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Empire Games Black Friday promo (UK only)

Empire Games

Attention, British readers: Empire Games is on special offer this week from the Kindle store! It's just 99 pence, until Sunday 26th, so if you've wanted to dip a toe in the water, this is your chance!

(This offer is not valid in North America; different publishers, different Amazon sales teams.)



In other, off-topic, news, I just finished the first draft of "The Labyrinth Index" (only two and a half weeks over the deadline). It still needs work, but at least it's now a novel-shaped-object instead of a construction site.

This is the first time I've missed a pre-agreed book deadline/extension in over a decade. Aagh.


Yah for cheap ebooks and more Laundry - boo for Charlie overwork.

Aside - is 2017 Peak Charlie (in a wishing you achievable deadlines way)? Not been keeping count but I think you've had at least 5 full length novel shaped objects somewhere in the production pipeline this year?


2016 was due to be peak Charlie. Then multiple edits on the Empire Games trilogy hit. I was at five books in the pipeline back in 2015-16. This year ... "The Labyrinth Index" wasn't due to be written until 2018, and I was working on a space opera ("Ghost Engine"), but then my father got ill and died. This derailed my writing process, so "Ghost Engine" went on the back-burner for a year and I tried to force out "The Labyrinth Index" ahead of schedule because at least the Laundry series is a known quantity with lots of characters I know intimately. Alas, it took longer than expected to get over the bereavement, so ...

My current workload looks like:

  • Dark State — this is finished, at the printers, due to ship in January, so doesn't count. Yay!
  • The Labyrinth Index — first draft written, will go to my editors in a few weeks. Theoretically due out in July, but might slip a month or two (because I'm late.)
  • Invisible Sun — third and final "Empire Games" novel, first draft written, needs an extensive rewrite before it's final, due out in January 2019.
  • Ghost Engine — first draft written, needs an extensive rewrite before it's final, due out in July 2019.

So ... that's three books in progress, but complete drafts of all three exist, and all three should be on their way to production by August next year at the latest.

After that? I'm hoping to take a six month sabbatical before I start anything else!


Yikes. Nice to see that you have an end (of sorts) in sight, and we'll look forward to reading the four books.

What are you thinking of doing for the sabbatical?


What are you thinking of doing for the sabbatical?

Burning a load of air miles and not writing any novels. I last took a significant break from work in 2007; six months off is necessary every so often, just to let the creative battery recharge.

Beyond that ... I have more Laundry to do, in due course, and I have some ideas for non-series novels (nothing I've discussed in public yet). Also, the market is changing. Ebooks are in the ascendant as a sales channel, mass market paperbacks are dying, novellas have come roaring back as a viable commercial form (20-30,000 words) even as novels have become ever-too bloated. I might do better writing one novel and 1-2 novellas a year instead of trying to produce only novels at a rate of 1.5-2 per year. Or I might try something new: graphic novel scripts, for example. But I won't know until I've discussed things with my agent and editors. It's simply not something I can discuss (or even plan) this far ahead.


Dark State on order, looking forward to TLI and GE. I'm going to have to order the "Empire Games" hardcovers from the USA by the look of it because Foreboding Prices probably won't have any of the first one left by now and I've canned my regular excursions to London.

Enjoy your sabbatical (eventually) and have Fun!

There's always the option of the odd short story to keep the fans interested - there must be plenty of Laundry backstory left, even after the very enjoyable AO3 snippets.

(There's no way you're getting off my "Automatic Purchase" list.)


Your agent could probably swing a working/paying sabbatical by doing the SF, comics guest-speaker circuit. Just make sure the speaking schedule allows for some free days before/after so that you accommodate any book research including touristy fun stuff. Oh yeah - suggest you plan around the weather to stock up on some natural VitD before you go back to Scotland and your writer's cave for another 6-7 years.


Dark State on pre-order with "The Zon" — as Hardcover and as a Kindle. I've discovered that for certain authors, and for certain books, having both formats gives me the pleasure of owning a solid book, but also gives me my freedom of mobility.


Well, I've said this before but books are fungible in that, if TLI (qv) is delayed by 2 months I'll buy something else in the month it was due out. I'll still pre-order TLI though.


There's always the option of the odd short story to keep the fans interested - there must be plenty of Laundry backstory left, even after the very enjoyable AO3 snippets.

