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Reality is broken

As you might have noticed I haven't been updating this blog very often for the past six weeks. This situation is going to continue for at least another three weeks, and I think I owe you an explanation.

I spent the back end of June and the first three weeks of July on the road, which kind of explains the paucity of updates back then. But then I got home and ran straight into two huge jobs: one scheduled, and one completely unplanned. The scheduled job—checking the page proofs (final PDF images of the book, as it will be published) for Empire Games went smoothly and to plan. But the other was an emergency, and it's still ongoing, because ...

... BREXIT broke my next Laundry novel, and I'm having to rewrite it.

Obsessive readers of the Laundry series will have figured out that CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN comes to a peak in 2014. "The Annihilation Score" was set in summer of 2013, culminating in the Last Last Night of the Proms in early August; "The Nightmare Stacks" is set in March/April of 2014, and the new novel, "The Delirium Brief" was set in April/May of 2014—a 2014 in which the stars have come right and the Lovecraftian horrors have finally come out to play. I wrote a first draft of "The Delirium Brief" in October '15 to January '16, and it was generally okay, for a first draft: it sagged in places, there were plot holes, and the ending was too abrupt (that's a common failing of mine), but this is basically stuff you fix in a subsequent round of polishing and redrafting before it even goes near an editor's desk. So I put it on a baking tray to cool while I worked on other projects (the "Empire Games" copy edit pass, starting work on "Ghost Engine", edits on "Dark State" ...) because it wasn't due in until September and there'd be plenty of time. Right?

Then the Brexit vote happened and over the next two weeks of utterly surreal political chaos it became apparent that I had a Problem.

No Laundry novel tells a single story. There's a bunch of stuff happening that fits between the covers of the book, but there are also continuous plot strands reaching back and forth to other books in the series—and shout-outs to reality to either side. And one of the key underpinnings of the series is that it deals with a department of the British civil service, with (presumably) some degree of accountability and a less-than-total disregard for law and administrative protocol.

The core story line for the first draft of "The Delirium Brief"—this is a spoiler, but it's a spoiler for a novel that will not now be published—followed the premise that after the catastrophic failure of containment at the end of "The Nightmare Stacks", the Laundry has come to the attention of the Cabinet Office, with a vengeful and affronted Prime Minister (whose career has been tarnished by the shit-storm thrown up in Leeds) who is all too eager to listen to anyone who can offer him a way to evade responsibility for an organization which, to be fair, he was unaware of. There follows a game of political musical chairs that will be familiar to fans of Yes, Minister as a new Ministry of Magic is established, a politician not totally dissimilar to Michael Gove is assigned to lead it, the Laundry is detatched from the Ministry of Defense and handed over kicking and screaming to the new Ministry, and then the usual privatisation and outsourcing ideology is applied. (And if you don't believe they'd privatise the Laundry, you haven't been paying attention to British politics for the past three decades.)

There is of course an action plot as well, and various other side-quests (you wanted to know what happened between Bob and Mo? I've got their relationship counseling transcripts in the can), and a markedly bloodthirsty climax, but the central plot armature of the novel was about how the Laundry handles politicians in full-blown panic mode in the wake of a crisis.

And then I got a ringside seat at a real political crisis and got to see how the people I was satirizing reacted and ... nope, nopety-nope, nopetopus:

Nopetopus

I thought running in circles like headless chickens, squawking, and settling scores was as far as it would go. I didn't anticipate three simultaneous constitutional crises, the main Opposition going all Night of the Long Knives, the Prime Minister resigning and his principal adversary balking and then his principal supporter-turned-adversary being stabbed in the back and then ... but it gets worse: Boris Johnson, previously noted for winning The Spectator's competition for the most libelous poem about President Erdogan of Turkey is appointed Foreign Secretary and the first crisis he has to deal with, less than 48 hours after taking office, is a failed coup d'etat against Erdogan? And Boris is the great-grandson of Ali Kemal Bey? Who ordered that? I couldn't put something like that in a work of fiction: everyone would laugh at it, and for all the wrong reasons!

... The TL:DR is that I have had to trash an entire draft of the next Laundry novel because I tried to satirize British politics, and British politics is beyond satire.

So I'm currently not blogging much because I don't have time, because I am feverishly restructuring and rewriting a novel titled "The Delirium Brief" for a deadline that is all too close. Luckily most of the material in the book that didn't concern political shennanigans at the top table is recyclable with a little bit of elbow grease. I'm not writing an entirely new book: I'm just doing the equivalent of open heart surgery on an existing one, ripping out the damaged cardiovascular system and implanting a whole new primary plot—which I'm not going to spoiler by describing here—and suturing all the left-over bits together.

416 Comments

1:

Reality stranger than fiction indeed.

No worries on this end, I'm gently and gradually re-consuming the Laundry verse, this time in audio form, trying to pick on the stuff I missed on the first go around.

2:

*pats tenderly*
Not so much Case Nightmare Green, as Case Nightmare Write?

3:

I've always thought the key premise of the Laundry novels is providing a minimal rational explanation for the insanity of British politics. So Trident exists primarily to prevent anything worse than a nuke happening to London, Iraq was invaded because Saddam's secret occult weapons program was close to a breakthrough, etc.

So Brexit needs to be explained in similar terms, like:

While there were obvious concerns that another European war would trigger CASE NIGHTMARE RED, others were more worried that too much peace and prosperity would hasten CASE NIGHTMARE BLUE-GREEN. Plus of course there were valid concerns about those Belgian cultists whose idea of 'ever closer union' didn't stop at the epidermis.

So the boys in the forecasting division hatched a plan for a large-scale sympathetic-resonance based exercise to determine which was the bigger immediate problem. This was sold to the government under the cover story of a referendum.

This was entirely successful at it's intended goal; determining what was the worst possible course of action.

Unfortunately, ...

4:

Actually, there is a hideous but consistent explanation for Brexit in the Laundry universe, but it would be an immense plot spoiler for "The Delirium Brief" to mention it before "The Labyrinth Index" (working title for book 9), which I won't begin writing before 2017 or 2018.

"The Delirium Brief" is due out in summer 2017, and there won't be a novel-length Laundry story in 2018 because I'm taking time out for my head-meat to recharge, and to make room for a space opera ("Ghost Engine").

6:

Just finished the latest Laundry novel and then The Revolution Trade (which I somehow missed the first time around). So my brain is still swimming with eldritch horrors and the horror of nuclear weapons, happily so.

I, for one, am perfectly happy to have less blog posts at the expense of more fiction. It's always interesting to get a small peek behind the curtain, and the issues behind writing near future SF. But this surely doesn't pay the rent.

BTW I have found reading your books on a Kindle improves the experience thanks to the ability to easily look up words from a vocabulary that is intimidating, amusingly annoying, and makes me think that I have an IQ slightly less than a Leeds lamp post. Keep up the good work!

7:

Events in America confirm that we are all in an alternate reality now. The divergence became obvious recently but it's not clear at what exact moment it happened or who caused it. An irrational invasion? A hanging chad? An event on the playing fields of Eton decades ago? I just know this isn't my continuum anymore. Perhaps misguided efforts to reverse the divergence are making it worse.
No way back, Alice.

8:

...or maybe CASE NIGHTMARE BLACK & WHITE & READ ALL OVER?

9:

Could you write a character into a Ministerial position with Johnson's pomposity and eagerness to lie, Goves incompetence, and David Davies right-wing self-belief?

Please, just bring in Great Cthulhu already.

10:

You wrote "a markedly bloodthirsty climax". Good plan. The non-markedly bloodthirsty climaxes of all previous installments? Boring. Way too "spot of bother, sorry for the bikkie crumbs in the tea". *GDRLH*

I recognize that trying to retain verisimilitude with real events is an artistic choice, but really... in a world where Great Elder Gods will shortly be busking for souls outside the Royal Albert, I think your readers (i) have figured out that this is an alternate history and (ii) thus wouldn't fault you for ignoring Brexit.

So what *is* Bob doing in Japan? Will we find out next summer, or do we have to wait longer?

11:

I've been trying to think of what to call the mix of "Halting State" moments with "The Peripheral" we seem to be stuck in. I don't think we can expect help from another Stub.

12:

It's a plot... Decide to write about Ponzi, see Madoff. Use ACPO just before they're disbanded. Decide to write about UK political structure, see Brexit. At least the universe lets WJW publish his books before it copies the premise :(

..unless, of course, we see elves appear in the Midlands, with wide-ranging acts of destruction fit to carry out thousands of pounds of improvements, or ...

13:

Bob in Japan is a side-trip to a novelette I haven't written yet, in which Bob visits Puroland, wherein he discovers that (a) Hello Kitty is the kami of kitsch, and (b) the colour out of space is pink. (Both ideas stolen from my wife.)

14:

Mark Twain nailed this one a long time ago:

It's no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense.

15:

Like I said some time ago, 2016 is the last year most people will consider "normal".
The best is yet to come before the end of this year.

16:

Curiously, May is showing impressive form (for competence). I don't trust her good will at all, and dread the day that the inevitable brain-rot of supreme power gets hold of her, but she hasn't so far made a serious and clear mistake. Her Johnson/Gove/Davis choice was either an act of brilliance or a catastrophic mistake, and it is too early to tell. But, as OGH says, we have seen a huge number of British political invariants thrown in the bin, and the most dramatic occurrences (even if not the most unpredictable) may be yet to come, which isn't exactly going to help. And his extra work isn't just the rewriting, but the checking for and removal of, the resulting continuity errors. And then there's the USA presidential election .... He has my sympathies!

17:

While I'm no fan of May policy-wise, it doesn't surprise me that she's rather more capable than her erstwhile opponents. After all, in politics as so many other careers, a woman has to be twice as good as a man to get even half as far. May had got a long way even before the "Eton mess" half of her party utterly screwed the pooch with (and during) the referendum, so it was pretty obvious she had a solid skill-set.

18:

Or maybe Teresa May is there because of the six phases of the Referendum project...

Enthusiasm,
Disillusionment,
Panic and hysteria,
Hunt for the guilty,
Punishment of the innocent, and
Reward for the uninvolved.

19:

May reminds me of the Ginger Rogers/Fred Astaire comparison: "did the same dance routine, only backwards in high heels".

What worries me is that she may be a competent Tory right-winger.

20:

Given events in both the U.S. and the U.K. it's pretty clear that the coming apocalypse will be mediated by the Blind Idiot God Azathoth rather than any of the other Great Old Ones.

Meanwhile, Charlie's doing open-heart surgery on Cthulhu. Good luck with that!

21:

Perhaps this comes from my reading of history, but neither Brexit nor Trump would be out of place in Gilded Age America.

https://www.kshs.org/publicat/history/2007winter_pratt.pdf

By the standards of that era, Brexit would have been considered a minor political maneuver. Probably the recent memory of the Civil War kept things in check back then.

As for Trump, I want to see that his closest comparison is William Jennings Bryant, but that comparison is very deceptive. Since I'm not that well-studied on state politics of that era, there might be a state governor that is equivalent.

22:

When I found out about the working title, "The Delirium Brief" I was secretly hoping the title derives from a scene set in "Delirium Tremens" in Brussels, it's really just a typical student bar, but it has an extra layer of crazy that I love. But an off-schedule meeting between Eurocrats and the Laundry could take place there in some chaotic versions of reality, into which we have clearly descended.

I also think that the narrative opportunity presented by the EU has been missed - understandable I know since there is only so much narrative space available, and the US makes both better "Frenemies" and is also a core market for the series. However under the circumstances of a re-write including some cameos by European Politicians could offer an interesting counterpoint to the UK's bag of cats.

Anyway, good luck with the re-write. The big problem with the endings of your books is that they happen at all. But after enjoying pretty much everything you've written I now see the (yes, often abrupt) endings as an invitation to imagine what happens next.

23:

Yersss ... but he would be on the left, not the right:
Corbyn

24:

May is a grammar school girl & as someone pointed out, her cabinet is the most egalitarian (i.e. lowest number of "public" school members) since .... Attlee's of 1945.
Oops, as they say.

25:

Alternatively (We will have to wait & see) she might, just might be a "one nation" tory leftwinger (by current standards) ... no way of telling @ present, though.

26:

Of course, given what happened in Leeds PURELY BY ACCIDENT (e.g. the Pointies didn't know that Urukheim was nearing the oopsie zone), in the 2014 Laundryverse Earth, the scary thing is that the rest of the world might not have noticed what happened in Leeds, because they've got problems of their own to deal with. One wonders what's happening in the rest of the world? Lagos? Shanghai? Sao Paulo? Mumbai? The Syrian desert? Mountain View?

With that as the basis, one could easily imagine the Brexit not happening in the Laundryverse, any more than Don the Con would be running for the Big One if he thought he'd actually have to deal with a real mess. It's like imagining those events happening in 1942. They could have theoretically happened, but nobody's quite that stupid. You need relative peace, a self-entitled electorate who feels their privileges slipping away from them, and a bunch of demagogues to enable our current shenanigans.

27:

I confess that when I got to the end of The Nightmare Stacks, my first thought was "Very clever" rapidly followed by "Brexit-- poor Charlie".

28:

What worries me is that she may be a competent Tory right-winger

I'm hopeful that she's a competent Tory; that is secretly wetter than the right-wingers believe - see Cabinet mix above, and initial speeches (not that I believe what politicians actually say). In terms of competence, as Private Eye pointed out, when she stood next to President Hollande, she made sure to wear heels and stand on the same step as him. Subtle...

The beauty of making Davies, Fox, and Johnson handle foreign negotiations is that it instantly removes all her leading critics. Had anyone else had the jobs, the trio would be able to carp from the sidelines that "things weren't being done properly" - but now, she's called their bluff in the most emphatic style. "You said it was possible, now go and do what you insisted was possible. Come back with your shield or on it".

If, for any reason, Davies / Fox / Johnson then can't deliver what they promised (perhaps because it's impossible) they destroy their own credibility with the swivel-eyed end of the Party; and are no longer a leadership threat. In the slim chance that they actually succeed in getting a decent deal for the UK, then the PM is vindicated for her wisdom and foresight. Simply beautiful.

29:

Maybe.

But do you remember that utterly despicable, racist, "illegal immigrants go home" Home Office van stunt? That was on her watch.

It might have been something that slipped through behind her back, but we're talking about a campaign so evil that Nigel Farage called it "nasty", which is saying something.

30:

As noted, there's going to be a story set in the suburbs of Tokyo at some point, because Hello Kitty. Other locations? We shall see.

But the point of the Laundry is that it's a very British take on the Lovecraftian singularity. I don't think it'd measure up well if I tried setting it somewhere else unless I could use my existing protagonists, but that runs into the risk of writing a Mighty Whitey plotline (aka "what these people need is a honky"). And I generally try to avoid That Sort Of Thing (when I see myself straying too close).

31:

I've been thinking about this for the last hour or so, and I think you should stick with satirizing privatization. Brexit is, after all, a one-time event, but privatization is on ongoing idiocy that turns government services to shit on a regular basis.

A Brexit satire will be funny for the next couple years. Privatization satire will, unfortunately, be funny for decades.

You can still throw in some anti-Brexit stuff, of course... maybe Bob visits a horrible nightmare world full of starving zombies with Boris Johnson's face engraved on the moon!

32:

Actually, I wasn't thinking of setting it elsewhere. More, I was thinking that elsewhere might start intruding on events in the UK, to the point where Leeds looks like small potatoes and the Pointies strongly resemble shock troops who can be given citizenship after if they come back from the front whole and sane. Or, if you like, there's a point at which the pettiness that's messing up our politics right now (shades of 1913) looks amazingly and pointlessly petty. If that notion helps you suture a seven-valved heart into the chest of your latest chimera a bit faster, go for it.

33:

I must apologize. The post above came off sounding much bossier than I meant it too. Please assume I dialed it down before I posted.

I blame Bojo.

34:

It's a funny thing about the EU but for all May is very clear on "Brexit means Brexit" Cameron's final decision not to pull the trigger on Article 50 seems to have had the effect of people kicking the declaration further and further down the road, no decision until 2019 now.

Even if we ignore the countless piles of legislative strings with which we're attached to the EU, the referendum was about the United Kingdom leaving the EU, and Scotland is not happy with that to say nothing of the quagmire that is Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement.

35:

There is still some privatization humour here, but no room for a worked demonstration of the whole nine yards of the standard protocol (which is anatomized by Bob in an infodump I'm not taking out).

Nor is this a Brexit satire.

36:

Actually, this is already on the cards. (Example: in the new version of "The Delirium Brief" we get to see Bob liaising with a non-evil US occult intelligence agency ... briefly, before the Black Chamber notice.)

37:

This is not the "Brexit is hopeless" thread, so I won't welcome further discussion here. But:

1. The EU is the guarantor of the Good Friday Agreement, which more or less ended the troubles in Northern Ireland. Withdrawal -- especially after NI voted to stay in the EU -- would be a huge "oops". (Civil war time, anybody?)

2. The ECHR is baked into the Scotland Act reestablishing the Scottish Parliament. Not only did Scotland vote against Brexit by a wide margin, but Brexit would cause a constitutional train-wreck.

3. The Brexit referendum passed, narrowly, on the back of an elderly demographic who are rapidly ageing and dying; if you move the slider to give the same levels of support per cohort for another referendum in 2019 then Brexit would lose, because the young are overwhelmingly pro-remain.

4. Legal challenges to the constitutionality of Brexit on various grounds are now under way and heading for the supreme court.

5. A chunk of the "leave" voters did so with no clear understanding of what the economic and political consequences would be. These will be clear by the time a Brexit Act potentially makes it in front of Parliament for a vote.

6. Brexit is unpopular with MPs -- only a small rump of Tories support it -- and even more unpopular in the House of Lords (I saw a figure suggesting 70-75% are opposed).

So if Brexit negotiations drag on and an Act is finally put before parliament to permit Article 50 to be triggered in 2020 ... then the Commons may refuse to pass it. And if they do pass it, the Lords may veto it. If the Lords veto it, the government could trigger the parliament act, and ram it through the following year ... but that would be 2020, and responsibility for Article 50 negotiations would fall on the shoulders of the post-2020 general election government.

My guess is that the strategy is to allow Brexit to die in committee so that after 2020 the new government can shuffle absent-mindedly, say "not our problem, that was those guys", and pay no attention to the de-selected pro-Brexit MPs no languishing on the dole because the boundary changes that went through will cut the number of MPs considerably in 2020 and the Tory party will get to play musical chairs.

Side effect: Sterling is currently down to $1.29, its lowest level for a third of a century (good news for those of us who get paid in dollars, bad news for those of us who like to travel overseas or buy iPads), the housing market is on the slide, the economy looks as if it's about to go into recession (when the Bank of England say "50/50 chance of recession" they mean "hang on to your hats, it's going to be a rough ride"), and by 2020 everyone's going to be tightening their belts again.

But, you know, if it keeps out just one immigrant ...!

Feh.


38:

Charlie wrote: "Bob in Japan is a side-trip to a novelette I haven't written yet, in which Bob visits Puroland, wherein he discovers that (a) Hello Kitty is the kami of kitsch, and (b) the colour out of space is pink."

So the big-C is "Chibi", huh? Dude: spoiler! *G*

Reminds me of some research done many years ago on the effects of pink on mental states:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baker-Miller_Pink

Read down to the section "Effects" for the punch line. For the TL;DR crowd: "inmates at the Santa Clara county jail were trying to scratch the paint from the walls with their fingernails when exposed for more than fifteen minutes". A quick Google didn't turn up an attribution, but it's such a great line it has to be true, right? *G* That'd certainly be my reaction to being imprisoned in a sea of pink.

39:

Change of subject slightly: the recycling of old military hardware by designers/architects.

This struck me years ago, when I noticed the finned barrel on a handweapon on Colin Kapp's "The Ion War" was the back end of a 2-inch mortar round.

Recently, something even more obviously struck me: the "claimant zapper" on Quarry House is a WW2 tank radio antenna. (Specifically for the British Wireless Set No.19 - it's Aerial Base No.9 on Mounting No.1, and with the "Protector" ring fitted (to stop the rubber base being wiped off by low branches). I'm now wondering if the aerial rod is proportionally correct and the architect was having a laugh. )

Any other "recycled objects" people can think of?

In other news, alternately reading The Nightmare Stacks and The Goblin Emperor is.... different but relaxing.

(And I enjoyed both of them. The twist at the end of TNS is simply Superb, and just imagining the effect on the Home Secretary had me amused for days.)

Amazon won't let me order the UK edition of Empire Games; ba*ds.

Cheers,
Chris.

40:

Can you please save "the whole nine yards of the standard protocol" bits and post them at some point after the book comes out? (Or maybe you could recycle them in the sequel to "The Nightmare Stacks" - privatizing an Elvish Army has some lovely potential for comedy - "...thus the ministry is soliciting bids for Dragon Fart Managers to replace the current and very inefficient practice of using pseudo-reptilian gaseous exudate to discarnate involuntary workers who do not engage in best practices."

41:

Would that be before or after Dagon had waded through the Golden Gate Bridge, given the cordial relationship y'all have with the Deep Ones?

Actually, come to think of it, you could analogize Dagon to Bojo and fob off the whole Brexit thing onto Deep One politics (or cast The Orange in an analogous role), thereby explaining why they didn't get to implementing that big ol' monkey cull in order to prevent CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN from making their lives unduly interesting...

42:

Not so much Case Nightmare Green, as Case Nightmare Write?

And CASE NIGHTMARE WHITE would be Trump winning?

43:

IMHO CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN is The Big Monkey Cull, with Ramona in place to assess The Laundry's vulnerabilities (after assessing the Black Chamber's vulnerabilities) and disrupt The Laundry from within during the crucial first 24 hours after Glaaki rises from his lake to undertake vermin-control operations on the British Isles.

44:

Peripheral...

An unpleasant thought there. This is the Jackpot, nor are we out of it.

45:

Trump winning is definitely CASE NIGHTMARE ORANGE

46:

I'm pretty glad to hear the plot of the next book is changing. To be honest I was never sold on the outsourcing.

Firstly there is stupid, and then there is outsourcing the army. During a Blitzkrieg. When you have no one else to possibly replace them with.
Politicians do screw up, act without thinking (or think only in reference to the wrong things), but that was going a bit far for me.

And if the government goes through with it? They becomes a very serious threat to Mahogany Row. At which point I think the logical conclusion is a very swift, very nasty coup, and Mahogany Row becomes the government (possibly with zombie!pigf***er!Dave being left in charge at No. 10. For appearances sake.)

47:

You need to be sold on the outsourcing, otherwise you will be sold by the outsourcing.

First there is stupid, then there is party politics. They have one rule: "Get elected, feet under the table, nose down in the trough and stay there" The treasury objective it to reduce costs to a minimum, regardless on the effect on the country.

As for outsourcing the Laundry: that's pretty much a fatal move for the planet, not just the UK.

48:

privatizing an Elvish Army has some lovely potential for comedy

Private Army? The only one of those in the UK belongs to the Duke of Atholl... How about The Morningstar Brigade?

The question would be whether Her Majesty would espose special Trust and Confidence in their Loyalty, Courage, and Good Conduct, and Constitute and Appoint them to be Officers in Her Land Forces. Exact working of said Commission to follow.

The potential for comedy comes when attempting to house an actual mounted Cavalry Regiment. Could use Redford Cavalry Barracks, they've still got the stable blocks built into the design, and the Infantry Barracks next door has recently seen The Rifles move just up the road to Dreghorn (the whole complex was allegedly designed for India due to an architectural plans cockup in the War Office, but that's another story - meanwhile, it's got lovely high ceilings, big windows, and wide corridors for those hot and humid Scottish winters)...

We could just give the Elves a nice large chunk of land up in the West Highlands, it's not as if SOE didn't grab large tracts of the place during the Last Big Mistake; I'd be surprised if the Laundry didn't have a No.6 Special Workshop School, or some Station 20-somethings, still up there.

Comedy is when it is suggested that said steeds are paraded down The Mall and onto Horse Guards. Trooping The Colour, anyone? I mean, think of the tourism boost for the economy! Not to mention the positive sales impact on Eurofighter Typhoon... Then watching the Army Air Corps try to claim that the remaining Dragons are best held under their control rather than that of the RAF, while the Cavalry go all gooey-eyed about getting four-legged mounts back, and the Parachute Regiment rejoice that at last, there's somebody after them in the Order of Precedence.

Writing the Risk Assessment for the first joint exercises on Salisbury Plain (hmmmm... Steeds may eat friendly forces; Impact: High; Likelihood: Medium; Risk Mitigation Plan: 50m separation of mounted and dismounted troops to be maintained during exercise, mounted troops to sound hunting horns during all moves). Or trying to write a Land Clearance (...the Queen of the Elves will conduct a mounted land navigation and force coordination exercise, by night, across rural terrain...)

Go on, you could riff for twenty or thirty pages on the impact of all those tourists searching for Orlando Bloom, and the need to put Dragon Crossing signs next to all the Tank Crossing signs around Bovington. Dragon lands short of the School of Armour, eats contents of Monkey World :(

49:

Speaking of immigrant cavalry, I hear the Crimea is getting increasingly interesting again...

50:

"Getting interesting"?

It looks like Russia is setting up a pretext for pushing forces into Ukraine - or at least, pretending to do so in order to divert Ukrainian resources to defend against it.

The Baltic States are getting really twitchy, and the Poles are rearming as quickly as is economically sensible. Both are more than happy to host NATO troops on their soil, in order to provide the all-important tripwire that triggers Article V ("an attack on one is an attack on all") - Trump's pronouncements notwithstanding.

Frankly, it's scary. The real danger comes when Putin thinks he can actually get away with something, that plays well in Russian domestic politics (namely, pushing the "Russia as a poor innocent victim of imperialists, defending its historical integrity" line).

51:

You need to be sold on the outsourcing, otherwise you will be sold by the outsourcing.

Now that, that is a good line.

Agreed as to the objectives of politicians - but I still feel that there are limits where concerns for personal preservation outweigh naked greed (privatizing the laundry being considerably more stupid than trying to privatize the army. While the Russians are invading Europe.) And if the politicians don't get that? It's at that point outreach and education should swing into play. Watching a Basilisk gun in action should focus the Cabinet's minds nicely, for example.

52:

Joking aside, I don't see the Morningstar Army as being easily able to "join the British family." Leaving aside deeds done in battle (note that War was not officially declared by the Elven side, which may affect the issue of whether criminal charges might be filed,) there are still a lot of obstacles to any kind of integration, military or otherwise.

