inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #26 of 63: Life in the big (doctorow) Tue 4 Nov 03 05:24
    
I think my actualy titlee is "Internet civil liberties underling."

BTW, greetings from the WIPO meeting in Geneva, where they Trilateral
Commission of broadcasters is dividing up the world while we watch and fume.
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #27 of 63: Charlie Stross (charlie-stross) Tue 4 Nov 03 05:47
    
Are you sure they're not the Bavarian Illuminati? Or the Ahnenerbe-SS?
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #28 of 63: The Hot Pursuit of Happiness (alexsteffen) Tue 4 Nov 03 07:55
    
Hey Charlie. Good points and lots to chew on. Great observations about
omissions, about Schismatrix and nanotech.

You know, a question I have goes something like this: Bruce Sterling
once said that writers having a "native decade" - a decade which they
really get, where they live with native fluency, but from which they
are unable to escape. Ever since he said that I've been trying to
stretch my native decade, which started at the fall of the Wall, the
Exxon Valdez and the near-simultaneous (for me) discovery of the
Internet. Yes, I'm an old fart, and my native decade is set to expire
at any minute.

Where would you put your native decade? What do you think it allows
you to see that perhaps slightly older writers aren't as interested in?
What do you do to stay abreast of the new?

Is it possible that native decades are getting shorter as things speed
up?

And given that it often takes writers at least until their 30s to
write anything really good - mature and nuanced and done with mastery
of craft - could one of the problems near-future SF is having be that
there are few people writing natively in this new decade, but much has
already changed since the last one? (Did that make sense? Too early to
be typing in public...)

Anyways, Bravo on Singularity Sky. Looking forward to the next.

OH, PS: regarding the whole access to tools thing, while I love Whole
Earth and all its works, the idea really goes back to the Enlightenment
and Diderot's Encyclopedie, which had the explicit goal of spreading
working knowledge of all the arts, crafts, and industries to all
mankind.
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #29 of 63: Charlie Stross (charlie-stross) Tue 4 Nov 03 09:00
    
Native decade? It's a good idea. I'm not certain, but I think mine
probably began in mid-1986, when I spent a whole night sitting in front
of a university mainframe terminal playing MUD (yes, the *first* MUD,
over JANET, the UK Joint Academic Network) until the sun rose over the
back of the computer and I realised I was interacting with people
hundreds of miles away.

And I can't help thinking that it actually ended on 9/11, when the
scriptwriters who plot the soap opera we call history handed over to a
new team consisting of the ghosts of Philip K. Dick, George Orwell, and
Franz Kafka. (I *don't like* this 21st century, and I would be very
grateful if whoever stole the real one would give it back. OK?)

Oh yeah. As a random aside: while I'm being interviewed here, my
alter-ego has handed over my weblog (at
http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blosxom.cgi) to the Evil Overlord
(Planetary). You may  find the EOP's opinions contrast interestingly
with my own ...
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #30 of 63: Life in the big (doctorow) Tue 4 Nov 03 23:24
    
What the fuck is in the water in Scotland, anyway? Between you and Iain
Banks and Ken MacLeod, there's a regular literary revolution underway in the
highlands. You're a transplant to Scotland (albeit a proud one -- tell us
about Feorag and her brewery, please; and don't leave out your membership in
the whisky-tasting club -- also, exactly how many of your friends have been
on the receiving end of a plush nessie with tartan feet with a be-tam-ed
scotsman sat astride her?) and you complain about London like a proper
Edinburrouvian. What makes Edinburgh the place for you?
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #31 of 63: Charlie Stross (charlie-stross) Wed 5 Nov 03 02:52
    
Edinburgh is basically a pocket-sized capital city. Population of
about six hundred thousand, but it's got a parliament, airport,  two
major railway stations, several major theatres, a couple of specialist
art cinemas along with the usual horde of multiplexes, and so on. It's
the location of the biggest performing arts festival in Europe, if not
the world, every August. It's at one end of Silicon Glen, so there's a
lot of high-tech startups round about town. What it *doesn't* have so
much of is endless miles of boring tract suburbs, and although it
*does* have some infamously sleazy and dangerous housing projects, as
depicted in "Trainspotting", they're on the edge of town rather than in
the centre. Which means you can live in an apartment right in the
centre of a capital city which is small enough to get around by walking
and where there's a load of stuff happening.

I came up to Edinburgh in '95 to join an early web startup, and I sort
of stayed because it's civilized. Can't say too much about Feorag and
the microbrewery because, er, it went out of business earlier this year
(due to the untimely death of one of the directors), but you can still
get a decent pint in many pubs and unlike England they don't have to
close at 11pm.

