^^^^Me again. M Harold Page. I do books with swords and tanks in them. And writer memes piss me off.

You know what I mean. Stuff like this that pops up on social media:

If you fall in love with a writer,

They will forget normal things like anniversaries and cooking times

for salmon (which was quite expensive but will turn to sludge, then ash),

But they'll remember the important things,

Like what you wore and how it felt that night

And they'll make you immortal.

Jesus Christ! Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!

Yes. It's all true! But - and you're already thinking this - not in the fluffy emo-hipster singer-songwriter way as pitched by this meme.

So, next Monday I'm flying off to New York and Boston for a couple of weeks. New York mostly for meetings (my agent and both my major US publishers are based there), and Boston because a week of meetings needs a week of R&R afterwards, and also, Boskone.

While I'm in NYC I intend to hit a couple of the local brewpubs next week; on the evening of Tuesday 9th I'll be in the Keg & Lantern Brewing Company (97 Nassau Avenue, Brooklyn NY 11222) from 6pm. All welcome!

I'll be holding a public pub session in Boston/Cambridge the following week. Again, details TBA.

On Thursday 18th, Pandemonium Books and Games will be hosting a three-way author event, in which I, Max Gladstone, and Walter Jon Williams talk about ... stuff, I guess. Maybe with readings, sarcasm, and irony? Or, more likely, an incisive exploration of the liminal intersection between the fantasy universes of Max's Craft sequence, Walter's Metropolitan, and my Laundry Files? Or perhaps we'll just throw plush daleks at each other for an hour. Who knows.

Yes, I'm on the program at Boskone. You can find the program grid here. I am too lazy to cut, paste, and reformat it just to highlight my own events: use the "Search" submenu in your browser if you really need to know.

In other news, we live in a world where police dinosaurs chase flying robots. I am not making this up. Truly, reality is weirder than anything I could make up. Who knew?

I think I mentioned this last year, but it bears repeating: my UK publisher, Orbit, have been working on bringing some of my books out in Audiobook formats. (For licensing reasons, the US audiobook versions aren't sold in the UK.) The Rhesus Chart and The Annihilation Score are now available for pre-order in the UK (and, I assume, EU) as audiobooks from Audible; they'll be released in June, and hopefully subsequent Laundry Files books will be available as audiobooks faster.

See "Excuses, excuses" below; I'm still furiously scribbling/typing on the first draft of "The Delirium Brief", which ain't due out until mid-2017, but hey. It should be baked by the end of the month at which point I can put it away to cool for a while and do something else—which may include blogging.

Meanwhile, feel free to talk among yourselves. Who wants to go first? Or carry over a conversation from an earlier thread?

David G. Hartwell died today. He was 74.

For those of you who haven't heard of him, two factoids might be of interest. Firstly, he was nominated for a Hugo award on 39 occasions (winning three times). That fact alone probably says more about his standing within the SF field than anything I can add. (Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Tor's Editorial Director, describes him as "our field's most consequential editor since John W. Campbell.")

Secondly, he acquired and edited my Merchant Princes for Tor; and acquired and was editing a new trilogy in that setting for publication next year. I've known him for more than 15 years and was looking forward to seeing him again next month—this is a terrible shock.

A giant of the field has departed, and I'm going to miss him as a friend as well as an editor. I offer my deepest sympathy to everyone else who knew him.

I like to keep track of US politics, because it's generally less traumatic to contemplate someone else's smoking wreckage than one's own house when it's on fire.

2016 is a Presidential election year in the United States, and I make no predictions as to the outcome. However, a lot of my friends and acquaintances are looking at the Republican party primary debates in slack-jawed disbelief and coming out with variations on, "OMG, we're doomed! Did he really say that?"

Well yes, in most cases he did. What we're seeing is the climactic efflorescence of tendencies that have been running in American right-wing politics for longer than I've been alive, so none of this is a surprise: but if you find it bizarre or confusing and want to know where it's come from, carry on reading.

Please excuse the shortage of blog posts. I'm up to my elbows in a novel that's eating all the keystrokes I throw at it then belching and asking for more: it should be done—at least in first draft—in another week or so, but in the meantime I don't have much energy for other writing.

So, I'm seeing a bunch of disturbing news headlines in the new year. Mass sex attacks in Cologne on New Year's Eve would be one (and I want you to think very hard about precisely whose political agenda benefits from the different kinds of spin that can be placed on this story depending on how it is framed). Poland's constitutional court and civil service being rapidly brought under control of the Law and Justice Party (and what is it about neo-fascists and their obsession with touchstone topics like dignity, law, the church, and justice? Again, read the link I just gave you—it's part of the instructions for assembling the jigsaw puzzle of politics in the 21st century). Saudi mass executions are part of the same picture if you step back and look for the edge of the frame.

But the biggest news of all is getting relatively little traction because it's being mistaken for local colour rather than a global pattern.

What is the news (as opposed to popular entertainment and celebrity gossip) going to be like for the next decade? Let me give you a forecast.