I'm about two years overdue to write Derek the DM's origin story novella, and he's in danger of being killed off/modified drastically before I get it out! So that's a maybe.


I do a lot of SF convention appearances, and the idea of being paid for it — over and above flights and hotel bill — is a giggle. Also? It's work. Some writers find talking about their in-progress work in front of people kills it dead: I'm one of the other kind, who brainstorm in front of an audience. So it's actually exhausting and triggers more writing afterwards, when what I need is time off.


Assuming you're going to try something different in your time off - what appeals? A course on cooking? Taking up archery? Volunteering? Moving house?

Mental picture of a next novel that includes a volunteer chef at the Cat&Dog Home that selects their new home on the length of its back garden...


Lying on a beach.

Burning up the Air France air miles I've been saving for a decade before Brexit shuts down all connecting flights in and out of the UK.



It surprises me a little that the UK participates in black friday (since as far as I know it's defined as the day after (american) thanksgiving). I guess I shouldn't be so surprised -- it's really geared toward christmas shopping & only slightly benefits from most americans being off work that day. How global is it? Like, is it limited to anglophone countries? Places that celebrate Christmas in late December / perform end-of-year gift-giving celebrations?


It's a very recent thing. My impression is that Amazon started extending the previously NA only event globally, and UK based chains felt they had to respond.


Downloaded it to Kindle this morning. I wonder about who will be sent to the Commonwealth as US ambassador...a retired Colonel breaking a fountain pen, maybe?

Is the language of the rail police officer arresting Rita a strongly Scottish-inflected variety of English? (I'm not a native speaker). Does it mean anything about the ethnic groups that colonized North America in that TL?

Why is the highest official of the Commonwealth named "First Man"? Was it a title already in use in some other context (shift boss, foreman), or something whose meaning shifted (think "secretary" going from "keepr of secrets" to "clerk" to "Party chief").

I foresee it being a bit of a problem for the (I hope) Italian translator, as it translates as "Primo Uomo", usually used referring to Adam (and the plural "primi uomini" means something like hominids, or early sapiens, prehistoric cave dwellers and such...)

btw, buying it was a tour de force. My account rerouted me to account, the browser has two different passwords memorized for each, I had to reset both and delete cookies before being ablr to buy it. BigRiver website is a bit too much choosy with customers logging in...


I have to ask: What do you mean by Rewriting? A literal rewrite from beginning to end? Or going through a draft and making additions and corrections. Personally, I can't imagine doing the former, and go the editing route. Sure, a rewrite ought to go faster than the first draft, but it may have taken me a year or more to write it the first time. Meanwhile, I'm nearly done with a second go through of the last novel I wrote—calling it the third draft (found plenty of things I missed the first time), which took two years to write, then wrote a prequel novella. Hopefully it'll be worth a query letter, or a dozen+.


he UK participates in black friday

It's entirely retailer-driven, and only showed up in the past decade once Amazon began pushing it globally.


Why is the highest official of the Commonwealth named "First Man"

Look at the etymology of "president".

Congratulations on grappling with the many-tentacled monster that is Amazon!


What do you mean by Rewriting? A literal rewrite from beginning to end? Or going through a draft and making additions and corrections.

Depends entirely on the book.

"The Labyrinth Index" is due for the latter — extensive corrections and edits, but the end product should resemble the input.

"Invisible Sun" is due for the former — the second half of the book veered off the rails and ended up in the long grass, so I'm going to have to chop off the second half of the book and rewrite from scratch (although I may be able to cut and paste some scenes from the earlier version, with suitable edits).


I've noticed in the last couple of years that we have Black Friday sales also in Finland. I can't quite fathom it - Amazon doesn't have that big a presence here except on the internet, so it's kind of like the local stores have started using it in advertising.

I'm kind of annoyed that again something that comes from the American culture is about selling me MOAR STUFF FOR A SPECIAL PRICE.


Black Friday" Etirely "Me too" copying of the US, with no real bargains, vast amounts of publicity & rip-offs. No sane person will go anywhere near it.


"Invisible Sun" is due for the former — the second half of the book veered off the rails and ended up in the long grass, so I'm going to have to chop off the second half of the book and rewrite from scratch (although I may be able to cut and paste some scenes from the earlier version, with suitable edits).

I'm not sure this is a proper thing to suggest, but if it is, would you consider making the original second half available some time after the book is published? It would be interesting to see how such things develop, IMO.

