Back to: Grist for the new year | Forward to: Friday cat vlogging

Attention, Minions!

It's officially published today. Yes, you can buy it now (if you dare). Despite the bizarre misconceptions held by Amazon's stock tracking database, this is not, in fact, a large print edition; so if you read it on the bus the annoying guy in the seat behind you will not be able to read it over your shoulder! Fact.

In other news: I do not do Facebook, but I am reliably informed that there is some kind of fanatical minion indoctrination site over on Facebook. And you can find news of upcoming author events there, like, er, this one.

(What, you don't do Facebook either? Well: I'll be doing a Q&A, maybe a short reading, and a signing at Pandemonium Books in Cambridge, MA at 7pm on Tuesday February 10th.)

In other news: it's open season for Hugo award nominations (if you're a voter from last year or a member of this year's worldcon). I've got two items which are eligible this year: a novelette, Down on the Farm (published online on, and the novel Saturn's Children (extract here). If you nominate either or both of these works, I promise not to spontaneously combust from sheer excitement. Fact.

Finally, in case you've had a particularly shouty day and are tired of being shouted at, here's a video of a hamster eating popcorn on a piano.



Huh, I got it at Barnes & Noble over the weekend...someone being a little hasty, maybe?


Wait, what? I thought the Jennifer Morgue was published back at the end of '06.

Was the copy I got illegit, or am I just confused?


Q Marx: if you got a hardcover, that's the Golden Gryphon first edition -- this is the Ace trade paperback, and just came out. truth is life: someone at B&N got a little frisky. Now I don't mind (a sale is a sale), but sometimes marketing folk get a little irritated by premature releases -- if they think the book needs to launch with a bang in hope of hitting the bestseller lists on the basis of first week sales, for example.


I've had it in an SFBC omnibus for a while.


Hmm, I thought only evil geniouses had minions.

Incedentely, do you know the difference between minions and henchmen? Like, can you get promoted from Minion 1st Class to Henchmen 3rd Class, or are henchmen on a seperate track like officers and enlisted men?


@5: The difference between a minion and a hench is alluded to in this comic. The hierarchy appears to be: supervillain - cohort - henchman.

Just one of an amusing series of comics about what the personal lives of superheroes / villains might be like.


Is it safe to reveal to the world that we're fans?
-- Might that reduce my changes with the fairer gender should I become single again?
and isn't it enough that a number of your books are on my virtual bookshelf? (best use for facebook I know)

(fan in hiding in silicon valley)


Thanks for the clip, it was very cheering! Is there a particular reason you aren't on Facebook (no use for it / privacy worries / on a similar site already ...)?


Ouch! I was just there a few days ago, and seriously considering buying that.

On the bright side, the reason that I was there is that it's four blocks from my boyfriend's apartment, who is also a fan of yours.

I've already sent him an email, instructing him to attend. Hopefully he won't have plans and I may end up with a new book out of the deal.


I bought both the books for my dad's birthday; he's received one already and seemed enthused.


OT, but ...

New generation of Phone chips mentioned here.
Goes back to a recent thread on "merging" of devices.
If done properly, even people like me, who prefer separate devices that do their specific jobs properly, might be interested.....


Already got TAA and TJM in mass market from bookseller in oz. How about TFM please please please please


Does this mean you're doing Boskone this year?


Chang: yes, I'll be there.

oz4me: the TFM publication date is provisionally July 2011. It might get shifted, but I won't know until May or June this year. Publishers run on geological time ...


I have become a fan on Facebook in order to stalk follow your movements more efficently. There are some fine beard pictures there.

For some reason I'd always thought that minion implied more of a subservient role than henchbeing; a minion would fetch and carry and serve and be left at home to clean and wash up, while a henchman would go to the pub with you to carry drinks, keep away undesirables and sycophantically applaud all the rambling stories.

(Supervillain feudal system? There's something there I'm going to think about)


Damn you Stross... and the hamster. That is 1 minute and 8 seconds I'll never get back... er, 2 minutes and 16 seconds. Well, you have to watch in twice don't you?

3 minutes and 24 seconds...


Not trying to pull your chain, but ISTM that local inde bookshop had several copies of Ace paperback-sized TJM on their shelves almost one week before Christmas (Fri. 19 Dec ~20:00 hereabouts in left-pondian PST). Am sad to report that I had no further victims test subjects potential recipients for whom to purchase copies, so have no proof of purchase with which to corroborate my memory.

ObOT: Eeveryone should have a special moment for the holiday... For me, it was having an acquaintance return the trade ppbk copy of The Atrocity Archives which I had loaned him some twenty-five months ago.

