Charlie Stross: May 2015 Archives

Hi! I'm about to head off to France for a weekend at Imaginales, a French SF/F convention. While I'm gone, you can expect the usual guest blogging to take place.

To start things off, I'd like to introduce M Harold Page, Scottish author and amateur swordsman. He blogs regularly at the Hugo-puppyinated heroic fiction site Black Gate Magazine, and this weekend he's here to shamelessly plug "Shieldwall: Barbarians!", his Dark Age adventure yarn which you can buy from Amazon. He's also going to be talking about some other topics, including self-publishing and (I hope) German mediaeval martial arts.

I've been away for a few days (family stuff) and the travel gave me a lot of time for thought (you can't type on an inter-city train going at full tilt on our crappy lines). As we seem to be moving into Grim Meathook Future territory with the current government trying to make being poor illegal, I decided to Get With The Program, and invent the most evil business master plan I can think of for capitalizing (heh) on the New Misery.

Note that I am too damned old to play startup chicken all over again, and besides I've got books to write. This is just an exercise in trying to figure out how to make as many people as possible miserable and incrementally diminish the amount of happiness in the world while pretending to be a Force For Good and not actually killing anyone directly—and making money hand over fist. It's a thought experiment, in other words, and I'm not going to do it, and if any sick bastard out there tries to go ahead and patent this as a business practice you can cite this blog entry as prior art.

So. Let me describe first the requirements for the Evil Business Plan of Evil, and then the Plan Itself, in all it's oppressive horror and glory.

Last week, our newly re-elected Prime Minister, David Cameron, said something quite remarkable in a speech outlining his new government's legislative plans for the next five years. Remarkable not because it's unexpected that a newly formed Conservative government with a working majority would bang the law and order drum, but because of what it implies:

"For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens 'as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone'."

Think about it for a moment. This is the leader of a nominally democratic country saying that merely obeying the law is not sufficient: and simultaneously moving to scrap the Human Rights Act (a legislative train-wreck if ever I saw one) and to bring in laws imposing prior restraint on freedom of political speech (yes, requiring islamists to show the Police everything they say on Facebook before they say it is censorship of political speech, even if you don't like what they're saying).

We've been here before, of course.

This has been a busy month for my backlist: "Accelerando" has just been published in French for the first time, and "Halting State" is due out in Italian really soon ...

But there's something new on the horizon.

The Phantom League, which came out in 2010, is a space-trading board game in the lineage of "Elite"; you're the captain of a merchant spaceship, exploring new star systems, establishing trade routes, engaging in acts of piracy and otherwise trying to get one up on your rival players. It's a whole lot of fun, and the game has evolved over the past five years, with several expansion packs and updates.

Well, I'm pleased to announce that the forthcoming second edition is going to be based in the universe of Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise! In the new game you take a role of an individual, with ambition and a ship, not an Admiral of some mighty armada, conquering planets. It's all personal: your goal is to become the most famous (or infamous) spaceship captain in the whole galaxy—whatever it takes. Here's the Announcement; you can sign up to a newsletter for further updates as the game gets closer to release.

Okay, discuss.

Two notes:

1. Here's the historic 1945-2010 election turnout chart broken down by UK country. Here are some notes on historic turnout by the Independent, going a little off-message (their Russian owner insisted they back the Conservative party). Turn-out is currently estimated around 62-63% of the electorate, but hit 82% in parts of Scotland, and seems to have averaged around 75%.

2. Ed Miliband (Labour leader) and Nick Clegg (Liberal Democrat leader) both look likely to resign. Meanwhile the count isn't final yet, but the Conservatives are on course to form a narrow majority (22 seats to declare, 13 needed, LD on 8, so if they get 5 more seats they can form a Con/LD coalition, and 13 to rule outright).

NB: Play nice. Moderators will be wielding yellow and red cards freely in event of any gloating/triumphalism or sour grapes: let's keep this polite

UPDATE as of 12:40pm it's a confirmed Conservative majority. Clegg, Miliband, Farage resigning (rumours that they are to be the new Top Gear line-up cannot be confirmed at this time). 30% swing to SNP in Scotland virtually wipes out all other parties—Labour, Conservatives and LibDems down to 1 seat each. Interesting times ahead ...

The UK is heading for a general election next Thursday, and for once I'm on the edge of my seat because, per Hunter S. Thompson, the going got weird.

The overall electoral picture based on polling UK-wide is ambiguous. South of Scotland—meaning, in England and Wales—the classic two-party duopoly that collapsed during the 1970s, admitting the Liberal Democrats as a third minority force, has eroded further. We are seeing the Labour and Conservative parties polling in the low 30s. It is a racing certainty that neither party will be able to form a working majority, which requires 326 seats in the 650 seat House of Commons. The Liberal Democrats lost a lot of support from their soft-left base by going into coalition with the Conservatives, but their electoral heartlands—notably the south-west—are firm enough that while they will lose seats, they will still be a factor after the election; they're unlikely to return fewer than 15 MPs, although at the last election they peaked around 50.

Getting away from the traditional big three parties, the picture gets more interesting. The homophobic, racist, bigoted scumbags of UKIP (hey, I'm not going to hide my opinions here!) have picked up support haemorrhaging from the right wing of the Conservative party; polling has put them on up to 20%, but they're unlikely to return more than 2-6 MPs because their base is scattered across England. (Outside England they're polling as low as 2-4%, suggesting that they're very much an English nationalist party.) On the opposite pole, the Green party is polling in the 5-10% range, and might pick up an extra MP, taking them to 2 seats. In Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionist Party (who are just as barkingly xenophobic as UKIP) are also set to return a handful of MPs.

And then there's Scotland.



About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries written by Charlie Stross in May 2015.

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