Charlie Stross: July 2011 Archives

In Seattle. Will attempt to get to the Pike Brewing Company (1415 First Avenue, near the Pike Place market) for beer between 5 and 6pm this afternoon/evening. Send reinforcements. Stop.

First, the formal intro:

John Meaney is the author of ten SF novels — Paradox, Bone Song and Absorption among them — including one of the Daily Telegraph Books of the Year, and an Independent Publishers Novel of the Year. He has been shortlisted three times for the British Science Fiction Award.

In order to write full time, he lives in exile in a Welsh valley, surrounded by sheep.

His first degree was in physics and computer science, and he is belatedly completing graduate work at Oxford on a (very) part-time basis. His long IT career culminated in working as a trainer, often abroad, combining hard tech with applied psychology and stand-up comedy... making use of his training in hypnosis.

A black belt in shotokan karate and graduate of a world-famous dojo, Meaney has been training in martial arts for nearly four decades, and considers "thug" a compliment.

His heart melts at the sight of a cat, and for a bar of dark chocolate, he is anybody's.

And now the informal one:

John is one of the hidden treasures of the British SF field; while his books are available in the USA, he's best known over here. Aside from "Bone Song" and "Dark Blood" (published under different titles in the US — they're dark metropolitan fantasies with more than an echo of Walter Jon Williams' amazing Nebula-winning "Metropolitan" and "City on Fire" to them, if Dubjay had tackled necromancy rather than geomancy), he has a line in futuristic space-operatic thrillers infused with, well, his background: computer science, weird physics, and martial arts. If you like Charles Stross novels (subtypes: Laundry Files or Space Opera) you'll find something to like in John's work, and I'm really pleased to welcome him here for the next few weeks.

Here's the formal intro:

Karl Schroeder has published nine novels and is currently finishing a Master's degree in Strategic Foresight and Innovation. His books include Ventus, Lady of Mazes, and the Virga series, which is more or less "Master and Commander" but set in a world without gravity. When he's not writing he works as a futurist for government and industry clients. Right now he's writing the greatest near-future science fiction adventure novel about stakeholder management systems that the world has ever seen. You can find his personal blog at

And here's the informal one:

I first met Karl about six or seven years ago. I'd run across his fiction earlier, following up a personal rec by Cory Doctorow who was excited about him for some reason. It didn't take me long to figure out why. His first novel, Ventus (that's a free ebook edition) hit me between the eyes with a mix of fresh thinking about space opera, nanotechnology, terraforming, and information theory. Since then, he's only got better: "Lady of Mazes" was a tour de force, and his Virga series are both good quasi-steampunky fun and an exercise in applied hard SF world-building that doesn't have many equals right now. If you like Charles Stross novels (subtype: the SF ones) you'll probably like Karl's books too.

I'm really pleased that he's agreed to guest blog while I'm away-from-keyboard, and I hope you will be too.

I'm off to Seattle in about 36 hours, and will probably be Away From Keyboard for quite some time — possibly up to a week.

In the meantime, John Meaney and Karl Schroeder have kindly agreed to blog here: I'll introduce them tomorrow. You may see some unexpected guest contributions from elsewhere.

Final note: it has come to my attention that Harry Connolly (who you may remember blogged here last year) has a new novel out: Circle of Enemies (Kindle edition). It's the third in an excellent, very dark series of supernatural thrillers, and to spread the word his publishers have put the ebook edition of the first volume, Child of Fire on special offer at $0.99 for a month. (Yes, that link goes to the kindle store.) If you're jonesing for another of my Laundry novels, you could do a hell of a lot worse than read "Child of Fire" — I think you'll like it.

I'm off to the west coast of the United States next Thursday.

While I'm gone I have some bloggers lined up to keep you entertained — who I will be introducing in due course — including two talented hard SF writers, John Meaney and Karl Schroeder.

Meanwhile, if you're wanting to get books signed or hear me reading or ask me questions, I've got some dates for you:

* Seattle: I'm reading and signing at the University Bookstore, Tuesday July 26th at 7pm.

* San Francisco: I'm reading and signing at Borderland Books, Saturday August 6th at 3pm.

* Portland: I'm reading and signing at Powells City of Books, Friday August 12th at 7:30pm.

(There may be other short notice fixtures. If so, I'll try and blog them before they happen!)

One of the major influences on Rule 34 was a throwaway idea I borrowed from Vernor Vinge -- that perhaps one of the limiting factors on the survival of technological society is the development of tools of ubiquitous law enforcement, such that all laws can be enforced -- or infringements detected -- mechanistically.

One of the unacknowledged problems of the 21st century is the explosion in new laws.

Continue reading (at

Hopefully you haven't been too incommoded by my absence from the blog for most of this week. (Hopefully you didn't even notice it.)

The reason for the absence is that I've been nailing down what I hope is the final submission-grade draft of "The Apocalypse Codex", aka Laundry Files book four, which is due for publication in the first week of July 2012. It's been a long haul but it's with my agent now, and if she doesn't raise a red flag over it, it's cooked.

