Charlie Stross: July 2016 Archives

One of the hard drives in the server this blog resides on started malfunctioning just after midnight Saturday (UK time; about 4AM EST).

The server is running again for now, but I've put in a support request for a drive swap on Monday morning. As it's part of a mirrored drive array the server will be offline for a few minutes while my hosting provider installs the replacement, and may run slow for a few hours thereafter as the controller brings the new drive up to date.

Of course this happened just as I had a cracking idea for a substantial new blog essay, but I think it's prudent to leave posting it until after the hardware is fixed ...!

... Because a random drive-by on twitter suggested this would be a good question to ask on my blog, and they're absolutely right.

NB: Please don't just post a title: post at least a couple of sentences explaining why you think the book in question is of interest. (Even if it just boils down to "escapism, subtype: personal itch-scratching".) Context is good!

Empire Games

I'm back home and over the jetlag, but I'm keeping a low profile because I'm doing my final check on the page proofs of Empire Games (cover above)!

Because I'm back in the Merchant Princes setting with a whole new near-future SF trilogy—my big fat post-Snowden surveillance state technothriller (with parallel universes):

The year is 2020. It's seventeen years since the Revolution overthrew the last king of the New British Empire, and the newly-reconstituted North American Commonwealth is developing rapidly, on course to defeat the French and bring democracy to a troubled world. But Miriam Burgeson, commissioner in charge of the shadowy Ministry of Intertemporal Research and Intelligence—the paratime espionage agency tasked with catalyzing the Commonwealth's great leap forward—has a problem. For years, she's warned everyone: "The Americans are coming." Now their drones arrive in the middle of a succession crisis, for their leader, First Man Adam, is dying of cancer, and the vultures are circling.

In another timeline, the U.S. has recruited Rita, Miriam's own estranged daughter, to spy across timelines in order to bring down any remaining world-walkers who might threaten national security. But her handlers are keeping information from her.

Two nuclear superpowers are set on a collision course. Two increasingly desperate paratime espionage agencies are fumbling around in the dark, trying to find a solution to the first contact problem that doesn't result in a nuclear holocaust. And two women—a mother and her long-lost, adopted-out daughter—are about to find themselves on opposite sides of the confrontation.

Empire Games is due out on January 17th of next year, and available for pre-order now (UK/EU edition here)!

I'm flying home on Wednesday, but tomorrow (Tuesday July 19th) I'll be drinking in Mikkeller Bar at 34 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 (near 5th and Market) from 7pm, and if you can read this you're welcome to join me.

I'm still on vacation (with a side-order of signing tour) and won't be home until Thursday evening, at which point I'll be jet-lagged for a few days. Meanwhile, History is happening, and I wish it would stop, or at least slow down.

As Lenin allegedly put it, "sometimes decades pass that feel like weeks: and sometimes weeks pass that feel like decades." Assuming the quote's correct (I haven't been able to run down a citation for it), he was on the nail, and we're clearly living through it: at the rate History has been happening over the past month I am expecting the date for a new Scottish Independence referendum to be announced, China to land a Taikonaut on the Moon, Turkey to declare war on Pennsylvania, and Boris Johnson not to offend anyone all week. (For those who aren't in on the joke, here's The Economist's take on Boris as Foreign Secretary—key phrase: "like putting a baboon at the wheel of the Rolls Royce".)

Seriously. 2016 sucks. It probably doesn't suck as badly as 1933, or 1943 come to think of it, but it's still a shitty, horrible, no-good excuse for a year in history, and future generations of schoolkids will ask their baffled teachers, "but what were they thinking?"

So. In an attempt to cheer myself up ... what am I missing that is outside the prevailing media narrative but is still worthy of reportage?

(Editorial note: this is not part of the Laundry Files timeline (which ends in 2015); it's merely a disturbing dream from one of the wrong trouser-legs of time, in which our protagonists are confronted with a threat infinitely less plausible than any tentacular alien horror from beyond the walls of the universe ...)

So I'm sitting in my office, staring despondently at a stack of ancient hard drives I'm supposed to be decommissioning per protocol (a ritual pass through the degaussing coil, followed by three brisk taps with a sledgehammer while chanting the drive's UDID, then interment at the bottom of an acid bath—or failing that, the cat's litter tray) when my phone screams.

I startle and nearly fall off my chair. It's the famous Elsa Lanchester scream from Bride of Frankenstein, a ringtone I've assigned to—

"Bob here. How can I help you, Persephone?" Because of course it's Persephone Hazard, doyenne of External Assets and not someone who generally calls me to make polite small-talk about the weather.

While I was at WesterCon last weekend I did a number of panel discussions. And one of the more interesting ones was on the topic of anthropogenic world-ending events.

So here are my post-convention thoughts, and a question.

Hi! I've been quiet because I've been busy—first, appearing at WesterCon 69 in Portland, and then driving cross-country down through Oregon and into California. As you might imagine, data is patchy (including broadband at some of the motels) and so is time for blogging.

Also, been busy with stuff like this:

Crater Lake

But all good things come to an end, and I'm arriving in San Francisco on Saturday. And I have some public events in the Bay Area that you might like to come to.

On Saturday the 9th I'll be appearing at Writers with Drinks in San Francisco at The Make Out Room, 3225 22nd St., on at 7:30pm (doors open 6:30pm).

On Sunday the 10th I'll be reading and signing at Borderlands Books, at 866 Valencia Street, from 3:00pm.

And on Friday the 15th I'm doing a reading and signing at Copperfield's Books (140 Kentucky St, Petaluma, CA 94952) from 7pm.

Blogging (by me, at any rate) will be erratic until I get home on the 21st—but stay tuned, I have something coming up.



About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries written by Charlie Stross in July 2016.

Charlie Stross: June 2016 is the previous archive.

Charlie Stross: August 2016 is the next archive.

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