First of all, the Elves keep slaves. Second, with a few minor exceptions, Elves are all sociopaths. Third, there's the issue of dragons and environmental law - fluorides? Whose good idea was that? Fourth, how do we feed the Elven magi? Fifth, the whole issue of vampires is now obvious to the Cabinet, Sixth, what about the Equoids? Do we breed them? (Earthly equoids are already very disturbing, attempting to persuade humans from a position as Shub Niggurath's children... Are the Elven equoids better, worse, or about the same?) Seventh, how do our Deep One allies feel about the Elves? Does Dagon approve? Eighth, how do we train an individual Elf to get along in a human city? Can Cassie spawn more Cassie-copies to act as superegos for Elvish troops on leave? Ninth, how long until more traditional Elves overthrow Cassie?

And so on. Comedy might ensue, but it will be very, very dark.

53:

"...tripwire..."

"We don't want a war, so let's use our alliance systems to make sure that when it happens it's going to involve everyone..."

Does. No. One. Ever. Fucking. LEARN.

Some bloody silly thing in the Bal{kans|tic}...

Y'know, "when the wall fell" I actually dared to think "phew, giant silly war with Russia over nothing is off the cards". Shame the leaders of the West don't seem to think that's a good idea and find Putin a convenient excuse for doing their best to wind all the tensions back up again. NATO chest-beating right on the Russian border... beats head against wall

Re #51... a couple of words in your post have provided a useful positive confirmation of my sad conclusion that it would probably not be a good idea for me to read TNS... Sorry Charlie. But I strongly suspect that some of your ideas are sufficiently close to being either in phase with some of mine, or 180° out of phase - or both at the same time - that to expose myself to them directly would be dangerous.

54:

I refer you to my comment several threads back concerning sweetcorn ;)

55:

Hence the sideways reference to the Crimea, more specifically, to the Battle of Balaclava from 1854 and a famous poem by Tennyson.

It's a possible way to downsize a problematic cavalry, at least in a fantastic setting. In real life, not so much.

Sorry if I got too much like CiaD there.

If you want to be more realistic, I suppose you could send the Pointies out to deal with Da'esh, survivors to be sent to Afghanistan, those survivors sent to northern Nigeria, and anyone left after that granted asylum of the most literal sort.

56:

You're right. If a government wanted to do something really ugly, the Morningstar Army would make great shock troops...

I wonder if OGH knows that Morningstar is a US brand that sells meatless sausages and vegetarian hamburgers? Every time I read the words "Morningstar Army" I imagine a horde of vegan Hippie-Elves.

57:

The Pointies are a strategic reserve held ready for another Out Of Context problem of the sort their initial appearance caused. They have unique capabilities which might mitigate unique situations that cold iron will not necessarily deal with expeditiously.

58:

There's a plot. Alex must take command of the Morningstar Army and attack The Thing From The Pyramid. Good luck, and BTW, the politics of this one really, really suck.

59:

Hmmm. Basilisk vs. Cthulhu death match?

60:

That's what I'm thinking. Maybe not basilisks. That kind of attack has to be a minor irritation if you're really, seriously A GOD - something similar to Godzilla getting hit by a tank - just breathe fire on it and move on. But the bit from one of the earlier books about how Bob doesn't believe in bat-winged squid gods made me pretty sure we'd be seeing Cthulhu before the series was over. So Cthulhu vs. something, anyway.

I really have to wonder about just how interesting the business about Bob being an unreliable narrator is going to be when it gets revealed in-series (aside from his wife's issues) and whether the unreliable narrator stuff will attach to bat-winged etc.

61:

Errr.... Yes, they did.

It's a little thing called deterrence, and it has worked for seventy years. It prevents large nations, specifically those with tyrants, from thinking that they can fight a small victorious war to keep the populace happy. You know, the "they're a democracy, they're weak, they won't dare / can't stop our manifest destiny, we'll get away with it" effect, as witnessed with Argentina over the Falklands, Iraq with Iran, Iraq with Kuwait, Serbia with Kosovo. Arguably, even the USA with Iraq. Pakistan didn't start any more wars with India once India had nukes (three between Partition and sunshine abilities), North Korea remains inviolate.

It fails when the tyrant thinks that they can play off alliances - Saddam thinking he'd bought two of the P5, Milosevic assuming that the P5 would keep rolling over, Admiral Anaya assuring the junta that the UK was decadent, Putin correctly assuming that no-one would stop the Russian Army from invading Georgia, invading Crimea, invading the Donbass. It fails if Trump makes announcements that the Baltic States "aren't paying their way" and that "the US won't support them", and then gets into power.

Putin is fighting his "Hybrid War" already; his Army is already across borders; go on, tell us what will stop him from continuing with a winning formula?

62:

I'm thinking we won't be seeing too much from the Morningstar Army. Too much "Deux Ex" and too many lose ends.

For example, they have lots of vampires which need feeding; from the UN perspective everyone except the empress is effectively a slave; the dragons are a major pollution hazard, etc.; also, appealing for refugee status doesn't change the fact that they murdered loads of people on arrival, etc (Imagine the court proceedings as various lawyers argue whether a geas allows a "just-following-orders" defense.) Some of the army might have walk on support roles, but otherwise we won't see much of it.

Given that they have a safe (relatively) and easy to use (relatively) way of moving between universes, they could usefully be sent off-page in exactly the role that brought them to our universe in the first place - finding a safe universe to evacuate to if everything goes even more FUBAR.

For Case Nightmare Green I'm also wondering about Blue Hades and, to a lesser extent, the Black Chamber. If CNG is actually also a genuine threat to either of them then they should act, if it's not then the climax of the laundry files might look like a problem across the pond that they just couldn't be bothered to get involved with, or which they could have solved if they had noticed it. I'm anticipating a major event will take one or both of them out of play. My guess - Blue Hades runs away (ciao humans, have fun), and the Black Chamber tries a suitably epic-stupid end-run that fails big.

63:

Frankly, it's scary
Yes, it's a bit like 1911-12 (Agadir crisis).
Question, though ... in 1911-14 the German General Staff (esp v. Moltke the younger) were the ones pushing for war.
This time, it looks as though it's Putin, not the military.
Does this make a practical difference?

Meanwhile Corby is in imitation G Lansdowne (sp?) who was pushed out of the Labour leadership 1934-6, because he refused to believe that nice Mr Hitler posed any threat, & even Chamberlain didn't believe that - Hence all the new cruisers ( like Belfast ) aircraft carriers, etc, laid down between 1936 & 1939

64:

Please, please, publish your current version of the book. Some time in future, perhaps. Or as a bonus for new book purchasers.

65:

Agree that EU posturing in Ukraine was STUPID, but, um, err ...
Putin involving himself in Chechnya & Georgia & Moldova is presumably a set of non-events?
No Vladimir is shit-stirring & seeing how much he can get away with - to which the answer, so far is: "lots".

66:

Aha! Hence the frankly preposterous cover up for the recent fire at Allenby Barracks, Bovington (some Forces TV / Daily Mail nonsense about junior officers duelling with flare pistols). Obviously the dragons returning from the gunnery school at Lulworth.

67:

ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE

I warned you that this was not the Brexit thread you were looking for.

Accordingly, I have deleted all Brexit-related (and Trump-related) comments that don't directly impinge on the Laundry universe (which, I remind you, is a work of fiction).

And I will continue to do so until certain people (Greg, Dirk, etc) get the message.

68:

If you're looking for the UK edition of EMPIRE GAMES, it may show up for pre-order at a different time from the US edition ... however, they've got the same publication date; just different production/supply chains converging on it.

(The main difference is that the UK edition has a glossary because my UK editor doesn't believe UK peeps will know that, for example, CVS is the name of a high street pharmacy chain in the US. The text of the novel itself is identical.)

69:

Firstly there is stupid, and then there is outsourcing the army. During a Blitzkrieg.

I couldn't agree more. It wasn't stupid enough. So I've found something even stupider for them to do instead.

70:

I think I've got the message......

P.S. I've got a new computer, as the old one was dying by degrees, both old software & failing hard systems ( Having to use wi-fi, 'cause the ethernet connection was dead )
As a result, my "avater" (Hand holding beer-glass) has vanished as I had to use new login.
Beg, grovel, ask nicely, can I get it back?

71:

Isn't "CVS" "Carrier Vessel - Steam"? You know, 1940s aircraft carrier technology? ;-)

More seriously, I voted "Remain", and my biggest fear about next year is what would happen when President Trump and BoJo's toupees attack each other!

72:

I think it's fairly obvious what Putin's goals are:

0. Don't start a strategic nuclear war (this has been everybody's goal, since Eisenhower and Stalin, but it deserves re-stating from time to time; even the bad guys don't want everybody, themselves included, to die in a fire)

1. Keep riding bear, because if you fall off bear, bear eats you. (See also: Nicholas II, Mikhail Gorbachev, etc.) The bear is grumpy, paranoid (for good reason), small-c conservative (even when it's officially communist), doesn't like foreigners (it has a bad history of being invaded -- five or six times in the last couple of centuries alone), and can be bribed with caviar and vodka. Also circuses.

2. Stop NATO eating the Empire. That's the one inherited from Nicholas II. Forget places like East Germany and Czechia, they were a Bad Idea all round and the idea of a buffer zone is charmingly quaint and obsolete in the era of ICBMs. But the Ukraine and Crimea and the Baltics and east Poland used to be part of the Russian Empire, and losing them stings the bear. Best tactic for stopping NATO expansion: encourage discord, e.g. backing Erdogan against Germany, while looking like a better bet (see also, actions in Syria).

3. Maybe reassemble the Empire, where it can be done on a tight budget, because bear loves circuses and bear likes to piss in its own woods and places like Finland and Khazakhstan used to belong to bear and bear is kind of pissed-off about not being allowed to piss there any more.

Well, maybe not Finland (those winter war snipers were something else). But bear misses Crimean dacha (and naval base), bear is nostalgic for the rocket fuel fumes at Baikonur, and so on. (And keep an eye on rule 0.)

Does this make sense?

73:

You're not thinking large enough on the human rights question in the Laundryverse.

The whole post-Enlightenment thing that was most clearly expressed in the slogan of the French revolution as "Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite", postulates that all human lives are of equal intrinsic value -- that there are no people who are intrinsically superior or privileged (e.g. kings, aristocracy) or de-privileged (women or slaves or foreigners, although it took a little longer for that to sink in). Yes, we may quibble over whether a foetus is an unborn child or a bunch of cells, or at what age a child becomes an adult who can control their own affairs -- but the basic point is, competent adults are equally deserving of rights because they had, as a starting baseline, equal potential for self-actualization.

This goes out of the window once we have deep ones, elves, humans, and elder gods in the picture.

In fact, CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN is an outside context problem for the entire enlightenment program. Within which, all our protagonists (except maybe Cassie and, possibly, Ramona) have been raised.

Oops.

74:

As a result, my "avater" (Hand holding beer-glass) has vanished as I had to use new login.

I'm seeing it. Try emptying your browser cache and reloading?

75:

I don't want to divert this thread into a political argument, but you know, there is a reason OGH presents the American Black Chamber as a very dangerous organization. It's because the American government in our world frequently demonstrate how dangerous it can be. If you don't think the Americans are a highly aggressive country, ask an Iraqi, or an Afghan, or a Palestinian, or a Libyan, or a Honduran, or a Syrian, or a Somali, or someone from Yemen, or a Russian speaking citizen of the Ukraine who objected to the overthrow of their elected government, or someone from any of the other countries the US has fought in or meddled in over the last few decades.
Honestly, the idea that it's the Russians who are the aggressive threat to peace in the world today is somewhat questionable. If you would like to consider a different interpretation of contemporary geopolitics, one website you might find interesting is Moon of Alabama.

76:

I added the avatar picture after Greg's comment. Once the next comment arrived, it started showing

77:

Well, maybe not Finland (those winter war snipers were something else).

Well, yeah, we are a bit different in that we managed to get independent from Russia in 1917, and were never invaded after that. Yeah, there was a large portion of the German army on our soil fighting with us, but it was driven off later. I remember well the Baltic countries, Ukraine and Belorussia being part of the great Soviet Union - Finland was only part of Russia.

However, I'm not completely certain Russia won't try something funny here, and it's kind of hard to change the geography. I personally don't think the only option left is to join the NATO, though, but the public discussion about the matter seems to be either "give up and join Russia, or join NATO", which I find somewhat annoying.

That said, I can well understand the Baltic states and their politics too. They are probably betting on that not even Putin is crazy enough to start a war with NATO.

78:

"Does this make sense?" Nearly, but not quite.

Actually, I don't think that Russia is seriously worried about its Empire; what they want to do is to stop NATO from blockading Russia, and fomenting rebellion and terrorism within its borders, and hence destroying it that way. The latter fear may be pure paranoia (I can't say either way), but the former is not. They are (very reasonably) scared that the Turks (and even Danes) will be 'encouraged' to close their straits to Russia, and the USA, oops, NATO will say that Russia using military force to reenable access will be regarded as a breach of Article 5. They are feeling nearly as threatened, and for nearly as good reasons, as they were in 1962, and the events of 1941-45 should tell people what Russians do when they have their backs to the wall.

The Natoid revisionism over Ukraine is repulsive. There was an illegal, externally sponsored coup that replaced a democratically elected pro-Russian government with a viciously anti-Russian one, which was recognised with indecent haste by the EU and NATO. This was probably sponsored by the organised crime cartels that the pro-Russian government was elected to clean up, but there's no evidence of to who it was (and there is another suspect). Given that its first act was to suppress the civil rights of the Russian-speaking minority, provoking a civil insurrection, and respond to that with heavy artillery and area bombing, it's not surprising that it was later supported by Russia. Whether NATO started supporting the anti-Russian government before or after that, I can't say. Russia clearly had existing plans to occupy Crimea, but it is nonsense to say that they sponsored the revolt in eastern Ukraine; it would have been better organised if they had. And, of course, the Natoids completely ignore the wish of the majority of Crimeans to return to being a part of Russia (as they were until recently). Russia has repeatedly said that it is making no claim to eastern Ukraine and wants the situation to be settled by international agreement, but the NATO response has been "We are the 800 pound gorilla; we don't negotiate" and the EU has been too spineless to step in. Whether the UK has a hand in the last, I don't know, but I suspect so. My sources for this are completely unreliable ones, like Reuters, incidentally.

79:

I remember sometime ago reading an article about how too much Science Fiction just moves our existing morals and motivations into a new setting, and that really we need to see more behavior that responds to different cultural imperatives, or comes from a totally different worldview. I can't find it now, which is a shame, but I have this vague feeling that it's something you wrote?

Either way, I'm really excited that we get to find out how the Laundryverse deals with this OPC when the gloves come off and the rule-book is thrown away.

Off-topic: I looked but couldn't find a forum avatar process, is this an informal service, and is it available to others who ask nicely?

80:


"the idea of a buffer zone is charmingly quaint and obsolete in the era of ICBMs"

Not quite. As we now see with the Eastern Ukraine, a 'shadow war' of militias and armed factions across a porous border demonstrates the value of a cordon sanitaire.

Add in the concepts of common ethnicity across a partitioning border - or worse, blurred and intercalating ethnicities across an arbitrary border - and it makes sense to have at least one whole country between you and the next regional power.

So: no-one should be thinking of conventional warfare in the era of the ICBM; but distance - or rather, proximity - matters in the grey zone where violent politics merges into low-level warfare and the formation of militias.


81:

I'm not arguing that the USA is an aggressive nation.

That doesn't preclude Russia from being an aggressive nation too. They may see themselves as more reactive, in the same way as the US sees itself as "intervening against terrorists" rather than just outright aggressors but there are a fair number of nations who would say they're pretty aggressive. There was a lull for a decade or so, but under Putin they're back to smacking people around quite happily.

82:

Oh, I agree.

It's convenient to use NATO expansion as an excuse about how Bear is threatened - but in reality, NATO doesn't do anything apart from the mutual defence thing (it steers clear of politics, and didn't complain about having dictatorships on board in the 1970s); and the EU isn't interested in military power (for all that the Daily Mail shrieks otherwise). I very much doubt that the Russian military seriously believes that NATO offers any threat to the territorial integrity of Russia - but for politicians, it's a convenient Nationalist stick to beat back at a changing world that doesn't see things the same way ("Why can't Oligarchies just strip-mine an entire national infrastructure for personal benefit? The near abroad should do what we tell them! It's the Russian way!")

You could argue that Russia is going through what Britain did after WW2 - losing an Empire, and while sort-of accepting it, not really managing to reset expectations throughout all levels of Grand Strategy (politics, economics, diplomacy, military). France was less successful (see: Dien Bien Phu), and Holland learned early (See: Dutch East Indies).

I suppose the big question is whether Russia will have to face an equivalent of the 1956 Suez Crisis?

The worry isn't necessarily the Russian equivalent of the passed-over Major (Retired) harrumphing about how in their day we used to have an Armed Services that the world feared, no-one would have dared to do cross us, and we should just send in the lads from Alpha or Vympel - all the while rustling their copy of Isvestia furiously... It's how many of their brighter and more capable kids turn up, brought up to believe it with a bright-eyed certainty, no awareness of how crappy life was back then for the average person, and a big chip on their shoulders.

Blame politics works better if no-one remembers the truth; I think I read a book about it once - Glasshouse? 1984? Hmmmm..... ;)

83:

Whenever I see a list like that I always half expect it to be an acrostic, then I'm sort of disappointed when it isn't.

84:

but it is nonsense to say that they sponsored the revolt in eastern Ukraine; it would have been better organised if they had

That seems... an interesting statement, seeing that Putin has admitted it. The GRU were all over it, and got captured doing so. I believe Putin's words were "We never said there were not people there who carried out certain tasks, including in the military sphere".

That Buk-M1 which shot down MH17 came from Russia; as did a lot of the tanks that were fighting the Ukrainian tanks. The heavy kit appeared as soon as it looked as if the Ukrainian military was going to be able to defeat the military aspects of the revolt.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/17/vladimir-putin-admits-russian-military-presence-ukraine

Here's some links from Reuters from near the start of the conflict, mentioning the sponsorship that you deny:

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-ukraine-crisis-arms-specialreport-idUSKBN0FY0UA20140729?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews

http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-ukraine-crisis-novoazovsk-idUKKBN0GQ19Y20140826

And here's the simple credibility test. If Russia hasn't been sponsoring the fight in Eastern Ukraine, then a) where are the rebels getting all of that heavy military equipment from, and b) why are all those Russian soldiers getting killed there?

85:

Martin noted: "The question would be whether Her Majesty would espose special Trust and Confidence in their Loyalty, Courage, and Good Conduct, and Constitute and Appoint them to be Officers in Her Land Forces."

Why not? Here in Canada, "her majesty's loyal opposition party" was officially a Quebec separatist party for going on 2 terms. Loyal? "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

Looking at this from a broader perspective, namely the history of colonialism (all nations, not just U.K.), employing the PEFs as Britain's own domestic version of the Foreign Legion would be pretty much SOP. It's not like the PEFs invented dehumanization and genocide as a way of not giving a fuck about the geopolitical opposition and treating them like roaches. Maybe the Great Elder Critters will recognize us for what we really are (CODE NIGHTMARE FLESHTONE) and stay far, far away.

Martin also noted: "The potential for comedy comes when attempting to house an actual mounted Cavalry Regiment."

No, the *real* potential for comedy comes when, in an effort to make the PEFs less scary to the British populace, the government introduces the equivalent of the RCMP Musical Ride*. It does not end well, other than for the hungry dragons. Sales of friendly elf dolls plummet, Wendy and Richard Pini are burned in effigy, and the economy tanks until novelty demon-killer violin toys take up the slack, spawning a new music movement. The first Death Trad bands are formed -- though shows tend to be one-time-only...

* Copious examples of this display of horsemanship on YouTube, but if you like horses, much better to see it in person should you be in Canada during the summer.

Returning briefly to an earlier comment, I think I have a solution to the NIGHTMARE GREEN scenario: stockpile megagallons of Baker-Miller pink paint. When the Great Elder Nasties start stalking the landscape, carpet-bomb the area around them with the aforementioned. Parachute in the Hello Kitty Commandos (yes, they're a thing). Pacify the fuck out of our uninvited visitors. Then offer them a nice cuppa with bikkies. I'm sure they're really decent folks... just a bit tetchy from living in all those H.R. Giger-designed universes for so long without a splash of chibi anywhere.

Of course you know someone had to go do the mashup: http://www.hello-cthulhu.com/?date=2003-11-30

86:

And here's the simple credibility test. If Russia hasn't been sponsoring the fight in Eastern Ukraine, then a) where are the rebels getting all of that heavy military equipment from, and b) why are all those Russian soldiers getting killed there?

They're volunteers and private individuals, like the International Brigades in 1930s Spain or the divisions of Chinese troops and aircraft pilots supporting their comrades in arms in northern Korea in the early 1950s. Nothing to do with us, guv, officially. They just borrowed all that heavy kit, I hope they'll bring it back in one piece once their vacation is over. See also Bay of Pigs, Lawrence of Arabia et al.

87:

Er, you are aware of the existence of the Scottish National Party and Plaid Cymru (in English that means "Party of Wales")? They have similar feelings towards being part of the UK as the Parti Quebecois do towards being part of Canada. No-one has ever claimed that they can not be part of a "loyal opposition" in Westminster on the basis that they are working for constitutional political separation within a democratic parliamentary framework.

88:

I suggest the use of a good English dictionary. I used the word "sponsored" advisedly; I know perfectly well that he provided support after the Kiev regime started blowing the hell out of the areas supported by the opposition. Whether or not he started supporting it in the very short period between the start of the revolt and that, I can't say. I have seen evidence in the Western press that MH17 was shot down by untrained gunners, who thought that it was a Kiev aircraft on a bombing raid. The simple fact is that the Donbass rebellion started as a local, popular revolt, in response to the removal of their civil rights by an illegal government. Everything I have seen is indicates that Russia's actual plans were to take over Crimea, but no more.

89:

Ah, the system has caught up with itself.
Thanks any way - I can see it now.

91:

Unfortunatel, even if what you say is correct ... that doesn't explain Putin's behaviour in Georgia, Moldova, Chechnya, does it?
A takeover of (esp) Estonia for the benefit of the "Oppressed Russian minority" would be a real test, though.
Oh yes: "Oligarchic criminal gangs" - like are running large slices of Russia, right now, you mean.
Um, err.
One thing is certain it's confusing

92:

See also Norn-Iron, or the history of the Anglo-Scottish border.
Read G M Fraser's "The Steel Bonnets" for a fascinating historical read.
Further remarks truncated, as that would take us to no-Laundry "Brexit" territory.

93:

In Georgia, yes - much the same situation applied. Moldova I know little about. And Chechnya was a long-standing meltdown, responsible for a lot of terrorism within Russia, partly caused by maltreatment by the USSR, much like Afghanistan. The Crimean takeover had little to do with the wishes of the people, and a great deal to do with the proposal to renege on the treaty with Russia and turn Sebastopol into a NATO naval base. The only real difference with the corruption levels is that the Ukrainian population got utterly sick of it, and elected a new government to clean it up, which promptly got overthrown by a sponsored coup. It not so much confusing as an ungodly mess - while Russia is not nice, pushing it into the position the USSR was in 1962 is Not A Good idea.

94:

The Buk-M1 AA system is not the sort of thing "untrained gunners" can operate. It's a tracked-vehicle system not a MANPAD or similar, crew-served with a team of specialist operators with years of training under their belt. It's not a system that can be picked up and used in a few days by novices.

It was operated by Russians on behalf of the Ukrainian "rebels"; they had already shot down a Ukrainian military transport earlier using the same system. The Russian operators fucked up by not positively identifying their target before letting fly and taking down a foreign-flagged civilian airliner. After that it was "who me guv?" from the Russian regime plus, I expect, a few bullets in the head for the hapless crew to prevent them from talking in the future and spoiling the various stories (false flag, the Ukrainian military did it to discredit the brave rebels, it was shot down by a Ukrainian fighter etc. etc.) that they squid-inked throughout the press and their tame apologists abroad.

95:

Talking of Russia, Putin & foreign interference, as we were.
I believe OOPS is the word in this case ??
Also worth reading the NYT piece linked-to by the BBC in their article.

96:

Even if they were fully-trained, they could well have been eastern Ukranians with relevant experience; the evidence I saw was minimal, and indicated that they had NOT learnt about proper identification procedures. In any case, it was well after Kiev had turned much on Donbass into rubble, and my point was that the sponsorship of the rebellion was much earlier.

97:

OGH's brain must be a very odd place right now. Not only does he have to satirize the current level of stupid, he needs to get ahead of any stupid that happens between now and publication.

98:

A serious +1 to The Steel Bonnets - it is truly excellent.

I'm sad that Fraser's last novel (The Reivers, set in the same time period) left me so cold.

99:

"my UK editor doesn't believe UK peeps will know that, for example, CVS is the name of a high street pharmacy chain in the US"
That's fair enough, I like to think I could have guessed it from the context, but to me as a geek, CVS means "Concurrent Versions System".

If the PEF's were getting absorbed into the British Army, wouldn't it be something like the Gurkas? "If you can't beat 'em, co-opt them."

100:

After falling down a wikihole, I have discovered that "G4S Gurkha Services" is a real thing. So, if not the army, perhaps "G4S Morningstar" is in Cassie's future?

101:

Events in America confirm that we are all in an alternate reality now.

Yeah, who'd a thunk shoggoths could rock a hairpiece so effectively?

102:

Given the uncertainties as to whether Brexit will ever in fact be implemented, perhaps you should structure the novel as one of those "choose your own" books. You know, "If BREXIT is implemented, go to page 37. If BREXIT is not implemented, go to page 211."

Tough being a novelist writing books having anthing to do with reality these days. Was that any impetus toward the space opera novel?

;) Mike

103:

The government is often crazy but it's crazy in different ways for different problems.

Brexit prompted an especially large quantity of crazy because it was a perfect storm of going against the predicted outcome, something which split both the gov and opposition parties and breaks a lot of existing assumptions in lots of structures.

an invading alien army I could easily imagine prompting some crazy but not nearly as much. the invasion itself isn't going to be the problem. The british government has long experience fighting armies.


The refugees carrying lots of potentially highly valuable tech/knowledge on the other hand.... I could see some massive crazy going on.

One wing of the labour party wanting to burn them as genocidal slaver war criminals, the other wanting to hug them as refugees.

One wing of the tories wanting to burn them as immigrants who hopped the borders(of reality), the other wanting to hire them on as consultants to give british firms and the british army advantages in the new(to them) fields of tech.

The SNP wouldn't split but would come up with some way to use it to push for scotland to split off.

The northern irish parties also wouldn't split internally but would probably run a narative of how it's somehow some kind of trick by the other side and start shooting at each other a bit more.

The lib dems would be saying something nice but nobody would be quite sure what.

Near brexit levels of crazy would be entirely possible.