But I'm a transplant. Ken and Iain are natives -- they live just up
the coast from Edinburgh, in South and North Queensferry respectively.
(In a US city, they'd be in the suburbs; in Scotland that's way the
hell out of town, in fact, in another town.)

Now, there *is* something in the water in Scotland. A lot of outsiders
underestimate the extent to which Scotland is another country from
England, because for nearly three centuries they were ruled from the
same parliament in London -- but the cultural difference is at least as
pronounced as that between, say, California and the Carolinas, or
Texas and Massachusetts. The political difference is even greater.
Scotland was the great seething seed-bed of the reformation in the
British Isles if you go back to the sixteenth and seventeenth
centuries, and was run as a theocracy for a couple of hundred years ...
which is perhaps why it is considerably less religiously-inclined than
England (which in turn is a hotbed of atheism compared to just about
anywhere in the States), and also has a strong literary tradition: the
Kirk was extremely keen on teaching the masses to read (so they could
read the Bible, of course). The political culture also differs from
that of England, although you can blame Margaret Thatcher for that: she
specifically pursued policies that alienated the whole of Scotland,
leaving the Left to pick up the nationalist vote. (Which is not where
you'd normally expect it to go.) 

Oh yeah: the plush Nessies are just the local equivalent of maple
syrup and plush mounties in Toronto, or cuddly lobsters in Boston.
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #32 of 63: Charlie Stross (charlie-stross) Wed 5 Nov 03 02:54
    
Parenthetical aside: over here, it's Wednesday. Tomorrow, Thursday, is
the last day I'll be available for questions for a while because I'm
flying down to Birmingham (UK, not AL) on Friday morning at zero dark
o'clock for an SF con. I'll be back Monday night (my time), meaning
I'll be able to start posting again in the middle of Monday night (WELL
time). I'm not taking a laptop and I don't fancy trying to read and
post on the WELL from a palm pilot ...
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #33 of 63: E M Richards (booter) Wed 5 Nov 03 10:41
    

I'm bereft that Feorag's brewery's gone under. Shows me for not staying
in touch. As for the Nessies, I've always preferred the ceramic ones that
look like they are surfacing from the desktop. I wonder where I can get
a plush Mountie. Oh never mind.
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #34 of 63: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 5 Nov 03 16:15
    
Hm, if Steffen's an old fart, then I'm grisly with age... and sorry to be 
late to the party, and late starting the book, which I'm thoroughly 
enjoying!

I hear the pubs in England, when they close, just lock everybody in and 
they drink all night. That true of Scotland?

As for the 4 day lapse of the interview, there's no reason you 'n Cory 
have to stop when the next discussion starts, so you can just make up the 
lost time. Or you could do the Neil Gaiman thing, and move in here 
permanently with a jammin' flock o' fans.

(Meanwhile, I'm off to finish SS!)
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #35 of 63: Charlie Stross (charlie-stross) Thu 6 Nov 03 03:10
    
Lock-ins are highly variable. Basically, there's a legal loophole that
allows private parties to keep on drinking. But it depends on the
publican being willing to risk losing their licence -- tends to happen
more often in pubs that are drinking dens for the local police, if you
follow me.

Licencing hours in the UK in general are still in the process of
getting over the first world war, when they were introduced to stop
munitions workers getting drunk at lunch-time. The result of
restricting drinking hours is that people don't drink less -- they
drink faster, with predictable results. (You don't win any prizes for
guessing what my position is on the war on drugs, either ...)
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #36 of 63: Will Entrekin (willentrekin) Thu 6 Nov 03 09:45
    
Very much enjoyed *Singularity Sky* although I didn't find the writing
style as complicated as has been implied here.  Mainly, I just thought
it was good.  I thought the setting was very believable and the
characters plausible.

Upon reading it, I was very interested in what you had planned for the
fantasy books; I tend to think, unfortunately, of fantasy and science
fiction as somewhat cliche-ridden genres.  To find an author who could
make a book like *Singularity Sky* feel new and cram it full of
interesting ideas was terrific, and I wondered what you might do in the
fantasy genre.
After reading your post, I'm looking forward to the TOR stuff even
more.
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #37 of 63: Life in the big (doctorow) Thu 6 Nov 03 14:23
    
Cole sez, "Earlier in this interview, you [CS} spoke of "the conservativism
that seems to be in store for generation Y." Did you mean that generation Y
is likely to embrace conservativism (if so, what version and why)? Or did
you mean that, as young adults, gen Y will live in a world shaped to a
considerable degree by the policies of today's conservatives?
"
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #38 of 63: Andrew Scott Beals (bandy) Thu 6 Nov 03 17:22
    
You get plush Mounties in Canada of course!  It's the
not-so-completely-foreign-that-they-speak-another-language country
that's right on top of us.  "Go North Young Woman!"

