February 2018 Archives

I am working (for reasons of my own) towards a comprehensive list of plausible technothriller plots from 2010 where the MacGuffin is named Satoshi Nakamoto.

Before you go off prematurely: a MacGuffin in fiction is ... "a plot device that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no narrative explanation". Can be a person as well as a thing. "Satoshi Nakamoto" is the pseudonym of the entity who designed BitCoin and the blockchain database. Whoever they are, they're anonymous and they own a bitcoin wallet containing one million bitcoins (worth approximately $19 billion at present market rates), making them the 44th richest person in the world—if they dared spend them, because if they spend any of their bitcoins they'll risk exposure. And "technothriller plots from 2010" is the deadline because that's the year when Nakamoto went inactive, roughly 12 months after the initial release of Version 0.1 of the bitcoin software via SourceForge (January 2009). (If I'd picked an earlier year—say, 2008—the subsequent BitCoin mania could only be described in science fictional terms.)

So, here are some plausible technothriller plots about "Satoshi Nakamoto", from 2010—all of them entirely fictional, of course. Feel free to add your own in coments.

So, a brief update about "The Labyrinth Index" and British audiobook editions of the Laundry Files!

Firstly, "The Labyrinth Index" will now be published on October 30th in both the US and UK, not in July as previously scheduled. (It takes time to turn a manuscript into a book—copy-editing, typesetting, checking proofs, running the printing press, distributing crates of books toshops—and due to a cascading series of delays (that started with me not deciding to write it until after my normal 2018 novel deadline had passed) we had to add three months to the production timeline.) On the other hand, the manuscript has been delivered and should be with the copy editor real soon now, so it's on the way.

Secondly, some unexpected good news for those of you in the UK, EU, Australia and NZ who like audiobooks: "The Fuller Memorandum" and "The Apocalypse Codex" are getting audio releases and are due out on May 24th!

This has been a sore spot for years. Recording audiobooks is expensive and the British audiobook market is a lot smaller than the North American one. The Laundry Files have been released in audio since book five, "The Rhesus Chart", and a couple of years ago Orbit worked with the RNIB to release the first two books in the series, but books 3 and 4 were missing—back-list titles that were uneconomical to record (and the US audio publisher wanted too much money for a license to re-use their recording).

Anyway, it looks as if the growing market for audiobooks and the growing sales of the Laundry Files have finally intersected, making it possible for Orbit to justify paying for an audio release of the missing titles, and you'll be able to listen to the entire series.

Being a guy who writes science fiction, people expect me to be well-informed about the current state of the field—as if I'm a book reviewer who reads everything published in my own approximate area.

(This is a little like expecting a bus driver to have an informed opinion on every other form of four-wheeled road-going transport.)

Similarly, marketing folks keep sending me SF novels in the hope I'll read them and volunteer a cover quote. But over the past decade I've found myself increasingly reluctant to read the stuff they send me: I have a vague sense of dyspepsia, as if I've just eaten a seven course banquet and the waiter is approaching me with a wafer-thin mint.

This isn't to say that I haven't read a lot of SF over the past several decades. While I'm an autodidact—there are holes in my background—I've read most of the classics of the field, at least prior to the 1990s. But about a decade ago I stopped reading SF short stories, and this past decade I've found very few SF novels that I didn't feel the urge to bail on within pages (or a chapter or two at most). Including works that I knew were going to be huge runaway successes, both popular and commercially successful—but that I simply couldn't stomach.

It's not you, science fiction, it's me.



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