Also: I thought the PM was supposed to have some kind of knowledge of the laundry after that cultist thing in the other book. What with the superpowers and all I would have thought they'd have at least been given a briefing.

Also wouldn't the DoD kick up the biggest stink since WW2 about losing control of a chunk of the countries defense forces while the country is under attack? The army isn't powerless on a bureaucratic level and isn't always too stupid.

104:

(Pre-300 serious comment, limited to one (1))

At least host is from the UK, the USA has entered a reverse McCarthy time-line where the GOP are 'secret' Russian agents and the evangelists are partnered with them. [And yes, it's dragging in the Open Society / old guard of the Council of Foreign Relations, at which point gloves will come off big style].


Let's just say this isn't even September yet.


I can just about Sing a Reality Song that ties that all together, but let's just say it's got some kickass underlying dis-harmonies.[1]


~

If host is running out of outlandish protagonists, and wants to capture that sweet sweet Other market (*cough* Hugo winner last year *cough*) and doesn't want Others-that-are-totally-Evil-just-because:

US Air Force wants to plasma bomb the sky using tiny satellites New Scientist, 9th August 2016[2]


Turns out S.E. Asia has something in common that might dislike this intently...

Rainbow Serpent

Hong

Purple Haze Jimi Hendrix, YT: Music: 3:48


Having to contact the old colonials and get them to both respect, apologize and then merge the black-fella old time songs with modern UK / Australian bureaucracy (of the kind Australia scrubbed from UN climate change report after government intervention Guardian 26th May 2016, c.f - Saving The Great Barrier Reef Will Cost $6.3 Billion Huffington Post, 8th August 2016. And guess what? $7 bil tourism annually vrs that over 10 years. Want to place bets on it being enacted?) while navigating modern UK-Chinese relations (hello
Nuclear espionage charge for China firm with one-third stake in UK's Hinkley Point Guardian, 11th August 2016) over power generation, spying and add in the subplot that everyone needs to be wired up to the gills on psychedelics (cue Opium arguments) to talk to said Rainbows...

Might be fun.


~

[1] Anyhow, time to mend again. Criticism noted from (redacted) and accepted.

[2] There's no Conspiracy chatter on this (other than reflexive shouts of "HAARP HARRP" to be expected), but I can think of one already. It's a biggy as well.

105:

Otoh a Satire of Mighty Whitey could be all well and good. Bob or another laundry member gets something like Bond would of gotten, a mission to an overseas possession to take over for the locals. Except instead of Bond in HK, it's Bob in Saint Helena and he ends up getting there after its all over.

Or instead of the problem being spectre stealing nukes in warm and sunny colonies, it's Pitcairn island and a young girl's attempt to curse a pedophile uncle causes an epidemic of ghost sickness, which being rooted in Tahitian culture Bob is worthless in curing.

106:

Oh.

Sorry to double post but I started thinking about how the british newspapers would handle the elves.


Daily Mail:
"BLOOD THIRSTY FOREIGNERS WANT TO EAT YOUR CHILDREN"
"Interdimensional illegal immigrants here to take YOUR jobs!"
"4000 WAR CRIMINALS WE CAN'T THROW OUT!"
"PLOT TO LET IN ALIEN IMMIGRANTS!"
"SCROUNGING POINTIES COSTING TAXPAYER OVER 600 MILLION!"
"COLLUSION WITH EVIL!"

ok, shooting fish in a barrel. moving on.

The Sun:
Attempts to hire Cassie to pose for page 3.

The Guardian:

Leads with a front page picture of a crying elven serf child. (they did bring along a supply of serfs as sacrifice fodder didn't they?)

Inside their writers vary between the ones calling for the heads of all senior elves for genocide, slavery and war crimes and the ones defending them all as refugees. Lots of fighting over gease vs "just following orders".

String of articles calling anyone who doesn't like the elves misogynist because they're led by a female.


The Daily Telegraph:

Headline:"MAGICAL ARMY INVADES UK MAINLAND"
Subheadline:"Government pledges to protect rural post offices"

The Times:
... I'm having trouble with this one. They don't have easily parodies headlines most of the time.

Financial Times
"Pound drops to record low in wake of elvish attack"

Daily Express:
"MIGRANT INVASION:ARMY ON ALERT"
"ONE IN 5 BRITONS WILL BE ELVISH"
"YOU PAY TO TEACH ELVES MANNERS"
"SUPER CRYSTAL IS KEY TO LIVING LONGER"
"70% SAY WE MUST EXPEL ELVES"
"MADDIE LINK TO ELVES"
"POLICE INVESTIGATE POSSIBLE ELVISH MADDIE SNATCHER"
"ELVES:GIVE MADDIE BACK!"

Daily Star:
"PLAGUE OF BLACK EYED GHOST CHILDREN" (only in the laundryverse they're actually correct about this)
"DIANNAS SECRET ELVISH SEX DIARY"

107:

The Buk-M1 AA system is not the sort of thing "untrained gunners" can operate. It's a tracked-vehicle system not a MANPAD or similar, crew-served with a team of specialist operators with years of training under their belt. It's not a system that can be picked up and used in a few days by novices.

AIUI, the story/speculation/hypothesis is that the shoot-down was done by a Buk TELAR operating in autonomous mode against an easy target. The other parts of a full-up Buk battery wouldn't have been present or needed.


http://aviationweek.com/defense/buk-missile-system-lethal-undiscriminating

The Buk-M1 (SA-11 Gadfly to NATO) can be used by minimally trained operators to deliver a lethal attack, without the safeguards built into other comparable GBADS, an Aviation Week analysis shows.

108:

I'm already way ahead of you (and the results will be in the final version of "The Delirium Brief").

109:

Don't you also have a problem with Supers and magicians? Obviously the Supers are a self-limiting problem due to K syndrome, but still, people are no longer equal.

In any case, it is an out-of-context problem on steroids (not only is your religion in correct, but the real gods are monsters). To me, the nearest analogy we have to that at the moment is climate change, specifically the sociopolitical FUD response to it in America, and arguably, in the rest of the world as well. It's hard enough to tell a human being that they've got a chronic illness and if they don't substantially alter their lifestyle, they'll die. Try doing that to a billion-odd middle class and above wankers like the lot who think they run the globe.

What could we expect if we found out that the Elder Gods are real?
--Witch hunts against all the government agencies that knew and kept the information quie ("What did you know and when did you know it? And why do you call yourself Bob Howard when your real name is...? Quick, get the fire extinguisher!")
--Denial screamed from the pulpits of every church and university in the land. Sample headline: "Magic is real? Neal DeGrasse Tyson, Penn and Teller, and 300 bishops call BS."
--People splitting into camps of non-believers (who try to go about their lives as if nothing has changed) and true believers (who try to get in on the Next Big Thing, because now The Rules Are Different). Many of the True Believers will go apocalyptic, because that meme is a herpes virus on civilization's brain stem. Others will through Magic(k) at all the chronic problems in the world, in an attempt to make a fast buck and/or fix them.

Etc. I'm not sure anyone other than OGH is thinking out the sociopolitical ramifications of such a revelation. It's not just shit hitting the fan, it's a F-5 tornado hitting a sewage plant.

110:

Morningstar is a US brand that sells meatless sausages and vegetarian hamburgers?

Pretty good ones, actually. It still cognitively disses me that you can get them in a lot of stores in Texas. https://tinyurl.com/jl3ffjf

There's the potential for amusing misunderstandings as extradimensional elves try to communicate about such in the US.

111:

It's not a hairpiece, silly, the reason it looks so fake is it's because it's the tentacles.

112:

far as I knoe , all the safeguards in SAM systems are down to IFF tranmitters, which airliners don't carry.
same as the incident in the gulf when a USN ship decided the airliner flying overhead might have been an F14 tomcat
so they shot it down
even though that plane would be a little crap at a ship-strike mission

113:

An additional question I had regarding the SOE being under MOD.

We know that Case Nightmare Red has always been a possibility. Additionally, use of occult weaponry during WW2 or the cold war was also thought of.

I was kinda disturbed that the conventional military assets had no wards distributed to them. Even under a cover story (this is a fancy radiation monitor etc).

I get that its suppose to be part of the whole screw up, but it seems like a ball was dropped in planning that even low level wards were never planned for mass distribution in a Case Nightmare Rainbow scenario.

114:

I suggest the use of a good English dictionary. I used the word "sponsored" advisedly; I know perfectly well that he provided support after the Kiev regime started blowing the hell out of the areas supported by the opposition.

Hmmm.... "blowing the hell out of".

Read up on this bloke, take note of his own claims in the linked articles:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Igor_Strelkov_(officer)


Given that for the initial months, the Donbass rebels were limited in their propaganda to arguing over single-round strikes on civilian buildings and vehicles (and caught by the BBC doing some "inventive" propaganda in their claims) I'd suggest that it's you that needs the dictionary. Go look at a picture of Grozny in 1999 for a comparison...

The initial Ukrainian response was police-based - unfortunately, the rebels (using assault rifles) escalated in hours or days through capturing or killing policemen (typically armed with pistols). Any government will at that point look to the military to provide a response; by way of example, the entire active strength of the Provisional IRA was less than 300 or so; and Britain committed between 10,000 and 20,000 troops across Northern Ireland in order to suppress them when the RUC failed to cope.

Militaries can only turn up with what they've got, and use what they have to hand. In this case, lots of comparatively lightly-armoured wheeled BTR-series APCs for protection, limited to 12.7mm heavy MGs in their turrets. When the rebels started employing RPG-series anti-tank weapons (which will happily defeat BTR armour), the only way that the Ukrainian military could perform protected movement was with their tanks on the ground, and via helicopters in the air.

Suddenly, as noted in the links above, the rebels start firing off MANPADS systems that had been provided by Russia (see link above); so the helicopters give way to transport aircraft that can fly out of their range; so the Russians provide Buk-M1 to shoot those down; and the rest is history.

You may argue that Russia didn't start a rebellion - I'd suggest that the most optimistic interpretation is that GRU lads on the ground and their whole "give them some small-arms, RPGs and the occasional MANPADS to stir things up" approach (busy trying to distract the Ukrainians from the Crimea) does count as starting a rebellion - it's just that the rebels were more successful than their GRU handlers' wildest dreams.

Russia's next unacceptable step was deciding that the rebellion must not be allowed to be defeated, because it served to distract and destabilise (and punish) the new Ukrainian government. Every time it looked like the Ukrainians might be gaining the upper hand, they pushed more soldiers and equipment to the rebels. Not enough to go too far west, but enough to hold the existing front line.

Again, Reuters has covered this in detail, and Putin has admitted to the support. Commentators were surprised at the admission, but observed that it gained him more in domestic politics terms than he lost in international diplomacy.

Remember,
the Russians have form...

115:

"It's convenient to use NATO expansion as an excuse about how Bear is threatened - but in reality, NATO doesn't do anything apart from the mutual defence thing..."

Those are some seriously rose tinted glasses you are wearing. Here's another view:

"On 19 March 2011, a multi-state NATO-led coalition began a military intervention in Libya..."

That was because one of the NATO members was being attacked, I assume and NATO reacted in a purely defensive manner as intended. Although I think the Russians might consider it's expanded remit somewhat threatening. But we all know NATO is really a cuddly defence only organization. Well, apart from what was Libya.

116:

-How long until I can exercise my (US) 2nd Amendment rights to buy a Basilisk Gun? And how will UK Customs know if I accidentally put it in my luggage when I go on vacation?

117:

1. Semi auto cameras only. No video.

1a. Hand cranked film basilisk guns may be acceptable.

2. Customs search bags for cameras and insist on taking a picture of anyone carrying one.

118:

How long from first leaking does it take until Basilisk gun software is uploaded on the net? Some rather vocal gun rights folks in Texas will distribute it widely if not wisely due to their beliefs.

I'd imagine then the digital examination at the border starts being a real issue. Let alone stuff like some idiot making a Basilisk gun virus which turns on webcams. (I think such a virus might even start life as a worst case derivative from SCORPION STARE).

119:

I suspect that they would be considered a destructive device given you can tune then to emit lot of prompt radiation.

120:

That puts us firmly in comp.basilisk FAQ territory.

121:

Well, even given how much of a Republican stalwart Texas is, 41% of the state still voted for Obama in 2014, and Obama won all the populated border counties along the Rio Grande.

I suppose there are a few vegetarian leaning Republicans out there too, come to think of it. Having heart-to-hearts with a cardiologist can do that to a guy.

122:

And that at minimum Sf don't carry them anyway a level 2 ward is as least as good as modern body armor with out the weight penalty l3 even more so

123:

I don't see the problem. Of course the Laundryverse is an alternate universe. If it's one with no Brexit, whatever. Do you think the world will be like in the Halting State universe when we get to it's supposed time in a few years? But I guess it's a thing of the audience having been changed by real events, so since an audience in a Brexit universe won't get as much out of a story in a non Brexit setting the rewrite is necessary.

124:

Neat, missed that one.

125:

Fortunately, my very forward-thinking parents began exposing me to The Parrot at an early age, starting with 1/20th second exposures, then moved on to B-2 when I was sufficiently innoculated against the The Parrot. As a result, I am not vulnerable to Basilisks below the B-10 level.

126:

Um... that's not actually a heart he's doing surgery on, but it's probably best if you keep thinking so.

127:

My brain sings with bureaucratic delight as it tries to figure out where to put a non-evil American equivalent to SOE-Q, which the Black Chamber has coincidentally failed to yet find, quash, or assimilate.

Can there be a very, VERY special office that is stuck in an odd corner of the Army Corps of Engineers. They do enjoy disaster planning & response so much. Just give them a primer on geomancy and they'll be rerouting ley lines left and right...

128:

I don't see the problem.

Then you're not looking very hard: it's intended to be a fiction with a veneer of plausibility to it, and having protagonists with human reactions is part of the package, and that includes a political leadership caste who panic believably.

(And in draft 1, the panic wasn't believable ... after a refresher course in the real thing reminded me what it looks like.)

129:

Snap! (You've been reading "Different colours of Darkness", haven't you?)

130:

All that training nonsense is unnecessary anyway. If you want to defeat the parrot then just get into geometry and learn how to use pollygones.

131:

elfey1 wondered: "How long from first leaking does it take until Basilisk gun software is uploaded on the net?"

Not long at all. In fact, they're probably already hacked in the Laundryverse. Most (well... a large proportion) large-scale infrastructure that isn't perceived as critical has negligible to zero defences against even a moderately skilled hacker. For instance, here are two recent examples:

https://boingboing.net/2016/08/15/its-pretty-easy-to-hack-traf.html

https://boingboing.net/2016/06/28/always-on-cctvs-with-no-effect.html

I would hope that really big and potentially nasty infrastructure such as nuclear power plants is better defended... but Stuxnet suggests maybe not so much. I'd hope that key national security organizations are better defended... but we've already seen evidence the Chinese government has been tiptoeing around U.S. Defence Department computers. We haven't yet seen really aggressive state-funded hackers or organized crime, but there are signs these guys are out there and just moving cautiously right now as they get some experience. The age of amateurs won't last.

You think credit card thefts and identity theft are scary? You ain't seen nothing yet. Wait until the Internet of Things becomes truly pervasive and integrated with everything we do -- and until the amateur hacker community realizes how undefended these technologies are. Wait until (say) the Mafiya decides they need a few extra billion dollars or to bring down a government.

Charlie, I sense a novel opportunity here...

132:

I first read it in print years ago, probably in Omni or Analog or something like that. It might have been in an anthology - I really don't remember. I did get the name of the BLIT the kids were looking at wrong, however. It was The Tremblor.

133:

On 19 March 2011, a multi-state NATO-led coalition began a military intervention in Libya...

This may look like weasel words, but there's a difference between "the UN agrees that Something Must Be Done; the governments of 19 nations who are mostly NATO members, commit to supporting a military option to prevent further loss of civilian life" and "NATO goes to war".

It would be like saying "the English cycling team won lots of medals at the Rio Olympics" because GB Cycling is headquartered in England, and the head of performance is English. There may well be people who like to think that Engerlannnnd, Engerlaaannnnd has won those medals, but in reality it's a coalition effort from across GB, NI, and the Isle of Man that happens to have English athletes and support staff in large numbers.

Yes, it was Sarkozy and the French pushing to stop Gaddafi from shelling his own cities for daring to protest. But it was the UN backing it with UNSC Resolutions 1970 (15 for, none against, no abstentions) and 1973 (10 for, none against, 5 abstentions) that made it possible - note that the non-NATO nations Sweden, Jordan, Qatar, and the UAE were involved.

However, the framework to coordinate different nations' military efforts is not something you slap together on the fly, so (given the number of NATO nations involved) it made sense to use NATO expertise in multinational coalitions to "lead" the military operations.

134:

"A Different Kind of Darkness" by Dave Langford. First published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and IIRC a Hugo Winner (and worthy so, IMO).

136:

I was kinda disturbed that the conventional military assets had no wards distributed to them. Even under a cover story

Militaries are actually quite good at deploying that kind of thing at the last minute, especially if it doesn't really change tactics. "Security through obscurity" also happens - there are some things that are common knowledge, but "just not talked about"; e.g. man-portable ECM capabilities against IEDs (which were very carefully concealed when introduced by the UK)

One example would be the Swedes revealing (only as they were taking them out of service), that their S-Tank would on transition to war have been fitted with a rather effective additional slat armour across the frontal arc. Or the rapid appearance of active and passive armour and ammunition upgrades for Challenger 1 for Op GRANBY in 1991 (see ROMOR-A and L26A1 "Jericho").

Another was (allegedly) when the Bundeswehr crossed into the newly-reunited East to absorb the Nationale Volksarmee; they look at all the shiny well-kept T-72, and the NVA types say "...oh, and here are the IR decoys to defend against ATGM..." at which point the Westerners go slightly cross-eyed, because they'd not known that the NVA had Shtora.

137:

When the original Black Chamber was shut down by state, the old War Department kept a military version open. The Cipher Bureau was joint State-War department, originally under MI-8 but moved to its own Bureau post war.

However, the army kept its own group going in SIS, Signals Intelligence Service run by William Friedman. Friedman's wife was also a codebreaker and worked for the Navy/Coast Guard/ Treasury/FBI depending on where her group was.

Considering the Friedmans were also obsessed with translating the Voynich Manuscript, as well as Sir Francis Bacon, and knew Turning as well as were so heavily involved with codebreaking computing, it's not impossible they hit the occult ramifications of computing. Actually Friedman's high rank means he probably knew a great deal.

Also considering that the NSA and CIA were suppose to centralize intelligence but there's still so many separate military groups suggests nothing different would happen with occult intelligence. An SIS derived group still worked for the army directly after the NSA was founded.

138:

Hmmm.

The US version of the SOE was the OSS. It got disarticulated in 1945 by J. Edgar Hoover (who ran the rather more successful WWII US Counterintelligence operation--the FBI). A lot of the OSS military assets were surplused (including the people), then reassembled a couple of years later into the CIA (outside the military) and the Green Berets (inside the Army. IIRC the SEALS came from a different division within the Navy). IIRC, most of the OSS intelligence assets went to the US State Department, where they've been to this day as the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. They allegedly have no field agents. All they do is read reports and write reports, although apparently they write a mean report.

And yes, I'm already working on a story using them. My Lovecraftian version has the US government resurrecting the Corps of Discovery to coordinate efforts across departments. Heh heh.

139:

[ Hmm, deleting comments because they very tangentially mention b****t but really are talking about how UK government works, and leaving the discussions on russian military hardware - colour me unimpressed.]

Anyway can I just reiterate - without mentioning the 'B' word, that the developments and changes CAN be seen to make sense, if you look at them in the right way. In the past governments have pushed the idea that they can fix things, that they have a plan that will make the world a better place.

However, today, they don't have a clue.

They don't know how to deal with the structural problems that western nations face. You can't keep importing more than you export; it's a ponzi scheme. And that's before you get to climate change, energy issues, and the death of purpose.

People realise that, and it's marketing techniques of fear and nice sounding words that now makes the difference between win and lose - since they find nobody with a better idea. Hence the rise of BoJo - as the entertaining clown prince.

Privatisation isn't just a way for mates to make a killing, it's a way of gutting the empire of a rival. Used to be that the Home Office was a senior route to the big time - but divide and conquer and salami slicing post war made it a poison chalice (though May survived it). Privatisation is a similar way of making a fiefdom smaller. Notice the Treasury never seems to be dealt with - even though they stuff up repeatedly?

So, as far as the Laundry is concerned the take away is that upheaval gives those who desire power over all things the opportunity to get away with things that in other times wouldn't fly. Far from pushing it into a 'Ministry of Magic' to be privatised, it would have been kept very close, where it could be controlled. Just look at the Cabinet Office and 'Civil Contingencies' post 9/11. It would have been used as a tool, McCarthy style, to wrangle the other arms of government. It would have been 'reorganised' into different departments and structures. It wouldn't get flogged off - it's useful for the exercise of power from the centre.

140:

Rainbow Dragons and Black Fella Songs aren't bullshit, and it's a hill I'm willing to die on.

141:

If you're looking for something else that might break relatively soon, consider public-key cryptography.
Start reading up on QC-resistant cryptography, and maybe follow this: NIST Kicks Off Effort to Defend Encrypted Data from Quantum Computer Threat
(Not privy to actual information, if that's not clear. Can read gaps/dance moves in chatter though.)


142:

I'm well aware of shunning, but a small thing.

The US scene has started a little snowball, esp over Russia and Israel.

Because the MF's and Clinton lot cannot grasp geopolitical mess, it'll be done for them, and soon:

Vice President Joe Biden's son joins Ukraine gas company BBC May 2014

And, not to mix it up, but here's the Right in Israel all stirred up:

Hacked Soros e-mails reveal plans to fight Israel's 'racist' policies Jerusalem Post 15th August 2016

(you'll note that they're taking the leaks as accurate - say no more, say no more)

~


I'd put satire on hold for a bit.

“He saw a chair, and a ship that was not a ship; he saw a man with two shadows, and he saw that which cannot be seen — a concept; the adaptive, self-seeking urge to survive, to bend everything that can be reached to that end, and to remove and to add and to smash and to create so that one particular collection of cells can go on, can move onward and decide, and keeping moving and keeping deciding, knowing that — if nothing else — at least it lives. And it had two shadows, it was two things: it was the need and it was the method. The need was obvious: to defeat what opposed its life. The method was that taking and bending of materials and people to one purpose, the outlook that everything could be used in the fight; that nothing could be excluded, that everything was a weapon, and the ability to handle those weapons, to find them and choose which one to aim and fire; that talent, that ability, that use of weapons. A chair, and...”


Oh, and. I'd hoped for more.

Suffering isn't noble.

וַתַּבֵּט אִשְׁתּוֹ, מֵאַחֲרָיו; וַתְּהִי, נְצִיב מֶלַח.

I was waiting for the Real Deal [tm] crew to turn up here, but hey. Or at least a shining knight in armor to help me.


*nose wiggle*


You've no idea, nor I wish it on you.

Reality hasn't broken yet.

It's just cracking.

We Sing our Song to Cement it in, and we're dying.


What Stars Do YT: Film: 2:42

You're Fucked

143:

Are you familiar with the term "full spectrum dominance"?
http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-pentagons-strategy-for-world-domination-full-spectrum-dominance-from-asia-to-africa/5397514
The US government has made it quite clear that their strategic goal is to prevent any other country in the world from becoming powerful enough oppose the use of US military power. And US military power since the end of the first cold war has not been used in anything like a benevolent manner.
http://www.globalresearch.ca/we-re-going-to-take-out-7-countries-in-5-years-iraq-syria-lebanon-libya-somalia-sudan-iran/5166

The US has systematically destroyed entire nations in military campaigns based on lies. So no, I am not too horrified that the Russians have partially recovered from the near destruction of their country at the hands of the US economic and political advisers to Boris Yeltsin.
http://www.globalresearch.ca/global-ruling-class-billionaires-and-how-they-made-it/5159

I do not regard the Russian government as being in the same moral category as the American government, because the scale and motivations of their respective use of military force is entirely different. Overthrowing an elected government through the use of fascist neo Nazi gangs, as Victoria Nuland did in the Ukraine,
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-26079957
is not the same thing as reacting to a referendum, as Russia did.
https://www.rt.com/news/crimea-vote-join-russia-210/


144:

"Head-Meat", name of my next band. (ba-dum-bum)

145:

It occurs to me that, as surveyors, the Corps of Discovery would be under the Army Corps of Engineers.

I just like the idea of the Corps having even more bizarre corners than I've already found. Most mundane agencies have such fascinating things in their closets.

146:

@ 137 & 138
it's always bothered me as to why the Black Chamber are such bastards & cruel with it ...
Compared to the apparent attitude of the Laundry.
However, I like the alternatives presented by Martin & effey1 ....
Charlie?

147:

You've been reading too much Sheldon ( J Tiptree Jnr ) haven't you?

148:

I'd be very careful about your sources.
Some of the statements in those old globalresearch.ca posts are mainfestly false.

However ... their strategic goal is to prevent any other country in the world from becoming powerful enough oppose the use of US military power....
We have been here before: During the C19th the British empire had the "rule of three" - the RN had to be as large as the next three largest navies on the planet.

Is this a good omen or prognosis, or not?

149:

"... it made sense to use NATO expertise in multinational coalitions to "lead" the military operations."

I'm sure it will probably make equal sense if President Hillary decides to help Ukraine with its "terrorist" problem. That is the traditional next step once "military advisers" are already in country.

Amazing how quickly a humanitarian "no fly zone" in Libya (a sovereign nation) became a "support the jihadist rebellion and totally fuck up the country" mission. Then those evil Russians go and block a similar humanitarian resolution over Syria. I guess the only explanation is that Putin is pure evil, with him not letting Western companies exploit Siberian resources and all. [In cahoots with those evil Chinese who are buying up Siberia with his blessing]
Remember -"it's not about oil".

151:

Hi, Greg. It would be helpful if you'd mention which statements you consider manifestly false. You basically accept the 'conventional wisdom' as presented by the western corporate media, while I often find myself arguing against it. This means I have to present conclusive evidence for practically every point I make, while you can get away with sweeping generalizations like, to use an outdated example, Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and therefore Bush and Blair are justified in attacking Iraq. That particular sweeping generalization, which was once presented by the media a an indisputable truth, has, of course, now been proven to be a pack of lies. The manifest absurdity of that claim was pretty obvious to me back in 2003, and I'd be willing to bet that much of what the western media claims to be truth today will also in time be proven to be false.

152:

No
I think the EU ( & USA ) "moves" in Ukraine to be fundamentally stupid & counter-productive & only tended to lead to Putin's already-manifest desire to posture for the domestic scene, if nothing else (See also Charlie's comments about riding the Bear).
But, when one of your links refers to US/British nuclear weapons being used in Fallujah, one promptly disbelieves the whole thing, I'm afraid ....
As for Saddam, I never believed the WMD thing, either ... but the again fundamentally stupid move of not finishing the job in the first gulf war left an amazing number of ... err ... "problems" which then came back to bite everyone afterwards.

