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Empire Games

Empire Games, the first installment in my new Empire Games trilogy, launches on Tuesday 17th in the US market! (EU residents and Brits will have to wait until next Thursday—Tor UK and Tor USA, despite the name, are different companies and use different printers and sell through different supply chains.)

You can buy it in bookstores, but here are some handly links to ebook formats and mail-order outlets:

[Amazon.com Hardcover][Barnes & Noble hardcover][Powells City of Books Hardcover]]Amazon Kindle ebook][NOOK ebook][Kobo ebook]

(I'll provide UK links and updates on author events in a couple of days time.)

So what's it all about?

Back in 2009, when The Trade of Queens came out, I was so burned out with the Merchant Princes series that I basically set fire to the universe. Here's a useful tip when writing epic SF sagas; if you ever need to keep the readers on their toes, and thin out the cast of millions so you can get a handle on the survivors again, you can totally forget going stabby at a wedding reception a la "Game of Thrones"; what you really need is a brisk thermonuclear holocaust.

And lo, I was so done with that setting that it took three whole years, a "director's cut" re-release of the first six slim fantasy-branded books as three slightly slimmer (and heavily edited) big fat technothriller omnibus volumes, and a fit of insanity before I stopped saying "no" and grunted, "well, maybe ..." when my editor, David Hartwell, nudged me again.

You can read Empire Games as a stand-alone, a new thing in its own right, but if you read the previous series, it builds on top of it: you'll find it easier to work out what's going on, and possibly get more out of it, if you read the earlier books.

Empire Games reintroduces some of the characters from the first Merchant Princes series, but it's set 17 years later, in the 2020 of an unimaginably different sheath of parallel universes, and there are a bunch of new protagonists, too. (For quite some time, the working title was Merchant Princes: The Next Generation.) The horrible consequences of the ending of The Trade of Queens have played out at length, with echoes everywhere the world-walkers of the Clan have been.

In the United States, DHS has responsibility for securing the homeland from threats from every possible time line; domestic security is, shall we say, draconian. (And in the wake of the nuking of the White House, who's to say they're wrong?) Meanwhile, they're prospecting for oil (and handy carbon capture repositories) in uninhabited time lines, and have stumbled across a certain valley with an ancient dome in a neighboring time line.

The world of the New British Empire has undergone even greater upheavals, though. A new expansionist revolutionary entity, the New American Commonwealth, has emerged from the wreckage of the ancien regime, and is engaged in a desperate nuclear-armed cold war stand-off with the rival French empire. And one Miriam is prominent in the Commonwealth government, running a ministry for intertemporal technological industrial espionage. Because unlike the Clan, the Commonwealth government wants an industrial revolution—and Miriam's warning cry, "The Americans are coming", does not go unheeded.

When the first US mapping drones appear in the skies above the Commonwealth, everyone gets a nasty surprise: with two nuclear-armed paratime superpowers groping blindly for each other, a possible confrontation doesn't seem far off.

And then a young, struggling actor called Rita gets taken aside by the men in black and given a job offer she isn't allowed to refuse. Decades earlier Miriam had a baby, who was adopted: and the big national laboratories have finally worked out how to activate the world-walking trait in those who are carriers of the inactive trait. Her DHS controllers want Rita to spy on the Commonwealth, where they suspect her birth mother may be active. But they haven't looked hard enough at Rita's background, and by conscripting her they may have raised the long-dead ghost of a different cold war ...

(Book two, Dark State, is due out in January 2018, and will be followed by the final volume, Invisible Sun, in January 2019.)

(PS: of course, everything got re-titled! Originally, book 1 was going to be called Dark State, to be followed by Black Rain, then Invisible Sun. But marketing decided to mess around with the names for sales purposes ... and it's possible that book 3 may be renamed before publication. But what I can say is that book 2 is due for final edits at the beginning of February, and will be on its way to production not long after.)

177 Comments

1:

It's very exciting, and I liked Rita a lot. (And her grandfather more.)

I couldn't finish the last MP book, because the amount of evil by the US was too close to reality and made me very upset, so I also couldn't rely on the ending of that series for much context. Fortunately, I didn't need it.

I will also never look at a washing machine the same way again.

2:

There will be a lot more of Kurt in "Dark State", next year. (And more of the Wolf Orchestra, too ...)

3:

Will Canada be part of the US release or the UK one?

4:

The US release is for North American territorial rights, so yes — Canada and Mexico are lumped in with USA. UK gets Australia, NZ, and the EU, and the rest of the world is a free-for-all between rightsholders.

Note that this is for English language editions. Translations are another kettle of fish entirely (we — my agent and I — sell them separately when approached by a publisher who wants a particular language).

5:

I finished re-reading the Merchant Princes series (omnibus version) over the Christmas break, just in time to have a hurry up an wait for the UK edition to be released :-| (after canceling my pending hard cover order.... humph).

Hopefully nobody breaks the world between now and the 30th, and I get a chance to curl up in my cellar and read about somebody else's broken reality. A reality that took problems of climate change and the instability caused oil money seriously.

Have you seen a spike in sales for the older books?

6:

Slightly off-topic, but maybe relevant to characters in Empire Games (and pre-emptive spoiler warning for anyone who hasn't read the first 6/3):

Charlie, I always felt I missed something in three readings of the series, with the transcripts of the bugs. It seemed to me in these conversations there were individuals (either Clan or from 'this' world) who were never identified. And something also made me think there were more than one set of bugs, that some of the transcripts came from bugs the Clan didn't know about. Or am I remembering it completely wrong?

Also super happy to have a new Miriam and the Clan book to read.

7:

totally forget going stabby at a wedding reception a la "Game of Thrones"; what you really need is a brisk thermonuclear holocaust.

Not quite up to your standards, but that's what "Game of Thrones" HBO version did in 2016 season. In one stroke, Cersei Lannister killed everyone in King's Landing who could have organized a resistance to her. (The dress made out of Tywin's coat was a nice touch too.)

8:

Yes, I was disappointed to find Amazon UK cancelled my order again a few days ago. I'd be much happier to have a solid pre-order on Empire Games so that I can be sure to get it when it comes out. With luck I'll be able to order a physical copy that will arrive next week soon.

9:

Well, there are a few Black Rains out there already, don't need that confusion again.

Assuming my copy ships Tuesday, I'll hopefully have it the day after the Inauguration (Totally Bogus! Believe me. Sad!) for some uplifting reading.

10:

I too went back and re-read all the Merchant Princes books in December. They were just as good as I remembered. Now I'm just waiting for my e-book to show up tomorrow.

But, dammit, why are new books released on Tuesdays? I won't get time to read Empire Games until the weekend!

11:

'cause inventory gets delivered during the day Monday, sorted Monday night, and put out on the shelves before opening on Tuesday.