If this isn't a proper thing to suggest, I never suggested it and will strongly deny having done so.


I'm not sure this is a proper thing to suggest, but if it is, would you consider making the original second half available some time after the book is published?

No, because it's really weak.

(I set up a lot of guns on mantlepieces then failed to maneuver two characters into position to pull the triggers properly.)

Also, I now have the following starred review in the notoriously-curmudgeonly trade review mag Kirkus Reviews to live up to for DARK STATE:

This sequel to Empire Games (2017), set in the same world as Stross' Merchant Princes series, plunges us deep into a nightmarish clash of arms, politics, and wills between near-future governments in alternate timelines.In timeline No. 2, which chillingly resembles our own, the United States has morphed into a full-blown police state in which surveillance is universal and inescapable and the paranoid powers that be are willing to use, and have used, nuclear weapons to achieve their aims. Timeline No. 3 presents a bizarre fun-house-mirror world in which the U.S. never existed; instead, a corrupt, despotic British empire persisted until its recent overthrow by the revolutionary, democratic New American Commonwealth. The U.S. desperately wants to learn what's happening in this less technologically advanced but nuclear-armed timeline, so the Department of Homeland Security's Col. Smith coerces people, called world-walkers, who possess the ability to cross between timelines, into becoming spies. Critically, recruit Rita Douglas happens to be the estranged daughter of Commonwealth biggie Miriam Burgeson, herself a refugee from the radioactive wasteland of timeline No. 1 and now guiding the rapid development of the Commonwealth with technology purloined from the U.S. The Commonwealth faces challenges from counterrevolutionaries and the huge, powerful French empire, while the U.S., terrified of nuclear weapons in any hands but its own, probes yet another timeline where the hostile remnants of a still more advanced civilization lurk. Tension crackles from every page as readers grapple with the horrifying sociological and political implications, the looming threat of another intratime nuclear war, and the fates of individual characters embroiled in disturbing intrigues. Even the fact that every scenario ends in a cliffhanger isn't too annoying given the enormous care and skill Stross expends on getting the details right and rendering meticulous accounts of complex, intersecting events. Not to mention the real-world implications. Sheer brilliance: when Stross is in this mood, nobody else comes close.

Also Prime Minister, who in the UK is also the First Lord of the Treasury.


Many US retailers are beginning sales a day early, which I prefer to call "Brown Thursday".


Given the socialist society, I wondered if the title was similar to the First (Chair)man of the Soviet or Chinese states - it certainly seemed to equate more to Prime Minister or first among equals than to President or Premier.


Actually, his constitutional role is modeled on that of the Supreme Leader in the Iranian system. But good call!


I'm sure you have seen the speculation that some aspects of the Iranian regime(the guardian council) are inspired by Plato's Republic.

Would love a whole post on your view of the Iranian system someday. Or I guess I could keep reading the books to tease more on that out.


A six month hiatus is perfect for visiting other-side-of-the-planet distant time zone countries with lots of coastline like Australia (19,600 km), New Zealand (15,000 km), Chile (6,000 km). Good opportunity to snorkel, spelunk, and collect interesting mementos such as sea shells and sand.

If you'd like activities suggestions for your sabbatical, pretty sure folks here could offer a few ideas:

Make a world map using native sands/dirt from each country.


Talking of a paranoid US state controlling everything T Ronald Dump is aiming to break Net Neutrality


Careful there Greg - Net Neutrality is a rats nest and it means different things to different people - there are also a whole host of cases where net neutrality in its broadest sense is unhelpful to the consumer. Its full of hysterical screaming on both sides. Do you think Google give a damn about the ordinary consumer - they are just another globocorp looking to make a profit at others expense? They stand to benefit from "more" net neutrality.

Having said that I have no doubt that the chairman of the FCC is a Trump puppet - but a lot more has to happen to "destroy" net neutrality than repeal of the 2014 decisions.

TLDR: That Indy article is a storm in a Left-pondian teacup that would have zero impact on us Right-pondians. Apologies to any upset Left-pondians - as a general principle I agree your Telco's are some of the worst abusers of the "free market" going (Bill-stuffing WTF!), but most of Net Neutrality is just two different sets of pigs fighting over the same trough (us!)

