April 2023 Archives

I am a Republican[*].

On the occasion of the horrifically expensive and pointless coronation of King Charles III I want to state clearly: I want to live in a nation governed with the consent of the people, rather than by the divine right of kings.

We got through seventy-plus years under the reign of Elizabeth II without too much controversy over her role. Credit where credit's due: she managed the duties of head of state with dignity and diligence for decades on end, even if a lot of skeletons were forcibly locked in closets (consider what NDA Prince Andrew's victim much have been required to pay in return for a royal cash pay-out, or what acts of parliament were modified or never brought forward because the monarch didn't want to see them). And even if she and her family came out considerably richer at the end of her reign, even accounting for inflation.

(One thing I'll say about the House of Windsor: they don't engage in vulgar looting of the British state on the same scale as, say, the Putin family in Russia. But the Windsors have reason to be confident they'll be around for generations. A burglar doesn't need to hurry if the police are there to guard their back.)


Elizabeth Windsor is dead. Her successor is a snobbish, reactionary seventy-six year old multi-billionaire. He's so divorced from the ordinary lived experience of his subjects that he reportedly can't even dress himself.

I didn't vote for him.

Nobody did. Nobody does. Nobody ever will, because this is not a democracy.

There is no democratic accountability in monarchy. As a system of government, in undiluted form it most resembles a hereditary dictatorship — current poster-child: Kim Jong-Il. The form we have in the UK is not undiluted: Parliament asserted its supremacy with extreme prejudice in 1649, and again in 1688, and ever since then the British monarchy has been a constitutional, rather than an absolute one — a situation that leaves odd constitutional echoes, such as the fact that we have a Royal Navy but we a British Army (loyal to Parliament, and not under royal command).

For the Americans reading this blog, let me provide a metaphor: let us postulate the existence in the antebellum Deep South of benevolent, morally righteous slaveowners who did not flog or rape or oppress their slaves. (I know, I know ... it's a thought experiment, okay?) Would that be enough to exculpate the institution of slavery? I'm pretty sure the answer lies somewhere been "no!" and "hell, no!" Slavery is an inherently oppressive institution because it deprives a class of victims of their most basic right to autonomy. The failure of a [hypothetical] individual slave-owner to be corrupted does not invalidate the corrupt nature of the system.

Similarly, the existence of benevolent, incorruptible, morally righteous monarchs who do not tyrannise their subjects citizens does not redeem the institution of monarchy.

Both slavery and monarchy are affronts to the principle that all people are equal in law. They may differ in detail of degree or circumstance — after all, is anyone seriously comparing King Charles to Kim Jong-Il, or Henry VIII? — but the very existence of the institution is, in and of itself, dehumanizing.

Now we are being treated to the sight of a billionaire scion of a hereditary dictatorship being feted with a £50M party and national holiday to celebrate his unelected ascent to the highest office in the land. It is, of course, a religious ceremony—the religion in question being a state-mandated Christian church of which maybe 10% of the population are adherents to any extent—but hey, pay no attention to us apostates. This is happening in the middle of a ghastly polycrisis, with inflation running in double digits, the Bank of England advising people to "accept that you are poorer" as a result of the government's ghastly mishandling of brexit and the post-COVID economy, a government actively trying to suppress voter groups who don't support them and refusing to track numbers of those turned away at the polls, jailing political dissidents, ignoring their obligations under international law on refugees ... in the middle of this mess our quasi-fascist government is trying to distract us with an appeal to tradition! pomp! ceremony! dignity! and the usual tired bullshit the right roll out whenever they don't have a coherent plan for fixing the damage.

And I just want to say: not in my name.

The system is morally bankrupt and it's past time to tear it down.

[*] I use "Republican" to mean "supporter of a republican form of government"; I despise the USA's Republican Party and everything they stand for this century.

SPECIAL OFFER (USA Only): today and tomorrow (April 27th/28th) Barnes and Noble are running a special 25% off promotion on pre-orders of books with voucher code PREORDER25. This includes Season of Skulls, so if you want it and haven't ordered a paper copy yet, B&N is a good bet. Here's their page for Season of Skulls.

So, just to avoid the threat of silence, here's a little hyper-local author-specific news.

Firstly, Season of Skulls should be in shops in the next few weeks! While the official publication dates are the 16th (in the USA) and the 18th (in the UK), physical hardcovers now exist—at least of the British edition from Orbit: my author copies arrived. (The US hardcovers are probably in transit.) Audiobook versions are in the works but may not surface until some time after the physical publication date—work on recording the audio edition doesn't start until the page proofs of the print edition are signed off on (because that's what they're based off of).

Next up: I don't have a publication date yet, but the next book after Season of Skulls will be back to the Laundry Files proper with A Conventional Boy—a short novel about Derek the DM, the Satanic D&D Panic of the 1980s and its long-term consequences, and, oh, more Iris Carpenter. Forthcoming some time in 2024 from Orbit and Tor.com.

(Back when I began planning it in 2009 ACB was going to be a short story, but it grew more complex over time and now it's ... well, it's a Laundry novel, longer than any novella has a right to be albeit a bit shorter than The Atrocity Archive.)

On an entirely different note ... I had had hoped to have some news about the 2nd edition Laundry Files role playing game, but nope: not ready for an announcement yet because nothing runs to schedule. Sorry. (But it is in the works now, and hopefully you should be able to get your hands on it this year.)

As for what happens after that? I'm still wrestling with the long-delayed space opera Ghost Engine which I started in 2015 (lots of stuff got in the way! No, seriously), but hope to have it finished this summer and hopefully scheduled for publication after A Conventional Boy. And then I need to either start work on the Last Laundry Novel (working title: "Bob Bows Out"—but that's obviously not the final title it'll appear under), or the fourth New Management book. (In which Imp gets bored with Peter Pan and decides to use the ghost roads to film a new movie, on location: Narnia Porn. Because what could possibly go wrong?)

And finally, something completely different.



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