Charlie Stross Offers You a Frosty Tumbler Full of Ice-Cold Perspective

Relating specifically to the trouble authors have with multi-volume epic series, and the finishing thereof. Will you quaff this heady elixr? If you’re one of those pulling a long face about GRRM being “late” on his next book, you should. And everyone else will get a nice POV on a specific writing issue. Go now.

28 Comments on “Charlie Stross Offers You a Frosty Tumbler Full of Ice-Cold Perspective”

  1. Why is that bastard wasting time blogging instead of finishing The Merchant Princes!? We’ve stuck with him through the entire series and we *deserve* the next book RIGHT NOW.


  2. Hmmm…that looks like an amber colored ale. i suppose it’s just me, but I’m much more productive when drinking lagers. Anyway, it seems he’s making a toast so the least I can do is raise a glass in return. Cheers.

  3. I thought I would be fast enough to write a short message complaining that Stross ought to be finishing “The Fuller Memorandum” instead, but I see that even by comment two, that bit has been done and punished. Feh.

  4. See, I like Stross. (I like you, too!)

    But I can hold off on The Merchant Princes because I randomly found Book 2 and read through it only to go “no, I must read these in sequence, preferably when more have come out.”

    It’s the same way I approached Old Man’s War. Which, of course, I then read 3 books of in a week.

    But yes, sometimes I do wish that books I like could be set up like massively multiplayer online games that I could just dip into and there would always be something going on.

    Ohhh! Go hypnotize several wealthy conglomerates and have them make Old Man’s War into a MMORPG, John! I wanna go be a Broccoli Man demolishing cities of tiny people! ;)

  5. Talking of multi-books epics, there’s a writer that impresses me considerably: C. J. Cherryh. Her SF series “Foreigner” already counts 9 novel published over 13 years, #10 is slated for publication in April and she’s just finished #11 last week. Oh, and immediately began the writing of #12. While keeping her fans posted in her online journal on what state the writing is.

    Plus, she’s recently revisited her classic Alliance-Union universe with Regenesis, a sequel to the 1988 novel Cyteen.

    Yes, another multi-book, multi-pov, endeavour, constructed over 30 years… And I’m not talking about her other novels and series, including the 5-novel fantasy epic Fortress! (Memo to GRRM fans: you might like that one. And it’ll help while away the time until DwD. Hint, hint!)

    Some authors are just awesome. It’s enough to make you wish you could just spend your time doing nothing but… read.

  6. Mr. Scalzi has been crystal clear, and right. Mr. Stross is equally right, crystal clear, and his crystal glass is half-full of sparkling bubbles of rationality and mirth. I’ll have one of what he’s drinking, bartender!

  7. I’ve occasionally wished for a time machine so that I could go to the future (say 5-10 years) and pick up copies of all of the books that my favourite authors have written in the meantime. I’d skip back to ‘now’, then read the books. Afterwards, I’d send them (anonymously) to the given authors so he/she could send the (now finished) opuses off to their publisher without having to go through the tedious process of actually writing those books. They could get along with other projects, I’d repeat the time-travel bit again, and soon I’d have dozens (or hundreds!) of books by Scalzi, Stross and so on. It’s a win-win situation!

    Come to think of it, maybe this explains some particularly prolific authors– somebody is already doing this for them! If any time travelers are out there, please send John and Charlie their next 5-6 books. Now.

  8. I do not envy any author that tackles multivolume series with multiple viewpoints. I think it’s amazing they can pull it off at ll, never mind a series.

    GRRM will release the book when it’s finished. I can wait.

  9. Charlie Stross doesn’t look anything at all like the mental picture of him I had whomped up in my head.

    Are you sure that’s really him, and not a golem-Stross ?

  10. This whole topic has become like a sore tooth for me. I just want to keep poking it to see how bad it can get. Though poking Scalzi and/or Stross to entertain me would be stupid unless I wanted to be metaphorically eviscerated in front of the whole bacon/cat loving intarwebz.

    And I have no desire to be slapped down by either. So I’ll only say that I hope everyone who has an incomplete series out there will learn from the Herbert experience and forbid his or her estate from “completing” them.

  11. Irene @# 9: The other author who considerably impresses me with multi-book series, in addition to Cherryh, is Julian May. Particularly the Pliocene saga, where there seem to be about a dozen characters weaving in and out of story threads, and it all comes together amazingly.

    Of course, she’s also said that she spends a ridiculous amount of time working out the logistics of the plot, and has the details of who goes where, when, for how long, and how long it takes them to get there, well before she actually starts composing prose. And she had the basic structure of the entire series worked out in advance. Which tends to help one avoid the problem of “now what do I do about that element that I introduced two books ago and left hanging?”

  12. I was just thinking ‘boy am I glad one of my favorite long-running and uncompleted series of sci-fi novels didn’t have someone come in and try and finish it’. And then I made the mistake of checking to be sure.

    There should be a law.

  13. “Though poking Scalzi and/or Stross to entertain me would be stupid unless I wanted to be metaphorically eviscerated in front of the whole bacon/cat loving intarwebz.”


    As I said on Stross’ blog, I think GRRM’s only real problem was that he communicated partially and when he looked at what he had and decided to redo it (which I presume is what he’s doing) he didn’t just say “Yeah, I decided I didn’t like the second half… I’m redoing it, it will be awhile. And you might see other things come out as I recharge the batteries.”

    Don’t get me wrong, the fans are wrong in this one and there’s really nothing GRRM can do at this point, but the lesson I’d learn from this were I mad enough to try a multi-volume work is to either say basically nothing or, if I talked about future works to be reasonably transparent about things like starting over etc. Of course whether that’s even allowed given the publisher relationships etc I have no idea.