Double apologies on Pondian I do like to dust it off once in a while :)


Don't you bet on it. Greg is right, though I don't think it's as simple as it sounds. It's also a damn good way to introduce censorship, bypassing the constitution, using the mutual back-scratching rule.


It surprises me a little that the UK participates in black friday (since as far as I know it's defined as the day after (american) thanksgiving).

Black Friday has very little to do with the American holiday, other than being the next day after. If you look around, many "black Friday" sales now start on Thursday or even earlier, especially with on-line merchants.

UK merchants (especially on-line merchants) participate because they're competing in a global market.


Why is the highest official of the Commonwealth named "First Man"?

Possibly similar to the way the Roman Empire named the emperor "Princeps".

Princeps (plural: principes) is a Latin word meaning "first in time or order; the first, foremost, chief, the most eminent, distinguished, or noble; the first man, first person."


That kinda proves my point - your example is the other end of the pendulum. (Ie the Tech-pigs with too much power not the Telco-Pigs). Now they have far greater reach than the US telco pigs because they are essentially companies with a global consumer base rather than mainly being confined to North American consumers.

Google et al are also much more subtle in the ways they use their power, compared to the Telcos (did I mention bill stuffing?).


I don't think that you realise how much successive UK governments have sold us down the river to the USA military-industrial machine. What is going to stop us being blocked from receiving RT Web pages? Huffington Post ones? Amnesty International ones? WHO ones? Ones that describe climate change?

We have already seen how easy it is to cripple 'hostile' organisations (like charities that support 'undesirables') by the banks simply closing their accounts at short (24 hour) notice. There's no appeal to the courts, of course.


Just finished Delerium Brief (my reading time is limited, I very rarely get to read things right when they come out).

Excellent job detailing all of cascading effects of what happens when you gut something you don't understand all of the nuances of (like when Rick Perry wanted to get rid of Dept of Energy not realizing it also run the US Nuclear programs, or severely cutting the budget of the US Dept of Agriculture without realizing it basically is what is keeping rural America afloat).

Also, very glad to have Bob back as the protagonist again, I missed being in his head.


Seconding Marino's quesiton here. Going by the areas conquered/owned by New Britain/The commonwealth why scottish-influenced and not spanish-influenced?

With (non-protestant) europe being unreliable for immigration purposes there'd be lots of latins moving north from the new territories. Even if they're anglicized and converted from catholicism there'd be influences.


At a guess, Parliament. Who stopped us from a government who had a large majority - and who wanted 90-day detention without trial, and national ID cards. Who stopped us from the employment of military force in Syria (although they did vote for it in Iraq and Libya, they’re more cautious now).

Meanwhile, the only hostile organisations being proscribed are the violent extremists (hearing the right-wingers whine that it was all so unfair that a bunch of Fascists got banned, did make me smile).


Don't worry, Bob barely appears at all in "The Labyrinth Index" — it's Mhari's story!

(It involves much vampire-punching. By- and of- vampires, that is. Much.)


See historical essay in the back of "Dark State". (See also: author's cognitive biases and backgrounds.)


Martin is correct up to a point — the RAF is doing its usual bombing thing: however, there are no large numbers of boots on the ground in evidence. Compared with the Iraq war (biggest invasion force assembled since 1956) or Afghanistan (large numbers of soldiers engaged in fire-fights with the Taliban) it's a tiny commitment. A cynic might even say — since the RAF operates out of bases in Cyprus anyway — that they're simply using ISIL as an excuse for a live firing exercise in realistic terrain; those planes/pilots would have to get their flight hours in somehow, so they might as well do it ferrying real bombs over to Iraq instead of dummy units to a bomb range in Nevada.


It appears for Hsbc at least to be a genuine lessening of their appetite for political risk - having just closed LePens FN accounts as well. There is an argument to be said that the USA's finance laws are part of the reason, and another to say the Bank is going after easy targets.


Oh, yes, but my point wasn't that Parliament had NO say, but that relying on it to prevent the government abusing its powers is hopelessly naive. While I doubt the government's involvement in the discouragement of Muslim charities, I have personal knowledge of it (and another government that you can guess) and multinationals using 'hands length' methods to impose de facto censorship on other matters.

My real point is that allowing such mechanisms to ISPs is seriously dangerous, and is almost certain to be abused, given the records of the relevant governments and multinationals.