12:

Huh... the only stross books that have passed me by so i suppose i should start reading the omnibus volumes: i believe those are the recommended ones for new readers of this series. I really can't start the new one until i do, that's a neddy no no.

13:

FYI its sometimes not that black and white - From an NZ perspective, in my local (independent) bookshop - and some others, we get books from both UK and US publishers. In fact you can sometimes even find the same title in both UK and US editions side by side on the shelf.

14:
EU residents and Brits will have to wait until next Thursday—Tor UK and Tor USA, despite the name, are different companies and use different printers and sell through different supply chains.

Side note: amazon.fr offers both UK and US editions, so you can already pick it up in some places in Europe (at least in ebook form).

I got the midnight notification mail that it was now sitting in my kindle library.

15:

I wonder if you get simultaneous editions of the same book under different titles.
I was nearly caught out that way about 2 years back ... ( It was an history book )
WHY?
Classic example:
Barbara Tuchman: "August 1914" - but in the USA: "The Guns of August"

16:

Not quite up to your standards, but that's what "Game of Thrones" HBO version did in 2016 season

Ilya, what part of "going stabby at a wedding reception" do you think wasn't a reference to the Red Wedding in GoT?

(Not terribly interested in subsequent developments; GoT isn't my cup of tea. Let's just say, GRRM has form for that sort of plot-simplifying gambit.)

17:

Supply chains leak; it's not like there's DRM on paper (beyond the cost of scanning/copying).

Nor is there DRM on these ebooks, I should add.

18:

Hi Charlie,

BigRiver.au is still saying 31/1 for release in Oz. Any idea if this is likely to move forward as well, or are the e-books still on the slow boat down here? Not that I'm chafing at the bit or anything.

19:

I don't know what the issue is with Oz, but if books aren't printed on the continent they usually end up taking a few weeks to get there by boat. I have no idea about the ebook date; it may be that Macmillan AUS have control over their own schedule.

20:

No, he did it again in the final episode of the most recent series, but with high explosives...

21:

a note regarding different versions in continental EU:

AFAICT both UK as well as US publishing houses can legally sell to Germany. bigriver.de usually has both versions of any English language title they carry, they just don't always make it easy to find out which is which (if the cover image is the same one can only go by ISBN or sometimes outer dimensions of the physical book).

Anyway, my preordered copy of the US hardcover arrived yesterday (Germany). Now comes the hard part (i.e. finding the time to read the thing, in between work, the 4 kids and also that darn phd thesis that I should be completing in my free time ..)

22:

Being pedantic, GRRM did the Red Wedding in 2001 in "A Storm of Swords", not 2016.

23:

Who are you being pedantic at? I don't think Ilya was referring to it.

24:

I bought it, but I'm honestly not sure I should read it. Doctorow's super surveillance thrillers really set my paranoia on edge, I suspect this will do the same, and do so right as a really nasty threat comes to pass in real life. So just from a mental health pov maybe I should just give Charlie money and then not follow through

25:

I think by the time you get to the bits involving the non-USA time lines you'll find it's not all grimdark surveillance state ...

26:

Just wanted to say I've been reading EG on tablet on my train ride into work, and am thoroughly enjoying it. One good thing about being in the US I suppose is that with a fair wind behind me I should have finished it before Friday afternoon when Trump decides to lob a nuke at Beijing.

27:

Just got confirmation email that my copy has shipped*, along with "A Stranger in Olondria". "Hammers on Bone" shipped yesterday. Started "Six-Gun Snow White" last night, it's short enough that I ought to be done by the time EG arrives.
So I've plenty To Be Read, not that I don't always. The last year was a particularly slow reading year for me. Hopefully regular reading can resume.

*done my small bit for the Feline Feeding Fund.

28:

I absolutely love looking down at my phone and discovering a new book is already in my hands. It's like walking into your favorite bookstore, and finding your favorite author has put out another novel. But this is so much faster.

29:

So despite Kobo posting a release date of Jan 31, I checked this morning and found I was able to purchase and download the epub. Will read ASAP (I'm currently halfway through re-reading Mark Lawrence's Broken Empire trilogy and want to finish that first).

30:

I have a question about Amazon sales numbers. If I bought the paper book from Amazon, and took advantage of their Kindle version discount for paper book buyers, does that count as two sales for you, or just one?

32:

Bought in iBooks; verified to be DRM free.

33:

Looking at the tracking for yesterday's shipment, looks like my copy won't arrive before next Monday. I can be patient—must avoid spoilers.

34:

I must register a complaint about todays release.. I preordered the book on Google Books, and I am unable to read the chapter "Evasions" starting on page 43 and going to page 57. Google is apparently missing this chapter! This is highly disappointing! I'm loving everything else so far.

35:

That sounds really weird. Can anyone confirm this, with either the Google store version or any other epub version (e.g. iBooks) — chapter "Evasions" missing?

(If so, I'll go tell the people responsible.)

36:

I reread the first 3 books in the omnibus form last fall, so I'm ready for Empire Games. UPS tracking shows it's arrived on this side of the continent; I'm hoping to have it in my hands by Thursday. Coincidentally, the roads should be clear by then, the rain coming in now having melted off the snow that's kept us housebound, and kept deliveries away.

This will probably be the last fiction I read for a month or so; the stack of nonfiction on the TBR pile has gotten much too high. So I'm hoping it doesn't leave me with the kind of downer ending The Trade Of Queens did; one nuclear holocaust in a 12 month period is my limit.

37:

The problem with "Evasions" chapter seems to be a false alarm. I'm running Ubuntu 14.04 on my laptop, and chrome won't show this chapter.. but Firefox works fine... . *really weird* seems to be the correct description of the problem.

38:

Evasions seems to be present in the Nook epub in the Nook for Android app.

Makes me wonder what View source looks like for people using the Google version in a browser... maybe their is some weird broken html that chrome tries to parse and Firefox just ignores?

39:

Drat. I could swear I typed 'there' not 'their'.

40:

Just a couple of minutes ago the Google Play store says that the UK edition is DRM "protected". Feedback sent to Google about it with link to Tor UK's policy. It's probably just a typo but it mightn't hurt to check.

41:

To quote Takei: Oh My.

An InAugeration poem:
From Scotland with Love

42:

Compulsive need to nitpick - Massachusetts doesn't have a Highway Patrol. The Massachusetts State Police fill that role. Otherwise excellent, and can't wait for more Wolf Orchestra!

43:

The UK edition isn't released yet, so could well be a database snafu at this stge.

44:

Given at least 17 years of alt-hist divergence and an overt surveillance state, what are the chances that the Mass policing system has been reorganized?

45:

It sounds like I should read the Merchant Princes hexalogy/trilogy before Empire Games. As I'll be doing that on my iPad, does the group see any difference between the Kindle and iBooks versions? I have both apps.

46:

Also, Charlie, is there any benefit to you of my ordering from one over the other?

47:

"Trumplethinskin", wonderful...

