Back to: Someone please cancel 2019 already? | Forward to: Deaths and Deadlines

What I published in 2018

(Pinned to top because the Hugo/Nebula/other award nominations are currently open)

It's that time of year again, when some authors remind everyone that they're eligible for various awards for fiction published in 2018.

My total publications for 2018 consisted of: two novels and one novelette.

You probably haven't read the novelette because it's published in an anthology— Knaves over Queens, the first British-set collection in the Wild Cards series, a sequence of shared-universe stories edited by George R. R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass. My story, "Police on my Back", is published in Knaves over Queens, which is currently only available in the UK (first US publication isn't until next year). ( link.)

As for the novels, these are Dark State (Tor, UK and USA: January 2018), the second Empire Games book (or eighth Merchant Princes novel, depending on how you count them), and "The Labyrinth Index" (US Amazon link, UK Amazon link), published by Publishing (in the USA) and Orbit (in the UK). And that's the ninth book in the Laundry Files, or maybe the tenth (if you count "Equoid" as a really short novel rather than a novella) or eleventh (if you also factor in the really short short story collection published as an ebook).

As for awards eligibility ...

I would like to note that in addition to the aforementioned stories, I'm eligible for the Hugo award for Best Series, both the Merchant Princes and the Laundry Files.

Now, I am not here to tout for your nominations.

However, if you are planning to nominate me for a best series Hugo award, please bear in mind the following...

* If you nominate more than one item in a category, the value of your nomination is reduced. (See the World Science Fiction Society Constitution, section 3.9.1, wherein the process for counting nominations is described.)

  • "Invisible Sun" (Merchant Princes #9/Empire Games #3) will be published in fall 2019. But there will almost certainly be no Laundry Files book in 2019.

  • It follows that both series are eligible for the 2019 Hugo award for best series, but the Merchant Princes will also be eligible in 2020, and the Laundry files will not be eligible in 2020. (See WSFS constitution 3.3.5.)

So: if you want to nominate both these series for a Hugo award for best series, go right ahead. rather than voting for them both in 2019, please consider nominating the Laundry Files in 2019 (i.e. for the Dublin worldcon), and the Merchant Princes in 2020.

Postscript: if you're a writer and you've published something in 2018 that is eligible for the Hugo, Nebula, BSFA, Clarke, or other awards in the SF/F field, and you want to get the word out, you're very welcome to post a comment here (preferably including links to the work in question).




Well, Wikipedia says that a novella is abut 17500 to 40000 words. I don't have a word count for Equoid, just a hard cover book!


I've noticed that Invisible Sun is almost invisible on your name in the Author field, Invisible Sun in title field: nothing. If I do a Google search "charles stross invisible sun", the first two hits are from Antipope entries from 2018 and 2017. The 3rd result is for Goodreads: "Expected publication: August 2019 by Tor Books (first published January 2019)".

Did the title or release date change? Or am I missing something?


Nor on MZN UK. That may to do with publisher info rather than anything having changed in the actual release date?

I can find several volumes that contain the string "Invisible Sun" with a title search, and all of OGH's other works with a $author'name search.


The release date for Invisible Sun changed because I was six months late handing the manuscript in, due to burn-out in the wake of my father's death. It was originally due out in January 2019, but that ain't gonna happen.

(The manuscript has been with them since July, and is currently being edited. Because it's late it incurs further delays as it gets slotted into the existing conveyor belt of jobs that Tor are assembling on a production line. In other words: one month late = one year late into print.)

There isn't actually a definite publication date at present, but Tor are working on a production schedule that should see it ship in November 2019 (assuming the edit letter I'm expecting in a week or two doesn't boil down to "re-write from scratch").

Publisher info in the big river co database is notoriously inaccurate and difficult to correct once it gets out of sync with reality — a particular problem with Tor (both publication dates, and inaccurate/misleading blurbs based on an early/provisional pitch for an unwritten book that gets out into the wild and is then set in stone).


It's not really true that the value of your vote is diluted if you nominate more than one thing. That's only true if you nominated some things that you didn't really want to win. If everything you nominated is something you'd be happy to see win a Hugo, then there's no real dilution. It's easy to show that, in that case, you are always better off (more likely to see one of your choices win) than if you only nominated a single one of them.