The overall impression is of stupidity, not cunning plans, I'm afraid - I suspect "cunning plans" might actually have worked out better.
Yes, it really is that bad .....

153:

I have noticed over the years that an awful lot of journos don't seem to understand the difference between nuclear weapons and DU rounds. Maybe that is what they are on about?

154:

You are right. It is clear that Russia had contingency plans for Sebastopol and Crimea, in the case of Ukraine going insane, and simply triggered them. My guess is that the organisers of the anti-Russian coup were not expecting the new regime would be so insane, and both they and the Russians were taken by surprise by the meltdown in Donbass. Russia has repeatedly requested that the matter be solved by negotiation, but has always been told that the 800 pound gorilla doesn't negotiate. This is NOT the thread' topic, however.

On Saddam, he was a really nasty piece of work, but was not causing any external problems that needed solving. The second war was purely gratuitous, as well as illegal.

And the 19th century British navy isn't so much a prognosis as analogue.

155:

Actually, your draft was probably a lot MORE believable than what has happened and is happening. I still have no idea whether May has a punning clan or is playing Mr Micawber.

156:

At risk of spoilers: you may or may not be familiar with the weirdly extensive legal powers of the United State Postal Inspection Service -- the Post Office's own federal police agency?

I'd like you to also contemplate the Comstock Laws (which the USPIS enforced) and consider whether or not the USPIS would, from the 19th century onwards, have had an Occult Texts Department ...

157:
Can there be a very, VERY special office that is stuck in an odd corner of the Army Corps of Engineers. They do enjoy disaster planning & response so much. Just give them a primer on geomancy and they'll be rerouting ley lines left and right...
What did you think the Mississippi Basin Model was actually for?
158:

It's not possible to read too much Tiptree. In a world where people mainline Heinlein and Heinlein by-products, I would love to see legions of Cordwainer, Wolfe and Tiptree addicts. (To be fair, there are a lot of people who are infected with Cherryhism, but I like that too. We probably have the right amount of Zelaznists, a modest number who generally uphold the quality of the brand.)

I suspect that the United States probably has more than one magical agency, that some are "nicer" than others and that they have some level of antagonism/competitiveness among themselves.

159:

I believe President Trump's distrust of email is leading him to wish for a return to a time of unbreakable cyphers, unforgeable wax seals and secret orders on physical paper. In response, The US Army Corp of Engineers is proposing to resurrect the old Pony Express route between Washington DC and the military bases in California and Nevada carrying paper orders by hand. This was outsourced to Halliburton who then outsourced it to to Deliveroo. An advert for the service was recently seen on social media. "Wanted: Young, skinny, wiry fellows not over eighteen. Must be expert dragon riders, willing to risk death daily. Undead preferred". It turns out this was not really a viral meme campaign for Game of Thrones season 7, but an actual recruitment drive.

160:

Of all the things Republican Presidents have done in my lifetime, Bush Senior's handling of Gulf War One was about the best. He formed a genuine global consensus on an important point of international law, he did the job and then he walked away without overstepping his remit. If all subsequent Presidents had handled their military affairs in the same way, most of us would all probably be more positive about Pax Americana. For instance, if Junior had toppled the Taliban, left a few military "advisors" in Kabul and concentrated all his resources on getting Osama, then the world could probably have lived with that. There would be some grumbling, but overall people would have sighed in relief and said "phew."

I am surprised that you would have wanted Bush to "finish the job" as regime change was not what the UN and the UK signed up for. Isn't American hubris a sore spot for you? (It is for me and I am an American.)

161:

I suspect that the United States probably has more than one magical agency, that some are "nicer" than others and that they have some level of antagonism/competitiveness among themselves.

Almost definitely...

There are 16 that are currently considered to be the "US Intelligence Community"; ISTR an article in The Economist that outlined 40-odd agencies pre-9/11

Oh, and section 2.11 of this made oi larf.
https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Executive_Order_12333

162:

Charlie @ 19: I'd suggest it's actually the result of the standard set of selection pressures for female politicians. The female politicians who survive pre-selection, election and any length of parliamentary tenure tend to be the ones who are excessively competent and excessively capable (as per the old saw about a woman having to be twice as good at something as a man in order to receive half the recognition). While it's theoretically possible for incompetent female politicians to be elected, and even to reach high office (see Bronwyn Bishop[1] here in Australia for an example), the more usual career trajectory for a less than competent female politician tends to involve them being shunted to a marginal seat in favour of a masculine colleage of an equivalent level of competence (whose career will remain on an upward trajectory until they commit a crashing act of incompetence... or longer, if they're of the extreme right wing faction of a conservative party). Once in the marginal, unless they display a hitherto unseen ability to work their electorate, they're going to wind up either voted out at the next election, or being displaced by a newcomer at the pre-selection stage.

(It's worth noting: the unsuccessful ones do tend to be the ones who were largely voted in on their photogenic looks. Strangely enough, looking pretty and manipulating people based purely on your appearance isn't a viable professional advancement strategy in the higher reaches of politics - hence the crashing and burning of Sarah Palin).

Meanwhile, successful female politicians tend to be competent, capable, and they Get Things Done to a positively frightening degree. It's their main avenue of success - particularly in the conservative parties, where they tend to be appointed in the wake of everything going to crap (see Margaret Thatcher's trajectory into power for an example of what I mean), in much the same way that female CEOs are appointed by boards of directors when everything else has been tried and failed.

[1] Bronwyn Bishop did have a hidden talent - she was probably the best person in Australia at getting large cash donations out of Thatcher fetishists. A talent which was greatly appreciated by the Liberal Party of Australia.

Surly Badger @ 101: I thought the hairpiece was the shoggoth.

163:

FYI, I'm pretty certain that "Ghost Engine" is going to shape up to be my big fat Iain M. Banks tribute novel. (While also being a thing in its own right, of course.)

Because we need more Iain M. Banks, right?

164:

Yes - visions of futures that are not now+shit

165:

the unsuccessful ones do tend to be the ones who were largely voted in on their photogenic looks. Strangely enough, looking pretty and manipulating people based purely on your appearance isn't a viable professional advancement strategy in the higher reaches of politics

Yep. See also Louise Mensch (for a UK example) -- although I think she was just smart enough to see the writing on the wall and get out gracefully at a time of her own choosing.

166:

So, what you're saying is Nigel Farage is such a catastrophic fuckup that he managed to completely hash up two different universes?

I can see that.

167:

Farage is the most successful politician for decades.

168:

And not in a good way.

169:

Ditto Blair, but one must distinguish between political success for an individual/party in accomplishing their goals, and the success of those goals. Two different things.

170:

Since the 1930s I think....

171:

Secret orders, carried by a trusted courier?
I suggest you look up "Silver Greyhound" - which is the badge of the Queen's Messengers.

They have official Diplomatic Immunity & are, IIRC, either armed themselves, or have an armed escort, quite often.

172:

Someone just texted me that their fave nickname for His Trumpness is "Mein Furor," but I think Farage is far more successful than Trump will ever be. Really, Occam's Razor says Trump is a Democratic operative.

173:

That is unfair on many of those unsuccessful women, such as Nicky Morgan and Teresa Villiers, and I don't think that you would say it about the pretty male politicians. Exactly what proportion of their promotions was because they are women, I can't say, but it is clear that they failed dismally when faced with a real challenge. Just as many men do, though few get given cabinet-level jobs so fast.

174:

Not really. The ACOE's Mission and Vision Statement is "Mission: Deliver vital public and military engineering services; partnering in peace and war to strengthen our Nation’s security, energize the economy and reduce risks from disasters. Vision: Engineering solutions for our Nation’s toughest challenges."

I'll be honest: I'm playing with the idea of what happens when the Great Powers of any era discover the Dreamlands (well, a rather larger Dreamlands than HPL managed, but you get the idea). The central quandry plays out in worlds beyond gates or (for that matter) dealing with the Deep Ones (however constituted), but the problem is simple: how does a modern government deal with non-human entities that dwell outside our nation-state system? After all, every outward facing government entity is focused on dealing with other nation-states. That's why stateless problems like terrorism and migration are such a problem.

That's why the ACOE isn't the right branch to deal with it. They may contain some conventional surveyors, but they're not the ones you send out into the black unknown to look out after US interests. The National Reconnaissance Office might be the right group, but they only seem to do satellites, not that we know much about them. If you try to find the slots where civilian and military personnel get sent into other dimensions, it's hard to find a group whose official mission would cover such a task.

The whole thing about the Corps of Discovery is that it was a historical military corps. If someone secretly revived the name for dealing with extrahuman terrain of any sort, its use would just confuse the heck out of any outside trying to find out about it. The Corps of Discovery was Lewis and Clark, the FOIA people would say. Why do you think it exists right now?

175:

"Really, Occam's Razor says Trump is a Democratic operative."

I'm glad to see someone else thinks that. I've seen the maxim that to understand someone's motives, you should look at the outcome of their actions and assume that was their goal. Trump has pushed a diverse and interesting mix of (often younger) Republican candidates to the sidelines; induced most of them to give up their integrity to support him, at least nominally; badly damaged the Republican Party's appeal to a large share of its own voters; and now doesn't seem to be competing nearly as energetically against the Democratic nominee as he did against the Republican field. Really it looks as if he's handed the election to Clinton, about as uninspiring a candidate as the Democrats could come up with. One way to explain this is to suppose that he always meant to do so.

176:

Problem is, that leaves too big a paper trail, and the blow-back if the operation is discovered would mess up the Democratic party. At most, I'd guess that some mutual friends (friends of both the Clintons and the Trumps) might have been gently recruited to kick the idea into the Orange zone, and if it landed, so much the better.

As we were "joking" on the previous thread, I suspect Trump, or someone close to him, saw The Producers. If you look at where his campaign money went, a lot of the money he raised went to organizations controlled by his family. My guess is that he ran it to see if his family could pick up $100 million or so in donations, and possibly his run would squelch that big class action lawsuit (not to mention the 3500 other lawsuits) he faces.

This, incidentally, has been his MO for years, selling his name as a brand, because all the banks he's stiffed since the 1990s won't loan him money to actually build anything.

The alternative for him is that he gets bankrupted again (by those lawsuits) and his brand name shtick gets trashed. Again, this is part of The Producers playbook.

I don't think he intended to get this far, and I think his idea of being president is to skim a billion and retire, leaving Pence to run the place. Indeed, he might have been hoping to set up the Trump brand as a player in the whole campaign-industrial complex. This seems to be a bit of a scam, since the money goes to huge media ad buys that don't make much difference, but since it's now being spent by unregulated PACs rather than candidates who have to track value per donation, it's a great new industry to get into. The irony is that it doesn't look like Trump's very good at this new game.

177:

Fictional cases of mundane government agencies confronting the supernatural vary. Joss Whedon had The Initiative take a hand in Sunnydale's vampiric and demonic issues until they got burnt so badly they decided to leave that shit to bona fide Chosen Ones. Then he went the other way with The Cabin in the Woods - the true function of mundane governments had always been to intercede with the Other, shielding the mass of humanity from intolerable horrors. Very Lovecraftian in fact.

179:

My sympathies on having to rewrite, I think you had taken every reasonable step to future proof the Laundryverse, but who saw that coming.
In the highly unlikely event you ever had time on your hands, there is enough material from the blog to produce a 'Stross; On Writing", which I would enjoy but cannot ever imagine being financially viable.
Finally, I think the original version of the Delirium Brief would have done just fine here in the US, I read the Guardian every day, but you lose the intimate sense of a politician when you aren't hearing them on Today or watching them on Newsnight. However, I do respect your decision to do it right.

180:

The Post Inspectors have their jobs due to the hodgepodge growth of federal power. The Post Office being one of the few federal agencies that the founders created with clear federal power. So they needed an internal agency to handle crooked mailmen and bandits.

So being a federal agency they got other powers added on. Much like the Secret Service. There's also a rich history of them uncovering other crimes, like Ponzi.

Most of their powers still relate to the mail, despite the quasi-privatization that happened in the 70s and the hamstringing political games going on now.

Honestly I'm agreeing there should be several more agencies. I can see some being forbidden domestic powers (which as we know is a laugh), some being focused on domestic work, some military, and mostorganizations with odd histories. (Gotta imagine some ritual magic being used by Native Americans with the Army and Bureau of Indians being involved).

181:

And now we see the real reason for Uncle Sam's Misguided Children's use of the Navajo Code Talkers from the Pacific Campaign until the Vietnam War... (the US Army had the Choctaw and Comanche).

Defending against the Japanese - who would, of course, have had an Army Occult agency like Unit 731, and a Navy Occult Agency, and the two wouldn't have cooperated.

182:

What's needed is Star Fleet, by which I mean a very well-armed group of explorers who have a moral code - "The Prime Directive" - which they talk about incessantly to anyone and everyone they meet, but ignore during any serious crisis. They should be kind to alien individuals while quietly working against alien governments. They should be charismatic, very competent, and able to subtly influence others to adopt a Pro-Federation (Pro-Humanity/Pro-My_Country) posture whenever possible.

You know, Kirk and Spock (or their equivalents.)

183:

Troutwaxer described Starfleet as "a very well-armed group of explorers who have a moral code - "The Prime Directive" - which they talk about incessantly to anyone and everyone they meet, but ignore during any serious crisis."

Or when politically expedient. I've always assumed that the sole purpose of the Prime Directive -- from the Federation government's realpolitik perspective -- is to provide plausible deniability. If a captain screws up egregiously, Starfleet can wring their hands point at the venerable and much lauded parchment document, hang the captain out to dry, and replace him with someone less clumsy. (While probably promoting him to a prestigious desk job with the spooks or in OCS, so he can train the next generation to be smarter.) On the other hand, if the captain succeeds at their *ahem* benevolent manipulation of nonaligned governments (cf. "A Piece of the Action"), nobody says anything.

184:

Just to attempt to cheer host up, he's not the only UK SF author who is considering this issue.

In China Miéville’s new novella, “The Last Days of New Paris,” the detonation of a reality-altering bomb brings various Surrealist works to frightening life.

China Miéville and the Politics of Surrealism New Yorker 11th August 2016 [Note: it's the New Yorker, don't read the piece, it's 100% fluff. The interesting bit is the spread of
l'idée YT: Film: 25:22 to the Class of Readers it has].

185:

Not that Star Fleet's been done.

The other odd idea I'd had was The Star Trust, an organization entrusted with the interstellar drive for the good of humanity (e.g. colonization). Partly this idea came from a permaculture book nattering on about how legal trusts were the best law for permacultures (???--I'll dig out the details again if anybody thinks this might seriously work), and partly, I was trying to envision just how nasty a jump drive could be if used on Earth for jumping bombs into bunkers and the like (Larry Niven got there in the 1970s), and how whatever's left of civilization after Jump War I might create a sociopolitical entity that could be trusted to control such technology without destroying the rest of the biosphere if it didn't get its way.

And Trust has so many, many legal meanings.

I've also thought that Reisner's account in Cadillac Desert of the epic conflict between the Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation, both building water projects all over the US in the 20th Century would be a great story to transpose to the stars. Call ACOE the Exploration Corps and the BR the Bureau of Colonization (which only makes BuColic settlements, natch). Replace dams, reservoirs, and aqueducts with colonies on alien planets, and assume that the financial return progressively declines to pennies on the dollar as the more unsuitable planets are populated to keep the expansion (but who cares because the Trust is paying for it through its investments), and an interesting space opera universe starts to take shape. The whole history of water in the Western US is full of charismatic mega-egos doing what in retrospect turned out to be amazingly stupid or evil things. Why not strip mine that history and file off the serial numbers?

186:

You've said that you're a fan; any of his work that you recommend? Have read "Perdido Street Station" and "The Scar".


187:

The Uk's own eqvielent in the GPO also had some interesting powers and had a terifing reputation (makes the laundrys auditors seem tame). When I was a branch secretary for the mangers union in BT and did the course on representing members.

The course tutor commented that in that's one of my jobs in a SD (now BT Security) investigation was to sit with the accused's manager and stop them running out and resigning.

Note when Bruce Schenier left BT note how careful he was to make nice with BT security

188:

how whatever's left of civilization after Jump War I might create a sociopolitical entity that could be trusted to control such technology without destroying the rest of the biosphere if it didn't get its way.

See also "The Peace War" and "Marooned in Realtime" by Vernor Vinge. (Filter for author's libertarian sympathies and a somewhat different "magic wand" technology, but it's the same general theme.)

189:

NCIS would be one candidate esp as liaison with the Deep Ones.

I can just Imagaine the sceen in the squad room.

Gibbs: Some idiot smuggled a shogoth onto a submarine. Grab your gear!

190:
At most, I'd guess that some mutual friends (friends of both the Clintons and the Trumps) might have been gently recruited to kick the idea into the Orange zone,...
I'm just wondering how the easy conspiracy theories on the right about DT flow so quickly. Does anybody know? (e.g. twitter network analysis?) These and related possibilities were discussed as early as last fall (2015) if one was paying attention (including here), but they never got any broad circulation that I know of.
191:

We certainly do need plenty of Banks in our lives, though if you could manage to become a Varliot, that would be much appreciated. I am not sure that even Varley does Varley these days.

192:

"Glasshouse" was my John Varley tribute novel. I am not doing a late-period Varley tribute and decade soon.

193:

Dear Mr. Stross, please pardon me for interrupting.

Trying to draw your attention to my situation here (http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2016/08/Cthulhu-vs-Emperor-Of-Mankind.html)

194:

Well yeah, although I suppose Scalzi's gotten there too with his crazy Old Man's War setup. Hell, add Vulcans and you're back in Roddenberry's Federation, for that matter.

For those who get bored easily, it's interesting to find an interstellar sociopolitical entity that hasn't been done to death already. I mean, libertarians in space--like that would work any better than space commies or space empires would (Koch Industries Ceres Base, anyone?). That's what made me wonder if something as stodgy as a Trust might be worth exploring. I mean, what does Trust mean? You've got Public Trust, Land Trusts, Charitable Trusts, Trust Fund Kids, the Standard Oil Trust...it's just so undefined. That's the beauty of a Star Trust working, erm, selflessly to settle humans on as many worlds as possible. Doesn't that sound like such a wonderful mission?

On a separate topic, English can a problematic language, if you're trying to create new government forms. For example, a systems theorist want to dream up an emergent level of government organization that's sufficient to handle the rigors of expanding our biosphere to other planets. However, calling such an overgovernment The Emergency of Earth just wouldn't work. Isn't that unfair?

195:

I am surprised that you would have wanted Bush to "finish the job" as regime change was not what the UN and the UK signed up for. Isn't American hubris a sore spot for you? (It is for me and I am an American.)

It didn't become public to very much later that Rumsfeld's plan was to beat the Iraq army into dust then just leave after about 30 days. He and the other neo-con's plan was that some Iraqi Thomas Jefferson would rise and and the new nation state would be all fine and dandy. After 30 days a few folks at the top of the food chain realized just how bad a plan this was and kept trying to muddle along making it up as they went along.

196:

(It's worth noting: the unsuccessful ones do tend to be the ones who were largely voted in on their photogenic looks. Strangely enough, looking pretty and manipulating people based purely on your appearance isn't a viable professional advancement strategy in the higher reaches of politics - hence the crashing and burning of Sarah Palin).

I've noticed in the US and maybe in the UK that balding men don't get to or near the top very often.

197:

Palin would have gone a lot further if:
a) she'd managed to actually finish a term of anything (governor, commentator, etc.),
b) her family was a bit saner (to put it politely, they don't walk her talk),
c) something resembling political sanity occasionally came out of her mouth.

With regard to B, that's actually one of Obama's strengths, and one of the Bush family strengths as well. No matter what you think of their politics, they have decent families, and their kids seem to turn out okay. That actually counts for something.

198:
FYI, I'm pretty certain that "Ghost Engine" is going to shape up to be my big fat Iain M. Banks tribute novel. (While also being a thing in its own right, of course.)

Because we need more Iain M. Banks, right?

Damned straight. I look forward to it.

Now, going back to the original topic:

If Delirium Brief is set in April/May 2014 and CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN comes to a peak in 2014, I'd naively think neither would be affected by Brexit. That implies (spoiler of a sort) that the Laundry series will include books set in 2016 or later.

199:

*nose wiggle*

Remember when I posted that price list?

$30k gets you a single web meme these days:

Gary Johnson Itemized Independent Expenditures 14th August 2016.


The bigger fish have much larger budgets.

A $1 Million Fight Against Hillary Clinton's Online Trolls Atlantic, May 31st 2016 (note: the budget is now allegedly $6 million and there's been a constant doxxing war by lots of agents behind the scenes; that deep in the mud, none of them are playing nice).


[Real & Not Involved, don't blame me if they turn up]

200:

a very well-armed group of explorers who have a moral code

Easy - that's the SAS, and their notable tendency to go off and climb, swim, ski, and trek over everything remote and inaccessible. Take the Transglobe Expedition. The first unaided, solo crossing of Antarctica. The people who overnight on the South Summit of Everest and survive...

Throw in the Royal Geographical Society, the Outward Bound Society, the Scientific Exploration Society, Operation Drake, and Operation Raleigh, and you've cracked it :)

201:

Oh. You mean Them.

I never would have thought of Them.

As for the Royal Geographical Society, and others, there's a book out there called Tournament of Shadows:The Great Game and the Race for Empire in Asia that details their exploits about a century ago. You're quite right, that taking it interstellar would be (cough, cough) perfectly appropriate.

202:

Serendipity, thank you.
I had managed to ignore a possible password exposure for several days. Now retiring a bunch of creaky passwords and etc.


203:

Maybe now you will reconsider doing far future fiction? Fewer costly rewrites when reality gets inconvenient.

204:

That is an awesome and terrible problem to have.

One possible constitutional crisis that some commentators talked about but appears to have been too crazy actually to happen over Brexit was the Queen getting involved in politics. Building on some passages from the Nightmare Stacks, I suppose that might be a last-ditch strategy for the Laundry if it became necessary to disobey orders from an elected government to save the human species (or a remnant of it). Every human actor in the political system knows it could never happen, but as far as the Laundry's geas is concerned, it all ties back to the Crown...

205:

CAREFUL!
"Trust" in the USSA & the UK mean entirely, sometimes almost opposite things.
In the UK it usually means what it says on the tin.
Money &/or property is held "In Trust" for an individual (ussually a minor) &/or a group of people, or for a "Public Good" - some trusts are Charities ... e.g. "The National Trust"

Two nations very much divided by a common language.

206:

Also ( Ask Charlie ) the military actually had a plan, replicating Germany 1945, to take over, ignore all low-level Baath members unless fanatics & reconstruct.
The neo-con politicos rubbished the idea & we are now stuck with the ongoing results of this stpid piece of dogma overriding reality.

207:

I have just been told by the resident expert that the definition of a "Trust" in English law is where the legal & beneficial ownership are separate. The Trustees hold the legal ownership on trust for the beneficial owners (Who are other people).

Apparently this is a major problem when dealing with "Code Napoleon" countries - you cannot set up a trust for a disabled parent or underage child, at all. And causes expensive & unnecessary fun in cross-border monies.

208:

Back on topic (maybe)
This wonderful lunacy - from the "London Reconnections" blog ...
I'm sure the Laundry could use a Statutory Instrument wheeze like this once or twice. ( ?? )

209:

There was also something to do with the cable (if I recall), where there were two definitions, one from a scaled-down nautical mile and the other up from a standard yard. Notwithstanding the fact that these are different, they shall be regarded as the same. Or some such wording. There's quite a lot of that sort of fiddling when formulaic bureaucracy meets actual reality, or at least politics. A more recent example is the second, where they are blithering around that area but, as far as I know, have not yet lost their marbles; POSIX, of course, has defined something so spectacularly self-inconsistent that it is hard to believe, even when seen. The big trouble (for fiction) is that even mild parody looks ridiculous.

210:

Your naive expectation is wrong. The Brexit vote doesn't happen in the Laundryverse; what derailed the novel was the worked example of how today's political leadership in the UK mis-handles a crisis. (Badly, it turns out.)

211:

Maybe now you will reconsider doing far future fiction?

As noted, there's going to be a gap in the Laundry after "Delirium Brief", said gap to be filled by "Ghost Engine", which is indeed far future/space operatic in scope, because it'll follow seven out of eight novels all of which are alternate-present (Laundry, Merchant Princes) or near future ("Rule 34") (the sole exception being "Neptune's Brood").

It won't be out until 2018, though.

212:

I can picture the scene, and, indeed, Tony's, Abby's, Ducky's and Tim's reactions (less certain on the female agent's reaction because of shorter service).

213:

...d) She hadn't been so easy for Tina Fey (big fan of Tina BTW) to play and satirise! :-D

214:

Even a cynic such as me was surprised that no planning at all had been done for a 'no' vote, and the speed and throughness with which the main culprits attempted to absolve themselves of any responsibility for delivering what they had obtained. I was expecting the usual headless chicken and punishment of the innocent mode.

215:

Even a cynic such as me was surprised that no planning at all had been done for a 'no' vote,

Not me: that's exactly how they played the Scottish Independence Referendum campaign via Project Fear. (And indeed Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the pro-EU SNP, explained in words of one syllable why the Remain campaign were playing with fire by re-running the Project Fear playbook -- that boosted support for Scottish independence by up to 10% -- but was ignored by the Big Boys in England who didn't believe her.)

216:

...This is NOT the thread' topic, however.

True. You might find these two similar analyses of Putin's behaviour interesting; I caveat them by saying that they appear very plausible, but can't assess their quality...

https://themoscowtimes.com/articles/a-lonely-business-of-ruling-russia-54999
https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/mark-galeotti/putin-s-incredible-shrinking-circle

Anyway, back on topic :)

Something occurs to me about the other (possibly less obvious) explorer-types-with-a-moral-code group - the Pope's Commandos, aka the Jesuits.

They spread across the globe, decades ahead of mass involvement; operated within closed societies - e.g. Jesuits were in Japan and China from the 16th Century, and operated in China throughout the Cultural Revolution. The Church was packing off its Diplomats and Explorers long before the merchants turned up (or at least, survived and returned to tell everyone).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_da_Pian_del_Carpine

218:

FWIW, John Varley has finished Irontown Blues, so it should be seeing publication eventually.

219:

Charlie has already written that novel. It's The Jennifer Morgue.

220:

Um, yes, about those Jesuits. I'll just kick you over to the Wikipedia entry on Spanish missions in Baja California, although you can read about reductions (reducciones) in many other places (there's even an entry for "Jesuit Reduction" machine translated from the Portuguese Wikipedia). The money quote is "Their goal was to create a self-sufficient theocracy in which the missionary, usually supported by Spanish soldiers and laymen, attempted to rule over every facet of the Indian's religious and secular lives. The Indigenous peoples were housed often by gender, forcibly converted to Catholicism and acculturated to the Spanish Empire within the confines of the mission."

Not exactly the People of the Prime Directive, I'm afraid. So far as colonial government goes, the triplet of Presidio (royal fort), Pueblo (town), and Mission was how the Spanish Empire expanded. In modern, secular areas that would be military bases, commercial enclaves, and NGOs, all extending globalization. But I should also point out that Islam, Christianity, and other religions still send out missions to save the world. They just get less state sponsorship now.

This actually is a good SF point to discuss, because Star Trek's Star Fleet is kind of an awkward hybrid of all three. Could we argue good imperialists might do better with a bit of separation of powers, rather than trying to coagulate all functions into one fleet? Or does Modern Technology mean that it's preferable to get the hardware out there and reprogram it for multiple missions, rather than having three separate sets of hardware out there on the frontier?

221:

Actually, I don't think that they disbelieved her - they just completely ignored her, and may not even have known what she said in any detail. My understanding is that the Very Powerful do not read news etc. themselves, and have advisors to summarise what they want to know; from their public responses, the instructions seemed to be to pass on only sound-bites that could be used to denigrate her and to bin everything else. But I wasn't thinking just of Davey Boy and cronies, but the Unholy Triumvirate - they didn't even seem to have any idea beyond crowing 'victory' and saying 'now WE've won, YOU deliver it'. At least BoJo showed that he understood that he had got a monkey's paw wish.

222:

!!!

Any idea who the publisher is, so I can try and blag a review copy? Because I've only been waiting for it for over a decade ...

223:

John Varley has announced it as being done at his website (varley.net). I checked Amazon, but no sign of it there yet.

224:

I'm doubting it will see print this year. What Varley said in July 2015 was

I am finally at work on IRONTOWN BLUES! I hope to have it finished by the end of the year, and it should see print sometime in 2016.
He hasn't updated his Irontown Blues page since then.

Most of Varley's recent books have been published by Ace.

225:

Baja is a bit different than some other locations. Their operations in China/Japan were pretty different due to the local government. In Baja, Spain was the government, and you have Spanish Imperialism mixed with the Jesuits.

What's also interesting is the Jesuits ran it differently than other orders. The Jesuits cared a bunch about saving souls, but didn't care as much as making the natives conform. They still have a big white man's burden mission statement, of course. But the Jesuit Reductions were big on making the natives self sufficient. The big example is Paraguay, where the Jesuits had a lot of leeway.

So in Paraguay, they focused mostly on education and training, including skilled arts like printing and engraving. The idea was the reductions would not only save the souls of the natives, but better organize them. This organization was arguably more necessary in Paraguay more than most places due to being on the edge of Spanish and Portuguese possessions making slave raids a constant threat. The reductions were generally self-sustaining and able to make enough profit off cattle and farming to have some trade. The Jesuits were also more allowing of side projects like private gardens.

From what I know of the missions and reductions further north, that's actually much more ethically ran than some of the others. (I know some others under Franciscan rule tried to stamp out native languages, for example). I also just want to be clear that I'm not excusing some of the horrible stuff that happened here. The blacked robed Jesuits were just a lighter shade of grey in the whole dark history of Latin American imperialism and genocides.

To also be fair to the Jesuits, they were pretty accepting of new members from the Americas, and resulted in a way for well to do in places like New Spain and New Granada to send kids for education. It also resulted so younger sons who joined the church in the Americas joined the Jesuits. So part of the various crackdowns on rebellions included suppression of the Jesuits in the Americas for disloyalty to the Crown.

Also contrast the Jesuit operations in Japan and China where they were working under a developed government whose was not of the faith. Makes me think of DS9, where we saw the shiny face of the Federation doing stuff like exploring and helping cure plague victims. We also saw commercial work, like trying to restore Bajor (even Kira forcefully evacuating moons). But we also saw the Imperialism in the DMZ.

226:

Heteromeles wondered: "This actually is a good SF point to discuss, because Star Trek's Star Fleet is kind of an awkward hybrid of all three. Could we argue good imperialists might do better with a bit of separation of powers, rather than trying to coagulate all functions into one fleet?"

Depends on how you perceive the galaxy in which you're operating. Specialization works better if you can trust that your scientific and commercial shipping can operate safely. After all, you don't need guns and torpedoes (generally) if nobody is shooting at you. If the galaxy is a hostile place, you need self-defense capabilities. If your part of the galaxy is very large, you probably can't afford to build enough warships to patrol all of it, so scientific and commercial ships must be able to defend themselves. Most likely, there'll be a mixture of all three: dedicated military ships to defend high-value areas and targets, onboard self-defense for people who travel in dangerous areas without warships to defend them, and unarmed or nearly so specialist ships in relatively safe areas. And it also depends on travel speeds; if you can "warp" to the rescue of a ship in distress in minutes to hours, a smallish number of warships can cover large areas, but if it takes days to weeks to respond to an attack, non-warships can't afford to wait that long.

Consider the age of sail and the modern maritime shipping system on Earth and you'll get the picture. That's a bit simplistic, particularly in terms of the analogy (which breaks down for other cultures and galactic conditions), but it lays out the main factors to consider.

227:

That's fair enough, and I'm quite aware that the Jesuits ran into political trouble for their missionary activities.

I also agree with you (I think) that, as with the SAS, they're not a morally pure alternative model for how moral interstellar colonization could be done. Probably such a model doesn't exist outside our hopes and dreams, but I think it is worth considering how such things were done in the real world as well.

228:

Something like this was covered as backstory for Peter F. Hamilton and the Night's Dawn Trilogy, the economics of planetary colonization. But that was left in the dirt by the uber-plot which didn't pay off. In other words, go for it!

229:

The basilisk gun leak got me thinking: what would script kiddies do with proper spellware? The lolcat is out of the bag and 4chan is making brain-eater memes. You'd have to shut the whole thing down, kill the net, kill telecoms. Information overload goes black. That stuff leaks out...

230:

In the following, I'll admit I'm a fan of David Kilcullen's Theory of Competitive Control: "In irregular conflicts (that is, in conflicts where at least one combatant is a nonstate armed group), the local armed actor that a given population perceives as best able to establish a predictable, consistent, wide-spectrum, normative system of control is most likely to dominate that population and its residential area." (Out of the Mountains).

This rule happens to be fairly useful in figuring out who gets political control in a given area, because the key point for control isn't the level of violence that you bring to the table, it's that the control system (e.g. a government) acts predictably, consistently, follows norms, and is wide-spectrum, meaning it deals with everything from defending the population to law enforcement, infrastructure, health, legal issues, and education. Note that the control system doesn't have to be particularly pleasant or just, but it does have to be predictable and consistent. This is where tyrants screw up--rule too much by whim, and you lose your base of support. Similarly, a gang that only deals with force and extortion loses out to one that makes it easier to live with things like a legal system and health care, although being able to exert force is also important. We can see how this has gone wrong in the Middle East, where the control systems established are neither consistent nor predictable (cf bribery), and they're not terribly wide-spectrum either.

Now lets turn to Star Fleet. Would you trust an interstellar vessel that carried both nuclear-class weaponry and a hospital, if it said it came in peace? That's kind of the Middle Eastern problem in a nutshell,* and it's why it's often more useful to bring in the Red Cross/Crescent to provide aid and to have the Marines guarding the Red Cross facilities to keep the peace, rather than having the perfectly adequate Navy medical corps staffing the hospital. In the first case, the aid can be seen as impartial, and the troops there to keep the peace. In the second case, getting treatment might be seen as treasonous by those who see the Marines as invaders to be repulsed.

It's unclear how this might apply to non-human sapient species, but given that acting consistently is one of the standard tactics for habituating species to your presence, I'd suggest that this rule is a good starting point for figuring out how to structure a moral colonizing force. The technical question isn't how dangerous the universe is, it's how many ships you can send.

*More generally, we're talking about a continuum of force. Humanitarian operations do need
protection, because civil unrest almost inevitably follows things like famines and epidemics. Still, the level of protection is critical: they have a bigger need for the equivalent of military police than they do for nuclear overwatch and mutually assured destruction. This is an interesting problem for interstellar colonization. To keep weight down, you'd kind of want to ship everything necessary (from a hospital to nukes) in a single ship. To make it look like you might be a friendly invader, you'd do better to send a bunch of ships, most of which are ostentatiously benign, a few of which are there to coerce cooperation. Of course, in the real world we don't have starships, but this is a good place to start for SF design.

231:

Something like that did happen with a declassified bit of film about the use of anthrax in warfare being used in a UK documentary. It was also uploaded to YouTube at one point. It is no longer there because presumably someone (apart from me) knew what they were looking at.
When I saw it my jaw almost dropped.

232:

Regarding alt forms of government, it's probably a limit to my imagination but it seems like we've explored the most common possibilities on earth with current tech. The next level that springs to mind is computer-mediated direct democracy with voters afforded karma points, getting a louder voice if more people listen to them and repeat their ideas.

Most scifi devolves to repeating the present and the past with lasers. If most westerners view dying for a religion as an alien concept and westerners now still buy into patriotism and nationalism, run it forward a few hundred years and what would make sense to them but seem alien to us?

For one setting idea I have, colonizing the galaxy has a quasi-religious mandate but tech is hugely stagnant. For 10k years Earth is sending out colony ships with warp drives that can barely do .1c. Every colony system is effectively isolated. Then a few hundred years back breakthroughs are made in fast warp and the galaxy starts shrinking. Something crazy like building empires becomes economically feasible. (Or at least can appear feasible to the people who try.)

So we've got governments operating on the scale of continents, planets and star systems now looking at needing to operate at interstellar distances to form defensive alliances and others seeking to impose their will on less developed systems. Civilize them, bring them to proper thinking. Everyone sees themselves as the hero here.

233:

It all depends on the following:

1. What's the goal of your imperialists? Spreading an idea, form of government, way of life, make money/open markets?
2. What opposition do they face?
3. How spectacularly do you want it to go right/wrong?

On that last point, no moral judgment. The Germans got blitzkrieg "right" in that it was tremendously effective and "wrong" in that they couldn't sustain a war against most of the world. So do you want your imperialists to be effective or failures or something in between?

234:

Now I feel like an idiot because, duh, Glasshouse is my favorite of your novels and it is totally classic Varley....In a completely non-derivative way, of course.

But we could have way more Stross, if Stross means Glasshouse. (Which we won't 'cause sales, I get it.)

235:

One of the advantages of "classic" conservatives was the whole "reality based" policy thing. Even if it wasn't my reality, it was at least some sort of reality.

I don't care much for the American "House of Cards" remake, but "we are the terror" summed up a lot of the new "thinking" on foreign policy.

236:

We can actually think about meeting aliens without bothering with starships, as this is an LF thread. It would make sense for some groups on earth to start scouting the multiverse, o see if everything is shitty. The plan of the morningstar Host was not so bad, but what if you don't wait until you are overrun in your home dimension. Of course You also have good reasons not to (let anyone!) explore - they might attract attention.

Possible scenarios:
A multi-billionaire gives up on Mars looks for other earths, to build his personal Galt Gulch with Shoggoths.
Zionists in the Multiverse!
Someone has the clever idea: If all the people and all their computation pushes on the wall of reality, maybe they should be in another reality? Few governments think of their population as fgame-pieces to be moved about at will. China and Russia do.

From what we've seen of the Laundryverse, dimensional travel is not trivial (but squadron 666 does it on a regular basis) and the other dimensions we hear about are known because of the unpleasant vast intelligences living there. So a multidimensional explorer corpse would be wrong-genre savvy: thinking this is Star trek recycled on earth while playing bit parts (snacks?) in a cosmic horror story.

237:

That makes a lot of sense. As I recall in the age of sail, frigates did most of the peacetime work and the ships of the line were in reserve for wartime. A first rate isn't on pirate patrol.

Economic considerations are also at play. In a given setting, why travel between the stars? Colonization? Trade? What's worth trading? How expensive is transit? How regulated are things? Bill Gates couldn't equip a private warship even if he could afford it but wealthy citizens could fund privateers in the age of sail. How expensive is a starship? Something smugglers like Han and Chewie could buy, something commercial interests can operate or something only national powers could afford? What's the scale of viable ship? A bass boat and a container ship are both marine vessels but at different scales. Speedboats and AK-47's managed to threaten container ships but would be less of an issue if the political complications of the rules of engagement were different. You can't put armed guards with automatic weapons onboard.

I think it would be realistic to see overlap and redundancy in any effort. Not a slam against government but large human organizations in general. Everyone wants to turf-build. Look at the overlap in law enforcement. Look at the overlap in the US military. The Navy, Marines and Air Force all want their own fighters. The Army would, too, if they hadn't been forced to give them up.

So it would be quite conceivable to see the proper military operating something along the lines of major warships while the different interest agencies would have armed frigates. If you've got political division in the highest ranks of power you can replicate the Nazi situation where you've got the Wermacht as the army but the SS operating a parallel army that's considered more politically loyal and could be used against the proper army if push came to shove. The USSR had a similar concept with most trusted units used to protect Moscow and other vital areas against threat of coup.

238:

Regarding the thread about explorer is space and models for same. how about this:
Most interstellar travel is two-point, between systems that have set up the large lasers to accelerate and brake ships and and have all the compabilities hashed out. Also systems where the polities know each other well enough that you get on a ship and trust your receivers to still do their job at the braking laser in 20 years or so. Or quicker if you allow wormholes or Krasnikoff tubes.

So there will be pioneers, those suicidal enough to be the first wave (wether out of conviction or for some bitcoin remains to be seen). Aliens will have asimilar system, because in SF the one solution the author came up with last is always the most logical one so it's adopted everywhere. So an expedition will start, maybe 100 heads strong, and hitch a ride from planet a to B, hang around there till they manage to travel on to C etc. At one point they meet the aliens, by now possibly the second generation and some recruits found along the way. They travel back in a similar way so the grandkids of the first can relate the adventures of the expedition at home.

Why bother? Of course to get the unique Planet A perpsective on the alines exchange interesting cultural tidbits.

So the challenge is to come up with a social structure so that a mission retains some consistency over several decades or even generations.

I don't know how to do this, but I think long term stability is the crux of any interstellar project.

239:

This sort of brings up something I've wanted to say about "The Nightmare Stacks" and the lead-in was perfect.

Take a break.

Stop writing novels in the Laundryverse for a little while. Deep breath, find about a dozen or so authors, and edit an anthology of stories set in the Laundryverse that you would like to see and enjoy. Nothing says you can't write a novella or two for the anthology (like a Mo-centered story that has her at a state other than "about to snap," or Bob in Tokyo, or Angelton's Day Out), but give the headaches of "The Delirium Brief," maybe some more stories in slightly happier (or at least more sane times) might be what is needed.

240:

The other version for starfleet is to have tons of differently specialized ships that band together depending on needs. All under different organizational umbrellas of course and no clear hierarchies. Argumetns wether this is functional or not are ongoing.

Or maybe a few generation ships plus a fleet of labs, hospitals, diverse workhorses and combat craft. All built so that if a ship is lost, everything it provides is (including living space etc.) is present elsewhere. The philosophy is built around redundancy. Maybe there's not that much unity between ships but majority footvotes tend to be followed because of the redundancies of critical systems the whole fleet brings. Now have this squabbling fleet or swarm descend on one of those crises that would normaly call for Contact ...

241:

The blacked robed Jesuits were just a lighter shade of grey in the whole dark history of Latin American imperialism and genocides.

That made me think again of the film "The Mission"; it was the first film that brought tears to my eyes as an adult...

242:

That's a key part of the background to the Honor Harrington books. In 2103 CE, the first colony ship Prometheus leaves Earth. The mainline novels are set 1900 years later (in the 20th century of the Post-Diaspora calendar).

There were several periods to the Diaspora from the tech involved.

In the first period of pure STL, it was slow moving colony ships. There was some limited hibernation, but it sucked. Crews were awake on long duration ships, mostly to close in stars in life time long voyages. I think they could do up to .8C however, making it a long life but not full on generational ship.

In ~305 PD effective long duration cryonics are invented, so sleeper ships become common fast. Some folks want way away from everyone else, such as the Graysons who pick a system ~500 light years from earth and take nearly 700 years in cryo to get there arriving in ~1000 PD. This era lasts until ~725 PD. The STL ships do have some improvements in speed, but its a not revolutionary.

In ~725 PD, the first hyperdrives are built. However, they kinda suck, and have a high enough percentage of ships vanishing from anomalies that discourages their use for colony ships. Also the initial transition to hyperspace causes a loss in kinetic energy that can't be easily recovered in a big ship (they use solar laser to boost the slowboats). The brave and the bold explorers of this era do a bunch of mapping and claim staking. So this is a hybrid era, where the colony ships go STL using cryo, with fast ships doing exploration and slow ships doing the bulk transport. This is how Manticore is settled with the exploration being done in ~760 PD, the ship leaving in 775 PD and arriving in 1416 PD.

This lasts until the Warshawski sail is invited in 1293 pd along with the impeller both are able to manipulate gravity. The impeller allows powerful reactionless drives able to move big ships around. The Warshawski sail though works in hyperspace to send ships via the anomalies the old hyperdrives would fail under. Colony ships start leaving fast, with Haven being settled as early as 1305 PD.

Finally, wormholes, instant travel between specific points, are found for the first time in ~1450 PD (they are an offshoot of the sails).

So as a result, you've got competing techs, competing speeds, and some places that were cut off for a long time suddenly are transportation hubs due to wormholes. The effective speeds though at the start of the sail era are slow. It took the STL ships ~700 years to reach Manticore. Pure hyperdrive took ~10 years. Later model sail ships take 6 months. Wormhole travel is instant (but there's only a couple dozen known wormholes that go useful places).

Haven was founded using FTL tech, and was always in contact with the civilized galaxy, being considered the jewel of the 'Haven Sector'. Manticore has a good start (although arriving after Haven), due to smart planning and investing their resources on Earth so that they had teachers and trainers to get them up to date as well as modern industrial support. They are a backwater however, until the wormholes are discovered ~170 years after founding. Grayson, which got there first, was a backwater until politics intervened. (they also had problems being a cult colony and dealing with a schismatic civil war).

Haven and Manticore are exceptional for their contact early on. Even then, until the wormholes, Manticore maybe saw 3 FTL ships visit each year until ~1600 and the wormhole made them space Singapore. It was just too far for meaningful trade when ship routes were multiyear. In the core worlds, where trade routes were a few months, larger interstellar companies started to grow as it was about the same as shipping across the ocean today. Easy enough for the right cargos.

But backwaters like Grayson saw few ships and had their cultures grow strange. Including the Andermani, which started off as an early FTL merc who conquered a planet and renamed it Potsdam as part of his fetish for Prussian history (most Andermani are actually East-Asian). He expanded his pocket empire by taking over possible threats and humanitarian aid (his conquest started by bringing in geneticists to cure a blight).

Part of what's happening in the mainline novels of Honor Harrington is further FTL improvements are making it easier and easier to wage interstellar war. It went from pocket empires of a few close together stars where travel distances were under a year, to its now about a year to get anywhere in human occupied space.

The subseries 'A Call to' books by Timothy Zahn are set early just as pocket empires are starting to show up and interstellar war becomes a serious issue again.

(BTW I'm in an honorverse mode because Shadows of Victory will be released anytime between now and end of next week).

243:

Would you trust an interstellar vessel that carried both nuclear-class weaponry and a hospital, if it said it came in peace?

The Royal Navy has a standing task in the Caribbean Patrol; one discussion I've seen, is whether this task is best carried out by a frigate of the Royal Navy (with a small helicopter, small shore detachment, and a small hospital), or by a larger ship of the Royal Fleet Auxiliary - such as RFA Argus, with a 100-bed hospital, a large flight deck (it deployed in support of the Ebola outbreak), and a limited self-defence capability (which mean that it can't carry the Red Cross).

I suspect that the answer is you would trust it, if it was your own Armed Services or those of a trusted ally. I'm not aware that the Royal Navy have had many problems in the last decade or two, when they turn up to help at a disaster.

244:

I'm really interested in how a privatized agency and related corporations would apply geas and other magical compulsions to contracts. Imagine binding employees to non-compete agreements and NDAs with magic. Or making EULAs compel the end user to comply.

On the plus side, you could make vendor's and contractors heads burst into flames when they don't live up to their SLAs.

245:

Great points!

So as not to spam this site with a 1,450 word essay, I posted my thoughts over on my own blog site. I'm not trying to derail the conversation here, it's just that I'm kicking my own Space Opera setting around, I think my ideas need some more kicking by informed people, and there's little reason to do it on Charlie's bandwidth.

246:

It is a good point that you could do space opera-ish stuff with a Laundry-esque multiverse, Cthulhu optional.

It even has parallels in biology: after all, from a cockroach's perspective you look a lot like Cthulhu, yet cockroaches have managed to colonize the Earth by in our cities. Potentially we could do the same. If you don't like the idea of cockroaches, look at argentine ants, termites, coyotes, etc. However, this gets into Science Fantasy territory, not horror. If you get away from the soul eating and all that stuff (what's that soul thing anyway?), then the aliens are just immensely dangerous problems, not soul-sucking horrors, and we're in a different genre with different conventions.

247:

I have good news then: Max Gladstone's fifth Craft Series book is out. Start with Three Parts Dead and go from there.

248:

Reality takes another ding. Possible sighting of Black Pyramid acolytes at CERN. That can't be good

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2016/aug/18/fake-human-sacrifice-filmed-at-cern-with-pranking-scientists-suspected?

249:

it had me thinking of a laundry version of stargate sg1..

250:

Two thoughts from that Moscow Times piece
1: Putin is turning into Nicholas I
2:THIS tune

Otherwise, a return to the Status quo ante ... of about 1816

251:

"Regarding alt forms of government, it's probably a limit to my imagination but it seems like we've explored the most common possibilities on earth with current tech."

No way. There are plenty that have never been tried on more than a tiny scale, where the original scaling limitations could be removed with technology. I have also thought of a few that haven't been tried, as far as I know, though they may be in fiction, somewhere.

252:

You might want to remember that "Star Trek" communications work at the "speed of plot" (original source of quote Gene Roddenbury).

253:

Major kudos for the summary of the Honorverse; I mean those facts are mostly lurking somewhere in about 2 shelves of my bookcases!

254:

One thing that has puzzled me all my lifetime, and others before and after me, is why governmental systems are so stable over centuries, but observation is that they are. And Russia's is absolutism moderated by assassination, just as England's is a self-selecting oligarchy. What would have happened if Gorbachev's and Yeltsin's overtures to the west had not been thrown back in their teeth (with added missile bases), I can't say. but Putin is simply the result of the Russians getting fed up, reverting to their traditional system, and reelecting an autarch. He is a symptom, not a cause.

255:

I still fondly remember discovering Ophiuchi Hotline and Steel Beach when they came out, and re-reading them at least twice each.

256:

I refer the honourable commenter to OGH's link to David Langford's comp.basilisk FAQ, which is a worked example of the reaction to binary weapons escaping containment (though Langford's basilisks are images rather than guns - which of course only makes them more likely to get used by griefers of all sorts).

257:

There is a museum in Ontario describing Jesuit missionary work. The settlement described ended in tragedy and the commentary provided makes no judgements.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sainte-Marie_among_the_Hurons?wprov=sfsi1

I consider this the best museum I have ever visited.


258:

Actually, the theme of exploring parallel universes is a big chunk of the world-building underpinnings of EMPIRE GAMES, which you will note builds on top of the MERCHANT PRINCES universe but is more explicitly SFnal.

Including plans to transport and dump waste CO2 in other time lines while extracting the light sweet crude seepage that rises to the surface in some parts, in well-mapped parallel earths that just happen to have not developed H. Sapiens Sapiens (i.e. most of them). Gas has crashed below $1/gallon, monster trucks are all the rage, and supermax prisons aren't even built on our own earth any more ...

259:

Way kewel!! :-D

This from a guy who's first thought on "Merchant Princes V1" (6 volume set, since upgraded) was that there were similarities to Zelazny's Amber Chronicles (no criticism, just saying).

260:

This sort of brings up something I've wanted to say about "The Nightmare Stacks" and the lead-in was perfect. ... Take a break.

I'm actually planning to do exactly that, starting in a couple of weeks (or just as soon as I finish the final draft of DELIRIUM BRIEF).

There won't be a Laundry novel in 2018. There might be a couple of short stories or even a novella, but no novel. The next won't be published before 2019 at the earliest. (I have two novelettes and a novella that need writing at some point, and I know the general outline of THE LABYRINTH INDEX, but I really need a breather after squeezing out three Laundry novels and a novella in three consecutive years.)

Instead, what happens in 2018 is the start of a new far future/space opera setting, The Shining Worlds, kicking off with GHOST ENGINE, and which -- while it's a thing in and of itself -- is also going to be my Iain M. Banks tribute space opera.

Satisfied?

261:

This really works for me on a number of grounds:-

1) I actually agree with the idea of professional artists getting a break (even if this means they do project2 instead of project1).
2) There aren't enough Banksian or Strossian space operas in the world!

262:

Do not worry, you will still be getting two Stross novels a year until 2019, at least.

263:

some guy who ended up being famous, for BAD reasons, once said that governments stability rests on 3 pillars
1: tradition, if its always been like that...
2:popularity amongst the people
3: willingness to use force
looks like theres a form of inbuilt inertia

it also means that popular revolutions are unstable

264:

Slow, then fast has been done a number of times in scifi. The worst scifi cliche is a man and woman surviving a disaster and settling a new Earth and (dum-dum-dah!) they're named Adam and Eve. The second worst cliche is the slow-ship astronauts arriving at their destination hundreds of years later to be greeted by a thriving civilization setup with FTL drives a decade or two after they left. But working within the confines of that cliche allows you to get a populated universe out there. Giving it a really long duration of slow warp means that you can get some really weird and alien human cultures without having to resort to the bumpy forehead alien cliche.

With the advent of genetic engineering, I imagine we can get some pretty weird stuff. We already have bizarre sexual selection pressures on Earth right now. There was the African tribe that prized conical heads and did skull-binding. There's the other African tribe that likes elongated necks. Chinese foot-binding, Brazilian boob and butt implants. Skin-bleaching is popular just about anywhere the natural skin tone is dark. There's the whole furry fetish thing. Just imagine what a runaway sexual selection pressure would look like when it's imposed by direct genetic engineering. Now think about the way god-botherers and others try to impose their will on others. Female genital mutilation to curtail sex drive. Corn flakes were invented by Dr. Kellog to cure masturbation. We saw trepanning used as a way to control the minds of unruly prisoners. We know that brain-washing isn't a real thing, not like we see in Hollywood, though cult-like programming is possible. (see Apple.) It's not unreasonable in a scifi setting to imagine more sophisticated programming to be possible, or various brain hacks to alter the natural state of consciousness. For all of human history we've all been the same, we're people. Different cultures, different hair and skin, but we're all the same, 99.5% similar which is high as far as species go. There's twice as much variety in chimps.