48:

One is azw format, the other is epub; should be no difference in contents. (You want the trilogy version, though: I did a lot of editing/tidying-up.)

49:

I think Apple give marginally better revenue to publishers, and I'm on a strict percentage cut of the publisher's net take.

Both should be DRM-free.

50:

One thing that has bugged me since I read the initial announcement: why did it take so long for the US to find the Commonwealth timeline? The actual book only confirms that they had both components of the path for quite a while, but somehow the US visited Unremarkable Timelines #5 through #one hundred and whatever before trying the obvious thing? (As in, obvious enough to be the first experiment of a three-men-and-petty-cash exploration department.)

51:

Apple it is. Enjoy that extra .001 pence!

52:

Because it's not directly accessible from the ~USA; you have to start from the Gruinmarkt and work from there. Firstly, that time line is still heavily contaminated (10Mt ground bursts kick up a *lot* of crap), and secondly, they initially focussed on time lines they could transition to directly from the ~USA.

53:

Touché - that is possible, it's just a bit dissonant for a Massachusetts native to read.

54:

"Trumplethinskin", wonderful

afaik that comes from Alec Baldwin, after one of the Rump's whiny little tweets.

55:

On a similar vein, the Americans only have one Secretary of State, who runs the State Department. The DHS is run by the Secretary of Homeland Security.

(The reason why the UK has multiple Secretaries of State with almost every department headed by one is so that legislation can authorize just "the Secretary of State" to do stuff, allowing another department's SoS to deputize for one who is indisposed.)

Minor nitpick though. Just finished the book last night and loved every page. Looking forward to this time next year!

56:

Incidentally?

If you liked the book, can I ask you to consider leaving a reader review somewhere online like GoodReads or Amazon?

57:

Any timeline on the Audiobook? I've got audible credits, and debating waiting versus buying ebook.

58:

On a tangential note, it's good to see MurderCat in the new author photo.

59:

I have no information on audio books.

60:

Richard Herring (a UK comedian) the other night called Trump "The Furious Orange*". which made me laugh.

* From The Curious Orange from his TV show this Morning with Richard Not Judy (TMWRNJ) via I Am Curious Orange - a Fall Song which was a reference to I am Curious (Yellow) a art film reference by OGH in Glasshouse. so a reference to a reference to a reference, referenced elsewhere.

61:

If it turns out that the Wolf Orchestra is actually from yet another timeline, I shall complain about contrived excessive twistiness. :-P

More seriously, what are those asterisks doing in Miriam's character profile? ("But she wasn't expecting them to be expecting *her*")

62:

Audio Book update:

The US audio rights are with Audible and it was supposed to be up there by the end of day on the 17th, with feed-through to Amazon over the next day or two. Tor are actively chasing it up to see why it's late.

(I have no information about whether there'll be a UK audiobook release — there wasn't for the first series, and the projected sales are much lower in that market, possibly too low to justify the expense.)

63:

what are those asterisks doing in Miriam's character profile?

The front matter character profiles were a very last-minute additional request, late in the production process, and I dashed them off and emailed them in; looks like nobody spotted the markdown formatting leaking through into the typeset page proofs!

Editors notified, might be fixed later, *will* be fixed in the mass-market paperback.

64:

... And the typo's going to be fixed at launch in the UK ebook (and whenever the UK paper edition goes to reprint: it's present in the already-printed stock).

65:

OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Amazon have finally sorted out the listing for preordering the paperback in the UK. So I have just done so.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Empire-Games-Charles-Stross/dp/1447245393/

66:

FINALLY

The UK Amazon database snafu has sorted itself out, and the UK trade paperback is available for preorder from the Big River Company here.

(I will confess to having been freaking out about this problem a lot in recent weeks — it's the sort of headache that can make a series tank, taking a career with it.)

67:

Character profiles being last-minute does explain why they are so cavalier about revealing that Kurt is a sleeper agent, the fact that is outright stated only in the very last chapter. Not that it was hard to infer, but still a bit spoilery.

68:

Disclosure (now we're so far down the comments): US editor offered a big advance to get me to go back to the series in 2014 after he shoved me into burn-out in the process of doing the first series. Then he began to panic (this was during an industry down-turn) and repeatedly edited this book — more than four full edit cycles, when one is normal — nearly giving me a nervous breakdown in the process. Then he died, suddenly. UK editor took over, with new US editor riding shotgun, and the book finally got a release date, but not without a whole lot of angst over how to make sure it kicks off a new series with new sales potential unburdened by the previous series' failure to catch fire.

It's normal for sales of books in a series to decline steadily with each extra volume. The Merchant Princes didn't decline: sales of book 6 were about the same as sales of book 1, which is a win in this game, which is why any of us even considered doing more of them. But the hope is that the new books will be a breakout success, where sales actually build over time. Hence demands for stuff like maps (I pushed back hard on that), front matter, the extra essay at the end ...

Book 2 (already edited 3 times!) is due on my editor's desk early in February, for final line-edits and production. It's pretty much there (only minor tweaking needed at this point).

Book 3 exists in first draft, but the ending sags a bit. I know how to fix it, and that's what I'll be doing in the second half of this year (after finishing the production cycle for DELIRIUM BRIEF and DARK STATE and finishing writing work on GHOST ENGINE).

69:

Finally ordered!! :-D

70:

It deserves to succeed; it is my favourite series out of your work, and it's always seemed odd to me that it doesn't attract more attention.

71:

I will tell you when I get the Book depository package - the information I have is that they sent me the UK paperback last Friday, but I still haven't got the book in my hands.

72:

Not...quite. Having taken a peek at it, it currently lists Samantha Shannon in the "More about the author" section, and the title appears on her "author page".

On the bright side, I've bought one of her books before now :)

73:

Graaahh...

I didn't scroll down that far. (Or, indeed, at all.) I just went straight to the order button...

Still, the "by Charles Stross" link does link to a list of Charlie's books, and that in turn links back to the listing, so hopefully it's got the book right at least and the only result will be that some of Samantha Shannon's fans find out that Charlie exists, some of Charlie's fans find out that Samantha Shannon exists, and everyone's a little bit better off. And at least if it does end up being the wrong book it'll give me something to read while I make a second attempt to order the right one.

74:

Hmmph ... still waiting ... the Canadian pre-order was supposed to arrive yesterday, meanwhile not a word/ping about the US pre-order.


Despite all the professional review and editing this book has undergone, typos may happen. So ... what's your preference for how we should send you info re: typos?

75:

I'll put up a "typo hunt" blog entry in a couple of weeks.

No point doing it before the UK/Aus releases.

76:

Audible just put up the Audiobook. Downloading to my phone as we speak.

77:

Just finished it. Fun!

Unfortunately, now I have to wait for the spoiler thread to ask about that afterword...

78:

Ask away here? I doublt we'll get many random visitors complaining about something seventy-yadda comments deep at this point.