What Greg said. The meme that you nominating more than one work per category under EPH is based on a flawed understanding of the algorithm. You want to feed as many works into the algorithm per voter so you can find the shared preferences.

My own personal view of explaining the goal of EPH is that it is there to maximise Hugo voter happiness, where happiness is defined as having at least one work they nominated on the Hugo finalist ballot.

In fact, if everyone takes the advice seriously, and nominates only a single work per category, EPH will effectively turn back into a FPTP system with six finalists: exactly what we had before but with far less input from the voters.


I don't get to nominate & I don't get to vote. I don't even know what I'd have to do to qualify to vote.

But I hope you get nominated & I hope you win.

Any way - win, lose or draw - I look forward to reading your next one no matter when it comes out.


Speaking of all this, I was thinking of Labyrinth Index today, mainly in relation to A Colder War, particularly in that both stories feature Cthulhu in Washington DC, though in each case with vastly different effects upon the reader. And it occurred to me that Stross stories repeat themselves, once as tragedy and once as farce.

I'm here 'til Thursday. Try the beef!


From memory, you need to have a Supporting or Attending membership for this year's or next year's Worldcon.


As this year's Worldcon has already taken place, getting a membership to it will be tricky.

Next year's is in Dublin, and I'm looking forward to it. The venue is interestingly vertical, but it has escalators (vertiginous ones, so if you have bad vertigo you'll want to avoid them) and large lifts so that shouldn't be a problem. And it's reasonably central Dublin, not stuck way out like the London venue was. But if you're after just a supporting membership that's irrelevant - supporting memberships these days means you get access to much of - most of, usually - the works being voted on, so IME worth it even just for that.


True, but I was trying to state the generalisation.


Mother of god, €210 for attending membership for Dublin 2019!? I could go to Glastonbury for that money.


Yes but mud sticks the pages together and ruins kindles.


I could go to Glastonbury for that money.

Well yes, exactly!

Both are five day events with so much dawn-to-midnight programming that you'll inevitably miss stuff you really want to see because you're seeing something else.

The difference is you go to worldcon to see (and hopefully talk to) SF writers (and editors, and fans), rather than see bands perform. (Although there's a bit of that, too.) Otherwise? Worldcon is a lot smaller in terms of total attendees, much less muddy, and has about the same number of authors as Glastonbury has bands/solo acts.


"And it occurred to me that Stross stories repeat themselves, once as tragedy and once as farce." And a third time as history?

On the matter of Knaves over Queens, I have been distinctly unimpressed with all the Wild Cards stories I have seen so far, despite the fact that some were written by authors that I respect and enjoy, so have bought only one of the collections. This one tempts me, to see if it is different; Lord Darlington was a character I could relate to :-)


€210 for attending membership for Dublin 2019!

The best thing about WorldCon in Melbourne was that if you wanted to volunteer you had to buy a full membership and a "volunteer" T shirt. It actually cost more.

I presume that was because they had a surfeit of volunteers, all of whom would be buying tat anyway. I've been involved in events like that before, I was just slightly surprised to see WorldCon in the category. For me the cost/benefit wasn't there so I didn't go at all. But for $50 and a couple of hours a day cleaning it would have been interesting.


AND unless Dublin 2019's plans and venue have seriously changed, there will be flush toilets. Serious bonus!


In other news, I just "bought" two books from Google Play, but both turned out not to be epubs as advertised, instead being 1kB shortcuts to a process involving installing Adobe malware which then claimed my ebook reader wasn't recognised. According to Adobe there's no help for that, but the google help system says this is a common problem and buying a new ebook reader might fix it.

At least Google is very easy to get refunds from.


Every Worldcon is run by a different committee but there are things that usually happen at every Worldcon. One thing that's not mandated but is often done depending on the finance situation is that volunteers who work a specific amount of time before (setup), during the con and afterwards (teardown) will get their membership refunded. This happens some time after the con is finished when the committee know whether they've got money to spare to do this.

Working for fewer hours than a refund will get you a volunteer T-shirt but again that will be near the end of the con, not at the start.

Glastonbury has attendees, Worldcons have members. There's a difference.


If that was the case in Melbourne they kept very quiet about it when asking for volunteers. I asked and was told no quite abruptly. I was surprised and disappointed, I've volunteered at all sorts of things over the years and this the first time I'd ever been told it costs extra to volunteer. Apparently SF conventions have a very different culture to music, art and non-SF literature.

