If you didn’t already know I’m a big fan of Charlie Stross’s Laundry Stories ( see The Atrocity Archives, The Jennifer Morgue and The Fuller Memorandum) so I was really chuffed to get to ask the very very busy man a few quick questions. And here they are:
Gav: Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer a few questions on Bob and The Laundry. How much, if anything, of yourself is in Bob Howard?
Charlie: Nope, I am not Bob. Frankly, if you offered me Bob’s job I’d run a mile.
Gav: He gets a bit of harder time in The Fuller Memorandum, is it important that he’s a human hero?
Charlie: Bob is basically your everyman geek, who’s fallen into a work/life environment that really doesn’t work that way. Part of what makes the Laundry stories work is that Bob *isn’t* a traditional spook, and indeed is a poor fit for his workplace and his co-workers expectations. (Never heard *that* one before, right?)
Gav: Some of my best moments of The Laundry comes from the shorter stories, I know you’re not keen on mentioning work until it’s signed and sealed but is there any chance of some more mini-adventures for Bob and crew in a file somewhere?
Charlie: I’ve got plans for a couple of novellas. (There’s one in which Bob meets a unicorn — which is a lot nastier than you might think — and which also explains where H. P. Lovecraft himself fits in the Laundry mythos. And there’s another about… no, no spoilers.)
Gav: Bob has moved on since we last caught up with him – how important is it to you to have a ‘realistic’ timeframe or was it something that was needed to move everyone on in the story? Bob has come a long professional way from his appearance in The Atrocity Archive.
Charlie: Partly it’s because there was a gap of five years between each of the first three books. To avoid ending up with Bob receding into the past, I decided to reposition them so that he’s ageing, roughly in step with wall-clock time (at least for now). In “The Atrocity Archives” he was in his early-to-mid-twenties. By The Jennifer Morgue, he was late twenties. In The Fuller Memorandum he’s early thirties.
I’m aiming to get the fourth book out a lot faster (hopefully within just two years of the previous). Events are, of course, accelerating …
Gav: So do you think that there are nameless horrors coming into the world? Was Lovecraft on to something?
Charlie: Seriously? Nameless horrors lurking in the walls of the universe? Nope.
But Lovecraft was onto something different: namely, the numinous sense of dread that is the flip side of the sense of wonder that good SF aspires to create in the mind of the reader.
Gav: You’ve explored more traditional fantasy, science fiction and horror. If you could hit reset would you want to have less toys in your sandbox?
Charlie: I get bored easily; in fact, if I could hit reset, I’d have *ALL* the toys in my sandbox!
(Also: “fantasy” and “SF” are just labels to help the bookstore employees figure out where to file the produce, and to guide the customers to the right bit of the shop floor. I don’t see a firm dividing line between the two labels, or between them and “mainstream literature” for that matter.)
Gav: Your next scheduled novel in the UK is Rule 34 (though not until July 2011 ed.), again there has been a bit of a gap from Halting State, can you say a little bit about it and how they link together?
Charlie: It’s set five years later, and one of the minor characters from Halting State — detective inspector Liz Kavanaugh — plays a central role in Rule 34. Other than that, and being written in multi-viewpoint second person? They’re completely different books, about completely different subjects.
Thanks Charlie! Now I’m wondering what’s bad about unicorns…
Look for more quick questions soon!