79:

Did Bruce actually write the afterward?

80:

Will the typo hunt involve the ebook version?

81:

spirited her away into night and mist.


"Night and mist" sounds alarmingly like "Nacht und Nebel." I assume that was intentional?

82:

Is it bad that I think the USA is still more pleasant than the Commonwealth, even allowing for tech differences? :)

One question though -- does the Philip K. Dick book mentioned in the text mean that this is an alternate timeline from ours going back to the 60s at least? I suppose that would makes sense, with the Clan involved in the family trade for long time, making subtle alterations without meaning to....

83:

(Spoiler alert!)

I don't think that was actually Bruce Schneier. But seeing his name attached to the afterword was only one of several great little details, like Adam telling the Burgesons to bring democracy to the USA, or the title of the Philip K. Dick book.

This was a great ride, Charlie. As much as I enjoyed the original trilogy (in both six- and three-volume incarnations), this book shows how you've developed your craft since then. All the editing shows: this is the most polished and definitely the leanest work of yours I've read. The book jumps around a lot, in time as well as space and timelines, but all of the bits form a coherent whole like a pointillistic painting. The characters are no less vivid for being sketched economically.

I read it too fast because I was carried away by the action and I wanted to see where the plot went. Now I'll go back and read it more slowly to savor the writing and ponder the ideas.

I hope this is the breakout success that you and the publishers are hoping for.

84:

I spent Xmas/NY on the deck in the sun making inroads into Mt ToBeRead (filling the gaps on my A Reynolds reading, and a couple of N Shute rereads, B Chambers is now close to the top of the pile). I've read the original six a couple of times but I guess it's time to order the revised trilogy while the exchange rate is in my favour and grab the new one too.

Cheers Charlie, I very much like most of your work. Part of that is probably from working too long in the public service down here. (the dinner scene is Nightmare Stacks still one of the funniest set pieces I've ever read)

85:

Do you even have to ask?

86:

Originally from Wagner - "Das Rheingold" of course .....
Wotan & Loge go down from Valhall to Niflheim ... & when they arrive, Wotan askes Loge: "What can you see?"
Loge: "Night & Fog!"

88:

Finished the book today and really enjoyed it, but the character intros were really jarring. It might be my German background, but Kurts bio going from "fled over the wall" to "is a StaSi sleeper" rubbed me entirely the wrong way.

89:

Yessssss ..... Unfortunately.
Given what happened to Wotan at the end, or the fate of Rienzi, which is the one that is supposed to have "inspired" Adolf, you'd have thought he would have learnt ....

90:

It's actually quite a lot older than that. According to wikipedia, die formula "Nacht und Nebel" can be found in texts beginning from the 14th century.

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liste_geflügelter_Worte/N#Nacht_und_Nebel

The meaning used to be: doing something illegal, like committing a crime at night under cover of darkness. Via the Nazis the meaning has shifted: now we're mostly talking about the police (or other security forces) carrying out certain activities at night under cover of darkness and as a surprise action. A typical example would be rounding up refugees (or other foreigners) marked for deportation at night and delivering them to the airport, in order to minimize possible protests or interventions by supporters.

91:

My theory is that Timeline 2 diverged from ours around 1962. Our Philip K. Dick book came out in 1962 with a different title, putting the divergence before then. But if there's any noticeable difference at time X, by 9 months later almost all children born should have grown from a different sperm cell, making enough of an impact that they won't be "the same people". And Bruce Schneier was born in 1963.

92:

I was really surprised to see the nuclear carpet bombing made the nightly news. I would have anticipated it being kept a bit more sanitized. Then again, the reader knows a lot more than the average citizen. The Gruinmarkt could have been portrayed as chock full of red-eyed savages from North America to Eurasia. The carpet bombing, that should pretty much end civilization globally, right? Collapse down to hunter-gatherer tribes.

I'm just thinking back to 9-11 war fever in the US. I know I was skeptical about Dubya's warmongering but many were less critical. If a nation-state were responsible, I don't think there would have been much pushback to using a nuke, not from the voters. Maybe 25% against? The antiwar protests grew in the gap between 2001 and 2003. Afghanistan people were behind, Iraq was more strongly divided.

93:

AMZN's web-site is screwed.
They seem to think I've ordered a copy - for delivery in OCTOBER (!) & my Kindle order is nowhere to be seen.
You have been warned - I have contacted them, needless to say.

94:

October is the UK mass market paperback release date. What's currently out there in the UK (given the right local bookshop — I'm happy to pay a bit more and get decent customer care) is what is often known as the 'trade' paperback

95:

In honor of today's news: Tom Baker's 83rd birthday, I'm reminded of that episode where the Doctor finagled his election as President of Gallifrey, then when giving his Inaugural Address he introduced the New Alien Overlords....

As for that other news today, seeing the cold rain in DC, maybe Donnie the Rump will pull another William Henry Harrison, but his speech wasn't long enough.

96:

Re: '...Donnie the Rump will pull another William Henry Harrison,...'

Assume you mean the 'bring back slavery' bit. With the GOP controlling Congress and the Senate, this bit of history might repeat itself.

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

'Although Harrison's pro-slavery position made him unpopular with the Indiana Territory's antislavery supporters, he used his political power to make several attempts to introduce slavery into the territory. His efforts were ultimately unsuccessful due to the territory's growing anti-slavery movement. In 1803, Harrison lobbied Congress to vote in favor of a petition to suspend Article VI of the Northwest Ordinance for ten years, a move that would allow slavery in the Indiana Territory. At the end of the suspension period citizens in the territories covered under the ordinance could decide for themselves whether to permit slavery. Harrison claimed the suspension was necessary to encourage make settlement and would make the territory economically viable, but Congress rejected the idea.[50] In 1803 and 1805 Harrison and the appointed territorial judges successfully enacted territorial laws that evaded the provisions outlined in Article VI of the Ordinance, authorized indentures, allowed slaves to be brought into the territory, and gave their masters the authority to determine the length of indentured servitude.[51][52] The pro-slavery laws caused a significant stir in the territory.'


On a positive note, the Canadian Empire Games pre-order arrived late yesterday!

97:

It's tweet warfare out there today with the top trending tweets: obamas and/vs. trumps. Plus [hashtag] USofScience which might interest folks visiting here.

98:

Greg, cancel your order (for October) and re-order using the link in the next blog entry.

Note that next Thursday what comes out is a trade paperback. The October release is a cheaper pocket-sized edition a couple of months prior to book two.

99:

Assume you mean the 'bring back slavery' bit.

No, I meant the catch pneumonia and die in a month bit.

Though, see the article about a painting I linked to a few days ago.

100:

I'm about 2/3 through, and so far I've caught only one deviation from American English usage: "bogie" (Rita in the switchyard). It's "truck" here.