(seriously, one thing music festivals often have to do is filter volunteers to avoid them interfering with performers. Who are usually under enough pressure without having to deal with fans backstage).


Possibly so — conventions in different parts of the world do have different cultures. It's also possibly a failure of communication, something that happens all too often. That's a downside of the conventions being run by ever changing teams of part timers who usually have RL jobs as well.

Running a convention can be an expensive hobby. My wife is involved in the Dublin convention, and though most of the organisation is done using online tools, she's still attended two weekend-long in-person meetings, one at Heathrow and one in Dublin itself, with at least another to come. These cost real money for travel and hotels, and she's not getting even a discount on membership, nor expenses paid. But she doesn't have to do it — she chooses to do so, paying forward for the next generation of members who don't have to pay staff costs.

(If WorldCons were ten times the size — and there are conventions out there that have those sorts of numbers — then paid staff can work. But conventions that size aren't what we are interested in.)

All of this isn't to say you should feel obliged to come (it's a long way from you to here anyway) or to volunteer if you did. It's perfectly okay to turn up and just enjoy it too. Or you can hang out online, that's fine too. Nobody should feel they have to conform to some idealised form of fandom, where they have to have read these authors or have gone to those conventions or whatever.

YMMV for just about everything here.


Pre-convention volunteering is usually done by folks the committee know personally since they've got an idea of someone's strengths and weaknesses, or someone who's recommended to them. At-con it's split into general volunteering aka gophering (man a door and check membership passes, move stuff from A to B) and specialist teams like Tech who erect staging, run AV, set up panel rooms with projectors etc. The specialist volunteers tend to be people who know each other and have worked with each other before at other conventions -- I, for my sins, am one of the British artshow team. We use on-the-day volunteers to do some stuff like loading and unloading the artshow gear but the core team is a small number of folks who have done it before (25 years and counting in my case) and can supervise the others.

I've never had a membership refund from an Eastercon. I pay full whack for attending membership and room and food. There might, just might, be a pizza run funded by the committee, or water, coffee and tea and snacks but that's the limit. I'm a member of any convention I attend, I could just sit back and let others do all the work but where's the fun in that?


My issue was that I was not sure I'd enjoy it (watching authors talk is often like watching architects dance), and there didn't seem to be any cheap options.

There's no possibility of me coming to Dublin, because the climate emergency problem doesn't have an "except for science fiction conventions" exclusion and more than it has an "except for political PR displays" one. You either take it seriously or you don't, and people who fly are are by that fact alone not taking it seriously.


_Moz_ @ 18: In other news, I just "bought" two books from Google Play, but both turned out not to be epubs as advertised, instead being 1kB shortcuts to a process involving installing Adobe malware which then claimed my ebook reader wasn't recognised. According to Adobe there's no help for that, but the google help system says this is a common problem and buying a new ebook reader might fix it.

At least Google is very easy to get refunds from.

That sounds really EFFED-UP. There are plenty of free PDF readers and why would anyone use any kind of Adobe format other than PDF for E-Pubs?


They are among the easier to sanitise using Calibre, though it's possible that that process shares common steps with other forms which I had previously set up.


There's some bloody awful Adobe format which I had to deal with once to read the online version of a print magazine. Nothing other than the Adobe software seemed to be able to make any kind of sense of the file format, and they'd dropped the Linux version some time ago and not really bothered about keeping backwards compatibility, so it barely worked. Enormous piles of crap with a privilege escalation exploit in the installer that did its best to shit all over any idea you may have had of keeping tabs on what was installed on your system and how, so I had to hit it with a hammer a lot. Why did they use it? - well, its "advantages" seemed to be partly an incredibly inefficient implementation of pointless crap like animated page turning displays, and partly an incredibly shite DRM method that was trivial to circumvent because while you had the file open in the reader it exposed a copiable version and you could just use cp.


Probably not entirely unrelated to Laundry series, but certainly unrelated to Brexit, so I post it here. My channels signalled that something interesting came out recently. Game trailer "Contriol" - 20 december. Gameplay video. Unfortunately, in gameplay department it looks rather like typical 8th generation console actrion (which I am not a big fan of). Certainly progressive, but only with limited amount of mechanics. So probably about 50% of entire game process is already shown, like it is some clone of Quantum Break (oh yes, the developer's the same).