  14. I wish to thank [almost] everyone for the wonderful airing of viewpoints and for lending perspective on the process of artistic creation. Never again will I be able to fan the smoking coals of Righteous Impatience Justified toward a certain band which took six years to release their third album…

    (Lrf, V nz ersreevat gb gur tebhc OBFGBA naq vgf prageny perngvir gnyrag.)

  15. Hell, I’m still waiting for Jean Auel to finish her next book in the Earth’s Children series. I can trace my moves around the country with the frequency of those books being published.

  16. Aside from any rightness or wrongness in how Stross’ post applies to topic it directly tackles, it makes for a great outline for chapter 1 of “How to an Epic Series”.

  17. I’m still waiting for the resolution to the Childe Cycle :-(

    Although I’d trade the final book in return for Gordon being alive.

    The irony of his death and the incompletion of the Cycle is that he once remarked after using a word processor for the first time “I might actually get this thing finished!”

    Almost Gordon, almost.

  18. On the first comment thread, someone basically said that GRRM posted a “Laurell K. Hamilton” bleep you to his critics. I challenge GRRM to do a real LKH: give Cersei supernatural erotic powers that get her out of all present and future difficulties, eventually give her absolute power over Westoros and as a final grace note: said powers evolve to the point where she can change the shape of the planet’s orbit so that Winter no longer comes. That should take about two weeks to bang out, get ghost writer to pad it out with incomprehensible, poorly turned “eroticism,” publish as 2 Volume set (in a timely way) for $29.95 each; collect underwear, …, profit. That would get the fans off GRRM’s back, make his publishers happy and set up a lucrative, open-ended series of soft porn that GRRM probably would not even have to write himself. See, everybody wins if GRRM just gets with the program and gives us what we want when we want it.

  19. GRRM will finish when he can. I don’t envy him. The one thing that did him in was that when A Feast for Crows was released, he represented that it really was one half of a novel and the other half is coming pretty soon. Poor Martin. I think he was caught in some guilt about releasing A Feast for Crows so he made statements when he didn’t really know how much he had left to do.

    And speaking series that needs a new book, what about David Gerrold’s War of Chtorr series? I can trace major periods of my life just by the publication date of each novel in the series.

  20. Hey, Charlie’s glass is nearly empty! So much for a frosty tumbler full of ice cold perspective. He should stop giving us his opinions and get to the bar.

    What? That’s beer and not perspective? I’m always getting those to mixed up.

  21. Oddly enough, I was just about to mention waiting for more in the Chtorr series since nineteen ninety what??? I’ve been very worried about Jim and Lizard…

  22. Buy lone domain first name and get on to thousand of dollars each month. Start your emancipated trial cycle currently.

    When you be inflicted with a affair, be it an online affair or a brick and mortar company, having a website set-up must be part of your marketing preparation, especially in this 21st century whereby many public search pro in rank via the internet. Therefore, the preeminent way to consent to customers know in this area you is via the internet. However, could you repeat that? You could not know is with the intention of in order to fit up a website, you need to be inflicted with a mess host which is a company with the intention of can pile all your mess content pro you.

    If here is single lone mess hosting company with solely lone preparation unfilled, things would be very much simpler. However, with the tough competition, here are numerous hosting companies around and all has its own preparation. Inside order to make the preeminent deal, you will need to sort out your research in conception up on which is the aptly mess hosting preparation you must approve of. To get on to your task easier, not more than are approximately tips to help you.

    1. Service and support
    This is especially so pro persons of you who are not technical savoir-faire. If you visage a conundrum as uploading your content or as building your locate, you will aspire to make help from an expert aptly away. Your hosting company must be able to provide the de rigueur 24/7 customer support. Some companies could offer it in the form of an email or in the form of a live chat. Either way is fine as long as you know you can make help at once. There must furthermore be a promise so you know you will be able to make your investment back must you decide with the intention of the preparation is not apposite pro you.

    2. Recommended
    When choosing your mess hosting, a preeminent way is to check pro testimonial. Is the member of staff serving at table company highly recommended by other customers? Very often, you will discover pleased customers prose in to express their satisfaction and these are the companies you aspire to sign up with.

    3. Easy Usage
    Unless you are a very technically inclined person, otherwise you will aspire the member of staff serving at table company to include straightforward treatment pro customers, in this justification it will be the inclusion of a control panel. Make guaranteed it is straightforward to navigate around and with the intention of all the de rigueur tools are provided. You sort out not aspire to search distinguished and low in order to upload your ID. Inside addition, if you need to install scripts on your locate, does the hosting company allow with the intention of? Even if you sort out not need with the intention of currently, you must ensure with the intention of here is an chance provided pro you, otherwise you will be inflicted with to exchange hosting company shortly on and with the intention of can be very inconvenient and cumbersome.

    4. Marketing Features
    Since you are in affair, you be inflicted with to get on to guaranteed with the intention of the member of staff serving at table company provides you with marketing facial appearance such as traffic statistics, catalog mailing management, shopping carts, and that. It is valuable to know how your locate is responsibility in stipulations of traffic and whether you be inflicted with the figure unfilled pro you to assemble email addresses of the makings customers so with the intention of you can stay on up on them shortly on.

    When you are choosing the ideal mess hosting preparation, you must keep the higher than mentioned tips in mind in order not to get on to mistakes and start all ended again. Do your research and you will not visage one excessive problems with hosting your sites.

    And irrevocably, at this time is really valuable website, which earns serious money –

  23. Oh what a spammity Engrish the previous comment partaketh of giving us.

    –Dave, now thinking about ideal mess hosting

%d bloggers like this: