Locus Online

Interview Thread
<< prev | next >>


Table of Contents

Reynolds Interview
Stross Interview
Locus Bestsellers
New & Notable Books

August Issue Thread
<< prev | next >>

Mailing Date:
31 July 2003




Change Address Form
Order Back Issues
E-mail Locus
Contact Information

Indexes to the Magazine:
Book Reviews


Charles Stross: Exploring Distortions August 2003

Charles Stross began writing SF at age 12. He earned a bachelor's degree in Pharmacy in 1986, qualified as a pharmacist in 1987, then enrolled at Bradford University (1989-1990) for a post-graduate conversion degree in computer science. He worked as a technical author and programmer until 2000, when he switched to writing full time -- mostly articles about Linux, Perl, and open source software, with an increasing amount of fiction. He lives in Edinburgh, Scotland with Feňrag NicBhride, whom he married in June on their tenth anniversary. Stross's short fiction has appeared regularly since his first professional sale, "The Boys" (1986). "Lobsters" (2001), his first US sale and a Hugo finalist, was the first of his nine near-future, cyberpunk "Accelerando" stories; the fourth, "Halo", is currently on the Hugo ballot. Collection Toast appeared in 2002. The Atrocity Archive (serialized 2001-02), is a Lovecraftian spy thriller, due as a hardcover in 2004 with sequel novella "The Concrete Jungle". Singularity Sky, a far-future space opera, is due August 2003, with sequel The Iron Sunrise due in 2004. He recently sold A Family Trade and The Clan Corporate, the first in alternate-history series "Merchant Princes".    
Photo by Beth Gwinn

Charles Stross Homepage | Blog

Excerpts from the interview:

“Becoming an 'overnight success' after 15 years feels incredibly strange. I keep looking over my shoulder wondering when the real Charles Stross will turn up and denounce me as an imposter! I've been very obsessive about writing science fiction for far too many years. Anyone with an ounce of sense would have given up years ago. Living in Edinburgh, I get an impression there's a little bit of a buzz from seeing reviews, but it's nothing like what I get from coming out and actually mingling with a lot of people. I'm sort of tucked away up there, writing merrily away with no idea of the impact it's having. If I lived anywhere else, I think I'd probably be having more performance anxiety about it.”


“I can't tell whether or not there's going to be a Singularity. I don't really believe the rapture of the nerds stereotype -- 'we're all going to cyber-heaven, hallelujah!' Rather boosterish. I do believe we're in for a very strange future, as seen on the ten-year timeframe. Ten years ago, a few people were using the Internet as an academic and business network. Faced with the idea that it would be one of the major mediums within just a decade, that it would have major international security and economic implications, most people would have said, 'What?!'

“I don't know why I write science fiction. The voices in my head told me to! I was a teenage typewriter nerd in the '70s before home computers had become available (especially to somebody in the UK). Five years later, I would probably have been a teenage programmer. I wanted to write fiction, but it was quite clear there was no way of going to university, getting a degree in writing fiction, and applying for a 9 to 5 job as a novelist.”


“I woke up one morning in 1997 and realized I'd sold one story that year and my life looked like a rather bad outtake from a cyberpunk novel. (It isn't a good lifestyle choice.) I was pretty much burnt out -- I'd just written 'Lobsters' as an alternative to having a nervous breakdown. I was either going to stop writing fiction or do something about it. I took stock and, after one last job offer didn't work out, went freelance and began writing new stories, starting with 'Bear Trap' and 'Antibodies', in 2000.

“At that point I'd been selling mainly to Interzone, so I wanted to crack the big American markets such as Asimov's or Analog. I also felt a need to start completing novels again. I finished Festival of Fools (the British version of Singularity Sky) at the beginning of 1998 and it sat on an editor's desk for nearly two years, unread. At about that time Ben Jeapes was setting up Big Engine, and said, 'Send it to me.' When he said he liked it, my agent got interested in selling it. At that point I had stories beginning to appear in Asimov's. Things were underway again. However, while Singularity Sky was sitting in the slush pile I began writing more stuff, including The Atrocity Archive. The idea was quite simple: Write novels. Finish novels. Send out novels. Make each novel an entirely different subgenre, and potentially the first of a trilogy or series. That's why I have the space opera, the Secret Service/Lovecraftian horror crossover, and the alternate-history novel. These are all areas I'm interested in. What you don't see there is the big fat fantasy novel or the David Weberesque military novel (although there may be aspects of satirizing the Weber stuff in Singularity Sky). Big Engine closed down operations before they could publish Festival of Fools, but Singularity Sky will be out from Ace in August (they're the same book, edited to different lengths.)”

The full interview, with biographical profile, is published in the August 2003 issue of Locus Magazine.

You may purchase this issue for $7.95 by sending a check to Locus, PO Box 13305, Oakland CA 94661; or for $10 via credit card submitted by mail, e-mail, or phone at (510) 339-9198. (Or, Subscribe.)


© 2003 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved. | Subscribe | E-mail Locus | Privacy