(Popping back in briefly: Nicola will be back again with a new essay on Thursday.)

I have a heavy iOS habit. And (you're not going to be surprised by this) I also have a couple of Android devices. My first real smartphone, back in 2003, was a Palm Treo 600; I switched to the iPhone 3G after Palm jumped down the rabbit hole in 2008. So I have a lot of legacy apps that run on mobile devices, and I thought I'd indulge in a little rant about the most annoying facets of the app store lifestyle.

I hadn’t intended to start blogging here until next Thursday, when my novel Hild comes out in the UK, but, hey, I saw the news about Marvel’s Thor and couldn’t resist.

So: Thor is now a girl. This changes everything. Sort of.

Let’s ignore the fact that Thor is a god, and mere mortals shouldn’t expect gods to behave like us, because if you take that thought train too far we end up wondering why gods are identified as one sex or another in the first place. And then we have to get into a long and complicated discussion of how religion works and next thing we know the wheels have come off. Today I’d rather stick to the notion of Thor as entertainment. (I can’t speak for tomorrow…)

I'm going to scarce around here for a wee while; I'm one of the guests at Edge-Lit 3 in Derby this Saturday (which also involves spending most of Friday and Sunday on trains), and then I've got to get my head down and finish volume 3 of the new Merchant Princes trilogy before setting out in mid-August on a road trip to Loncon 3, the World Science Fiction Convention in London (and the following weekend, Shamrokon, the Eurocon in Dublin). (Note: I will not be driving to Dublin—I'm delegating the watery part of that journey to P&O ferries.)

Anyway, it gives me great pleasure to introduce Nicola Griffith as my next guest blogger. I've known Nicola for close to thirty years, and she's one of the under-appreciated treasures of the SF/F field: possibly the strongest LGBT voice of our generation. Here's how Nicola describes herself:

Like Charlie I was born in Leeds. In fact, that's where we met, in a pub. But now I live in Seattle with my wife, writer Kelley Eskridge. I'm a dual UK/US citizen.

I've written six novels, a handful of short stories, and edited three anthologies. I've also written a multi-media memoir (scratch-n-sniff cards!) and some essays. Between them these works have been translated into 10 languages, won the Nebula, Tiptree, World Fantasy and Lambda Literary Award (six times) as well as things like a BBC poetry prize and the Premio Italia. I've also been on a few shortlists, too (some more than once): Locus, Hugo, Seieun, Arthur C. Clarke, BSFA, etc.

My latest novel, Hild (just out in the UK from Blackfriars/Little, Brown), startled me utterly by being shortlisted for five awards in fields I didn't expect. Now I'm working on a second novel about Hild. You can find me at my blog, on Twitter, and on my research blog.

(In addition to her own blogging, I'm hoping to organize a blog roundtable in which LGBT SF/F expert and fan Jane Carnall will interview Nicola about Hild and other aspects of her work. Watch the skies!)

You can buy "Hild" from: Amazon (UK), Amazon (US), Waterstones, and Google.

The Laundry HR competition is now closed, and I have some winners to announce!

I make no apologies for this announcement being a couple of days late. There were a lot of entries, and while some of them were easily eliminated, others were much harder to wrap my head around. How, for example, do I judge the epic multi-author thread, amounting to a story in its own right, that started here and sucked in half the next 200-odd comments?

Administrative note: I am still waiting to receive a postal address for:

Nils Bruckner, Grant Privett, Mark Draughn, and the entities known as rk.radiohill, BigJay2K

(I can't mail you prizes if I don't know where to send them! Please email me!)

I think at this point in the century, everyone reading this blog—with the [possible] exception of certain lurkers who are required by virtue of their position within their company to toe the Party Line and therefore may not be free to say what they really think—is clear on the drawbacks of DRM.

But regional restrictions make me wince, because from an author's point of view the situation is a bit more complicated.

For the month of July, while it's on the Hugo shortlist for best novel, my British publisher Orbit have discounted the ebook edition of "Neptune's Brood" to £1.99. (UK Kindle store: for some reason Waterstones still list it at £4.99 but hopefully that'll be fixed shortly: Apple iBooks store.)

(Note that the book is published by a different company—Ace, an imprint of Penguin Random House—in North America; while the price dropped at the end of June, when the paperback was released, it still costs $6.83, or about £3.99 at today's exchange rate. The special offer is, alas, available to UK/EU folks only.)

For the folks who've been asking for somewhere to talk about "The Rhesus Chart" after they've read it, here's a spoiler-full discussion thread. Warning: if you haven't read the book and still plan to, don't read the discussion here! It's going to be chock full of spoilers within 2-3 comments at most.

(As usual with such threads, I'll monitor it for flaming; however I will only dip in to answer questions when I am asked directly -- this is your discussion, not mine.)

So those of you in North America will be able to buy The Rhesus Chart—or get your pre-orders—starting in a couple of hours. My fellow Brits will have to suffer in protracted misery for almost another two days.

For my part, I'm going to spend much of the next 36 hours sitting in a succession of noisy, cramped aluminium tubes while being subjected to sleep deprivation. Then on Wednesday, I'm going to be doing a reading from "The Rhesus Chart" (and signing—yes, copies will be on sale) at Blackwells bookshop on South Bridge in Edinburgh at 6:30pm (probably to be followed by eating/drinking/trying not to keel over from jet lag in The Auld Hoose). Later in the month I'm one of the author guests at Edge Lit 3 in Derby, England (on Saturday the 19th of July): yes, I'm sure I'll be reading and signing there, too. Subsequently, I'll be at Loncon 3 (the World Science Fiction Convention, held this year in London from August 14 to 18) and hopefully at Shamrokon, the Eurocon (held this year in Dublin, August 22 to 24).