Elevator pitch below the cut.

This is probably an FAQ:

If you're looking to link to me on the internet, this blog is my main presence. And if you don't have my email address, you can nevertheless send me email via the link in the right hand column, captioned "talk to me".

I grudgingly use Facebook, but only because they have a proprietary email system with 700 million users and no gateway to the rest of the internet.

I do not and will not use the following social networks:

* MySpace (I am not a boy band)
* Google+ (One massively intrusive privacy-ignoring social network is one too many)
* LinkedIn (As much use as a chocolate manhole cover to a novelist)
* Twitter (My thoughts are not generally compressible into 140 characters — so sorry!)
* Steam (Despite rumours to the contrary I'm not a gamer)

Finally, please don't invite me to join you on other social networks. Life is too damn short to keep tweaking my privacy settings and answering nosy questions from networks that want to know my inside leg measurement so they can shove behavioural ads for trouser manufacturers in my face while I'm trying to work.

If you want to network with me I'm happy to talk to you in the comments on this, or other, blog entries ...

I get email.

Normally I don't publish private correspondence, but sometimes — rarely — I feel like hanging someone out to dry ...

(I continue to blog over at Orbit, my UK publisher)

One of the hoariest of science fictional archetypes is the idea of the artificial intelligence — be it the tin man robot servant, or the murderous artificial brain in a box that is HAL 9000. And it's not hard to see the attraction of AI to the jobbing SF writer. It's a wonderful tool for exploring ideas about the nature of identity. It's a great adversary or threat ('War Games', 'The Forbin Project'), it's a cheap stand-in for alien intelligences — it is the Other of the mind.

The only trouble is, it doesn't make sense.

Continue reading ...

Back while I was working on "Halting State" I had a number of what I called "Halting State moments" — the eerie experience of seeing something I'd invented for a near-future novel's background colour showing up in the news, in real life. It was somewhat disturbing, but after a while I got used to it: at this point, just about everything in that novel (written circa 2005-2006) has shown up, with the possible limited exception of a (the current argument being whether it is in fact a general purpose quantum computing device or something more limited).

Well, I've just had the first real "Rule 34" moment: DNA testing is now being used to enforce dog-poop by-laws. (It's only a matter of time before the police drones come with dog-poop samplers ...)

Have you spotted any harbingers of the world of "Rule 34" yet? And if so, what and where?

By now some of you have read "Rule 34".

If you want to discuss it, or ask me questions about it, feel free to chat in the comments on this blog entry.

If you haven't read "Rule 34" yet, stay away from this blog entry's page and especially the comments, because there will be spoilers.

Let the fun begin!

US Rule 34 cover (clickthru to Rule 34 cover (clickthru to

I'm getting reports of "Rule 34" being mailed out by and showing up in bookshops. So it's finally on sale!

(Well, this is the official publication week ... Tuesday in the US, Thursday in the UK, but some early leakage is normal. Especially as tomorrow is some sort of public holiday in the US, so those Amazon orders won't be delivered before Tuesday.)

Where you can buy it

Amazon US: [ Hardcover edition ][ US Kindle edition ]

Powell's US: [ Hardcover edition ]

Amazon UK: [ Trade paperback edition ][ UK Kindle edition ]

Signed copies: Transreal Fiction in Edinburgh currently have signed copies of "Rule 34" and can ship them internationally. For details, email Transreal Fiction.

UPDATE: Yes, I know about's Kindle store problem. Ace have been told, and are going to fix it.

... Or read the first three chapters below

I get reviews ...

Kirkus Book Reviews (who always try to find something to hate in genre fiction) gave "Rule 34" a starred write-up:

"Another detective joins the celebrated ranks of Edinburgh's finest, this one with Stross' distinctive science-fictional twist ...
Dazzling, chilling and brilliant."

"Rule 34" comes out this week (officially on Tuesday in the US and Thursday in the UK).

I gather some folks like their copies signed: as I live in Scotland, this might be difficult for US readers.

Anyway, if you want a signed copy you've got a bunch of options ...

Last week I did a brief hit and run on the concept of the Singularity. Today I'd like to raise awareness of one of the taproots of Extropian thought — specifically, the origins of modern singularitarian thinking in the writings of the 19th century Russian Orthodox teacher and librarian, Nikolai Fyodorov (or Federov).

(I'm blogging over at the web site of Orbit, my UK publisher. Here's the first of my essays there.)

Unless you're very old or very ill, you probably expect to live to see the near future. The "near" future is a terrifying period: it's that part of the future when I'll still be around, and readers like you can poke fun at me for my predictive failures. (Not that SF is actually about predicting the future, but lots of people seem to think it is, and the fun-poking proceeds on that basis.) It's also that part of the future that's hardest to second-guess, because we're so close to it ...

Continue reading ...



About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries written by Charlie Stross in July 2011.

Charlie Stross: June 2011 is the previous archive.

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