Whoa, Charlie, talk about another country heard from.  Must achieve
book!
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #39 of 63: William H. Dailey (whdailey) Thu 6 Nov 03 21:17
    
I believe you said you don't use Microsoft.  How about Tao-Group
products from England or QNX from Canada. What Editor do you favor?  I
like to use VEDIT on QNX4.
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #40 of 63: Charlie Stross (charlie-stross) Tue 11 Nov 03 01:59
    
Just back from Novacon, in Birmingham. (Believe me, the WELL doesn't
seem to be too accessible on a Treo 600 :)

Catching up: Will Entrekin -- on the subject of fantasy, the first and
most important thing to note is that fantasy is a publishing category
as well as a genre. Publishers can put whatever they like on the spine
of a book and frequently do, for a variety of reasons connected with
(bluntly) what they perceive as being the best way to maximize the
book's revenue-generating potential.

"A Family Trade" and its sequels are closest -- in terms of ideas --
to H. Beam Piper's Paratime stories, including the novel "Lord Kalvan
of Otherwhen". Piper was one of those science-fictional prodigies who
vanished from the landscape before they demonstrated their full
potential, in his case tragically; it's a sign of the quality of his
work that a series of stories and a single short novel from the 1950's
and very early 1960's are still in print today, having outlived about
95% of their contemporaries. 

Piper's paratime stories were set in a multiverse of coexisting
parallel universes, through which his characters who worked for an, er,
paratime patrol, moved at will. They were products of the first
civilization to have developed paratime travel, and they exploited
other time lines for their own benefit. (They were also triumphant
colonialists to the n'th degree, and indeed his heroes were the kind of
people I'd pick if I wanted some off-the-shelf bad guys.) Piper was
sold as SF; forty years later, with a not entirely dissimilar premise,
I'm getting marketed as fantasy. Go figure -- maybe it's the
quasi-mediaeval castles in the background, or something. Certainly I'm
*not* writing Extruded Fantasy Product of the "humans, elves, and
dwarves go out to play" variety that has become so tiresomely popular
in the wake of the great Tolkein boom.

(Now, I'm just back from a con,  more or less awake, but I haven't
managed to ingest enough caffeine this morning to respond coherently to
the next question ...)
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #41 of 63: Will Entrekin (willentrekin) Tue 11 Nov 03 05:26
    
>Piper was sold as SF; forty years later, with a not entirely
>dissimilar premise, I'm getting marketed as fantasy. Go figure --

Very good point, and, yes, another good point about fantasy being a
publishing category as well as a genre.  Perhaps it's because I'm not
yet published, I still have a difficult time with the difference
between what one writes and what one sells as (if that makes sense).
Jonathan Carroll, for example, I think a fine writer; it's always a
crap shoot if I try to look for one of his novels in the book store.

>Certainly I'm *not* writing Extruded Fantasy Product of the "humans,
>elves, and dwarves go out to play" variety that has become so
>tiresomely popular in the wake of the great Tolkein boom.

You hit the nail on the head; that's exactly the kind of cliched I
mean.
Regardless, can't wait for *Family Trade*, especially after
*Singularity Sky*.
And how was the Con?
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #42 of 63: Charlie Stross (charlie-stross) Tue 11 Nov 03 14:43
    
William H. Dailey: I edit files using Vim, on whatever platform comes
to hand -- typically OS/X or Linux (SuSE for preference). I'm an old
UNIX-head ... I used to work for a company called the Santa Cruz
Operation, back before they sold the name to a bunch of sharks in
suits.

Oh, and as I'm an old Perl-head, I use POD as a document markup
language and a bunch of filters glommed together with a makefile. And
RCS for version control (you don't need anything more sophisticated for
a novel). But to my shame I have to import the results into Word for a
final reformat-and-save-as-Micro$oft-files step before sending them to
publishers -- they all seem to insist on Word files as the input stage
for their typesetters.

Will Entrekin: you may want to read China Mieville's rant on Tolkein.
It's at: http://www.panmacmillan.com/features/china/debate.htm

The con was great, but my memories are somewhat fuzzy -- the quantity
of alcohol that flows at a regional British SF con would likely induce
disbelief in most American fans. It's a big cultural difference between
US and UK fandom: the two poles around which a Novacon revolves are
the program (one stream) and the bar (one decent real ale). There's no
fan room as such -- the bar doubles as one, kids are allowed in, food
is served, etcetera. It's astonishing how much alcohol fans can get
through during a weekend when they set their minds to it and the bar
stays open as long as there are customers standing!  I'm on the wagon
for the rest of the week, having exceeded my normal monthly alcohol
consumption in the space of about 72 hours without either getting drunk
or succumbing to a hangover.