I get mail. And sometimes I want to share it with you. Especially when it's email like this one, from Jacques Mattheij:

Question for you: One HN thread caused me to wonder about this: What would a technological society look like that somehow managed to side-step the written word? Would such a thing even be possible? If not why not?

Just to keep you awake at night :)

This question caught my attention like a snagged fingernail, and it's still pulling at me: here's my first cut at an answer. I'm taking the no-writing parameter seriously as a limiting condition: what level of technological society can emerge in conditions which preclude writing—for example, if it's forbidden for religious reasons? I'm going to treat this as holy writ for purposes of this thought-experiment: rules-lawyering around the no-writing rule in the comments will be treated as Derailing and deleted, with one special sort-of-exception which I'll explain near the end because it opens up a bunch of interesting consequences.

I haven't blogged about tech in a while: maybe that's overdue for a correction. As you probably know I used to be a tech/IT freelance journalist, and the occasional residual spasm prompts me to go back to it. This blog isn't Ars Technica but on the other hand there's no editor yelling at me to file copy regularly or stick to a fixed format or optimize for clickbait, so here's my logorrhoeic take on fourteen gizmos I played with in 2015 and what I made of them—Without continual click-throughs, ads, or slow-to-load images because I'm a textual kind of guy. Ahem: continued below the cut.

Once upon a time, Dr. Wilder Penfield happened to cut open a patient's head and poked a part of his brain, which in turn caused the fellow to mutter something about seeing his grandmother (long dead) coming towards him with a freshly baked pie. It's worth noting that Penfield was a well respected neurosurgeon and the man having visions of nana and her baked goods was on the receiving end of a surgical procedure. Then again, when your name is "Wilder," it's pretty much a guarantee that your life will be interesting. I mention these things because Penfield went on to replicate and write about this experience, providing arguably the first real evidence for the engram, a physical manifestation of memory in the human brain.

ghItlhlu'meH QaQ DaHjaj!

Lawrence M. Schoen

Hi there, I'm Lawrence M. Schoen, and yes, the title above is in Klingon. It loosely translates as "Today is a good day to write." I mention this because Charlie has generously invited me to post here and now then, and you can expect something from me very soon as part of the shameless publicity plot commonly known as a "blog tour," in which an author with a new book coming out (in my case, that would be December 29th in the US and January 13th in the UK) asks, begs, and pleads friends and colleagues for a chance to tap into their respective audiences, day after day, desperately trying to say something new and fresh at each stop along the social media highway.

So last week I vented a little bit about shibboleths common to the written science fiction genre. This week, it's fantasy's turn in the barrel!

Fantasy is a much broader church than SF; if we're drawing Venn diagrams, you can probably characterise it as a really big circle overlapping at one side with the much smaller circle that is SF. (Items which explicitly blend magic with SF tropes occupy the overlap.) And the fantasy circle is pock-marked with smaller domains.

My protagonist Irene spies for the Invisible Library: a secretive inter-dimensional organisation. Its purpose is to acquire books (by any means...) from thousands of alternate worlds. And this helps supply balance to the multiverse. This also lets the Librarians pursue their private literary obsessions - but that's just icing on the cake.

The Library doesn't actually observe Christmas as a holiday. (In fact, they don't observe any specific holidays, and personal leave is handed out strictly at the discretion of a Librarian's own supervisor.) To the surprise of junior Librarians, giving and receiving Christmas presents between Librarians is tends to be discouraged. This often causes confusion. Surely giving presents is a sign of cooperation, of friendship, of sisterhood or brotherhood or whatever family relationship you like to idolise? How could this possibly go wrong?

I'd like you to give a welcome to our latest author blogger, Genevieve Cogman, whose second novel, The Masked City, came out in the UK at the beginning of December (if you're American, you have to wait until next year to experience the joy of her work for the first time with her debut novel, The Invisible Library when it comes out next April).

There's generally a lot of best-of lists circulating at this time of year, especially in the fantasy genre. I'm a bit disappointed that "The Masked City" came out too late to feature on any of them, because I rate it as one of the two best British fantasies of the year (along with Zen Cho's "Sorcerer to the Crown"). It's a sequel to The Invisible Library, and it's slyly witty observations and dry humour mesh beautifully with a fast-paced caper plot, an abducted damsel in distress (except the damsel in question is both male and a dragon), and the sort of metatextual games you'd expect of a series about a librarian who works for an extradimensional library and whose job it is to collect (or steal) works of fiction that only exist in parallel universes. Seriously, if you like fantasy (but not boring, cliched fantasy) you are going to want to jump on these books, either right now if you're in the EU, or next April when the first of them comes out in North America.

Genevieve got started on Tolkien and Sherlock Holmes at an early age has never looked back. On a more prosaic note, she has an MSc in Statistics with Medical Applications, and has used this in an assortment of jobs: clinical coder, data analyst and classifications specialist. She has previously worked as a freelance role-playing game writer. Her hobbies include patchwork, beading, knitting and gaming, and she lives in the north of England. And this week she has something to say on my blog ...




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