As for honorverse, I read the first batch of books. They were interesting even though the simplistic right wing politics made me want to gag. Stupid liberals always wanting to ruin things because they're liberals, Haven not just a strawman but a straw titan of socialist stereotypes, Honor becomes Mary Sue, etc. I threw the e-reader against the wall when the big coup happened off-page. It feels like he's been writing so long he's lost the thread of the story. Has it gotten any better?

265:

"There are plenty that have never been tried on more than a tiny scale, where the original scaling limitations could be removed with technology."

Cool. Examples?

266:

That's some good stuff and what I had in mind when I asked. Amazing the storytelling that guy can do in a short story. A lesser writer would have blown it up into a weaker novel.

267:

My worries would be more about boredom (too much "all the same" for your tastes as a writer) and/or overwork than "am I getting all the Strossiana I want?"
After all, I'm one of the people who will argue that "novels are fungible" (for values that mean that if the new Charlie Stross is delayed, then I'll buy something by Another Author that month rather than that I'll take a strop with you and not buy any of your books ever again).

268:

There are plenty that have never been tried on more than a tiny scale, where the original scaling limitations could be removed with technology. I have also thought of a few that haven't been tried, as far as I know, though they may be in fiction, somewhere.
OK, I have to ask. Have you written any of the later down anywhere? Or for that matter the former? Even a summary here would be nice.

269:

Corn flakes were invented by Dr. Kellog to cure masturbation [Citation Needed]

From what I knew he was an advocate for vegetarian diet (for health reasons) and I understand corn flakes was part of that.

271:

From Wikipedia "Will Keith Kellogg was a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and practised vegetarianism as a dietary principle taught by his church."

272:

I am short of time now, but one I thought of was based on the total abolition of secrecy (note that privacy is a different concept), a self-perpetuating but open technocratic oligarchy with a hell of a lot of checks and balances) but draconian (but indirect) powers over breeding, education and development, and so on. I think that it would work, for at least as long as most systems.

273:

Now think about the way god-botherers and others try to impose their will on others. Female genital mutilation to curtail sex drive.
like this prize arsehole you mean?

274:

I think even Weber got bored with the politics of the first several Honorverse novels, and allowed more nuance, plus he opened it up to other writers with other concerns. There was some bodice ripping romantic agonising, inducing some crisp-packet rustling in this reader, and altogether too much magic cat stuff, but plenty of thrills and spills too. The current big bad is a centuries old conspiracy of genetically engineered superhumans (or from some perspectives, super-arseholes) who seem bent on inducing a galaxy wide war and picking up the pieces afterwards. Will the Good Guys and Former Bad Guys triumph? Stay tuned ..

275:

John Ringo (I know, I know) had his evil aliens operating under what was essentially an expert system bureaucracy. It mirrors what Charlie mentioned in a prior article about corporations being evil AI alien invaders. In this case the system was not conscious or self-aware but allocated resources based on performance. The aliens could not hack the system, could not alter the code but had to abide by the rules. Do x, earn points, spend points on equipment to do more x to earn more points and gain status. They had no control over it, as I said.

We all basically live in the non-scifi version of this right now. We must have job to earn pieces of paper or electronic representations of it to obtain food, clothing and shelter. We must abide by these rules and conventions and even when massive dysfunction is visible we are unable to change it. It's common to be trapped in systems we cannot control. Traditions, religions, socioeconomic situations rigged for the benefit of a few at the expense of the many. So it's not unprecedented, it's just the next step when we get more of it automated in software systems and then we forget how they work.

We'll often be freaked out by a new implementation of an idea that's not really all that different. We're horrified at the idea of automated war drones killing targets at random. Unconscionable! Robots shouldn't kill! But what about a homing torpedo or missile? Those are basically killer robots but we're used to it. Indiscriminate killing with no human in the loop? Welcome to landmines. Nobody cares where or when they explode. The decision to kill is the threshold; it doesn't matter whether it's with an arrow or a bullet, that's just details. Delegated, automatic killing is the threshold; whether we're using a landmine or an automated drone is a detail. (For the record, I'm against it.)

276:

"Just imagine what a runaway sexual selection pressure would look like when it's imposed by direct genetic engineering. " More likely genetic engineering will make it possible wirehead at will. Instead of modifying others to be titillating, why not modify yourself to be easily titillated? The smart will connect this to practical activities, rewiring themselves to literally love their work.

277:

Is GHOST ENGINE still a sequel to GLASSHOUSE, or is it it's own thing now?

278:

Trouble with that is that humans aren't a domesticated species, even though we're high genetically variable. We're more like apples than dogs, in that successful phenotypes seldom breed true (see Regression to the Mean and the probability of athletes', astronauts', professors', and rulers' children becoming as successful as their parents in their parents' professions).

That said, if you want to reliably repeat human successes, you're going to have to a) clone them and b) (critically) enculturate them the same way their clone-parents were, because culture is as critical as genes in forming humans.

279:

There won't be a sequel to GLASSHOUSE (because not commercially viable).

GHOST ENGINE is being recycled as a title for something completely new.

280:

Honestly the connection seems a bit tenuous to me and I suspect that the author thought that:

Kellog was against masturbation + He was convinced that bland food could help curb sexual instincts = Corn Flakes were invented for antimasturbatory purposes only

would make for a perfect clickbait title.


Kellog was a surgeon and was convinced that "proper" eating could solve a lot of health problems in the general population. Personally I think that this was the real reason he promoted cereals in your breakfast, and that fighting masturbation would be maybe a nice side effect.

Anyway, thanks for the link.

281:

He did. Some of it bringing in co-authors, some of its his politics have mellowed. (and some of it is bringing in co-authors like Eric Flint means he has to mellow his politics).

Note that coup you're talking about was originally in 'Ashes of Victory', but got cut since that book was already a doorstopper. It's in a novella called 'Nightfall' in 'Changer of Worlds', one of the Anthologies. Which is on the free Baen CDs.

Weber got more interesting to when he's dealing with verge planets. We've got among other things, an Anti-Grayson called Pontifex which managed to find a nice planet for their Religious colony. Their colony founders due to lack of tech and 80+% of the colonist die, making a culture which hates the religious fundamentalism they were founded on. Also interesting is a colony Mfecane which was founded by Bantu ultra-nationalists who settled on a high-g world as part of a splinter faction of black separatism. Due to complications from the high-g treatments of the early settlers and the sunlight the planet gets, most of the population suffers from Albinism.

The biggest detractor is since this started as Horatio Hornblower in space, Weber was unwilling to include transhumanism. Otoh he's actually made the culture's resistance to transhumanism part of the plot.

282:

"Now think about the way god-botherers and others try to impose their will on others. Female genital mutilation to curtail sex drive.
like this prize arsehole you mean?"

Exactly. Backstory for the kzin is that they selectively bred their females into imbecility to keep them tame. They were good for sex and basic nursing of kittens. You couldn't have an intelligent conversation. I think they were completely without speech. Anyway, a later story had a kzin warrior land on a planet where primitive kzin were seeded, I forget the reason why, but these were kzin from before they gained access to space tech, before genetic manipulation, and thus the females could talk and were just as smart as the males. That's a real mind-screw for the hero of the race right there! Good story, as I recall.

A story I read years back had an evil theocracy deliberately brain damage women upon marriage. 50 First Dates scenario, women stop forming long-term memories the day of their wedding and have to learn of their situation from their marriage book. They update it each night before they sleep with new information worth knowing (birth of children, etc) and wake each morning to be surprised at how much older they are and then study the book to learn what's happened since. The protagonist is a man who is perfectly suited to success in the system and rises high in the hierarchy with the sole motive of smashing it to bits.

When I think of futuristic atrocities, it doesn't get much more horrific than invasive violation of freewill. In 1984 O'Brian's whole thing was not just wanting outward compliance but also inward, to know that there isn't even a single thought resentful to INGSOC. They were still operating with plausible 20th century technology. What would they do if only they had the advanced technical means? Brave New World's idea of deliberate mental stunting of the worker caste. Maybe modification of the leader caste to reduce empathy and weak emotions. Sociopathy a feature, not bug.

283:

Ashes of Victory (March 2000) ISBN 0-671-57854-5
War of Honor (October 2002) ISBN 0-7434-3545-1
At All Costs (November 2005) ISBN 1-4165-0911-9
Mission of Honor (June 2010) ISBN 1-4391-3361-1
A Rising Thunder (March 2012) ISBN 1-4767-3612-X
Shadow of Victory (November 1, 2016) ISBN 978-1-4767-8182-2

I would go mad with the publication history. 5 and 4 year gaps in a continuing narrative? Only GRRM fans have it worse.

284:

I would go mad with the publication history. 5 and 4 year gaps in a continuing narrative? Only GRRM fans have it worse.

And Laundry Files fans :-)

Hope this helps!

285:

It's not quite as bad as that since that list excludes the "side" novels which have been re-integrated into the main story. It's still pretty frustrating since the in-universe time has advanced by only like two months since ART despite the fact that things are in the middle of going pear-shaped very quickly.

286:

"Corn flakes were invented by Dr. Kellog to cure masturbation."

I can certify that it works.
I have never masturbated while eating cornflakes.
Counter examples welcome from our regulars... Greg?

287:

Yeah pity he let Kratman's crazy into his stuff. The basic universe was interesting, and most of it was caused by well meaning precursors, who were very certain that their morality was universal including stuff that was just cultural baggage. The precursors are gone, and part of the problem is they got into an unexpected war where they needed to modify their changes.

(cut a bit here on the others)

The Posleen were heavily modified, in part to be troops for the precursors in a coming war. The problem was they rebelled. Their computer net was built likely during the rebellion against the precursors as it focuses on their client races. The precursors managed to do some retribution, including modifying the Posleen to reduce their intelligence.

The result was three basic levels of Posleen, the Normals, (95+% of the population) who are very stupid, but have some genetically pre-programmed skills (like basic crop tending, or shooting); then there's the sergeants/cosslain who are smart enough to understand basic orders and herd the normals (about 4% of the pop), and the God-Kings or Kessentai of the 1%, who are normal level human intelligence. About 5% of the Kessentai are really smart. However, Posleen culture is stagnate, they lay eggs and let the kids be feral due to genetic pre-programming, and the Kessentai have rough childhood without a family structure. If they survive they get a stick which marks them as a philosopher/Kessentai of the Path of Fury and Fire. It lets them make commands to their AIs and equipment. The AIs though give priorities and controls based on their point system, and rewards getting more materials and attacking foes. So place a dumb kid in such a system, and you get constant warfare. Posleen culture was once much different, as they used to be all Kessentai, and the normals are an aberration (at least one world where the precursors had retribution where the normals instinctively fight Kessentai and crush any eggs which smelt of Kessentai. It looks like their AI net became the effective guiding principle somewhere during their escape from the precursors.

But the combination of the precursor tweaks to give them genetic memory, as well as become explosive breeders, as well as their rebellion's creation of the Net which prioritized fighting the precursors other proxy races meant they would grow in size and fight again and again as they grew.

The biggest problem is by the time this interesting backstory is learned, Nazis (literally Nazis) and Jesuits are trying to convert them to Catholicism, cause Kratman helped co-author it.

Also, they were built as a re-interpretation of the Achultanni from David Weber's Empire of Ashes.

288:

Wireheading is not the problem.
The problem with H+ is that we may end up being totally rational and totally in control of our urges and genetic programming.
Then one has to ask why, once all that has been removed, is existence preferable to non-existence. From a rational POV I cannot see why it would be.
Fermi Paradox solved

289:

Note that's mainline HH.

The Eric Flint Co-authored books:

Crown of Slaves with Eric Flint (September 2003) ISBN 0-7434-7148-2
Torch of Freedom with Eric Flint (November 2009) ISBN 1-4391-3305-0
Cauldron of Ghosts with Eric Flint (April 8, 2014) ISBN 1-4767-3633-2

The Shadow Subseries:
The Shadow of Saganami (October 2004) ISBN 0-7434-8852-0
Storm from the Shadows (March 2009) ISBN 1-4165-9147-8
Shadow of Freedom (March 5, 2013) ISBN 1-4516-3869-8

There's 2 other subseries, the YA Treecat books with Jane Lindskold and Manticore Ascendant with Timothy Zahn. However both of those are set in the pre-wormhole era. There's also the 6 anthology books and three companion books (1 is out the other two coming).

The biggest gap was 2005-2009 between At All Costs and Torch of Freedom. (Shadow of Freedom is arguably a mainline novel, but Shadow books lack HH as a main character).

That gap in 2005-2009 was basically David Weber pulled a punch and had to re-write his outline. (also he became a parent unexpectedly and had to earn college funds by writing more books in more series, specifically the Safehold books). HH was suppose to pull a Nelson and die in the final battle of At All Costs, which would result in a generation of peace. HH's children would then start their careers and that's when the Alignment plot would start to mature. Instead he spread the bits around the subseries with the role HH's daughter being taken over by Anton Zilwicki and HH's son role being taken over by Helen Zilwicki.

290:

"Corn flakes were invented by Dr. Kellog to cure masturbation."

I can certify that it works.
I have never masturbated while eating cornflakes.
Counter examples welcome from our regulars... Greg?

I've never had sexual relations while eating cornflakes, either. Christ, he might be onto something here!

291:

RULE 34 APPLIES, DAMMIT!

(Do not do a google image search for "corn flakes masturbation" with safe search disabled. Just sayin'.)

292:

I didn't see anything particularly surprising, though I agree there were a few. My problem, as a child in an era when masturbation was regarded as sinful, was trying to refuse the cornflakes in favour of the all-bran :-)

293:

Yes. There are plenty of rigid, unrealistic or loathesome systems, but I was trying to design something with enough self-correction to be stable for centuries, but flexible enough to be adaptable and a society that I should like to live in.

294:

Well, so long as we don't get a replication of the end of Dark Star...

(For the record, I agree with you).

295:

Too many sharp edges

296:

Thank you. I just kept getting the feeling of you being burned out on the series around Annihilation Score and Nightmare Stacks just seemed to confirm that.

297:

Don't forget us poor "War Against The Cthorr" fans. I actually paid David Gerrold to Tuckerize Mrs. Troutwaxer* in the next book... The rumor is that he's writing again on the series, I hope he hasn't forgotten.

* Eaten by a worm, if anyone cares!

298:

Your impression was wrong.

I wrote the first cut of Annihilation Score in 18 days flat with my hair on fire! And Nightmare Stacks flowed easily, too (although not that easily; let me remind you that 18 days for a 109,000 word draft is averaging around 6000 words/day, or about 20 normal length novels per year, if I could sustain that pace).

No, I'm only losing momentum with Delirium Brief because I'm effectively giving it an unwelcome externally-induced rewrite that has come along after I got my head-space into an entirely different setting.

The time to take a break is before burnout strikes, not afterwards!

Burned out on a series is where I got with The Traders War -- and it's possible to un-burnout if you leave it alone long enough, as witness the fact that that was book 4 of a series and book 7 comes out in a few months.

299:

Cool. It's too good a title to lose. :)

301:

Excellent stuff...

See also Kipling, "With The Night Mail" and "As Easy As ABC".

302:

Dr Kellogg, Cornflakes, masturbation, electro-stimulation and much much more. It's all there in the movie The Road to Wellville.

303:

Further reading
The autobiography for one of the principal members of the R100 design team, who later became a very well-known novelist.
( "On the Beach" is his best-known, now, but "An Old Captivity" is well worth a read .... )

304:

AIRSHIPS LIVE AGAIN
... First short test flight of the "Airlander" @ Cardington.

Which so-called "Reality" did you order, sir?

305:

Actually, all these events tend to show that we are not living in a simulation, surely, as no-one would be daft enough to make up the shit that's going on right now ...
Unless, of course the "adults" have gone out for the evening & the kids are playing with the system-controls ... oh dear, did I just say that?

306:

When the stars are right the password for the universe will be posted on 4chan.

307:

I'm effectively giving it an unwelcome externally-induced rewrite that has come along after I got my head-space into an entirely different setting.

Imagine how it will suck after, having carefully re-written, it slowly becomes clear that, actually, no one actually has any real intent whatsoever on firing off "Article 50" and they are going to walk the whole thing back?

Picking Boris Johnson as foreign secretary? Perhaps carefully and deliberately done both in order to ensure ongoing chaos and eventual failure in the Brexit negotiations and to nail the slimy toad to his own creation good & proper ;-)

Then, on Thursday 8 May 2020, the next government will say: "Brexit, nah, that was the old lot. Nothing at all to do with us, mate.".

If you are not careful, you will become like George Lucas but without George Lucas's money ;-)

308:

Imagine how it will suck after, having carefully re-written, it slowly becomes clear that, actually, no one actually has any real intent whatsoever on firing off "Article 50" and they are going to walk the whole thing back?

As Charlie has said several times (and as was clear from the wording of the OP), it's not the actual Brexit that has induced the rewrite—remember that it's still 2014 in the Laundryverse, owing to the fact that novels take a lot longer to write than the elapsed time within the novel itself—it's the political reaction to it. After experiencing the entire political establishment, on both sides of the House, go into collective headless-chicken meltdown over a referendum result which, while unexpected, was never by any means unthinkable, he thought his version of what would happen in the aftermath of the genuinely unthinkable was a bit, errr, tame.

Hence frantic rewrite. Or that's my understanding anyway.

309:

Picking Boris Johnson as ...good and proper

You're far from the only person to have said that, and at least some of the others are not SF fans.

310:

These stories was the first installment of the RPG "Forgotten Futures" by Marcus Rowland. If you are interested in "Scientific Romances" you will find lots of interesting stuff on his website (http://www.forgottenfutures.com/), even if you don't care much about tabletop role playing games.

311:

I agree with your interpretation.

What do you make of my #309 as "BoJo as FS being a worked example of cabinet joint responsibility in action"?

312:

My favourite was "Round the Bend", but I also enjoyed "Trustee from the Toolroom"...

313:

Your understanding is correct.

(fajensen's time line for how Brexit will play out meshes with my current expectations, too.)

314:

Any idea how May will finesse it, so as to drag things out, postponing actual triggering of At50 until it's too late?
[ Pre-negotiations, intra-nation discussions, Parliamentray committees, deliberately refusing to negotiate with JCJ, because he's part of the problem? What else? ]
Of course, if the major two Italian banks go tits-up in the next year, making Italy a "Greek Case" - then we won't have to worry, will we? (!)

315:

Well, to start with:-

1) Teresa May is not actually bound by any prime ministerial promises that Scamoron made.
2) We may need multiple Acts of parliament before we can activate Section 50.
Off the top of my head, there are a number of EU treaties which were enacted by Acts of Parliament and will need further Act(s) rather than prime ministerial fiat to remove from UK law, the Scotland Act (1998) presently requires the Scots Parliament to act in accordance with the ECHR and with EU law so it's far from clear that Westminster can withdraw the UK from the EU without one or both of another Scotland Act and/or the ratification of the future EU Withdrawal Act (2018?) by the Scots Parliament (You understand why that ratification might prove problematic?). The Government of Wales Act (1998) and Northern Ireland Act (2006) probably make similar provisions...

316:

Charlie [279] noted: "There won't be a sequel to GLASSHOUSE (because not commercially viable)."

One word (if a sequel interested you from an authorly/artistic perspective): kickstarter.

I'd kick in $5 to provide motivation and funding while you write. I'm confident I'm not alone in this. Once it's written, send an EPUB to everyone who contributed. Then take the manuscript to your print publisher and I'll buy the print edition. Or if you choose to self-publish, ditto.

317:

These stories was the first installment of the RPG "Forgotten Futures" by Marcus Rowland.

And who occasionally comments here. I discovered Forgotten Futures by accident years ago, when googling George Griffith. Found a neat and useful site, shame I'm not a gamer. That was before I had even heard of this Stross fellow.

318:

It's not that simple. If I took it to an SF publisher (which I don't have in the USA, right now, because I've parted ways with Ace -- the Laundry is moving to Tor.com Publishing, the next SF novel doesn't have a home until I've written enough of it for my agent to sell it) the likely reduction in sales relative to my current novels would (a) result in a smaller advance, (b) result in smaller advance orders from Barnes and Noble, and (c) thereby depress my next SF novel's advance orders. There is this thing in publishing called the midlist death spiral, and I have no desire to embark on it.

(However, I think this new novel is going to be better anyway.)

319:

Charlie noted: "It's not that simple."

Neither is writing a novel, yet you consistently pull that rabbit out of the hat. I started my comment with the suggestion that this would only be worthwhile doing if you really wanted to write the sequel or something else that you or your publisher don't consider to be commercial. And to be clear right from the start, I'm not trying to argue you into doing something that you don't want to do. If it's not a story you passionately want to write, no point in reading further.

But if you wanted to write this story or another one, irrespective of what the publisher wants, you can find a way to make it happen. Here's a thought experiment: Patreon or Kickstarter would be a way for you to decide how much your time is worth, offer your fans a chance to pay you that amount, and then not write the story if you weren't promised enough money to repay your time. I think James Patrick Kelly or Allen Steele does something similar, namely selling their work direct to fans by subscription.

Or:

Charlie: "If I took it to an SF publisher... the likely reduction in sales relative to my current novels would (a) result in a smaller advance, (b) result in smaller advance orders from Barnes and Noble, and (c) thereby depress my next SF novel's advance orders."

I can't speak to the downstream consequences, but guys like John Scalzi and Cory Doctorow seem to provide counterexamples. Both have released novels online and then sold them to publishers, and both have done extremely well with the novels. You're definitely in their league for quality; I don't know if you're in their league for fan base and sales, but would assume so? There have also been a few folks who published what were essentially vanity books (projects they but not their publisher were passionate about) with small presses or self-publishing when their main publisher didn't want to take on a book. Rudy Rucker did something like this; he was profiled by Locus back in 2013 and if memory served, he discussed how he'd done this in that interview.

But that's purely speculative; the way to find out would be to ask your agent to investigate this with your current publisher. They'll tell you whether they're willing to take a chance on the idea.

And there's lateral thinking that hasn't, to my (limited) knowledge, been tried. For example, the Patreon/Kickstarter/whatever could be designed to gauge advance interest for the publisher and probably to pay the cost of the publisher's first print run; the publisher would tell you what level of commitment would be required to reassure them that their costs would be covered while still paying you what passes for a writer's living wage. Of course, that (letting publishers judge a book's merits purely based on Internet surveys) might be a bad precedent.

320:

As much as I enjoyed Glasshouse, I'd rather read sequels to OGH's other work. After the next Laundry sequel, I'd most like a sequel to "Neptune's Brood," along with other stuff after that.

Also, I'd love to see Charlie write a pure horror novel, preferably mining the Lovecraftian vein.

321:

You're definitely in their league for quality; I don't know if you're in their league for fan base and sales, but would assume so?

Nope, not really. John is a serious high-end bestseller; Cory has gone the distance there: I stalled out about where they were 5 years ago and kinda-sorta scrape into the bottom end of the USA Today bestseller list (the top 100) rather than the New York Times top 10 (like those guys).

322:

1. There will probably not be a third Freyaverse novel. Sales in the UK for "Neptunes Brood" tanked, and I'm parting company from the US publisher of the first two -- Ace -- and it's very hard to sell an ongoing series to a new publisher. (The Laundry is a remarkable exception, as it is now migrating to its third US publisher in eight books.) Also, that's a very hard universe to work in because of the Mundane SF constraint (which I ended up breaking at the end of NB).

2. Nope, there won't be a pure horror novel. Although the spectre of a post-Brexit Britain is making me reconsider shelving the magical realist gothic near-future haunted house novel I wrote the first 100 pages of last year ...

3. The next book will definitely be "Ghost Engine" because it's already sold in the UK -- and in the US, for audio rights -- so all that remains is to write the thing and lasso a new US book/ebook publisher. And I'm stoked about it because it's the first time in eight years that my agent and editors have encouraged me to strike out in a new direction. (Usually the story is "write us something just like the last book, only different".)

324:

If it's not a delicate question, what went wrong with Ace?
If you can't ell us, then please tell us that simple fact, anyway/

325:

Much if, very wow. (It's not from Kepler; I'll take it with a pinch of salt until confirmed.)

326:

I cannot discuss it at this point. Ask me again next July 1st, after THE NIGHTMARE STACKS comes out in mass market paperback in the USA (which should be my last title from them). Or tackle me over a pint.

(It is impolite to publicly air dirty laundry while a separation/divorce is in progress. Once the dust settles, it's another matter.)

327:

Seems to be based on doppler measurements. Kepler relies on occultations, and the chances that any given exoplanet passes in front of the primary are slim, so I doubt that Kepler will help. Imaging this exoplanet directly is a job for a really big orbital telescope array.

One day.

328:

I'll take it with a shovelful of salt, because "habitable planet orbiting NEAREST STAR" is just far too much of a cliché to actually be true.

329:

Thanks - not into games of any kind, but there does indeed seem to be a goodly amount of stuff on that site whose presence is worth marking.

330:

On the subject of future novels and directions, I do wonder if a somewhat optimistic near future genre is going to do well going forward.

Reasoning is thus. Politics is a sh*tstorm of failure and lack of vision at the moment - hence the focus on emotion and clowns rather than workable plans. However we do pretty much know that coming around the corner are:

  • Autonomous vehicles
  • Delivery Drones and even autonomous helicopter taxi
  • Elon Musk and his Martian Adventure
Now sure you can write a dystopia of unemployment and social fracturing, but you can also look at it as techies being the only ones with vision, trying to make the world run better. And the above developments don't need to negative, if you think wider than just tech. They can be transformative, if you want to make that happen.

I think people are looking for an optimistic vision, and I think that nexus of 'AI slaves' and 'out there' might be it.

331:

Supposedly, the report is going to be published around the end of August.

Note from Wikipedia's Proxima Centauri page: "the habitable zone of Proxima Centauri [is] about0.023–0.054 AU from the star, and would have an orbital period of 3.6–14 days." According to one article I've read, there has been dirty doppler data suggesting a planet orbiting around 3 days dating back a few years, so whatever report comes out may simply be a cleaned up version of these older rumors

Note that Proxima Centauri is a red dwarf flare star, so I want to see good spectroscopic data on any of its planets showing that the planet has a really good oxygen atmosphere before I think it's worth sending a crewed mission there. As it is, any "earthlike" planet will be tidally locked, so "habitable" is, at best, a relative term for this bit of real estate.

