Charlie Stross: March 2020 Archives

Life comes at you fast.

On March 12th, this was my provisional plan for public appearances.

Here's the update: ConPulsion is/was cancelled. Eastercon is cancelled. Satellite VII is not cancelled but is being postponed at least 8 months and might yet be cancelled). ConZealand, the world science fiction convention in New Zealand, is switching to a virtual/online-only format: as a face-to-face gathering, it's cancelled.

(Novacon isn't until November so they don't need to make a decision yet, but if this isn't resolved by August—widespread test kits deployed in the community, initial infection spike smoothed, and treatments coming online—my money's on "cancelled".)

Given the news none of this is surprising (they postponed the Olympics—that normally only happens during a world war). Whether SF conventions will ever get restarted is an open question at this point: the hospitality industry and public transport (including airlines) are taking it in the neck, and even after COVID-19 ebbs away people are going to be very nervous about mingling in large public gatherings with people who've come from far away. Certainly, with the exception of a trickle of events postponed from before the pandemic, I don't see much happening in 2021 or 2022. And it's kind of hard to pitch for/organize a future world science fiction convention when your venue is a plague hospital and half your committee members are in lockdown overseas.

2020 may be remembered as the year convention-going SF fandom died. I hope not, but there it is.

We interrupt the apocalypse to give you a shiny new cover reveal! Because the UK edition of Dead Lies Dreaming now has a cover and a release date (October 29th), even though Big River Co can't let you pre-order it just yet.

Dead Lies Dreaming UK cover

Obligatory disclaimer: this is being announced as Laundry Files book 10, because Marketing. But it's not actually part of the same story line at all — rather, it's the start of a spin-off series, set in the world of the New Management, after the end of the main Laundry Files story about Bob et al. No, you don't get to find out what happened to Bob, Mo, and the gang in this story: that'll have to wait for another book. (And not the next one: the next one in this setting will be a sequel to "Dead Lies Dreaming".)

As far as Bob goes—I believe I'm now allowed to say that I've sold an interstitial novella about Bob to So keep your eyes out for "Escape from Puroland", coming some time in the second half of the year.

PS: I haven't forgotten "Invisible Sun". In fact, I've been really busy rewriting it for the fourth time! It's now with my editors and scheduled for publication next March, assuming that no zombie plagues, dino-killer asteroids, or other disasters come along to derail it.

If that sounds like a weird disclaimer, it's because this has been the cursed project from hell. My first draft didn't quite gel at a plot level, then every time I tried to rewrite it—for three consecutive attempts—someone close to me died. This time round, no single person died—but we got the global COVID19 pandemic instead. I think I stuck the landing this time round, but it's almost as if the multiverse is trying to send me a message ...

This probably doesn't need saying, but I'm cancelling/avoiding public gatherings and/or public appearances for the indefinite, but hopefully short-term, future.

As of an hour ago the Scottish government announced that we're moving from "contain" to "delay" wrt. Covid-19—community transmission unrelated to travel or contact has been confirmed—and banning all assemblies of >500 people from Monday.

I'm personally in the high-risk category, being over 50 and with both type II diabetes and hypertension, so I'm self-isolating as of today.

Anyway. I won't be attending ConPulsion (local gaming convention in Edinburgh) in two weeks' time. I also expect the Eastercon in Birmingham to be cancelled, if today's COBR committee meeting in Whitehall announces a ban on public assemblies.

Looking more than two months ahead is pointless right now, but it's not looking good for this year's World Science Fiction Convention in Christchurch, New Zealand, either.

I'll update this if anything changes.

Stay safe.

Not much to say here: by now you've all heard of Coronavirus Disease 2019, and it's probable that there are cases in your country. (Another 13 cases just got added to the UK score this morning.)

Remember: Coronaviruses have a lipid membrane, which is vulnerable to disruption by detergents (including soap and water). It can persist for up to 24 hours on some surfaces (especially polished metal). Wash your hands! You're probably safe from droplet inhalation unless an infected person coughs in your face—droplets settle fast.

The headline mortality rate for COVID-19, 2%, is comparable to the 1918-20 Spanish Flu (an order of magnitude higher than a regular winter flu). However, it rises to around 15% in over-70s. This is therefore going to cause a crisis in the nursing home sector, where homes will either have to run on a skeleton staff by sending home sick care workers, or risk killing their residents in large numbers. (This is why we need statutory sick pay!) It has the potential for major demographic, political, and age/wealth redistribution as side-effects. Also for exposing butt-headed political moves like Boris Johnson demanding the UK leaves the EU's pandemic response early warning system (apparently viruses will give the UK a free pass because Brexit), or Iranian clergy in the holy city of Qom staying open to pilgrims because their shrines are places of healing. And I'm fairly certain that as soon as there's a vaccine, the Anti-Vaxxers will crawl out of the woodwork.

Anyway, feel free to discuss COVID-19 related matters in the comments below.



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This page is an archive of recent entries written by Charlie Stross in March 2020.

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