101:

As far as I can tell, I now have no orders with AMZN - including my Kindle edition, which seems to have vanished ...
Wierd

102:

Yeah, I know it doesn't work that way.
More from the wikipedia article:

He took the oath of office on March 4, 1841, a cold and wet day.[93] He wore neither an overcoat nor hat, rode on horseback to the ceremony rather than in the closed carriage that had been offered him, and delivered the longest inaugural address in American history.[93] At 8,445 words, it took him nearly two hours to read,...

On March 26, 1841, Harrison became ill with a cold. According to the prevailing medical misconception of that time, his illness was believed to be caused by the bad weather at his inauguration; however, Harrison's illness did not arise until more than three weeks after the event.[107] The cold worsened, rapidly turning to pneumonia and pleurisy...

He died nine days after becoming ill,[108] at 12:30 a.m. on April 4, 1841. Harrison's doctor, Thomas Miller, diagnosed Harrison's cause of death as "pneumonia of the lower lobe of the right lung."

Meanwhile, I hope in vain that the Marine Corp Band will play Hail to the Chief on sad trombone, with Yakety Sax thrown in.

103:

And the Liberty Bell March...

104:

Okay, but I think adding Baby Elephant Walk may be a step too far.
Though every time I see him walking, and say to myself "What a shlumper"...

105:

The bit about Miriam hopping into a "Clean, efficient diesel limosine". Clearly they've not been copying any Volkswagen designs then! Also, I really want the silver fighters seen early on in timeline 3 to be suspiciously similar to EE lightnings...:D

106:


Trump was brought to you by FBi director James Comey. He illelly brought us Trump by by changing Clinton to suspected status at the last minute.

107:

Pardon me if this is the wrong place for this, but I believe I've spotted something that slipped through editing:

In the very first chapter, there is mention of River, Franz's adopted son (and Rita's brother). Throughout the book, he's described as male.

But in the back matter, he's listed as Rita's SISTER.

I actually searched through the entirety of my Kindle copy to check that he didn't switch genders at some point. :)

108:

The bit about Miriam hopping into a "Clean, efficient diesel limosine".

Compare with the New British Empire 17 years earlier; steam cars, boilers possibly heated by powdered coal or crap like bunker oil. (The narrative voice is, shall we say, drily ironic ...)

The silver fighters might well be related to Mirage-IIIs. Low enough tech that the blueprints for the entire factory and production line and machine tools, never mind the plane, weigh less than 30 tons on paper (or at least they did in the 1970s when Mossad managed to get their hands on a copy from Switzerland.)

109:

Wha —- yes, River is Rita's brother. Damn, another error to fix for the paperback.

110:

Just finished it this morning, excellent stuff, looking very much forward to the sequels.

And for another error, Rita's birth year is inconsistent. 1995 in the character bios in the beginning of the book, and the prologue says she was 3 years old when her grandmother died in August 1998, but it also says she was 10 years old in late 2004, and of course later in the book it's said that her date of birth was May 11th 1994, which would make her 4 in August 1998. Haven't looked through everything, but I think when her age is referred to it's mostly consistent with being born in 1994.

111:

Don't forget KGB colonel Vladimir Putin, either!

112:

All the trainophiles I know are comfortable with the term bogies instead of trucks. Discussion of problems on Boston's MBTA usually use the term bogies.

113:


Offered for possible plot reuse.

https://twitter.com/TheNardvark/status/822473456977608704

BREAKING: The Secret Service has shot and killed another time traveler, bringing today's total to 873. #InaugurationDay

7:58 AM 20 Jan 2017

114:

Yeah; I only discovered the dates in her family tree were totally FUBARed while I was checking the page proofs(!) and realized Kurt must have been married at 13 or thereabouts.

Attempts to track down and fix all references to people's age were, I suspect, not 100% effective at that REALLY LATE stage (hint: the book had been through four line-edits, a copy edit, and past a crowd of test readers over a 2 year period before I got to the proofs). I think the error is in the character bio which was a last-minute addition requested by UK editorial after the rest of the book was baked.

115:

Attempts to track down and fix all references to people's age were, I suspect, not 100% effective at that REALLY LATE stage (hint: the book had been through four line-edits, a copy edit, and past a crowd of test readers over a 2 year period before I got to the proofs).

Random thought, but I wonder whether the recent advances in AI ("deep learning") that have so improved, e.g., Google Translate, might help ride herd on such matters of consistency and continuity.

116:

Empire Games is now on my desk to put a mylar cover on before reading. In glancing at the dust jacket I see the picture of OGH and his evil cat overlord. HA!

The book actually came before the rest of my order(I use free shipping, not Prime.) Last Stross book I ordered on release day took a month for Amazon to even send it(so, surprise!)

I have several seasons of TV I need to finish watching(Hannibal, delicious!), I'm also reading through Modesitt(that I somehow missed, disturbing), but I hope to finish Empire Games this month.

BTW, Your continued story of woe about the bizarre process of Legacy Publishing makes me happy that I went Indy. My sympathies.

117:

Oh No! My copy arrived today, wasn't expecting it for a couple more days. It'll have to wait a little, just until I finish what I'm reading—which shouldn't be long.

118:

Just noticed Menhit's photo credit. Kitty selfie photo-bombed by food ape.

119:

Doesn't Google Translate basically work off a Markov-type analysis of everything they've indexed that comes in different language versions? ie. not doing anything that could approximate to analysis and synthesis of meaning, but just having a huge database of what sequences of words in one language usually correspond to sequences in another. On very casual and limited observation it does seem to have more difficulty with pairs of languages that order their sentences notably differently, eg. English and German, than with pairs that do not. English to German it seems to do using a mostly English word order, and German to English gets it tied in knots untangling complex sentences. And it doesn't seem to understand when "fan" means an enthusiast and not a ventilator.

120:

Google Translate has recently undergone a paradigm shift, if I understand it aright: http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/computing/software/google-translate-gets-a-deep-learning-upgrade

I haven't done any sort of rigorous comparison, but in the languages I do have a modest clue about (Russian, Spanish) it now performs impressively.

Anyway, the deep-learning stuff seems to have broad applicability, which was why I wondered if it could help with editing.

121:

Interesting. The article seems to say they're only using it for Chinese, but maybe that's out of date. I'll try and remember to keep an eye on how it performs - maybe take notes of things it gets wrong and try them again at a later date to see if it's improved, if I cba.

I have a feeling that for things like keeping track of the consistency of characters' ages, you could get quite a lot of the way by grepping for characters' names and inspecting the nearby text for time references, sorting the output by character and presenting a table for visual inspection. To get from there to full accuracy, though, would be a vastly bigger task...

122:

ALL cat overlords are evil, didn't you know?
The contra point is that they are usually unspeakably cute as well.
Mine, a lilac-point Birman male, certainly is, even as he lays down a n other squirrel .....

123:

While I noted one or two things (paracetamol is going to be called either acetaminophen or by the brand name Tylenol), I though it was great, my only complaint is having to wait two more years to finish it.