I guess he really, really liked it. [If he returns my copy of Toast I'll get him one each of his own to keep.]


Christopher, like I said, I don't mind. And I really don't expect Ace's marketing people to throw their toys out of the pram over TJM either -- it's not a first edition or a major launch, and there's no prospect of a bestseller list push on any of my next couple of books. (The next one from Ace is a short story collection, and the Received Wisdom is "short story collections don't sell" -- in fact, it's a pretty astonishing vote of confidence that Ace and Orbit have agreed to publish one in the first place!)

On the other hand, can you imagine the fuss if some bookseller had begun selling the last Harry Potter title a week ahead of the starting gun?

I'm told that 80% of a book's sales occur within 90 days of publication (first in hardcover, then in paperback). Initial impact is important for publicity purposes -- getting the first week sales up high enough to show up via Bookscan on the NY Times list generates the buzz that spreads word of an author and gets future readers interested -- and hopefully triggers an avalanche of follow-on sales, which is what authors (and publishing marketers) dream of.

If you see me start to get upset about early leaks, that's when you'll know my publishers are trying to push me at the bestseller lists. Until then, it hardly matters.


Dave @5: Are you saying that Charlie isn't evil, or that he isn't a genius?


Edward the 4th of England had a book on etiquette and courtly lift and suchlike. Ther eis an oddice in it of "Master of Henchmen", who was in charge of the young gentlemen (the Henchmen) who were being educated at court.

I leave the obvious comments to everyone else.


*makes an obvious comment about henching*

*uses metatags for style*


The clueless, it burns!!!


Maybe I've been misreading, but I swear some of the books credit you as "Charles" and others as "Charlie." Have my eyes deceived me?


Errr... actually, there are several fanatical minion indoctrination sites on Facebook. I've been getting my synapses remolded for a while now.


Entirely off topic, but, do suddenly get the feeling that the singularity happened and the only think that woke up was our economy and it realized it didn't need us anymore? I'm just saying, because my God the Federal Reserve has run out of zeroes.


Also completely OT.

Re. the Surveillance State and the TOTAL IDIOT WELCOMED the S&S.

The stupid, it burns!


Phuzzy@25: That's a group - a gathering of fans, created by fans. I'm on there as an officer because the person who created it noticed I was there! It's wholly unofficial, and the minions there are sharing their experiences and joy at having been indoctrinated. The Facebook Page, on the other hand, is an official presence, the admins include people from Charlie's publishers whose motives are fairly obvious in this case. Minion indoctrination is its raison d'être.


@16: Courtesy of my son aged 16...
Teenagers spend much more time searching out YouTube gems, like this one:

another set of gems can be found by searching for derrickcomedy on youtube.


@28: Pah! Emergent vs. planned is a non-issue at this point in time. That's one of the first things that got exdoctrinated. Swim away! Swim away! Must escape.


@16 -- Just admit it, Shane -- the hamster is ADORABLE. And I think you know that, really. Deep down in your repeat-watchin' soul. ;-)


So from I can get TJM trade paperback for $12, or the hardcover for 3x that. Given that my only real motivation in buying the hardcover would be to provide more beer money to Charlie, is it worth it over (for example) buying a couple of extra copies of Toast to give away, or perhaps mailing a fiver to Scotland...?


Did The Laundry have anything to do with this? Or some overzealous minion?



No, rather some overzealous hexagonal ice crystals falling down and stabilizing (paradoxically, but explainable) by maximizing drag and staying in a horizontal position. The result is an optical phenomenon called a sun-dog (I've seen lots of them), although the term sun-duck* would be more appropriate for French and German readers at least.

* (Dunno if this is common knowledge.) In German the letters N.T. for "not testified" are pronounced like the word Ente (= duck). The French, lacking an own expression for newspaper stories that aren't exactly true, translated it to canard, which seems to have seeped back into the English language as well.


tp1024 @34, I think Brett was talking about the damaged wind turbine.


Mr. Stross, will the Fuller Memorandum go into more detail about Case Nightmare Green? I need to start preparing!


Mike @36: yes, TFM is entirely about Case Nightmare Green.

Prepare to be Very Afraid.


Re #26" "my God the Federal Reserve has run out of zeroes."

