Charlie Stross: December 2012 Archives

Over on The WELL, John Lebkowski and Bruce Sterling are doing their usual open-ended review of the state of the world in 2013; it's a fascinating read, as always (they do this every year), but I can't help thinking we'd get a different result if we chewed the fat on that topic over here. So consider this an invitation to discuss the Big Issues we can expect to be faced with in the new year ...

What do you think they're going to be? And what, in particular, do you think our major media outlets are overlooking?

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Happy Newtonmass! (Yes, today is the anniversary of the birth of our rationalist saviour, Sir Isaac Newton.)

I have a personal tradition of always putting in some working hours on December 25th — not being Christian, and being a bit of a curmudgeon, it seems important to do so (even if I subsequently drop round on some friends and eat and drink far too much). I can just about categorize blogging as work (it's marketing/communications, dammit!) so this is my work for the day.

Because I'm a curmudgeon (the "G" in my initials is short for "Grinch"), the Christmas spirit thing really irritates me. A big part of it is the saturation-level advertising that crops up at this time of year: it leverages the winter festival to convey the message, "you will get into the festive spirit and Buy Our Stuff, otherwise you are socially inadequate". I do not care to be lectured about my social inadequacy by big box retailers: I especially dislike being defined as socially inadequate because I don't follow someone else's religiously-ordained festive tradition. Consequently, Christmas puts me in a contrarian mood. As a contrarian, right now nothing would cheer me up like a nasty, mean-tempered flame war — just to prove that the turbulent masses (this means you) haven't suddenly been turned into insipid, saccharine carol singers chorusing goodwill to all and peace on earth.

But I couldn't make up my mind whether today's blogging should be "gun owners: evil or wicked?", or "abortion: if you oppose it, you are murdering women"; I'm sort of in donkey-starving-to-death-between-two-mangers mode today. (Normally I try to avoid starting flame wars. Turning to the dark side, I suddenly find myself in a target-rich environment!) So I decided to go with something a little less controversial; why Jesus Christ bears such a remarkable similarity to Osama bin Laden that by 2312 there may well be a syncretistic religion worshiping him as the second coming ...

Reader reviews: we get them. And, mostly, we ignore them; because, like all other forms of fiction, 90% of book reviews are junk. And reviews by regular readers, as opposed to professional critics, are like the publishers' proverbial slushpile: a seething, shouting mass of logorrhea in which a few gems may be submerged, if you can bear to hold your nose for long enough to find them.

But for an author to make a habit of ignoring feedback is pretty much the first step on a slippery slope down into a mire of self-indulgent solipsistic craziness.

So how should you approach reader reviews in order to separate the ones you should sit up and listen to from the background noise?

My take on the subject is that if you're an author, you can get some useful clues to the relevance of your reviews by psychoanalyzing the reviewers.

Some of you may have been wondering why I've been doing so little blogging lately ...

I am going away for a long weekend on Thursday. I shall take an iPad with a stack of ebooks, movies, and games, and a portable keyboard for emergency email, but nothing that would act as an enabler for actual work. (Because I need a vacation, and those things don't happen to me very often: when I travel, it's usually to an SF convention or on business. So: it's off to snowy Deutschland, to drink beer, wander round the Christmas markets, and decompress after writing a Laundry novel in 10 weeks.)

Alas, Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition doesn't look like it'll be out in time to come along me. Bah, humbug. Maybe it'll be out by Newtonmas ...

Anyway, this is by way of saying that I will not be blogging. So instead, allow me to introduce guest blogger Stina Leicht:

Stina Leicht is a fantasy writer living in central Texas. When she was small she wanted to grow up to be like Vincent Price. Unfortunately, there are no basements in Texas -- thus, making it difficult to wall up anyone alive under the house. Alas, she'll have to resign herself to going quietly mad while wearing a smoking jacket. Too bad Texas is hot, she doesn't smoke and therefore, doesn't own a smoking jacket. Her debut novel Of Blood and Honey, a historical Fantasy with an Irish Crime edge set in 1970s Northern Ireland, was released by Night Shade books in 2011 and was short-listed for the 2012 Crawford Award. She's also a 2012 Campbell Award nominee. The sequel, And Blue Skies from Pain, is in bookstores now.

(Actually, I think it wouldn't be too wrong to describe her as a Texan Goth. But she's also an interesting person, which is why I'm handing her the mike for the next week. Enjoy!)

(#1 in an irregular series of minor apocalypses.)

A couple of days ago, I was on the phone (mobile) with an elderly relative, when the phone (land line) began to ring. I glance at it and see a number I don't recognize, Birmingham area code. Pick up. "Hello Mr Stross, I'm [XXX], calling from [mumbled company] about claiming your free—"

That's what I just typed.

(It's only a first draft: I need to go through it again with fire and the sword before it's ready to send to my editors. But it's a completed first draft, at 116,000 words, which means there will be a fifth Laundry Files novel on the shelves in mid-2014.)

I am now exhausted. So I am going to hoist a couple of pints tonight and take a day or two off work to recover (I averaged 1700 words per day, including weekends, a broken foot, and a chest infection). And I'm off for a long weekend in Germany next week. But I'll try to resume normal blogging again from tomorrow.



About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries written by Charlie Stross in December 2012.

Charlie Stross: November 2012 is the previous archive.

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