(Hint: drunkenness ensues when people drink too fast to eliminate the
alcohol. The laid-back environment of an SF con contributes to a kind
of friendly mild inebriation rather than outright drunkenness. And
panels are much livelier when all the panelists have had a beer or two
and are looking forward to getting down to some serious drinking in the
bar afterwards. And Dead Dog parties go further when they're run on a
"contribute five pounds of three bottles of exotic beer" basis. I'm not
sure just why US cons have such a down on alcohol -- it's one of the
main fannish food groups, after all. But that's by the by ...)
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #43 of 63: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 12 Nov 03 06:26
    
Heh... sounds like a kind of IV drip!
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #44 of 63: Charlie Stross (charlie-stross) Wed 12 Nov 03 12:32
    
I wouldn't go that far. But a friendly bar full of fans with a hand
pump dispensing Black Sheep Bitter in good shape (not pasteurized,
gassified, or otherwise tampered with) at ordinary pub price (about
2.15 a pint -- pounds, not dollars, and imperial pints, not your wimpy
colonial short
measures :) makes for a fun atmosphere. (Caveats: it helps that the UK
the drinking age is 18 or 14 with food, you aren't asked for ID unless
you appear to be under age, and the place isn't under seige by 21 year
olds going wild because it's their first ever drop of alcohol.)

In general, getting uptight over people drinking e-v-i-l alcoholic
beverages only seems to make the problems worse, while removing much of
the fun ...

(Y'all going to think I'm some kind of alcoholic now, aren't you?)
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #45 of 63: turing testy (cascio) Wed 12 Nov 03 14:15
    
We think you're our kind of alcoholic, Charlie.
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #46 of 63: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 12 Nov 03 16:20
    
Yeah, the BEST kind.

Back to thinking space opera, though, I've always wondered about alcohol 
in space vs the difficulty of using zero-grav toilets...
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #47 of 63: Charlie Stross (charlie-stross) Thu 13 Nov 03 06:59
    
Hmm. I gather that Mir used to have a bottle of brandy for celebrating
major triumphs, but in general alcohol and current-day space tech
don't mix (except as fuel) ...

I keep thinking, every so often, about a non-fiction book I'd like to
pitch around (or maybe an article in BIZARRE magazine, come to think of
it): "TO BOLDLY BLOW: a history of human bodily fluids in orbit".
Everything from the Mercury astronaut who made a sub-orbital flight
lying in a suit full of cold urine after a 3-hour launch pad hold, to
the effects of space-sickness, the way the Mir waste recycling system
works (way more efficiently than the Shuttle or ISS), and Gemini 7 (two
adult men sitting in a capsule the size of a SMART car for twelve
days, shitting into polythene bags and stashing them under their
seats). The thought of adding alcohol to the mess is just too much to
bear!
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #48 of 63: Life in the big (doctorow) Thu 13 Nov 03 12:43
    
Cole writes:

1. What is the literal English translation of the name "Aineko" (the moniker
of the artificial cat in the Accelerando stories)?

2. Does the story "Jury Service" take place in the Accelerando universe?

3. Earlier in this interview, you [CS} spoke of "the conservativism that
seems to be in store for generation Y." Did you mean that generation Y is
likely to embrace conservativism (if so, which version and why)? Or did you
mean that, as young adults, gen Y will live in a world shaped to a
considerable degree by the policies of today's conservatives?
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #49 of 63: E M Richards (booter) Thu 13 Nov 03 13:48
    

I think the booze thing is cultural. I've noticed the British and Irish
drink a lot more than the Yanks.

The Re-Search series of books each cover some oddball topic, and
would be a good group to approach regarding Pee in Space.
  
inkwell.vue.199 : Charlie Stross, _Singularity Sky_
permalink #50 of 63: (jacob) Thu 13 Nov 03 16:33
    
Was Mir more efficient because the Russians are less squeamish?

I enjoyed Singularity Sky a lot, but I really, really loved "A Colder
War".  More than anything I read in the last few years at the very least.
Growing up in the UK in the 80s I at least always felt the shadow of the
insane US/Russian military confrontation hanging over us.  I always felt
that nuclear weapons were like something from another planet -- orders of
magnitude more destructive than anything prior, a product of weird science,
like something designed for interplanetary war rather than useful on our
national scale.  So the literal militarization of the Lovecraft monsters
fit perfectly.  In everyday (rather than scientific) terms it's no stranger
to me to have a Lovecraft servitor as a weapon than having a single warhead
of a few hundred pounds that can destroy an entire city.

Hmm, do I have an actual question here.  Not on that subject, I think.  I
am curious about your politics though, politics obviously being an
important part of Singularity Sky.  Left, very left, crazed commie left?
  

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