January 2021 Archives

It's 2021! And I have publications coming.

First up, due out in the USA/Canada only on July 13th (no UK sale— see below) is a short Laundry novella, Escape from Puroland. As the cover copy says:

Regular readers of Charles Stross's Laundry Files might have noticed Bob Howard's absence from the events of The Nightmare Stacks, and his subsequent return from Tokyo at the start of The Delirium Brief.

Escape from Puroland explains what he was doing there.

This is going to be available as a hardcover and ebook. I emphasize that it's not a full novel, but a rather short novella—about 90 pages. (Incoming 1-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads ahoy: "Too short: this is a rip-off!")

It's one of two planned novellas I need to write before the final full-length Laundry novel about Bob et al; I found myself blocked by current events from roughly 2018, hence the switch of direction in Dead Lies Dreaming, which is the start of a separate ongoing series.

(British readers: you have not been forgotten! Over the years I've published a number of Laundry short stories and novellas in the USA via Tor.com. None of them have been released in the UK so far. However, once I write the last planned novella, there'll be enough for a full sized Laundry short story collection, which of course will show up in the UK in due course.)

Second up, due out on September 28th in both the US and UK, is Invisible Sun, the last book in the Empire Games trilogy (and the last novel in the Merchant Princes setting).

Invisible Sun was previously due out in January, and a lot of folks are asking me why their pre-order has been cancelled and bookstores are saying it's out of stock. This is mostly due to Amazon and/or other wholesaler databases: if a book is delayed by more than 6 months they cancel advance orders with no explanation, or show it as out of stock.

What happened was a perfect storm, for a book originally due for publication in 2017. First, my editor David Hartwell died suddenly and unexpectedly. David was the main impetus behind the entire Merchant Princes series, and he commissioned the new trilogy: his death not only deprived me of a friend but disrupted the project and threw Tor's entire editorial workflow into chaos for a while. Then, in 2017 my father became unwell and died (a week after his 93rd birthday). Work staggered on, and then in 2018 my mother had a series of strokes and ended up in a nursing facility: her health declined and she died in mid-2019 (a week after her 90th birthday). Losing your editor and both parents in the space of 3 years is not a productivity-enhancing experience, to put it mildly, and my mid-crisis attempts to get the capstone of a million-word saga to gel were not good. But I finally completed work on a fifth re-write of Invisible Sun and sent it to my agent for delivery ... in February 2020, just as COVID19 came along. COVID didn't actually kill anyone I was directly working with, but it disrupted my publishers—editorial are all working from home these days—and shut down their printers for a few months. Hence the delay.

But despite all the deaths, despair, and pandemic, Invisible Sun is now with the production department at Tor and it will arrive on September 28th, unless a dinosaur-killer asteroid gets us first. (And it's the longest book in the series by quite a margin: I had a lot of plot threads to wrap up, and only a limited stockpile of nuclear weapons this time round!)

Third up—you weren't expecting this, were you?—I just delivered another novel! I don't normally talk about books before the publishing contract's signed, but as the paperwork is in the pipeline and the book is actually with an editor already, I think it's now safe to mention that In His House is the sequel to Dead Lies Dreaming. Barely a week has passed since the end of the previous story before Eve learns that her plan to sideline Rupert might not have worked as intended: meanwhile, on the other side of London, the nefarious Thieftaker-General is preparing to bid for a government contract, the Banks children are about to meet their new nanny, and Wendy Deere has been asked to investigate why human DNA traces are showing up in the butcher counter produce of a supermarket. All these plot strands converge in the dungeons under a castle in the Channel Islands, where Rupert's plan to summon a blood drenched horror is about to bear strange fruit ...

Due to COVID-related disruption and the need to coordinate both my British and American publishers, I can't give you a publication date for In His House. It might show up very late this year, or it might be delayed until some time in 2022: I don't know, but I'll update you when I have something concrete to report.

In the meantime I'm pushing on with Bones and Nightmares, the third book in the sequence, although I might get diverted onto other projects by editorial request (possibilities: that last Laundry novella, the long-overdue space opera, or even the last Bob novel). Watch this space.

Time for a thought experiment! (For those of us who don't want to keep chewing on the sore that is the US presidential succession—if you do, please stick to this already-existing discussion: cross-contamination into this new discussion will be dealt with harshly.)

We all know by now that Elon Musk wants to appoint himself Pope-Emperor of Mars. As the world's richest man (currently, and only on paper—it's based on the Tesla share valuation, which is wildly inflated) and as the guy with the private space program that scooped 50% of the planetary civil launch market in the past decade, it's not entirely inconceivable. Evidently SpaceX hope to fly Starship to orbit in the next 1-2 years and land a Starship on Mars within this decade. Let's suppose it happens.

So then ...

Serious question, for discussion.

After the events of January 6th, I currently expect the inauguration to happen on January 20th, although there will be death threats against both the incoming president and vice-president. How seriously they're taken by the US Secret Service, FBI, and other relevant security agencies is going to be telling: we know that white supremacists have pursued a policy of entryism in police and military forces for decades now (globally, not just in the USA), and although a palace coup by the Praetorian Secret Service seems vanishingly unlikely, there may be conspiracies from within the state apparat of repression.

It's fairly obvious that the new administration will go after the rioters/putsch plotters/lynch mob. It's possible there'll be a criminal investigation of elements of the Trump administration: all those high-level resignations on the 7th suggest that something very illegal was going on, in relation to the storming of the Capitol. Possibly enough to justify the prosecution of a former president, if there is a smoking gun to be found ...

And it also looks as if the Republican party have lost their grip on the executive and congressional branches of government (but not yet on the judiciary), and are beginning to wake up to the moral hazard of farming baby alligators in their bathtub: the promise of croc-skin shoes is all very well, but when the alligator grows up and gets loose in your house, you have a problem on your hand.

Are the Trumpists going to split and form a new party? Or are the Republicans going to split, many of them deserting to the Democrat coalition, and leave the rump party to the neo-Nazis? Or something else?



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