In a nutshell, it is a certainly some sort of urban horror-mystical story, which involves a secretive government control agency and outherwordly invaders, parallel dimentions and hidden corners of reality, but also a ton of an stange architecture and amount of space-bending that would rival NaissanceE. Rituals, and US government occult agency. Basically "Black Chamber - Enchanced Edtion: The Game". Lots of visual impressions, and probably very weak excuse of a polt.


Almost as though the worlds game designers don't have an original idea between them and spend all their time mining popular culture for other peoples.

Makes a change from zombies I suppose.


They also say that if you steal ideas from many authors, it isn't called plagiarism. Unless it is - when they are just thrown in at random, without much attempt to even connect tehm together seamlessly enough.

My general complaint of such project is not the relative similarity of topics (it is actually a bonus point) - there's too many possibilities to explore, and the form is always different. Really, it is the executions that is lacking at times. People have many ideas, but it takes talent to implement them. Same as with Quantum Break, you only find one general way to walk through this game, where you are forced to go on a railroad without even choice of playing style - slow and cautious or fast and risky, using one set of skills or other. They are even called fittingly today - interactive movies, press X to not die.

They are not completely hopless, too - probably enough to contemplate them for several evenings or even worth to go through one time - like watching a movie. That's why I'm posting it here. I'll be waiting for gamplay videos, of course.


Just a note: in the US, at least, plagiarism and fair use (both of which are fairly complex ideas) aren't about retreads of plots. Harry Potter didn't plagiarize Wizard of Earthsea or any of the other magical school stories, nor does it preclude other people from using the same trope. Now, if I dropped Hermione Granger into Middle Earth, I'd more likely be in trademark trouble than copyright trouble. Copyright, at least in the US sense, applies only to words and images, not to the ideas they embody. You can't copyright the idea that the US military has a secret program of exploring alien worlds, but there are more likely to be lawyers involved if if you call your work "Stargate" and include a glasses-wearing "adventure archaeologist" and a female USAF colonel/badass bookworm as prominent protagonists.

One question in the US about whether something is plagiarized or whether the swipe is "fair use" is whether the material is transformed by the new artist. For example, if an author uses Cthulhu into a story, but Cthulhu in the new story is some sort of feminine matrioshka brain, rather than a masculine squid-dragon, whoever owns the copyright to Lovecraft's work* won't win a lawsuit alleging copyright infringement, because Cthulhu's been transformed into a new character. This gets around the inevitable process of artists using material that already exists, with the caveat that they've got to put the work into making it a new character to be safe, rather than doing a lazy wholesale swipe.

(*And I think Lovecraft's work is in more-or-less in the public domain in any case. I'd be much more careful of transformative use with any of Stephen King's work. Or OGH's).

The general rule of thumb I learned was that you can quote about 50 words of someone else's copyrighted text without asking them for permission to use it. Much more than that, and you're committing copyright infringement under US Law if you don't have their permission to quote at length. And works, when created, are considered copyrighted by the author, unless other arrangements have been made. How long the copyright lasts in the US depends on whatever's going on with Disney at the moment.**

**No joke. The length of copyright in the US keeps getting extended, at least in part due to lobbying by Certain Corporations to keep Mickey Mouse from going into the public domain. This latter effort was rumored to have started when The Mouse showed up in Tijuana Bibles many decades ago, but that's probably an urban myth that you'll have chase down yourself.


I’m not one for commenting here, Charlie, but I would just like to tell you how much I love your work. Years ago I picked up a copy of Iron Sunrise after reading Missile Gap in an anthology. It was the best book I had ever read. Now, it’s been topped by so many great works including my favorite, Jennifer Morgue. I have read the Labyrinth Index already and I’m one-third of the way through Dark State. You’re the best.


Yes. The fact that at least the first Potter book (the only one I have looked at) was a bad pastiche of c. 1920s mainly girls' school stories (which were dire in themselves) doesn't make it plagiarism.


As already stated elsewhere ... I would LURVE to come to Dublin, living in London as I do ... but, my own fault, I screwed-up & didn't join/support back in 2016, when I should have. It's now simply too expensive to both join & fly & book a hotel ( During Con-weekend when prices have gone up ) & spend money on the other things I would need to do - I simply don't have that £2500 + available .... SHIT


That sounds really EFFED-UP. There are plenty of free PDF readers and why would anyone use any kind of Adobe format other than PDF for E-Pubs?