I'm not trying to be Americocentric here, but:
(A) the Bubble was driven more by the USA than other countries, although China and India and real estate speculators in Ireland and Spain and the like did their damndest;
(B) the best and brightest of the Quants were products of USA Physics and Math departments, who should have known better, though to be sure Canary Wharf is as per capita liable as Wall Street;
(C) The first paradox of Recession is that what is individually optimum for a given family (but less, save more) is poison to the economy in which they're embedded;
(D) The second paradox of Recession (in the USA prototypically) is that the Federal Government needs to cut taxes and increase services, while the individual State governments need to raise taxes and cut services;
(E) The difference between Fed and State being that the Fed Gummint can print money, and the States cannot;
(F) However, the loophole about to be realized in the bellweather California where I'm a recently unemployed homeowner, is to (i) close all state offices 2 Fridays per month, to begin with; (ii) give state tax refunds as IOUs; and, beginning February 2009, to pay state employees (including teachers) in IOUs. hello, that means that states CAN de facto print money. Now, all I need to do is find another teaching job, and then convince the mortgage holder and grocery store to take those nontransferrable IOUs...
(G) So now you know WHY my daily word-count is 5,000 per day. As if even a completed novel manuscript is a liquid asset...


Can't wait to read it. I thought Accelerando was outstanding.


Jonathan #38- you said:
"the best and brightest of the Quants were products of USA Physics and Math departments, who should have known better, though to be sure Canary Wharf is as per capita liable as Wall Street;"

You should know as well as anybody that being very intelligent does not mean that you will know any better.

As for Case Nightmare Green (looks around to see if they are coming to get him) I've been wondering what was going to happen with that.


re #40 (guthrie) via #38:

That's why I used the ironic term, as in the phrase repurposed for the book: "The Best and the Brightest" (1972), an account by journalist David Halberstam of the origins of the Vietnam War. The focus of the book is on the foreign policy crafted by the academics and intellectuals who were in John F. Kennedy's administration

For some of J.F.K.’s best and brightest, Halberstam wrote, wisdom came "after Vietnam."

Now, one supposes, wisdom comes after Global Depression to the quants who should have known better.

Again, I'm not trying to be Americocentric. It's my age. When I flunked out of Caltech (before I re-enrolled a year later and earned 2 B.S. degrees) I lost my "2A" status and, being over 18 and a U.S. citizen, the Draft Board seriously tried to induct me and send me off to kill or be killed in Vietnam.

People are still refighting that war. Ask Joe Haldeman, whose autobiographical novel "1968" was as harrowing and true as "Forever War" but less blessed by sales and awards. Stephen King's "Hearts in Atlantis" (the book, not the movie which adapted about 1/3 of it) captured the mood perfectly, of college students who knew that dropping out or flunking out meant fleeing to Canada, or or being soldiers in a deadly jungle.

France warned the USA not to get entangled in the former "French Indochina" but The Best and the Brightest suffered from the same triumphalist delusion that later got us into Afghanistan and Iraq.

America screwed up, and it affected other parts of the world -- allies such as Australia (and remember Homer Simpson to the English: "We saved your ass in Vietnam), those killed in Pol Pot's genocide, and others.

The green of the jungle was as deadly, if perhaps less rugose and eldrich and ichor-laden, as Case Nightmare Green.

Wasn't John McCain's presidential campaign some sort of attempt to refight Vietnam? Let's hope that Obama does not drag the world down with yet some other isotope of "The Best and the Brightest."


guthrie @40"
As for Case Nightmare Green (looks around to see if they are coming to get him) I've been wondering what was going to happen with that.

According to "The Concrete Jungle", it was due to hit us in September 2007. I can picture Angleton fixing a Great Old One with a steely glare as it breaks through the dimensional barrier, "You're late".


Trade paperbacks are just too big; they don't fit on my shelves.

Waiting for the "real" paperback version.
Any idea when that will be available?


I see Saturn's Children got mentioned in Guardian as being on David Cameron's bookshelf! (but the writer had never heard of it)


Jeremy: there is another book of the same title, published in 1999, that is far more likely to be of interest to David Cameron (although there are, to be fair, at least two definite genre titles on his bookshelf).


Yes, I noticed the outing of David Cameron as a fan. What a world we're living in when the Tories are the ones thinking about the future! It's a shame the journalist's jokes were all "bet he hasn't actually read it" things when, er, *he* hadn't actually read much either.


And good timing that - it was in the Heathrow departures bookstore, so it could cuddle up next to Singularity Sky in my backpack. Sky got et en route to LA, and Morgue is keeping me off the streets at night.

Hello, Charlie! Nice blog. Welcome to my "pestered authors" list. I've only recently started on your work, at the behest of one John Scalzi, and I'm awfully glad I listened to him.


(Addendum - I don't have the pleasure of actually knowing John Scalzi, I just hang around his blog making farting noises and he spoke well of you. Just to clarify that bit.) (also not namedropping LA, just thanking you for soothing an otherwise interminable 11 hour flight)



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on January 6, 2009 10:24 PM.

Grist for the new year was the previous entry in this blog.

Friday cat vlogging is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Search this blog