Regarding the previous series, I bought the new version, and it seemed noticeably better than the original, I don't feel that way about rereads often if at all (things I missed, sure). I think the blurb on Amazon should point out that it was redone extensively (ie, buy this edition!).

124:

Per iBooks search, there are no occurrences of "paracetamol" or "acetaminophen" or "tylenol" in Empire Games.

I think you may be mis-remembering something from the previous serious. (Note that the omnibus re-cut was bolted together for the UK market, which might — it was about five years ago; my memory is vague — have necessitated an "acetaminophen" to "paracetamol" translation for the readers, which then didn't get put back for the US re-release.)

125:

I found a collection of Liu Cixin's scifi short stories, some going back more than twenty years, showing how he was mulling over a lot of the ideas that turned up later in his novels. I could have fun translating and uploading a few, but maybe this blog isn't the appropriate venue. Google was no help with "contribute translation story website" type searches, anyone have recommendations?

126:

Thanks for the book, Charlie; stayed up far too late last night finishing it.

Another age problem - Holmes is "barely forty", later meets Pierrepoint & Baker and is said to be younger than both, but Pierrepoint is noted to be in his early thirties in the same scene - should be early forties?

And when Miriam meets Rita she tells her she was younger than Rita is now when she was born, but must have been around the same age if born in '68 (in character bio, said to be early fifties elsewhere).

Is it coincidence that the original worldwalker's arrival in the Gruinmarkt in the 1760s comes so soon after the point-of-departure for timeline 3 (French invasion of England in 1759)?

127:

I've seen a recent shift in Google Translate which I put down to the announced change in the underlying engine(s) they use. My particular interest and usage is Japanese-to-English, translating manga mainly so it's almost all speech and conversation rather than scripted text that I work with. I've been using Google Translate for this purpose for several years now.

The results offered for a given piece of text is either very good or very bad but almost always more grammatical than it used to be. I put this down to the "Mechanical Turk" that the Translate website has been running for several years, soliciting input from users when their original answer was not deemed satisfactory. It has built up a big database of such answers to use but context is filed off when individual chunks of text are entered by the user and so the answer can be sort-of right but not actually useful.

I just had one grammatically-correct-but-wrong answer from Google Translate where the Japanese phrase "iza makutsu" which was poetically describing the idea of entering a dangerous place, a "demon's den" was translated as "a mad cow" for some reason.

128:

Random thought, but I wonder whether the recent advances in AI ("deep learning") that have so improved, e.g., Google Translate, might help ride herd on such matters of consistency and continuity.

It might do something else. Something fairly new is "style transfer": using machine learning to render a scene as, say, Picasso or van Gogh might have painted it. Some nice examples in Dainius's "New Neural Algorithm Can ‘Paint’ Photos In Style Of Any Artist From Van Gogh To Picasso", talking about the work by Gatys, Ecker and Bethge written up in "A Neural Algorithm of Artistic Style".

So perhaps if one could find the right linguistic encoding — huge-dimensional semantic vector spaces maybe, but also extracting register and suprasegmental information such as prosody — similar techniques could be used for writing. How about The Nightmare Stacks in the style of Five Go to Smuggler's Top? Or perhaps the New Statesman has already set this one.

129:

Note the warning mentioned by Miguel Llorens in "Why the Machine Translation Crowd Hates Google". The one where Google's Vint Cerf remarks "I'd be really careful about having any kind of a sensitive debate with someone either spoken or written using these translations."

130:

"I'd be really careful about having any kind of a sensitive debate with someone either spoken or written using these translations."

Having done a certain amount of reasonably well paid Russian -> English translation and having, because of circumstances, had to critique other examples of such, I would modify the above to say,

"I'd be really careful about having any kind of a sensitive debate with someone either spoken or written using translations."

Actually, you could just end that after "written." Alice's English probably isn't quite Bob's English.

On the Russian - English side, one of my favorite examples of a perennial mess is "kontrol" vs "control."

131:

I've seen a recent shift in Google Translate which I put down to the announced change in the underlying engine(s) they use. My particular interest and usage is Japanese-to-English, translating manga mainly so it's almost all speech and conversation rather than scripted text that I work with. I've been using Google Translate for this purpose for several years now.

You might be interested in "The Difference Between Google Language Tools 10 Years Ago and Now". It's from "Patenttranslator's Blog: Diary of a Mad Patent Translator":

I put Google Language Tools on my website about 10 years ago. However, I hardly ever used this function over the years because I saw it mostly as a fairly crude tool that can be used only for suggested translation of individual words. And for a long time, it was just that.

However, I am using the function now for much more than what it could do for me a few years ago. I don’t know what Google did to Language Tools, but something has changed. For example, last week I was translating from a Japanese product data safety sheet information about dangerous chemicals, [...]

132:

In the Principal Cast List, Elena Hjorth is listed as being married to Huw Hjorth, giving him wives. She's married to Hulius.

133:

Thanks for the links. That's really cool.

134:

So perhaps if one could find the right linguistic encoding — huge-dimensional semantic vector spaces maybe, but also extracting register and suprasegmental information such as prosody — similar techniques could be used for writing.

Such a technological marvel would be used for stupid amusements, of course. Not that that's a bad thing, I'm just observing human habits.

Jamming together unusual stylistic choices can challenge the audience when the work doesn't conform to genre expectations. Sometimes it works; Haré+Guu has been described as an H.P. Lovecraft story told Doctor Seuss.

135:

I could let you have some space and a facility for uploading HTML pages to it.

136:

What does it mean - something more like "check" or "adjust", as in German?

(Or "bridge-dwelling caprivore", as by my sister when she was tiny? :))

137:

"...stupid amusements..."

Taking a hit on a bong, described in the style of EE "Doc" Smith describing an epic space battle... (unfortunately now lost forever.)

It has struck me that one possible improvement GT could make would be to try and incorporate some weighting from algorithms specifically designed to mimic ignorant human translators, even if those algorithms by themselves would give unusable results. The reason I think this is derived from my method of casually improving my understanding of Spanish: read something off the net in raw Spanish, try and figure out what it means, and then plug those sentences I'm not sure about into GT to try and get some clues off that. Quite often it gets it wrong, but in such a way that (a) it's still obvious that it is wrong, and how, even though I know my own translation is also wrong, and (b) I can combine the two wrong translations to produce a correct one. The machine and human wrongnesses seem to fall into quite different domains, in such a way that even though both are wrong one can still be used to help correct the other.

138:

What does it mean - something more like "check" or "adjust", as in German?

"Check" or "monitor" as a passive activity in most cases, though it can occur as a part of a process that includes "control" in the active sense of the English term. Think of an OODA loop where kontrol is the first O and control is the A.

139:

H.P. Lovecraft story told Doctor Seuss.