Because (a) PDFs don't reflow or resize to make optimum use of devices with displays that don't mimic the exact page size the PDF was generated for, and (b) publishers don't sell ebooks as PDF anyway: they're typically either epub format, or Amazon's bastardized descendant thereof. epub is a containerized XML based format very closely related to HTML, with metadata for stuff like indexes, cover art, and table of contents: optionally, encryption for DRM. And a regrettably large number of publishers insist on DRM even to this day.


Charlie Stross @ 34:

There are plenty of free PDF readers and why would anyone use any kind of Adobe format other than PDF for E-Pubs?

Because (a) PDFs don't reflow or resize to make optimum use of devices with displays that don't mimic the exact page size the PDF was generated for, and (b) publishers don't sell ebooks as PDF anyway: they're typically either epub format, or Amazon's bastardized descendant thereof. epub is a containerized XML based format very closely related to HTML, with metadata for stuff like indexes, cover art, and table of contents: optionally, encryption for DRM. And a regrettably large number of publishers insist on DRM even to this day.

I understand that. I was replying to _Moz_ about his having bought two "books" from Google and then finding out that weren't really books, just shortcuts and having to install some different proprietary Adobe software that didn't sound like a PDF reader.

Really the question was IF an eBook is going to be in some Adobe format, shouldn't it be PDF, which can be read on a wide variety of hardware instead of having to install some other Adobe proprietary reader software? ... and not being able to have a local copy so that he couldn't read it off-line.

That's what I found EFFED-UP.

I don't really do eBooks. I even bought the print version of "Equoid". Took some searching, but I found a book seller who had some of the limited number of copies that were printed.

My attitude toward electronic book readers was formed while I was in the military[1]. Paperback books can ride in the bottom of a rucksack & you never have to worry about the battery dying because you've got no way to recharge it & you can't break the screen because there ain't no screen to break. When you're done with it, you can pass it off to the Chaplin for someone else to read and get another paperback from his library.

[1] The computer I took to Iraq got smashed in transit and it wasn't even in my rucksack. I had carefully packed it & loaded it into a milvan making sure it was placed where nothing could be put on top of it.


If you want truly fucked up behaviour by PDFs, look no further than Scotrail timetables; they're decently legible on a modern 24" widescreen monitor, but can not be formatted to produce legible hard copy!


As I offhandedly promised in this blog some time in the last several months, I did buy this release of Labyrinth Index and, after completing it, I immediately complemented it with Rhesus Chart. I liked them quite a bit, as much as I am not a big fan of long-lasting series of books. I've had a lot of fun with those little details, where the text isn't getting too serious and dreadful. Also I've had a good laugh when I realized how one of the TV Tropes articles was played out in the end - as if it was entire novel that lead to this memorable moment.

So, I want to express gratitude for providing me a good amount of entertainment and inspiration during recent, more challenging period of my work. I suppose, it really helped me to coupe with recent events, which involved a lot of meetings, bureaucracy and stressful realizations about nature of things.

In association with the novel, there are couple things that came to my mind an I'd like to maybe share them here.

Exhibit one is called "Amber Room", which involves a lot of mysteries and investigation involved, and it is a good illustration for the power of older Imperial Russia. I though it would make an excellent plot device akin to the meeting room mentioned in the novel.

Exhibit two came to my memory when it was mentioned that modern steel and concrete buildings make it better material to work with computational practices than old houses. There's a new skyscraper of interesting design in the finishing stages in St. Petersburg - it is the tallest building of Europe at the moment. In contrast to Moscow, the city is not known for high buildings, only 3 of them total are higher than 300-years old cathedral spire. It was originally considered to be built in the center of the city, after which local architects decided it would be too much of a disturbance for the historical part of the city. It also has 5-sided floral shape in cross-section.


What you need is a window grabber - that also works to print Google maps without them being shrunk, faded and surrounded with junk.


Charlie, this is a bit off topic, I know, but will you be doing crib notes for Deep State anytime soon? Just finished rereading Trade of Queens and rereading Empire Games this weekend.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on February 6, 2019 11:00 AM.

Someone please cancel 2019 already? was the previous entry in this blog.

Deaths and Deadlines is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Search this blog