Stross seminar imminent

by John Q on January 23, 2009

The comments threads are already buzzing with anticipation so I’m very happy to announce that our long-awaited Charles Stross Book Event will be published here in the next few days. It features Paul Krugman, Brad DeLong, Ken MacLeod and of course Charlie Stross himself, along with CT regulars. Keep a lookout, and be ready with comments on your favorite Stross work.



Ray 01.23.09 at 2:06 pm

So is the right place to say that though Stross seems to be an interesting commentator on technology, with his heart in the right place, he’s not very good at writing fiction. The strings are distractingly obvious.
(See also: Greg Egan)


Barry 01.23.09 at 2:29 pm

No, this is the place where Strossists work themselves into a frenzy of worshipful anticipation. A bad place to dis Stross; the altar is always available (once we clear the munchies and drinks from it).


Hermenauta 01.23.09 at 2:56 pm

Yeah! :)

[hands trembling in anticipation]


lemuel pitkin 01.23.09 at 3:58 pm

I’m with Ray. But I also seem to be the only left-wing SF fan who can’t stomach MacLeod either.


christian h. 01.23.09 at 4:20 pm

Yes! Ken MacLeod. (To lemuel: I like MacLeod’s SciFi, especially the Fall Revolutions series, but there’s some things he can’t write, at least not in a way that does it for me. Eg, sex scenes. Awful. So I can see where you’re coming from.)


Hermenauta 01.23.09 at 5:56 pm

I do agree that the “Singularity” side of Stross works sometimes fall prey of this kind of objection, but it´s really about ideas. On the other side, the Laundry series is quite entertaining, IHMO.

But let´s see what the hell Paul Krugman thinks about it. I want it now, and I want it “wonkish”.


Charlie Stross 01.23.09 at 6:37 pm

Hermeneuta: “Singularity Sky” was initially written in 1995-98. I hope I’ve moved on a little since then.


Charlie Stross 01.23.09 at 6:38 pm

D’oh: reading comprehension failure. (Ignore me: it’s a Friday evening and I’m being crap — I thought you said “Singularity Sky” and missed the definite article.)

Mind you, I’ve moved on since “Accelerando” (1999-2004) too.


Hermenauta 01.23.09 at 7:15 pm

Dear Stross,

I´m sure you have. Sadly, some recent exchange rates movements denies me the opportunity to witness it by finally reading Saturn´s Children, a situation I hope to remedy very soon.

But Jennifer´s Morgue, believe me, is fine work.


Paul J. Reber 01.23.09 at 7:55 pm

Stross is simply the best at ideas. Taking technological change and really thinking about what it does or could mean and spinning wonderfully imaginative stories about it.

And he writes lots, which is good, although it does seem that the writing itself is occasionally uneven. But I hope he keeps writing lots since I have a hunch he cares a lot about his craft and is continually working to push to improve it. I’ll keep buying and reading all if it regardless.

Stross has mentioned explicitly being influenced by Roger Zelazny, who was simply my absolute favorite author as an adolescent and beyond. Zelazny had his own set of strengths and weaknesses, but one thing that always stood out were the way his characters stuck with you. Stross’s ideas stick with me, but many of his characters seem to come and go (or get confused with one another). The number and strength of the women characters is notably good, but they haven’t really come to life for me yet.

I’m sure others will complain about writing issues as well, but please write moar, Charlie! No going off to try to write something different. Write lots and I’ll read it (and buy it) and see what’s working or not with you.


rea 01.23.09 at 9:45 pm

I, for one, look forward to an extended discussion of the Dogger Bank incident . . .


Flippanter 01.23.09 at 9:48 pm

…although it does seem that the writing itself is occasionally uneven.

I don’t disagree, but I doubt the seminar will grind so fine as to grant commenters the distinction between dissatisfaction with the prose on offer and full-throated endorsement of the most retrograde political positions possible. Nonetheless, where there is life, there is hope.


Charlie Stross 01.23.09 at 10:08 pm

Also, nobody in the seminar tackled the Laundry novels (damn it).


Barry 01.23.09 at 10:22 pm

Looks like they know that Some Things Were Not Meant For Critics To Know (or discuss).


Hermenauta 01.23.09 at 10:28 pm

Also, nobody in the seminar tackled the Laundry novels

What a pity. Damn it indeed. And how about “The Golden Age of Spying“? This surely merits some treatment by these resourceful gentlemen from CT!


John Quiggin 01.23.09 at 10:51 pm

As organiser, it’s my fault that the Laundry novels didn’t get covered. I thought I had arranged it but it didn’t happen. But I promise, there’s lot of good stuff.


J. Michael Neal 01.23.09 at 11:07 pm

I started reading Accelerondo, and found the writing style to be too irritating to get very far. There was a looseness that just loses me. It’s not quite stream of consciousness, but it keeps me from appreciating the ideas.

Of course, I’m also not generally a fan of cyberpunk, so I was predisposed not to be very impressed. It still beats Neal Stephenson, but so does shoving an icepick into my brain.


Vivian 01.24.09 at 1:47 am

John, Charlie,
none of your regulars would mind if you did a second episode in a year or five, you know. No need to cover everything at once. Or do a Scalzi seminar and we’ll just sneak some Stross-ernalia in when no one is looking.


Nich Hills 01.24.09 at 6:39 am

#16, John Quiggin
As organiser, it’s my fault that the Laundry novels didn’t get covered. I thought I had arranged it but it didn’t happen.

A pity, as they are my favourites. Still looking forward to the panel’s take on Saturn’s Children. A late Heinlein novel without people?


John Quiggin 01.24.09 at 7:03 am

Nich, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in the latter respect. More generally, it might be a good idea for people to wait for the seminar; it won’t be long.


LizardBreath 01.25.09 at 4:11 pm

Possibly you could post an open thread for discussion of the Laundry novels by commenters, along with the remainder of the seminar posts?


John Quiggin 01.25.09 at 7:55 pm

That’s a good idea, thanks LB. I’ll do it.


shah8 01.25.09 at 10:23 pm

I think The Laundry material was fun. However, I *think* what I’m going to end up really focusing on is Halting State. Glasshouse is an obvious winner. Plenty of coverage for those two will be plenty enough for me. Plz don’t let the Heinleinian blabber take up too much of the seminar time. Not that we shouldn’t talk about Saturn’s Children, but there is a nasty habit of being super-referential about this book instead of talking about many of the other ideas in it.


Shrike58 01.26.09 at 3:26 am

I dunno, Iike the Laundry novels the best of Stross’ work, and am greatly looking forward to the “Fuller Memorandum.”

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