It's been done, of course:
The Call of Cthulhu for beginning readers

140:

Thanks! Should have a thirty page txt. file ready to send in a week or so, I'll watch for your uploading instructions at my yahoo email address.

141:

There's another kind of style translation described in "Learning style translation for the lines of a drawing" by Freeman and Tenenbaum. This one works on the lines of a line drawing rather than on textures, replacing them by lines that are bolder, for example, or jaggier.

142:

Sousa's "The Liberty Bell" was featured at the inauguration of William J. Clinton's first term;I turned to someone my age and relatively sympatico and said 'One of us?'?

There's something wonderful about seeing a very serious Marine in full soup-and-fish clanging a bell for that piece, this

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7FD9PNpfpo

…is not quite as good because they're not wearing caps.

Of course, if Cupid's foot from "Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time" were to have come down on that podium this year…well…whoever were left might feel obligated to carpet-nuke either Portugal or Luton Airport.

143:

I disliked the Schneier afterward because it implies that there's a U.S., book publishing, and some degree of liberty, at some sort of future remove from the events of the books and in some time-line strongly suggested to be Timeline 2, and I think that's a bit of a give-away.

144:

I thought something similar, but really the transcripts of US govt meetings, presented as if actual examples of such, also imply survival of civilisation in that timeline. As does the framing device for the Laundry Files, currently about the only thing giving me hope for the survival of the protagonists of that series...

145:

The only other clear non-americanism was the use of House of Card's line "You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment". Possibly it's more well known in Timeline 2, or Timeline 2 has its own US remake.

That in the afterword the DoE's interest in taking over the FTC shouldn't stem as much from Oil. As Rick Perry has discovered, the DoE isn't really about oil and gas as it is about Nukes and high energy research. Otoh they also do a bunch of pure research including into AGW, so that would fit (as well as the use of DOE resources within the FTO to create the armbands).

146:
The only other clear non-americanism was the use of House of Card's line "You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment". Possibly it's more well known in Timeline 2, or Timeline 2 has its own US remake.

Uh, this timeline has a US remake of House of Cards, although never having seen it I don't know if that line was carried over.

147:

Very much enjoying the book. (Not surprised that this should be so, though I was surprised to see it at my library when they hadn't gotten in "TNS"... well, they've been good generally speaking, they have.)

Not sure if it matters :( ... but the quote at the beginning of part 3 (Dark State) is only what its author is often quoted as saying- not what he actually wrote. (See Wikipedia article "The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon".)

148:

It's used, but its not as pervasive as it was in the original version or book. (also season 4 got boring for me, and I'm waiting for season 5 to finish it).

149:

I started to read the book because of all the comments about typos, etc..., just to see what all the fuss was about. Other than what has been mentioned so far, the book is fine. The story started out as a hot mess, and would not let me go. I could not put it down.

I can see why your Legacy Publisher kept editing it, the book is subversive as hell.

Well done.

150:

Thank you for the new novel, I greatly enjoyed it. With the next in the series due a year from now and then a year after that, it is very nice to have something to look forward to.

Questions/Comments:
It was mentioned that Timeline Two was doing carbon capture and dumping the carbon into the atmosphere of an alternate timeline...since I am skeptical of carbon capture that feels like more of a propaganda action by the Timeline Two US government than it does a real thing.

There was a 'throwaway line' about an exciting future in the offworld colonies. It read as a joke, but it seems likely that the US would be setting up colonies in some of the uninhabited timelines, particularly if those colonies can be only a few 'not very expensive' clicks away from a massive supply depot.

It looks as if the US government of Timeline Two is still somewhat susceptible to public opinion, consequently once the cross-time travel secret is out: Someone is going to lobby for importing old-growth timber from alternate timelines. Someone else is going to lobby for Passenger Pigeons, Carolina Parakeets, and Ivory-billed Woodpeckers (and more diversity for the California Condor gene pool). Lots of 'if you can bring in oil you can bring in X' arguments.

How many different timelines can be reached directly from any particular timeline? I get the impression that Timeline Three has been undiscovered for so long because the US has been burning effort searching the timeline directly reachable from Timeline Two - a number apparently large enough that after 17 years of 'paranoids with robotic probes' searching nearby and nearly-nearby timelines there are still timelines only 'two jaunts' from Timeline Two that are unexplored. If each timeline 'connects' to a moderately large number of timelines this would not be a surprise, but it would be puzzling if each timeline only connected to three or four others. (Or to phrase the question another way: how many knot variations are there, and are all of them able to access an adjacent timeline in every timeline? However, the worldwalking ability was a kludge of a genetic modification - it may be that the knots do not represent all of the timelines that are accessible from a particular timeline.)

The 'natural' worldwalkers are going to be jealous when they find out that the induced ability that Rita has does not have the headache side effect. The US government could get some good will if they are able to fix that problem for 'the naturals'. (And give any of the outer families that made the transition the 'superpower'.)

151:

Grrrrr ...

All very well for you lot - I've got to wait until Thursday!

152:

A point about timeline two is that it's a timeline in which the USA received a really serious blow — president assassinated, and a two-for-the-price-of-one terrorist nuking? — followed by an Outside Context Problem (multiverse travel) ... and yet, despite a level of police state bullshit as yet unexperienced in our world, sanity has gradually begun to reassert itself. There's an essentially rational, competent president in the White House — that TL's equivalent of Obama — whose first reaction to a new contact scenario is not to start a nuclear war but to initiate a covert diplomatic process. The wildest excesses of the US Deep State have focussed on carbon exploitation from parallel time lines, rather than using the tech to smuggle nukes into timeline two's Moscow. The US Constitution is still in force and there are still elections and there's still a notion of freedom of speech, even if everyone submits to a level of intrusive monitoring that would be anathema today ... because the threat isn't about random loonies with AR-15s or truck bombs who you can hopefully detect before they run wild, it's a state-level actor with world-walking ability and nukes.

In other words, it's a depiction of the normalization of fear (with an essentially more rational reason for the fear than the paranoia about terrorism in our universe) and how people cope with it. If the worst you have to worry about is a level of domestic surveillance equivalent to the GDR with internet access, then ... well, things could be worse.

And in book 2, "Dark State", we'll get a glimpse of how much worse they could be.

And yes, this is an explicitly political novel (trilogy) about terror and how it drives excessive reaction.

153:

And yes, this is an explicitly political novel (trilogy) about terror and how it drives excessive reaction.

Is there also the contervailing process, whereby terror is deliberately ramped up, Nazi / Communist / Islamist style to deliberately break a democratic system, so that "the people" will choose the terror, or rather the government of the self-selected few?

154:

Nope. I deliberately didn't want to show any mustachio-twirling villains who the naive readers could blame for bad things happening. Everyone does what, from their initial position, appears to be the right thing, for the best of reasons. Any disasters that ensue are down to good intentions.

