Happy birthday Charles Stross!

Charles Stross in 2013 at DortCon Dortmund, Germany
Charles Stross in 2013 at DortCon Dortmund, Germany

Charles David George Stross (photo ©Xanathon) was born on October 18, 1964 in Leeds, England.

Charles Stross have wanted to be a science fiction writer since he was a kid but ended up studying pharmacy. Already in the ’70s, he started to tinkering around with home computers and having an interest in role-playing games, so much that he published articles in the magazine “White Dwarf” about “Advanced Dungeons & Dragons”.

In 1987, Charles Stross published his first science fiction story, “The Boys”, in the magazine “Interzone” but initially that was an occasional activity. He realized that pharmacy wasn’t really his field and at the end of the ’80s he decided to turn to computer science.

Over the years, Charles Stross has worked as a programmer and as a journalist. Since 1994, he held a column about Linux operating system in the journal “Computer Shopper”. It lasted until 2004, when he decided to devote more time to his work as a science fiction writer.

The first novel by Charles Stross is “Scratch Monkey” but it was published only in 2011 It’s also available online, for example on the website that hosts the author’s blog.

The first published novel by Charles Stross is “Singularity Sky” (2003). It introduces a post-technological singularity fictional universe in which he also included themes such as transhumanism, space opera and other typical of the author such as information freedom. In 2004 he published a sequel, “Iron Sunrise”.

In 2004, Charles Stross published “The Atrocity Archives“, which contains the novel “The Atrocity Archive” and the novella “The Concrete Jungle”, which won the Hugo Award. They are the first stories of the Laundry series about a secret British agency the protagonist Bob Howard is recruited by with an offer he cannot refuse.

In the Laundry series, demonology is a branch of the mathematical sciences and there’s a mix of geek and Lovecraftian elements with those of British spy story and the humor typical of Charles Stross. In the following years some sequels were published: “The Jennifer Morgue” in 2006, “The Fuller Memorandum” in 2009, “The Apocalypse Codex” in 2012 and “The Rhesus Chart” in 2014 as well as some short fiction. A role-playing game based on these stories was also created.

In 2004, Charles Stross also published the first novel of another series, that of the Merchant Princes. In this fictional universe some humans can travel between parallel worlds with different levels of technology. Originally, the publisher proposed it as fantasy but it’s actually science fiction. The series consists of: “The Family Trade” (2004), “The Hidden Family” (2005), “The Clan Corporate” (2006), “The Merchants’ War” (2007), “The Revolution Business” (2009) and “The Trade of Queens” (2010). The first three novels have won the Sidewise Award for alternate History, an award given to the best works of alternative history.

The novels of the cycle of Merchant Princes have recently been republished in only three books: “The Bloodline Feud”, “The Traders’ War” and “The Revolution Trade”.

In 2005, “Accelerando” was published, winner of the Locus Award, consisting of some interconnected stories that tell the story of three generations of a family before, during and after the technological singularity.

In 2006 the novel “Glasshouse” was published, set in the 27th century, which addresses social issues more than previous ones, without forgetting the technological ones. It won the Prometheus Award and in Germany the Kurd-Lasswitz-Preis.

In 2006, Charles Stross published the novella “Missile Gap”, winner of the Locus Award.

In 2007, Charles Stross published “Halting State“, set in the near future in an independent Scotland. In 2011 he published a sequel, “Rule 34“. The author had planned a third novel in the series but felt that the revelations about mass surveillance by the NSA in particular made some of the basic issues addressed in the two published novels obsolete.

In 2008, Charles Stross published “Saturn’s Children“, a space opera inspired by Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. In 2013 he published the sequel “Neptune’s Brood”.

In 2012, Charles Stross published with Cory Doctorow’s the novel “The Rapture of the Nerds”, a fix-up of two novellas and a new part.

Many of the best Charles Stross’s short fiction have been collected in the anthologies “Toast: And Other Rusted Futures” in 2002 and “Wireless: The Essential Charles Stross” in 2009.

Charles Stross also writes on his blog Charlie’s Diary, a useful resource for those who want to learn more about his ideas and interests. Often his works aren’t easy to read for those who don’t have a good knowledge of technology, especially information technology. The people who can understand him fully can appreciate stories that typically go well beyond hard science fiction for the influences of other genres and his humor.

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