Remember all the filter companies who 'just happened' to filter out any negative comments on their businesses (as well as even the existence of competitors, in at least one case)?


You might reasonably assume this is sophistry, but I don't actually believe it is...

The RAF isn't bombing Syria (although I believe they're providing ELINT and AAR support to those who are); it's limited to bombing ISIL targets in Iraq (in support of a Shia-dominated government). The British Army hasn't got any units shooting at Da'esh, but it is training the Peshmerga in Kurdistan, and refuses to comment on SF Ops as a matter of policy.

Pilots from the RAF are occasionally cross-posted to other NATO nations' air forces; so there are RAF pilots who have flown the U-2, F-117, F-22, etc within USAF squadrons. It's these few individuals who took part in the bombing of Syria, as your link makes clear.

There are also USAF and USN types flying with the RN/RAF, and USN submariners on the Perisher. I met, and did courses alongside, US Army artillery types posted to Catterick (one was a serious wargamer, and knew more about English Civil War than the vast majority of Brits). There was at least one US exchange Airborne officer upset that his Embassy prevented him from sailing south with his Para battalion in 1982...

Regarding "proscribed" organisations, I actually meant that in the official sense, i.e. the Home Office guidelines. You make a valid point about financial sanctions - namely, that Ummah Welfare Trust is a charity that has been unfairly treated. As HSBC was only withdrawing some of their banking facilities (presumably the ones relating to Gaza), I do wonder whether they were twitchy about the costs and effort in proving due diligence in "not supporting Hamas" - while Hamas are the government in Gaza, they're a proscribed organisation in the UK. Charities may have to accept losses to Hamas military activities as "part of the cost of reducing the suffering", Banks are more nervous about it. Note that I fully support any organisation's desire to mitigate the suffering in Gaza.

Please bear in mind, however, that "charity work" is an occasional excuse used by those supporting extremist groups; and such charities are targets for entryism (in the excuses stakes, "I was doing charity work there" is heard alongside "I just crossed the border into X to provide humanitarian support / attend a family wedding, and the Facebook pictures of me posing with an AKM were just a fun day out at the local firing ranges"). It's not just extreme Islamists - the Provisional IRA was rattling collection tins in the USA under the banner of NORAID.


Going back to our original points. Extreme-right-wing and Salafist organisations have both suffered proscription and sanctions; other organisations have successfully managed to have their proscription removed. That would suggest that the system isn't completely oppressive; it may not be perfect, but what alternative is there?

Regarding the possible deranking of RT/Sputnik et al, I note that they aren't being firewalled (as by China) or the organisations declared to be foreign agents. I can still tune in to RT and Al-Jazeera on my television, alongside the BBC. Any ban (or loss of licence) would have to be done by OFCOM (as happened to PressTV).


On your first point, see #47. If they can evade responsibility with regard to waging illegal warfare by saying "it wasn't us, gov, honest", they assuredly can do so when enabling or disabling internet services.

On your second, that's irrelevant. The whole point of my remark is the scope that it gives for action against dissenters entirely OUTWITH the legal framework, either directly or by the evasion mentioned above.

And, God help us all, it's not JUST the UK government that will be instigating such censorship and elimination of political opposition. As I can witness from personal experience :-(


when Stross is in this mood, nobody else comes close.

... not if they value their lives?

Nice review, liked the ambiguous ending :)

It surprises me a little that the UK participates in black friday (since as far as I know it's defined as the day after (american) thanksgiving). … How global is it? Like, is it limited to anglophone countries?

In Germany it's also heavily promoted this year by Amazon, and the other retailers follow suit.

I guess it's the next logical step in our ongoing americanization, after the flower shops began introducing Valentine's Day circa 30 years ago and the commercial TV stations heavily began promoting the abomination that is Halloween circa 10-15 years ago. Now it's Black Friday, and in another ten or fifteen years we're going to be slapped in our faces with turkeys for Thanksgiving, I guess. Or perhaps somebody's going to force Independence Day upon us first, who knows. As long as there's a profit to be made with it.

None of these existed forty years ago, none of them are needed now, all of them are ugly, soulless, meaningless, hollow monsters promoted purely for commercial reasons, and I would ban them if I could. We have wonderful regional and national holidays and festivals of our own, which increasingly are getting forgotten, because the big commercial hype is only centered around bastardized American holidays.



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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on November 20, 2017 3:55 PM.

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