanwhile, feel free to talk among yourselves. Who wants to go first? Or carry over a conversation from an earlier thread?

David G. Hartwell died today. He was 74.

For those of you who haven't heard of him, two factoids might be of interest. Firstly, he was nominated for a Hugo award on 39 occasions (winning three times). That fact alone probably says more about his standing within the SF field than anything I can add. (Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Tor's Editorial Director, describes him as "our field's most consequential editor since John W. Campbell.")

Secondly, he acquired and edited my Merchant Princes for Tor; and acquired and was editing a new trilogy in that setting for publication next year. I've known him for more than 15 years and was looking forward to seeing him again next month—this is a terrible shock.

A giant of the field has departed, and I'm going to miss him as a friend as well as an editor. I offer my deepest sympathy to everyone else who knew him.

I like to keep track of US politics, because it's generally less traumatic to contemplate someone else's smoking wreckage than one's own house when it's on fire.

2016 is a Presidential election year in the United States, and I make no predictions as to the outcome. However, a lot of my friends and acquaintances are looking at the Republican party primary debates in slack-jawed disbelief and coming out with variations on, "OMG, we're doomed! Did he really say that?"

Well yes, in most cases he did. What we're seeing is the climactic efflorescence of tendencies that have been running in American right-wing politics for longer than I've been alive, so none of this is a surprise: but if you find it bizarre or confusing and want to know where it's come from, carry on reading.

Please excuse the shortage of blog posts. I'm up to my elbows in a novel that's eating all the keystrokes I throw at it then belching and asking for more: it should be done—at least in first draft—in another week or so, but in the meantime I don't have much energy for other writing.

So, I'm seeing a bunch of disturbing news headlines in the new year. Mass sex attacks in Cologne on New Year's Eve would be one (and I want you to think very hard about precisely whose political agenda benefits from the different kinds of spin that can be placed on this story depending on how it is framed). Poland's constitutional court and civil service being rapidly brought under control of the Law and Justice Party (and what is it about neo-fascists and their obsession with touchstone topics like dignity, law, the church, and justice? Again, read the link I just gave you—it's part of the instructions for assembling the jigsaw puzzle of politics in the 21st century). Saudi mass executions are part of the same picture if you step back and look for the edge of the frame.

But the biggest news of all is getting relatively little traction because it's being mistaken for local colour rather than a global pattern.

What is the news (as opposed to popular entertainment and celebrity gossip) going to be like for the next decade? Let me give you a forecast.

I get mail. And sometimes I want to share it with you. Especially when it's email like this one, from Jacques Mattheij:

Question for you: One HN thread caused me to wonder about this: What would a technological society look like that somehow managed to side-step the written word? Would such a thing even be possible? If not why not?

Just to keep you awake at night :)

This question caught my attention like a snagged fingernail, and it's still pulling at me: here's my first cut at an answer. I'm taking the no-writing parameter seriously as a limiting condition: what level of technological society can emerge in conditions which preclude writing—for example, if it's forbidden for religious reasons? I'm going to treat this as holy writ for purposes of this thought-experiment: rules-lawyering around the no-writing rule in the comments will be treated as Derailing and deleted, with one special sort-of-exception which I'll explain near the end because it opens up a bunch of interesting consequences.



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