There won't be a US signing tour—or any US signings—for this title, at least at this time. I'm probably not going to be back on US soil until early 2015. However, signed and personalized copies of "The Rhesus Chart" can, as usual, be ordered through my local specialist SF bookshop, Transreal Fiction in Edinburgh.

(Note: this chapter was manually converted from the final manuscript. It may contain minor typos and other errata that differ from the published book.)

"Don't be silly, Bob," said Mo, "everybody knows vampires don't exist."

I froze with my chop sticks halfway to my mouth, the tiny corpse of a tempura-battered baby squid clutched precariously between them, while I flailed for a reply to her non sequitur. We were dining out at an uncomfortably pricy conveyor-belt sushi restaurant just off Leicester Square—it was my treat, although I had an ulterior motive. Unfortunately I was in the dog house for some reason. I didn't know why, and it might not even have been related to the deed I'd brought her here to apologize for, but dinner showed every sign of turning into one of those rare but depressingly unfocussed marital arguments we had every few months. And the most prominent warning sign was this: the replacement of reasoned discussion with peremptory denial.

"We can't be sure of that. I mean, doesn't that take us right into proving-a-negative territory? The ubiquity of the legends, the consistent elements, all suggest to me that maybe we've been looking in the wrong place—"

I'd like to take this opportunity to remind you that "The Rhesus Chart" is officially available from next Thursday, July the Third. And to whet your appetite, it got a starred review in Kirkus:

Laundry regulars by now will be familiar with Stross' trademark sardonic, provocative, disturbing, allusion-filled narrative. And, here, with a structure strongly reminiscent of Len Deighton's early spy novels, the tone grows markedly grimmer, with several significant casualties and tragedies, perhaps in preparation for Angleton's feared CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN.

Stross at the top of his game--which is to say, few do it better. Pounce!

You can buy the US edition—and other Laundry titles—here, or the UK editions of the series here.

And tomorrow I'll be posting the first chapter here, on my blog!

This is the keynote talk I just gave at YAPC::NA 2014 in Orlando, Fl.

YouTube video below: click the link below to read the full text instead.

As we're two weeks out from publication of "The Rhesus Chart", we in Human Resources at SOE (Q Division) thought it would be amusing to run a competition for the worst, most embarrassing, disciplinary hearing we in the Laundry have ever had the misfortune to be involved in.

I'm in transit tomorrow (Tuesday), flying Edinburgh-Orlando for YAPC::NA, where I'll be giving a keynote speech (and unwinding/doing tourist stuff—I haven't had a proper vacation since April last year).

Because we're now just over two weeks out from release of "The Rhesus Chart", I'm making some changes around here:

You might have noticed (if you scroll down a ways and direct your eyeballs to the sidebar on the right of this web page) that my blog now features a discreet advert. No, this isn't a massive change in policy: rather, it's the semi-official Laundry (SOE Q-Division) souvenir shop. Now selling t-shirts, office mugs, and (in due course) materials designed to drive home the message of the MAGIC CIRCLE OF SAFETY public information campaign. Is your family prepared to survive CASE NIGHTMARE GREEN? Are they paying enough attention to the Twitter and Facebook campaigns or the public information posters (vintage 1974, designed by the same team who brought us PROTECT AND SURVIVE)? If not, why not help jog their memory by waking them up with a lovely coffee mug, or help reduce the risk of eldritch intrusions with a Health and Safety Warning tee shirt?

Also coming later this month: a Laundry Employee of the Month competition, and an extract from "The Rhesus Chart" ...

Normally it doesn't matter to me if two bands of over-paid primates kick an inflated pig's bladder around a muddy field. I just don't care. As long as they don't do it near me, I can live with that. (You can put this hate on football down to my having grown up Jewish in Leeds in the 1970s. Enough said.)

However, we're now into World Cup season. And I am in full-on Grinch mode, and I assure you that when I become Planetary Supreme Overlord all team sports involving goals and spheroids will be banned forthwith (except for elephant polo on ice skates, which oughta be fun, as long as the elephants give their informed consent beforehand).

Let me enumerate the ways the world cup has pissed me off so far ...

Caution: this essay contains politics. Specifically, Scottish politics. And lots of it.

As a general rule I try not to discuss politics on my blog. It's an endlessly complex subject, it is self-evident that any two people of goodwill can look at any given political problem and come up with two different and diametrically opposed ideas of how to resolve it, and (puts on marketing hat) I'm here to interest you in my writing, not recruit you for my Army of Minions™, although now that I think about it that'd be kinda cool, once I make my run for Total World Domination and appoint myself Supreme Planetary Overlord.

But there's a point where politics impinges directly on the circumstances of my writing, and that's when it goes nonlinear, and by nonlinear I mean "depending on the outcome of three upcoming elections, I may be living in one of three different countries in two years' time." (Two of which would be called "The United Kingdom" but would be very different from one another, and one of which would be called "The Kingdom of Scotland".) It makes it really hard to even think about writing that next near-future Scottish police thriller when I can't predict what country it will be set in, much less what its public culture will look like or where it will be ruled from.

Most of you aren't Scottish and politics, like adventure, is always a lot more fun when it's happening to somebody else a long way away. So let me give you a brief guide to the Scottish Political Singularity, hedged first with a few caveats: (a) this is quite a serious problem for those of us who live here, (b) the climate of politics in Scotland is in general utterly unlike anywhere else in the so-called Anglosphere, and (c) my political sympathies put me firmly out on the fringe, so you should consider me an unreliable guide with a whole bushel of axes to grind (which, in fairness, I will try not to conceal from you or misrepresent as mainstream opinion).




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