332:

I want to see good spectroscopic data on any of its planets showing that the planet has a really good oxygen atmosphere before I think it's worth sending a crewed mission there.

Almost any instruments, such as vast telescopic arrays built in the solar system to study planets around near-by stars, are going to be way cheaper and faster than sending crewed missions. Note that "cheaper" and "faster" probably still mean "hectogigadollars" and "many decades". OGH did a piece(*) on the difficulty of interstellar flight a while back, and I suggest reading it again. Absent some physics breakthrough, the close stars are something for Kardashev I+ people to visit somewhat conveniently.

(*) http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2007/06/the-high-frontier-redux.html

333:

Um, I was part of that star flight conversation...

It being silly season and OGH gearing up to commit Space Opera, it's worth talking about.

Still, me talking about starflight is like an atheist theorizing about religion. I don't think even colonizing Mars is possible, at least at our current level of social development. Not technological, social. Any colony on Mars is going to have to be close to what we'd term "100% sustainable" on Earth. If we're unwilling to create communities on this planet that can live sustainably, we're not going to be able to colonize Mars, let alone the Moon, asteroids, space, or the stars.

The converse problem is that if we can create 100% sustainable communities sealed Biosphere 2-style on Earth, there are huge numbers of places on this planet that can (and should) be colonized before we start goofing around with Mars. After all, the dry valleys of Antarctica are considerably more habitable than Mars. If we're not going to build cities there (or in the Atacama, or the Gobi, or the bottom of the ocean), why should we spend huge amounts of money trying it in a place that's so much less pleasant?

That said, if someone invents FTL tomorrow, I guarantee that we're going to see spaceships made of an unholy mashup of space and submarine technology zipping off to stars unknown, and bringing back interesting biota to play "oopsie" with on Earth. That's worth a story or two, but I don't think reality will allow it.

334:

Re, Mid List Death Spiral; Nightmare Stacks was NOT available at the local B&N; I asked, nope, nope, nopity. From Observation, Xtian Romance and Lou Wesley, Rawls are more to local tastes.

The entire "Political" new release Non-Fiction section is full of the latest from various FOX News personalities, etc.. That's it, a very one sided discourse.

They (B&N) don't even display "new" mass Market Baen/Tor paperbacks, not sure if they even stock them any more.

335:

To be fair to B&N, I've seen substantial variation among local stores in what they stock. One store has an idiot in charge of SF&F, another nearby has something halfway decent, even though it's closer to Mysterious Galaxy, which specializes in SFF and Mystery.

You're probably more right in that it's the tastes of the local community, as filtered through the large sagittal crest of the store's book buyer.

336:

Oh dear ... good luck with your new "supplier/publisher" then.

337:

Thank you for linking to that piece. It was a fascinating reading. However, it seems to be attacking the space cadet model of colonization, which is a completely self-sufficient society on other planets to the extent that it survives should it lose contact with Earth.

However, that is not the only model of colonization. There is the colonization of the Atacama desert https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atacama_people

The civilization is dependent on the outside world, no question. It wouldn't last without trade from nicer climes. However, the Atacama desert has been continuously inhabited since 500 AD. The Atacama desert managed to retain human inhabitants in the face of the diseases. I would say that only a minority of people would view the Atacama desert as anything other than a successful colonization.

338:

See new blog entry!

339:

It being silly season and OGH gearing up to commit Space Opera, it's worth talking about.

Yeah. In order to perpetrate space opera even remotely plausibly, I had to resort to giving the people in my sandbox a magic wand: the wormhole generator from "Palimpsest" only turned on its side (to open and close wormholes between distant points in space rather than time).

340:

If we're not going to build cities there (or in the Atacama, or the Gobi, or the bottom of the ocean), why should we spend huge amounts of money trying it in a place that's so much less pleasant?

The only plausible answer I've heard that makes sense is "to get away from the neighbours". It worked for the Plymouth colonists in New England (for a while). And if you're worried about J. Random Lunatic over the river releasing a genetically engineered hypersmallpox in order to immanetize the eschaton, or Those Nasty Poor People rising up and burning your gated communities in revenge for you stealing all their jobs, it might seem plausibly attractive to move your gated community to Mars and work like a dog for 80 hours a week until you die prematurely of radiation-induced cancers just to eke out a borderline survivable living without having to worry about (shudder) Those people.

341:

I'm glad you're wormholing.

The method I'm playing with is a jumpship with conservation of momentum. The ship lifts off to get well clear of the ground, *boom* and it's in space, but not in orbit, due to conservation of momentum. If it's in translunar space it won't fall back to Earth very fast, so it has time to shed the atmosphere it jumped with, shake out all the bugs that came from sudden loss of gravity, and so forth, and still jump back if things go haywire, before *boom.* it's in or near another star system, where it spend the next six months or so matching the orbital vector of its target (there are some interesting ways to do this, but generally you want to be far away from your target when you do them), then *boom* and it's in space near the target for the last round of orbital insertion or whatever, before it matches velocity with the surface and *boom* pops into the air high enough up to trigger the landing rockets, check out the LZ, and so forth, while it lands VTOL midst the debris field it caused by making a rather large airburst above the LZ (well, if it pops into the air high enough, it's just a big boom, rather than a Tunguska style shockwave).

The hard part of this one is the six months matching velocities and the shockwave on entry of planetary atmosphere, but otherwise, the ship and crew are not exposed to interstellar space.

The useful thing about conservation of momentum+jump is that it limits the interstellar range of the ship. Using something like VASIMR, we can get perhaps 50 km/s delta vee on a spaceship if we're really, really good, and there are tricks we can play with gravity to get some more delta vee. That's good enough for nearby stars, but I suspect that when you get beyond thousands or tens of thousands of light years, the stars will be moving so fast relative to the sun that the best we can do is a distant flyby. Galactic surveys and interstellar communication are possible, landing on a planet outside your neighborhood is not.

342:

Heteromeles,

Depending on how much energy it takes to jump, you can use gravity as your drive.

You jump off the Earth, then you fall into the gravity well, building up velocity, then jump up to fall more. You can set the vector and velocity by choosing which side of the planet to fall above. By jumping around the planet you speed up slow down, change your vector. When you arrive in the target system, you reverse the process by draining your velocity and changing vector. If you fall up in a gravity well it strips your velocity, until you are moving slow enough to land.

Venus would be a good planet to use as the "fall point" since you would not have to worry about populated areas filled with junk in orbit that you might hit.

Think of it as a "flea drive" jumping and feeding off the gravity of a planet.

343:

Okay, okay. One more bit: I was going to swipe from David Brin, and call the interstellar ships "sundivers." Slowing down by sundiving requires a bunch of jumps, including the ones where the ship retreats to deep space to cool off, but why use a puny gravity well when you've got a big delta vee?

344:

And another bit. If you've got a ship that's, say, landing on its belly, has a serious engine on the rear, and doesn't have internal gravity, then you're going to have to design the interior a bit like the RP Flip" and do a lot of rerigging between jumps. Fun stuff, and I don't think it's quite been done before...

345:

When you say "points in space", relative to what?

I've got a mental picture of an entry wormhole that's near-static wrt to ship at entry point, but an exit wormhole that's proceeding at speed relative to the intended destination; instant delta-V (or the reverse; exit at near-stop by entering a wormhole that is proceeding just in front of you...

346:

For a brief while, I liked the Alcubierre idea. Since there is thisweird claim from the guy who once git some cash and lab spoace from NASA, I'm seriuosly unenthusiastic of one cropping up in fiction. Rather be honest about the magic wand being a magic wand. Jumpships and wormholes, why not.

Heteromeles,,
could one use your jumpdrives as generators? Jump away from Jupiter, fall in, jump away from jupiter, fall in, repeat until very fast, then closes large coil and extract electrical energy from Jupiters magnetic field? Perpetuum mobile, unless the energy expenditure with every jump is the potential energy between starting point and endpoint. If so, where does the energy from jumping down a gravity well go?

347:

Charlie noted: "In order to perpetrate space opera even remotely plausibly, I had to resort to giving the people in my sandbox a magic wand: the wormhole generator from "Palimpsest"

You seem to be sticking with the mundane manifesto, which is a perfectly legitimate artistic choice, but it and various associated choices made your Saturn/Neptune books relentlessly grim reads. There's plenty of downer/buzzkill in the real world; I don't need more of that in my fiction. Loved the characters in both books, but despite that, didn't really enjoy the books. (In the Laundry universe, there's at least a sense of hope and of having a point to the struggle despite the increasingly grim scenario.)

If you want a semi-mundane approach to FTL, perhaps apply "what if? to this: http://www.livescience.com/29111-speed-of-light-not-constant.html

I think it's also perfectly plausible to propose the analogy that relativity 1.0 (our current version) is to Newtonian mechanics as relativity 2.0 or 3.0 will be to relativity 1.0. Physicists have built a remarkably consistent and useful model of how the universe works, but then so did the Newtonians. It's arrogant to assume, in defiance of historical evidence, that by the end of the 20th century, we'd achieved the end of science and that our current models will never be superceded or radically altered.

Charlie also noted: "And if you're worried about... Those Nasty Poor People rising up and burning your gated communities in revenge for you stealing all their jobs..."

To be fair, the 1% didn't *steal* our jobs. They'd never work for such low wages under such conditions. They just sweet-talked us into letting them export the best of those jobs (i.e., the expensive ones) overseas.

But there's good news: In a continent where 25% of Americans don't know that the Earth rotates around the sun and where nearly 50% don't believe in evolution, we can still count on the displaced workers creating lucrative knowledge jobs to replace the assembly line jobs they lost. After all, 1.3 billion Chinese couldn't possibly have four times as many Einsteins as 330 million Americans and aren't willing to work for half what an American expects*. Ditto for India. That's why software and tech firms *aren't* exporting jobs overseas fast as they can dry the e-ink on the contracts.

* Some jobs appear to be approaching wage parity, but Chinese colleagues have told me repeatedly about massive unemployment of engineering students (far more graduate than can find jobs) and punishingly low wages for scientists. Anecdata, of course, but anecdata from people who know.

348:

allynh proposed: "Depending on how much energy it takes to jump, you can use gravity as your drive. You jump off the Earth, then you fall into the gravity well, building up velocity, then jump up to fall more. You can set the vector and velocity by choosing which side of the planet to fall above. By jumping around the planet you speed up slow down, change your vector."

Don't try this anywhere near the atmosphere. There's this inconvenient thing called frictional heating... *G*

The problem with this notion is the magic wand you have to wave to accomplish it: When you "jump", where does the energy come from? You're essentially proposing a perpetual motion machine, and TAANSTAAFL.

349:

My previous employers had a burst of "let's open a design centre in India, their engineers are so cheap!". There were some unanticipated problems...

Firstly, for the same money, you can employ one junior engineer in Silicon Valley, two junior engineers in Europe, and four junior engineers in India. Unfortunately, the differential is much less for senior engineers - I was told that it's nearer parity for a couple of decades of experience. Secondly, the employment turnover rate is greater in India - those young engineers are driven and ambitious, and determined to progress their careers.

This means that to get the advantages of cheaper junior staff, you have a design team with proportionally more junior members; this places a far higher supervisory burden on senior engineers. Throw in the turnover factor, and it appeared to be a similar structure and perhaps culture to the UK defence sector of the 1980s - very directive (the boss does know best, and tells you how to solve your problems) and document-driven (because it's the only way to retain knowledge). Job titles become a differentiator, because a promotion has a retention benefit (allegedly, our Indian centre had twice as many different employment grades, so that they could promote twice as often).

The result is an environment that is less competitive that it should be - less agile and efficient than teams who suffered this and learned from it decades ago. Give it twenty years, and things may well change...

350:

I should point out that a weighting towards junior engineers need not be a bad thing - I started out in the late 80s in an environment where we had that, but also a low staff turnover (two recessions and a shrinking employment market will do that). The result was that we got more experience, faster and younger, than I see currently in the software industry.

I was a Chartered Engineer, running a team of four, and a Design Authority on a chunk of defence avionics by age 25 (like several of my peers); looking around these days, you wouldn't appear to get that until 30 or 35...

351:

Let me guess, you're one of those people who grumbles about Bussard ramjets as well?

At a guess, any FTL solution probably breaks at least the first two laws of thermodynamics as well as relativity and causality, so yeah, whatever.

This is the point of space opera. If you're walking out of Star Trek/Star Wars/Interstellar/Firefly/Battlestar Galactica/ad nauseum because they weren't physically possible, then this kind of literature isn't for you.

I suspect that FTL came along because the engineers and physicists who wrote early SF realized that interstellar travel was beyond sucktastic, so they devised FTL to get around the nasty, boomy, and infinitely tedious bits of interstellar travel to make for a more pleasant story.

The nice thing about the sundiving is that it gets rid of one more silly bit: the necessity for space stations and being able to live in space. That turns out to be hard too, so rather than talk about force fields and artificial gravity, I decided to fiddle with a ground-to-ground method for interstellar transport, one that doesn't let you go anywhere instantly, and for a somewhat less artificial reason than most.

352:

I suspect you're replying to Geoff, not me...

Anyway, OGH has already stopped one fun space opera series because Consistency. Thrashing out the more obvious use cases and failure modes for Wormhole Space Opera among an audience of creatively awkward types (or awkwardly creative) seems sensible if we want to see GHOST ENGINE 2, so don't be grumpy ;)

I look forward to gratuitous acts of Grevious Bodily Wormholing, the bold splitting of infinitives, and am truly hopeful that a la Douglas Adams, we can now discover whether small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri are Real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri...

353:

I should also note, because it's a slow, hot, afternoon, the the laws of thermodynamics describe the ~4% of the universe we perceive, and we're also aware that our two models, which agree perfectly with all attempts to test them so far, do not agree with each other, and have not, so far, provided an unambiguous clue about either the more fundamental physics that generated them, or about the other 96% of the universe we can't perceive except through its apparent gravitational interactions with the observable universe.

We've been in this situation many, many times before. Assuming we figure out the next more basic level of physics, it may turn out that FTL is possible. Personally, I'd wager money *against* that being the case, just as I'd wager money that interstellar travel for any created thing is impossible as well (With the caveat that we're talking about time scales <10,000 years). However, I think we need to remember that the dark jungle of unobservable reality is about 20 times bigger than the small, lit clearing in which we think we dwell. For all our advances in knowledge, there's still ample room for magitech and monsters out there in the dark.

354:

I assume with a jump drive like that the energy comes from your ship's reactor or whatever. If you jump from 100 miles above Earth to 1000 miles above Earth the jump engines consume more energy than the 900 miles worth of potential energy gained. When you jump down you get the potential energy back as heat, so design your radiator fins accordingly.

Still useful because you don't need reaction mass, but you do need a good energy source.

There are still problems I am sure, but hopefully you can cop a lesser plea in Physics Court.

355:

[2] There's no Conspiracy chatter on this (other than reflexive shouts of "HAARP HARRP" to be expected), but I can think of one already. It's a biggy as well.
Have stewed on this for a couple of days, and all I've come up with is a potential way to selectively interfere with GPS and similar systems. (Which has appeared on a reddit thread so not much harm saying it here.)
Is your biggy similar or different?

(Mending is good.)


356:

That was something I played with in designing the FTL drive for something I never wrote more than about 15 pages of. It was essentially a hyperspace drive that worked by means of a semi-Alcubierroid handwave. The big thing was that you could only come out of hyperspace on the same contour of gravitational potential that you went into it from (within some margin dependent on the thermal capacity of the reactor core (and it was a gas-cored reactor, since the handwave involved massive charged particles with 10s-of-MeV energies), ie. not much). If you tried to come out too high it wouldn't work, plus you'd probably freeze out the reactor core and have a bugger of a job getting it going again. If you tried to come out too low the result would be anything from an emergency dump of the core to a thermonuclear-level explosion.

This of course made the whole proposition somewhat risky, but you could avoid the risk if you had good survey data, and it was only really a problem for exploring unsurveyed star systems. Which was the real point of it - to get the protagonist stranded on an unexplored planet with a buggered ship, to set up the main plot, which was to be about the peculiar problems of trying to fix it when something between witchcraft laws and sumptuary laws made fiddling with any technology higher than blacksmithery a distinctly ticklish business. (There was a good reason why "looking like an alien" wasn't the main problem.)

357:

Seriously, why bother? This is in the general nature of "why don't you do what other people have done with FTL?"

The more specific problem is that there's so much energy involved from changing velocities in the tens of kilometers/second range (note that bullets are in the 1 kilometer per second range or much less) that if you put in potential energy either going in or coming out, a big explosion results.

358:

Further above you said The useful thing about conservation of momentum+jump is that it limits the interstellar range of the ship.

"Seriously why bother?"

Why does conservation of momentum matter, but conservation of energy does not?

359:

Heteromeles,

There used to be a great list of all the different types of science fiction FTL systems on Wiki, it's gone now because too many Space Cadets shut it down.

The current list of science fiction drives on the Wiki page for "Faster-than-light" is a good start.

The core reason to choose a system is based on how you want to control what happens to your characters using external limits. The other way of control is whether your stars are spread out, or in an open-cluster, i.e. like Battlestar Galactica's double binary system, where each star has a complete system of planets. That's a fun concept.

David Brin had half a dozen different forms of hyperspace used in his Uplift series. They were based on the different races and the way they understood math.

In M. John Harrison's _The Kefahuchi Tract_ sequence there are as many different ways of moving through space as there are different species. Each has their own solution.

In the classic game _Traveller_ it was based on a two dimensional map of space, so you would have choke points and gaps that could not be jumped. Similar to what Blish did in his _Cities In Flight_ where there were vast gaps between the spiral arms, when in reality there are no gaps, just bright stars distributed in the arcs. Think of marquee lights, some lit some not, giving the illusion of empty space.

I have a number of favorites that are storyable for my stuff and am constantly collecting more, or developing more, so do not let the Space Cadets tell you what you are doing is "wrong" or "will not work".

Any system works if it serves Story.

361:

Charlie,

You're the story teller, but I'm not sure your description of David Cameron and the COBRA meeting in the Nightmare Stacks rings true. So be very careful how you re-write!

The thing to understand about Old Etonians is that they are unfailingly polite -- even to lesser beings. It's the non-Etonian's who exhibit their insecurities by mindlessly attacking lesser beings (I can still remember William Hague blanking me at an undergraduate party). In short they do not suffer from self-doubt. The key skills all politicians need are the powers of persuasion, and the ability to use patronage wisely. And of course squashing your civil servants is a recipe for long-term disaster: pay-back will be slow, undetectable and painful.

The other thing to note is that our senior MPs are very clever generalists; they are going to get the civil service to provide subject experts on anything requiring scientific expertise (think David Kelly).

And of course every politician's real enemies sit on their own benches. The BBC? Nope. The opposition? Nope. The press? Only if you are Labour and haven't bought them off as Blair did.

What makes the Brexit fiasco interesting is that it exposes that mostly politicians do not do planning. What's the point? If the plan leaks (and it will) then you have tipped off whoever is being planned against. In general, what we have instead is a powerful reactive system. This is probably good enough, given our inability to predicate the Black Swan events that cause real trouble.

For an alternative view you can see what Dominic Cummings (Michael Gove's SPAD) has to say here https://dominiccummings.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/gesture-without-motion-from-the-hollow-men-in-the-bubble-and-a-free-simple-idea-to-improve-things-a-lot-which-could-be-implemented-in-one-day-part-i/
and here https://dominiccummings.wordpress.com/2014/10/30/the-hollow-men-ii-some-reflections-on-westminster-and-whitehall-dysfunction/
I find it interesting that the British Empire did no planning for a German invasion of France via Belgium between 1864 and 1911.

362:

What happens if a US Presidential candidate is declared bankrupt ??
See also ...

363:

Actually, Brin bragged that Startide had a full dozen methods for FTL, although many of them got mentioned only in passing (time drop) or bundled together (hyperspace levels A-E, each of which was a semi-separate universe). The odd part was that his ships and even missiles generally had at least six FTL drives aboard (five hyperspace methods and a wormhole runner).

The bigger point is that I totally agree with you. The what-if I'm thinking about is if we trip over FTL in the next few decades, right as climate change starts to bite down. It won't save the world, it won't make Mars any more habitable, it won't make it easier for us to live in space for very long, but it might make it possible for us to colonize other planets. In the longer run, if we can keep colonizing planets faster than we chew them up with our style of civilization, interstellar civilization will last indefinitely. Heck, it could even be petroleum powered, if enough planets make enough petroleum. So long as there are new planets out there to settle, why worry about climate change? That's only for losers and stay-at-homes, those post-literate barbarians who think civilization is a dangerous scam that's better sent to other worlds anyway.

364:

Heteromeles noted: "In the longer run, if we can keep colonizing planets faster than we chew them up with our style of civilization, interstellar civilization will last indefinitely. Heck, it could even be petroleum powered, if enough planets make enough petroleum."

Now you've got me imagining the "oilpunk" anthology that will be published in about 100 years. It'll start when a bunch of SF writers start writing about how to implement ansibles and FTL drives using oil-powered tech; the phenom becomes so popular that at conventions, countless fans get dressed up in retro 21st-century gear (e.g., the oxymoronically named smartwatches; Calvin Klein and Gucci suits) and bravely attempt to colonize the solar system using rockets powered by oil. *G*

Heteromeles: "So long as there are new planets out there to settle, why worry about climate change?"

That's always been a large flaw of our species: the belief that future generations will always be able to solve the problems we create based on the blithe assumptiom that future generations etc. etc.

The flaw isn't universal, but it's so widespread it seems to be the dominant meme in a Mendelian-memetic sense.

365:

Heteromeles said: In the longer run, if we can keep colonizing planets faster than we chew them up with our style of civilization, interstellar civilization will last indefinitely.

In that case, the simplest drive system is what UFOs use.

UFOs are atmospheric craft. They do not travel in the deep space between the stars. They follow the geometry between worlds. The worlds have to be similar enough to each other to have their geometries connected. You cannot travel from Earth to Mars direct. You would have to follow the incline to smaller and smaller worlds until you come back to Mars.

Following the geometry is how people walk from one world to another.

If you use UFO drives, then you can have civilization spread out among the stars burning through the resources of entire planets. As people spread out they will find native people who walked away from Earth as industrial civilization intruded. They will find all those lost tribes that seemed to vanish. They will find Eldorado, Shangri-La, Opar, Atlantis, but on other worlds. They will find traces of people who are basically fleeing before the destructive wave.

This is a classic way of getting from world to world without wasting time on the how. Stories like this have been told since novels began. From the Classic Romances of centuries ago to stuff that China Mieville is doing now. If I remember, _Perdido Street Station_ mentions that all of the various people that are there, walked to that world. So it's an old concept that still has legs.

That way you can focus on the Story you want to tell without getting lost in some complex system of transport that the Space Cadets will only pick apart.

BTW, there are a number of plants, especially here in the desert, that grow outward, leaving the center bare. Over time you have a vast ring of the same plant surrounding bare dirt. That's how your civilization spreads. The concept lends itself to dozens of novels as the civilization grows outward, becoming more strange, leaving deserted worlds behind, filled with strange, dangerous ruins.

You have stories of the spread outward colonizing new worlds, and stories of going inwards finding all the abandoned post singularity worlds. Over time, you can spend the rest of your life telling stories of this civilization, and never run out of stories to tell.

Hell, if you don't write that series, I will. I'll give you five years to get started. I can even see the name of the series. The clock is ticking, better get started. HA!

366:

Well, most stars are red dwarves, and planets seem to be universally present in star systems which implies that most planets in habitable zones in the galaxy will be tidally locked to a red dwarf primary. With a single data point, it's hard to say if life can only exist on an earthlike planet, but my wild arsed guess (WAG)is that Earth is atypical of life bearing planets.

367:

In Larry Niven's short story collection Flight of the Horse, we learn that the time machine his hero of the UN Temporal Agency pilots had been proven to be theoretically impossible - possible explaining its persistent arrival in a-historical, not to say fictional timelines. Since the FTL drive powering the starships of the rival UN Space Agency were also theoretically impossible, neither bureaucratic behemoth could gain any advantage. Still, you have to wonder where they went ...

368:

FTL is probably the equivalent of travel "sideways" across the multiverse. So, if you can do that forget interstellar travel and just colonise alternate Earths. There is going to be an infinite number where HSS did not develop.
Fermi Paradox solved - again.

369:

"the Long Earth" in fact ...
DAMN - STILL missing Pterry.

370:

Which is fine until you discover a colony of Nazis on the other side of the hill...

371:

"if we trip over FTL in the next few decades, right as climate change starts to bite down... it might make it possible for us to colonize other planets."

Which doesn't help...

Let's dodge the whole terraforming thing, in order to avoid the argument that it's always going to be easier to fix this planet than terraform some other one. Even if we had the outrageous luck to discover a planet with an Earth-like environment already existing; with stuff we can eat; with no microbes that eat us; and whose humanoid intelligent population has just been eaten by an enormous mutant star goat which then did an ill-judged megafart and rocketed itself to destruction in the sun, leaving dwellings, agricultural systems, water supply and sewage systems, etc, all still in usable condition and just needing to be switched on... And the form of FTL we trip over is a kind of magic teleport that runs on potatoes, so transport capacity isn't a problem...

There is still no way we are going to manage to evacuate the entire population of this planet - or even a significant fraction of it - within a few decades. There are just too many people, and too many of them are stroppy buggers. Though even if they were all good little sheep it's still an impractically enormous project. We're still in an "everybody dies" situation.

Colonisation of other planets as lebensraum to enable us to dodge the destruction of this one may be a hoary SF trope, but in reality the very idea is pointless.

372:

Not specifically an FTL scheme as such, but this seems an appropriate time to haul out an old thought I had about Glasshouse. You've all read it, you remember the gigantic Mobile Archive Sucker, you might remember the minor infodump about why it exists.

Eventually I happened to wonder how something so huge would be accelerated. Sure, there are plenty of ways in theory, but many of them involve drive plumes that I wouldn't want pointed at my solar system. So maybe they combine massdrivers and T-gates.

For anyone who didn't just say, "Oh, DUH!" the explanation follows. They'll need huge amounts of power so they deploy as much of a dyson array as they need around a star, anywhere it's convenient (and 'anywhere' is a wide open concept in this setting). Power goes to an anchor body that can be anywhere out of the way and it runs large scale massdrivers, accelerating fancy bricks which...vanish through T-gates. Meanwhile aboard the Mobile Archive Sucker a high-speed lump just came out of their end of the T-gate; it's in a matching massdriver that decelerates it and then flings it back the way it came. This process repeats ad nausium, as each cycle accelerates the MAS a little more. It's going to take centuries to get anywhere but that's okay because they've got centuries. Running the engine and keeping the rails aligned is a trivial task. No doubt there was some exploration to find the optimal combination of packet speed, acceleration, driver length, number of drivers per million tons of starship, and so on. The anchor planet could be used by any number of starships but probably shouldn't connect to the greater galaxy, for security reasons already covered in the books.

