July 2021 Archives

(Crib Sheet essays may contain spoilers for the book in question. Previously I refrained from writing them until the book was published in paperback, typically 12 months after first hardcover release. However, times are a'changing. In the UK, Orbit released the paperback of Dead Lies Dreaming only six months after the hardback. And in the USA, Tor.com is an ebook-first publisher; while they issue my books in hardcover, there will probably never be a paperback release unless for some reason they decide they need a trade paperback. (The mass market paperback channel for trade fiction has been dying by inches since about 2005, as ebooks supplant it.) Dead Lies Dreaming came out in October 2020, and I figure you've had time to read it by now: so I'm releasing this particular essay a few months earlier than I would have done for previous books.)

I wrote Dead Lies Dreaming in 2018-2019, during a difficult time in my life when I was unable to grapple with the book I was supposed to be writing (Invisible Sun, which got finished a short time later). Dead Lies Dreaming happened almost by accident—it wasn't on my to-do list at all, let alone planned with the idea that it might be the start of a whole new series (book 2, Quantum of Nightmares, is with the copy editor right now: it comes out next January 11th). That, and the chaos caused by the arrival of COVID19, probably account for it being marketed in hardcover as Laundry Files book 10, which it most certainly is not: but it's set in the same world as the Laundry Files, the world of the New Management, and that's why it says "New Management book 1" on the spine of the UK paperback.

I'm insisting on the distinction because the New Management books are not about the government agency known to its staff as the Laundry. Nor do any Laundry Files characters—with the significant exception of His Dread Majesty, the Prime Minister—show up in the first two books of the new series. As the first Amazon reader reviews predictably complained about the lack of Bob, Mo, and the Laundry, I want to make it quite clear: Dead Lies Dreaming is set some time (six months to two years) after the end of the final, not-yet-written (or titled) Laundry Files novel. Spoiler: the Black Pharaoh, N'yar Lat-Hotep, is still Prime Minister of the UK, and CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN is ongoing (if not actually getting any worse). There may or may not be survivors and revenants from SOE Q-Division and Continuity Operations. We will get to briefly see Persephone Hazard again in book 3. But that's not relevant ot the plot of this book, which kicks off a whole new series.

The previous series turned out to be impossible to continue as of 2018-2021, a period during which British politics became so bizarre as to be impossible to satirize. I promise I'll get back to it eventually! But if I was to write more stories in the same setting, I had to drop the political/civil service angle, which meant dropping the Laundry and moving the spotlight to focus on civilian life under the New Management.

So what happened to trigger this unexpected attack novel?

This is well overdue because I kind of lost track of my irregular series of spoileriffic essays about my novels: it should have turned up in 2019, but I was dealing with a parental death, then trying to get my writing re-started (you might have noticed 2019 was The Year Without A Novel, for the first time since 2007), then COVID19 hit.

So I'm going to try and think myself back into my 2018 state of mind and brain dump whatever I can, and you can ask me fill-in questions in the comments below.

(NB: a Crib Sheet for Dead Lies Dreaming is due in the next few months. I need to catch up on the publication schedule to see where we're at, but as it went paperback in the UK and probably isn't getting a US paperback release, and Quantum of Nightmares is due out next January, you're welcome.)

So, without further ado ...

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