155:

Maybe
We know that Robespierre & Calvin started with good intentions.
Not so sure about Lenin, or several christian "Saints" ...
Are Da'esh intentions good, even by their own lights? I venture to disagree, though I know my argument may be shaky.

156:

That's cool too!

Thanks again.

157:

Another nit - if Rita's parents put her through college, why does she have outstanding student loans?

Spoilers here
***********************8

And I don't see how the Stasi could have sleeper agents in the third generation.

Regarding Charlie's comment about people trying to do what is right - I thought in the first series that Eric Smith was deep down a decent person. He brought Mike Fleming groceries (and will we see Mike again?), and seems pretty decent here, too.

Nice to know that Rudi kept his interest in flying.

And finally, I had wondered about Iris' multiple sclerosis, and it was nice of Charlie to remember that, but sad to see Olga afflicted.

158:

Lenin started with good intentions in his early teens. Then Stolypin et al hanged the elder brother he hero-worshipped, and he began to crave revenge as well.

Da'esh ... yeah, I'll credit them with good intentions, although their cognitive map of the world is so ridiculously alien that from their perspective, executing people can be good for them.

159:

So Da'esh's "good intentions" are the same as Jean Calvin's?
Religion, yuck.

160:

It arrived on my Kindle at 00:05 so I shall be reading it later today.

161:

Two things!

1) The Merchant princess is the on big thing by Charlie that I haven't read yet and I decided to give it a go. Start at the beginning with The Bloodline Feud, or with Empire Games? What do the folks here say?
'cuse me if this question came up before, I didn't read the thread for fear of spoilers. BTW, the other post (about theme and all that) is the thing that got me - now I want to know what all that is about.

2) Charlie, can you unblock me on twitter (@radicapr)? This would be great for me because then I wouldnt have to take detours via browsers etc. to read your tweets. Dunno why you blocked, been a while, likely didn't help that I had the egg avatar rather long.

162:

Still haven't had a chance to get started on the book. Just read the Big Idea post on Scalzi's blog.

"given perfect foreknowledge of the next sixty years of technological development, a government on an emergency footing, and a budget, just how fast can you play catch-up?”

This bit made me think of Japan after opening to the West in the 19th century. Would that be an accurate comparison? It may not have been a emergency for them, but they played catch-up pretty fast and hard.

163:

Definitely start at the beginning and read the whole lot.

164:

I'd personally go with Pigeon's rec. You can start with Empire Games without it being too dislocating (there is obviously a back history there, but you're not in the middle of a story, you're at the start of a new story that follows on). But if you then want to go back to the start, you've had quite large spoilers. That may or may not be an issue for you, depending on how you consume fiction.

(I'm strongly driven by plot, so it is for me. If you're more character driven, for example, then I'd expect it to be less an issue.)

165:

Unblocked. (I subscribe to a bot-generated blocklist for gamergaters/puppies on twitter, and it's begun throwing false positives recently — since the Trump election.)

166:

This bit made me think of Japan after opening to the West in the 19th century. Would that be an accurate comparison? It may not have been a emergency for them, but they played catch-up pretty fast and hard.

Sort-of; but the New British Empire wasn't as backwards as Miriam thought when she first stumbled into it. As William Gibson notes, the future is already here, it's just unevenly distributed. A time traveller to small-town USA in our 1944 would have seen Model T Fords still on the road and maybe biplanes overhead. They wouldn't have seen atomic reactors, ballistic missiles, jet fighters, or early computers — but all of those things were out there and would be really visible within another six years. Similarly, Miriam sees steam cars, poor roads, biplanes, and steam locomotives ... but she's actually in a late-1930s/early-1940s setting, in terms of where the cutting edge has gotten to. And then her business plan intersects with a fiscal crisis and a revolution and a state of emergency and blows the doors off ...

167:

(the dinner scene is Nightmare Stacks still one of the funniest set pieces I've ever read)

I thought so too. You start out thinking the parents are upset because (Spoiler) then it turns out they're really upset because of (Spoiler) which turns a whole trope on it's head, which probably means that at some point Nightmare Stacks will be listed on TV Tropes as a "Trope Codifier.")

168:

I haven't bought Empire Games yet, but I found all three of the preceding books at Vroman's and bought them a couple days ago in trade paperback size.

169:

Another great book Charlie!

One thing got me worried though...
British writer, book printed in the UK and then at page 280 I read alumiNUM?
Brexit, aluminum from a british writer, Theresa May the first to visit the new US president? What have they been doing? (Other than taking colorful showers filmed by russian white house security) A new US state in the making?
Worrying developments.

170:

A new US state in the making?

Ja
Der vierte Reich

171:

I have a question that I was saving for the Crib Notes on Nightmare Stacks, but maybe it's better to just ask directly now (while avoiding spoilers as much as possible).

@Host - have you read a little obscure novel titled The_Krugg_Syndrome?
Some parts regarding the vanguard of the invasion forces reminded me of it, and I wondered if it was a homage, an influence, an inspiration, or something similar but unrelated.

172:

Bellingham & Pigeon - thx for the rec.
I've never aksed myself wether I'm a plot or character driven reader and since thinking about it I am genuinely puzzled. Maybe both. I think i notice prose only if it gets in the way. I hardly reread, but when I do I find many books as enjoyable as the first time. There's nuances I can better appreciate on a second read. But I hardly take the time - Tsundeke's big enough as is, right now the active books are Deborah Feldman's 'Unorthodox', Sterlings 'Globalhead' and stuff on fluid mechanics and channel flows.

Charlie - thx for unblocking!

174:

I re-read Merchant Princes last year, in impatient anticipation of Empire Games's publication.

I'll add myself to the list of people telling you to start at the beginning — though get the newer Omnibus editions.

Definitely worth it. A lot of fun :)

175:

I reread as a matter of course - you could say it's my justification for buying books rather than getting them out of the library. My best guarantee of enjoying a book is to have enjoyed it already on a previous occasion. Although I'm not keen on (though do not fanatically avoid) seeing "spoilers" before I've read a book at all, when I reread it somehow it doesn't seem to matter knowing what comes next; having read it once in ignorance seems to fix that newcomer's perspective in my head, so that for instance arriving at the dammed Sirannon for the fiftieth time still feels like the first. And I always notice something new, if only because my general knowledge of random this or that has increased in the interval such that eg. what I thought was just ordinary artistic phrasing is now obviously a philologist's tidbit.

Empire Games, though a new story, is sufficiently in the same mould as the original series that the probability of liking one and not the other I would estimate as very low; like any one of the series and you'll want to read the rest. And it definitely works best to build up your knowledge of the whole scene in the same order that the characters build up theirs.

176:

Is Empire Games eligible for Hugo nomination in 2016, or does it count as 2017?

177:

Thank you.

I finished reading Empire Games over the weekend, and it is so good - Charlie is just getting better and better at this stuff. Rita is a wonderful creation, and there are some interesting hooks set for the sequels.

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