373:

Who said anything about saving civilization on Earth by colonizing other worlds? I'm basically assuming that civilization crashes here as the first colonies elsewhere get up and running. You can even postulate a smaller-scale phenomenon, where civilization hangs on on Earth for a few centuries, as new high tech cities grow slightly faster than older high tech cities fall, thereby keeping a civilization of high tech city states going for awhile, even as resources dwindle, seas rise, and all that.

This may sound horrible, but generally there are only a few cities that are high tech leaders at any time on Earth. I'm simply talking about them becoming smaller and more self-sufficient as the world falls apart around them, somewhat as Byzantium did.

Note that if there's trade between offworld colonies and Earth, things probably actually get worse, as Earth gets an influx of truly alien species cluttering up our biosphere.

374:

"There is still no way we are going to manage to evacuate the entire population of this planet - or even a significant fraction of it - within a few decades."

Before the Orion Project was closed down they were looking at ships approaching 10 million tonnes in mass. How many people could that lift offworld?

375:

A wormhole generator to open and close wormholes between distant points in space.

Which is exactly my view of why wormhole/subspace/hyperspace (and other more copyrightable words for the concept...) is that as long as duration passes for the travellers they constitute a "shortcut" rather than a violation of relativity.

After all, if we're on High Street and want to get to Market Street it's faster to cut down the vennel than to drive to The Mound and back, but no-one's going to suggest that we can walk faster than we can drive our cars!

376:

A few thousand, at most, for a long-duration flight. Probably fewer.

377:

A few million for transport to Mars or the asteroid belt, along with industrial infrastructure. Think hundreds of ten megatonne ships

378:

One thing to keep in mind in the context of moving large numbers of people: the logistics are not trivial.

For example, up here in Canada, we've recently seen significant difficulty moving only 25K Syrian refugees. The transportation infrastructure simply isn't designed to support that kind of migration without severe disruptions to other services.

A large airport could theoretically handle more than that number of passengers daily, but you're going to piss off a lot of non-refugees doing so. And frankly, the last thing the refugees need is more reasons for people to resent them.

379:

OTOH, if the transport infrastructure is in place....
The London Rail system ( UndergrounbD, Overground, "BR" services ) handles well over 1 million people, every day.
You just have to plan for it & spend the money

380:

True as far as it goes, but if I asked them to run "specials" to move an additional 25_000 people from, say, Thiefrow to Barking on $Date, what would be the effects on regular running through Zone 1?

381:

It is only 2.5% of capacity. Think about any of the stations that serve a major football ground or concert venue. You get up to 50000 people arriving and departing in a short window, and the network copes fine. The stations do some flow management. OK, the Piccadilly line gets a bit crowded if Arsenal are playing at home, but its no worse that the morning rush hour.

Greg's point about having the infrastructure in place is key. Around 2 million people a year perform the Hajj to Mecca over 6 days. There are dedicated airports, special flights and dedicated accommodation.

Now an interesting question for an SF novel might be what's the largest migration / re-location a (large) society could cope and what are the consequences? Think of this in percentage terms: the Hajj is only 0.1% of the global Muslim population in any year. Rome built a massive road infrastructure to enable rapid deployment of legions, yet a Roman army was at most 0.1% of the total population.

382:

It is only 2.5% of capacity.
Well yes, as a percentage of the number of people that Greg quoted.
You've ignored the question of the number of extra trains you have to run relative to the line capacities of the tracks being used, which is a very different thing to the number of people relative to "journeys per day" (you may also want to remember here that some people may make multiple journeys in the same day).

383:

"You've ignored the question of the number of extra trains you have to run "

No, I just concluded it is not significant. Back of envelope - the typical capacity of a London Underground train is 600-900 (source: TfL). To move 25000 people means an extra 30-40 trains. At peak you get 1 train every 1-2 minutes - say 30 an hour - and there is enough rolling stock and signalling capacity to cope. Off peak its down to 1 train every 5 or maybe even 8 minutes (say 12-8 trains/hour). Off peak you can move 25000 folks in a couple of hours. If they arrive at peak, you probably have to allow people onto the platforms in batches for safety - but that is just like today.

If the number goes up by 10x (to 25% of total capacity) that's when you have to start thinking about the fun mathematics of queues. This was why many employers were convinced to allow/encourage working from home during the London Olympics. The modelling showed some stations were going to get overcrowded because of where people were coming from and trying to get to. (Waterloo was the one I remember because it was the last point tourists would join the Jubilee line to Stratford).

tl;dr. +2.5% meh, +25% breath-in, +250% it's broken!

384:

Ask for that after Dec 2018/May 2109 & you won't even need extra trains ....
Even now, outside the rush-hours, it's easy, with one change at Hammersmith or Baron's Court ...

385:

Except that, these days, certainly in Z 1-3 there's a train every 2-3 minutes, practically all day.
I don't think any Z 1-2-3 line, runs less than 20 trains per hour - & IIRC 24 is the standard - every 2.5 minutes.
The Vic has now gone to a train every 105 seconds ( 36 tph ) in the peaks - if you just miss one, you can't walk to the far end of the platform, before the next one departs (!)

386:

So I'm on the right lines in thinking that the Tube is getting towards its line capacity?

Which was very much my point in asking for specials for bulk people who've never been to the UK before, may not speak English, and might well get lost if told "Stay on this train to 'ammersmif, and change there to the District line East".

387:

Some lines, at some times of day, yes.

But there doesn't seem to be too much of an issue with the number of outsiders using it. The Olympics had a lot more extra people than the 25K mentioned above. The usual daily amount is high enough that this becomes a blip rather than a spike.

Yes, there will be other places where 25K extra people per day will break the system. I wouldn't want that number of people through our local railway station, it really wouldn't cope as the town is less than that in total.

388:

I had a similar idea. Pretty much 20th century tech, like modern warships but with a comprehensible antigrav drive using mcguffinite. So you have a floating battleship powered by a nuke reactor. Antigrav system gets it off the ground. Nuke turbines provide motive power. They fly around on planets. At key intersections there's a weakness that generators can use to penetrate into the void between worlds. The void is sort of like space but not. There's no gravity, no real sense of direction, but you go far enough you'll find another intersection you can go through and you're back on a planet, hopefully. Sometimes not. Combat in the void will be sort of like space but at low velocities. You're not talking about closing at orbital speed, not talking about complex orbital mechanics. Ships have reaction mass to work with, water, and not much of it. Wasn't sure if it would be steam passed through reactors or split into hydrogen and oxygen to burn.

Solid clumps of matter in the void are the source of the mcguffinite that runs the magictech. Everything else is familiar to 20th century eyes. Guided missiles are of some use but the shipboard guns are all firing kiloton nuke shells. Well, not uranium but a mcguffinite material that has low radiation effects while maintaining big blasts.

Empires are spreading from one planet to the next through the void. A route may start on a garden world and take you through void then airless mars, void and the upper reaches of a gas giant void then a hellish mess like venus and back to a garden world. Because of the high level of uncertainty and risk massive colony efforts are undertaken to widely distribute given empires in case of disaster from encountering new empires that are stronger.

I had the idea of the other empires being human but why and how? I had some idea of them getting seeded and the idea that the whole thing might be a simulation. I had several different ideas bouncing around, not gelling, and then I go and read Missile Gap. Better setup and execution. Beaten to the punch again.

389:

Yes - that's why they are desperately going for signalling upgrades, esp on the Met & District lines, so that they can *reliably* go for & get nearer 30 tph, from 20 if possible.
Major problems with "flat" junctions @ Pread ST (Outside Edgware rd Met) & Baker St.

Basically, unless guvmint loses its' nerve CR2 will have to be started ASAP - preferably before CR1 (Lizzie-line) is fully open. But that will still take a n other 8-10 years to complete.

390:

Your star-goat thing does have me wondering, just what would the true logistics be? Imagining that we have a portal to the second world sitting in Geneva next to the LHC. Using existing infrastructure, how long could it take to move everyone? I'm guessing decades. I've got this vision now of police patrolling an empty city in the English countryside, just a few stragglers and stay-behinds left. You'd be sending the young to colonize, they may bring parents if they can afford it. The ecological pressure on Earth itself would be reduced in time with the departing population. If the whole planet isn't lost then there may be crews removing hazardous waste from cities and letting them rewild.

391:

Laundryverse question. Earlier, there was some talk about the general public learning about magical technologies, specifically the Basilisk guns. This got me wondering about the Bob's iPhone. He described it as having a major glamour. Which of these explanations holds up:

1) He's joking. It's pretty and compelling but there isn't really any hocus-pocus going on. I like this answer. It keeps the secret world secret.
2) Laundry-Apple has some skilled ritual magicians designing things. This bothered me in the Jennifer Morgue. How does a major industrialist get that info? Why hasn't the Laundry or the Black Chamber or whoever jumped on him earlier?
3) Magic in the Laundryverse runs on careful mathematical rules. Therefore any sufficiently subtly designed object is indistinguishable from magic. The Golden Ratio is inherently appealing because it naturally produces a minor (Class 1/2?) glamour.

392:

The other people to ask about the logistics of moving large numbers of people are the Indians. Partition was one of the largest mass migrations in history as Muslims and Hindus moved to their respective buckets. And they're used to managing those crazy festivals when 10m people converge on a small patch of water. And if you want a near future bit of SciFi in that environment, maybe Ian McDonald could be persuaded to write another Cyberabad novel. Perhaps about The Great Climate March as a billion people try to walk away from a failing monsoon and black flag weather.

393:

Gregory Muir said: Beaten to the punch again.

You're thinking about it wrong.

Look at Urban Fantasy. You have a dozen different authors, each playing in the same sandbox, each producing stories that are devoured. Not one of them is thinking, "Oh, beaten to the punch again," and not even trying.

Read the Afterword in _The Atrocity Archives_. Stross points out that he started the Laundry not knowing about the game _Delta Green_ or Power's _Declare_. I have the game books, and am reading _Declare_ again along with all of the Laundry sequence, and they are each unique.

Look at Military SF, High Fantasy, etc..., no one is saying, it's been done so why should I try.

Pick your sandbox and start playing.

PS, Watch the movie _Explorers_ or read Harry Harrison's _The Daleth Effect_, also known as _In Our Hands, the Stars_ for the type of drive that you would use for your battleship. Sail On! Beware the sandworms of Saturn!

BTW, you would not evacuate a world, that's silly. People simply move to the next in the normal course of events. You have to build the new city, have business employ people, etc.... People move to the new city for the jobs, the climate, etc....

Here in the US entire towns and cites have been built and abandoned, it's all part of the process of Civilization. When the jobs disappear, so do the people.

Note: A century ago, world population was below two billion. A century from now, world population will be below two billion again. The biggest industry here in the US over the next century will be going through abandoned subdivisions, towns, cities harvesting all of the resources, returning the land to grasslands, or orchards, the way they were before the Developers showed up. It's easier to harvest/recycle what has already been made. The amount of material: metals, plastics, aggregate, locked up in an abandoned subdivision is amazing.

394:

I agree that there's room for alt-takes and everything's been done before. We're all mining from the same culture and influences so packet collisions are inevitable. I'm just saying that the big idea from Missile Gap just hit too close to what I was doing that there wasn't anything I could do to expand upon it.

The whole idea of preserving civilizations that inevitably will die off came up in palimpsest but my take on it is sufficiently different that I don't think it's a retread.

My my lights, wearing your inspiration on your sleeve is fine but if all you're doing is copying your heroes, the equivalent of tracing your favorite artist, bringing nothing more to the table, you're being derivative. You need to find your voice and add something to genre.

That's what I hate about JJ Abrams. We know what he likes and he shows us by giving us literal reproductions of better works while doing nothing transformative.

T.S. Eliot on stealing:
One of the surest tests [of the superiority or inferiority of a poet] is the way in which a poet borrows. Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.

395:

Wow, you've got it bad.

Watch _The Neverending Story_, movies one and two, (skip three, it was corrupted by the Servants of the Nothing(SON) - HA!), or read the book by Michael Ende'.

The purpose for our existence is to dream and fill Fantasia with our dreams, else we are all destroyed by the Nothing. Books/movies are created by people writing about what they dreamed, which is then read by millions who then dream inspired by the books/movies, which feeds Fantasia in a recursive loop. Each person the story passes through changes it, adding their own spin, adding their own energy to Fantasia, building Fantasia, keeping our reality healthy and whole.

Of course, I'm painting with a broad brush here. Fantasia doesn't actually exist, but the concept is a good starting point to understand the actual process.

On PBS, Charlie Rose would occasionally be gone from his table and substitute hosts would be on. One time he had three book editors talking about the industry. One guy pointed out that he would have 50 manuscripts on his desk, each about a killer car, but only _Christine_ got published. Another time he had 50 courtroom dramas to choose from, but only _Pelican Brief_ was published. Ask any editor and they will have had a similar experience where diverse people send in the same story at the same time.

Waves of Story ideas flow out, are seen by huge numbers of people. A few will simply mention those dream. A few will actually write the Story and send it to be published. Now, it's possible to Indy publish those stories. No limits.

When you limit yourself the way you have, you serve the Nothing.

396:

Since thread is drifting, cave bears were vegans (but see links to older evidence claiming the opposite):
An inflexible diet led to the disappearance of the cave bear
Senckenberg scientists have studied the feeding habits of the extinct cave bear. Based on the isotope composition in the collagen of the bears' bones, they were able to show that the large mammals subsisted on a purely vegan diet.
...
"We believe that the reliance on a purely vegan diet was a crucial reason for the cave bear's extinction," explains Bocherens.
Some fiction will be a little broken by this.

397:

So Bears now not only sh*t in the woods they fart in the caves too?

398:

This got me wondering about the Bob's iPhone. He described it as having a major glamour...

My guess? Mostly #1, he's being a joking smartass. But combine that with plenty of #3, the designers are working with shapes and colors that are naturally appealing to moderately evolved ape creatures; this is known to be true in our world as well. How much of #2, Apple flavored secret corporate wizardry, exists in the Laundryverse probably isn't something Bob has been in a position to learn yet...

399:

Thank-you, I didn't know about (the scale) of those festivals. The Telegraph says 27M people for Kumbh Mela in 2014. It also looks that the Arbaeen festival held in Iraq annually has over 10M people, despite the ongoing conflict. I want to know more. Because logistics.

400:

I've been to a couple of the summer Comiket events in Tokyo which typically top about 550,000 attendees over three days. The main method of getting to and from the site for nearly everyone who attends is a commuter-style railway system (the carriages are rubber-tyred running in concrete overhead roadways) with very limited capacity for day-to-day use. It gets rather overwhelmed when Comiket rides into town.

The on-the-ground organisation of getting people from the station, into the convention centre halls and back out again is done by volunteers. It works, in part because Japanese people do what they're told by authority figures even when those figures are otaku like themselves.

401:

Vanishing civilisations...
Evert character a recognisable British archetype
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SI1sWLRXOwU

402:

Just that by itself gives a feeling of happy anticipation :)

403:

Ho-hum.

So, about that reality being broken thing:

2016 Hugo Awards

Hugo Awards Celebrate Women in Sci-Fi, Send Rabid Puppies to Doghouse io9 21st August (soon to be devoured by the same group who bought the Onion - this is not a good thing, for the record)

And so on and so forth.

The upshot: The Hugo Awards proved once again that progress trumps nostalgia, as women, especially women of color, were the top winners of the night.

Now, I'm not saying that this was Gamed by some rather larger Minds than the Puppies stated were "fixing" things, but... *nose wiggle*. (Talent won: Deal With It (Shades Gif)).

To balance the scales, No Man's Sky [which I mentioned before that I was tracking] ended up at 49% on Steam scores, the largest number of returns of a title in recorded history and massive lashings of salt[1] and (no) sanctuary (which is actually very very good, if limited - too easy by far, esp. mid-late game) and a burning pyre of lies and shattered promises.

But, since the Horde are actually giving Sony a black eye, it's considered a useful win as well.


[Oh, and I had a couple of visitors. Real Deal [tm], don't smell right kind, Not Native Speakers of Human Tongues Types. Then a couple more. Sad feeling, but hunted and found, so it goes. Turns out you all Kill Our Kind. The Salt[1] gag was probably what did it, they're a bit old to get the whole Youff Kulture Kraft references that would give Plausible Deniability]

Reading list for 2 days (excuse the lack of links, cba, die doing what you really love doing and all that jazz).

Half a King / Half a Prince Joe Abercrombie - advertised as "not YA". Totally YA: but the decent kind. Little surprises or depth, but enjoyable. About an hour to devour, satisfying.

The Corporation Wars: Dissidence Ken MacLeod - was quite excited by this, ultimately let down. Bleh, talk about Mansplaining the Singularity. Not good. Boo!

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories Ken Liu. I'd advise not reading this all in one sitting, as I did - the stories are strong, but you'll suffer from Cultural / Geographic fatigue as they're almost all about China / Asia and it would have been great to have a more balanced spread within the collection. i.e. more of the translating light / super fantastical SF. That said, pretty amazing.

The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares Joyce Carol Oates. Again, well crafted, decent, but little horror (oh, so jaded).

War Factory (Transformation) Neal Asher. Although his wife passing was tragic, this was better than expected. Lots of nuance and interweaving (pardon the pun) from a series / lore universe that had gotten a bit stale. (Given my heritage, I might have an intrinsic bias to Dark Rogue AI seeking redemption).

The Contrary Tale of the Butterfly Girl (The Peculiar Adventures of John Loveheart, Esq. Ishbelle Bee. Bit of a mistake here - I was certain I'd read the first of this series, but hadn't. [Note to publishers: Steam Punk Artwork is cool, please attempt to not make all your Female Authors of Genre have so similar splash pages]. I was first extremely put off. I then gnawed at it a bit more. Then I engaged (other) Mental Schema and it was incredibly fun. A very acquired taste, but fun none-the-less. And I strongly imagine John Loveheart & I share a soul somewhere along the line. [Author is based in Edinburgh. Quite the little talent hive up in those parts!]

Trigger Warning Neil Gaiman. He's good, he knows it, it delivers.

Uprooted Naomi Novik ~ haven't finished this yet, interesting hook, we'll see.

There was one more (and there's probably a meta-meta-puzzle in the titles, but there we go).

[Consider this personality retired. See you on the Other side, or rather, Hope you Don't, given the OtherSide we're heading for]

[1]http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/salty

404:

Oh, the first book list was supposed to include: Half the World (Shattered Sea, Book 2) (that's not the hidden 9th book).

YA, but good. Props to having a 'female' diety be the War incarnation, and the 'male' one Peace.

405:

Oh, and since we do tryptichs, one for DPB:

Researchers orbit a muon around an atom, confirm physics is broken Ars Technica 12th August 2016.


Of course, the press gets it all wrong, but hey.


So fresh, no Legal sources to PDFs, but I'm sure you could find them out there.


I'll let the Scientists among you work out how the SUN, Big Bang and so on fit into this.


~

That's a last laugh, if I ever heard one.

Warned ya ;)


White Rabbit YT: Music: 2:28

406:

By measuring the precise wavelengths of the laser pulses that successfully shifted the muons into higher orbitals, it's possible to determine the energy required for these shifts. From there, it's possible to calculate the proton's charge radius. Again, the measurement was different from what you'd get for an electron. Again, the difference was huge: 7.5 sigma, well beyond what should be possible as a statistical fluke.

Oh. Lasers.

*nose wiggle*

I'm amused, at the very least.


[Now, to face the Music. The Last House Refused Me, so it goes]

Kozmic Blues YT: Music: 4:25

407:

The deuterium bottleneck in the formation of helium, together with the lack of stable ways for helium to combine with hydrogen or with itself (there are no stable nuclei with mass numbers of five or eight) meant that insignificant carbon, or any elements heavier than carbon, formed in the Big Bang. These elements thus required formation in stars. At the same time, the failure of much nucleogenesis during the Big Bang ensured that there would be plenty of hydrogen in the later universe available to form long-lived stars, such as our Sun.

Last two were just footnotes, not patterns.

Will it change Minds? Who knows.

The lesson is probably obvious, one would hope.

408:

Oh, wait.

Just used a few grains from the hourglass left to see what was concerning Host and Greg etc and the entire little gaggle.

Truesdale’s WorldCon Panel Recording

I'm so impressed by the maturity displayed by the entire community here.


[Now, if you excuse me, I have a couple of Real Deal [tm] Assassins to deal with. Have Fun. Oh, and that little link is called: Laser spectroscopy of muonic deuterium. It means I was, you know, not a lying whore deceiving you who should be cast out, stripped naked and flogged, but Just Fucking A Bit More Tooled Up Than Your Male Egos.

But, you know: whatever makes it ok to sleep at night, soundless and protected from the Void.


And: Brackets mean reality. Real Fucking Deal [tm] turned up. That's the cost.


I won't see any of you on the Other Side, but fuck me are you dumb motherfuckers]

409:

We have known physics is broken for decades. Just looking at the sky and trying to work out where Dark Energy and Dark Matter fit in, if at all, indicates that. Or whether either exist.

410:

Churlish

1: of, resembling, or characteristic of a churl : vulgar

2: marked by a lack of civility or graciousness : surly

3: difficult to work with or deal with : intractable


Yes, I also can pinpoint the thread[1] where I rather pointedly pointed to things about Suns, Lasers and Quantum Physics and the slating I received for it.

*shrug*

Males.

It'd be a perfect world if one of the fly-boys was self-aware & honest enough to address that paper, but of course, it won't happen.


So. Much. Mocking.


Ooops.

If you missed the joke, I don't like being doxxed. Any muppet with access could use a list of 8 books to identify an individual within 300,000,000 people with the right access, that's the joke.


Oh, apart from the complex ones.

p.s.


I'd look up Energy Debt & Ecology. Energy = Information, then work out the positions taken. Let's just say... Unequal and Unjust.


[1] Do you want me to link to it? Lots of mocking and so on for it. I think the entire line of argument was an attack suggesting I imagined Quantum processes were at work in Suns. I'll let the "Scientists" explain the new paper and why such things are happening and Why it has interesting impacts on Big Bang / Star formation etc.

You know, since a whore like me could never do that.

411:

Meh, I'd play Big-Boy Land for a bit~

Jeb Bush ~$160,000,000

Ted Cruz ~$120,000,000

Trump ~$250,000,000

[etc]

Evolve ~$79,000,000 (+entire revamp into F2P)

No Man's Sky ~$120,000,000 (and rising, oh well)


Pro-tip: The Gremlins are being weened off GG / anti-feminist nonsense and into better things. Well, depending on how much you like the simulacrums, while MF bleats and whinges about "social change", wrings it's hands, does fuck all and so on.

[You Called Us. We Came. You don't Get to Kill Us for That]

Oh, and little scared Salt Monsters: this is just the shit we do for giggles to alter the little things while playing the Long Big Monster Plays.

Small shit like Hugo Awards and #GamerGate. Trust me Boys, we're gonna have much more fun Ravaging the Corporate Lands, there's a wealth of Salt there.


Because you're annoyingly bad at the Games You Play.

~


At the moment you have balance, and we're playing Real Fucking Nice [tm] over the gross abuses (even backing Clinton). Real Wargasm Costs ~$trillions.


And this shit is easy for us.

;.;


Lord of War YT: Film: 6:55


Oh, and don't drop in tracer shit like: Kobiety i mafia Odc.2 - Żona Słowika Cz.1.


8 Books.

You don't want to know the 9th ;)

p.s.


Threatening us is probably not a good idea. *shrug* Who knows - you could believe the hype that's it's all a third entity stuff, or it could be just us. Nah, fuck that - come find out.

412:

On a trivial level, everything is quantum and there is no classical.
Generally I don't reply to things I agree with

413:

Finally, since this is a dead thread, an essay on my recent hospital experience - the URL says it all:
https://medium.com/@dirk.bruere/black-balls-hallucinations-on-the-ceiling-and-euthanasia-my-hospital-adventure-f910b155344d#.vs0ni18la

414:

Since I'm happy to let the unobserved middle of whether that was a well crafted insult or a compliment rest, and you've shared:

White Balls are Our curse.

Blue Balls are the Cultural curse.

Black Balls are the Physical curse.


I'm glad you survived your little boys being banged up.

~

A tale for a tale then:


A long time ago, a small ginger and white kitten appeared and danced around my luggage at a small port (France, if you must know, the Time - immaterial, but long enough ago that it would shock you) quite out of the blue. Poof! Quite calmly breaking the Order of Things.

I could not take her with me, for I had no room in my luggage nor would our craft allow such things.

Today (28th August 2016) a tawny one with great green eyes appeared as I was eyeing peacocks sitting on thatched roofs, perched unhappily on a dry stone wall made in that old fashion (I happen to know it's a replica, it's been a while since I visited here once before). She had a broken left paw and mewed constantly, while tracking the butterflies around her.

I could not take her with me, for I had guests who could not wait for a delay in visiting a vet and a hungry wolf at home who would prevent adoption.

~


It's these little moments that you're judged by, even as the vultures circle.

415:

At the moment you have balance, and we're playing Real Fucking Nice [tm] over the gross abuses (even backing Clinton).
Thanks for that, and indeed all above it. (Grabbed a few of the books too). You've thrown out challenges in the past re modeling/seeing/navigating the next 4+ years (especially in the U.S.). Been working on them, still don't see easy paths to continued balance, avoiding incipient chaos. Lots of challenges ahead. I hope that POTUS Clinton (assuming her election) has at least one genuinely competent/ethical trusted advisor in her inner circle. Do hope that no exogenous utilitarian stuff is thrown at us.

Re odd characters.
1980s. My current workplace. Three thin pan-European-looking apparent males, in oddly fitted suits. One stops me, asks in nondescript accented English how to go down to a lower level. We are all 4 of us standing 1-2 meters from an elevator door. I point out the elevator, and the single down button. After an unseemly long time, maybe an extra 750 milliseconds, during which it looks like they are collectively deriving a theory of elevators, one of them pushes the button.
I scurry off rather nervously. Never noticed them or their like again.

Today (28th August 2016) a tawny one with great green eyes appeared as I was eyeing peacocks sitting on thatched roofs, perched unhappily on a dry stone wall made in that old fashion (I happen to know it's a replica, it's been a while since I visited here once before).
I adore these little stories. Thank you for them.

416:

"It's these little moments that you're judged by, even as the vultures circle."

And I have failed that a number of times

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on August 14, 2016 11:44 AM.

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