Quotations by Stross, Charles


The only thing I really can’t tolerate is intolerance. I’m a fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberal, and I think fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberalism is an ideological stance that needs defending — if necessary, with a hob-nailed boot-kick to the bollocks of budding totalitarianism. Mutual respect and tolerance is great, but it doesn’t work without the mutuality.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
“Multiculturalism or Liberalism?” Charlie’s Blog (30 May 2002)
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Added on 12-Sep-14 | Last updated 12-Mar-19
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The flip side … the flip side is that scientific research is a bottomless money pit. You can approximate Doing Science to standing on the Crack of Doom throwing banknotes down it by the double-handful, in the hope that if you choke the volcano with enough paper it will cough up the One Ring. Unless you’re doing pure mathematics or philosophy, of course, in which case it’s HB pencils and ruled A4 notepads all the way down.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Annihilation Score (2015)
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Added on 20-Jun-17 | Last updated 20-Jun-17
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The music — It’s ghostly, it’s wild, and it teeters on the edge of arrhythmia: a skirling mournful howl of tormented strings, the distant moaning of a tied-down giant whose vocal cords are being bowed by malign Lilliputian tormentors, intent on turning his every attempt at spoken communication into a vehicle for an inhuman melody.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Annihilation Score (2015)
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Added on 18-Jul-17 | Last updated 18-Jul-17
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Most of the activities of any bureaucracy are devoted not to the organization’s ostensible goals, but to ensuring that the organization survives: because if they aren’t, the bureaucracy has a life expectancy measured in days before some idiot decision maker decides that if it’s no use to them they can make political hay by destroying it. It’s no consolation that some time later someone will realize that an organization was needed to carry out the original organization’s task, so a replacement is created: you still lost your job and the task went undone. The only sure way forward is to build an agency that looks to its own survival before it looks to its mission statement. Just another example of evolution in action.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Annihilation Score, ch. 16 (2015)
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Added on 1-Aug-17 | Last updated 1-Aug-17
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The invisible man is a Wellsian supervillain, but the invisible women are all around us, anxious and unseen.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Annihilation Score, ch. 19 (2015)
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Added on 8-Aug-17 | Last updated 8-Aug-17
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It’s amazing how much work you can get done in three days if you hold a blowtorch to each end of the candle.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Annihilation Score, ch. 7 (2015)
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Added on 13-Jun-17 | Last updated 13-Jun-17
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Any sufficiently advanced lingerie is indistinguishable from a lethal weapon.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Apocalypse Codex (2012)

See Arthur C. Clarke.
Added on 1-Mar-17 | Last updated 1-Mar-17
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“There are two types of people in this world,” Pete volunteers helpfully, “those who think there are only two types of people in the world, and everybody else.” He sips his wine thoughtfully. “But the first kind don’t put it that way. They usually think in terms of the saved and the damned, with themselves sitting pretty in the lifeboat.”

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Apocalypse Codex (2012)
Added on 14-Mar-17 | Last updated 14-Mar-17
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Uneventful. Boring. Tedious. All good adjectives to apply to long-haul travel; much better than exciting, unexpected, and abrupt.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Apocalypse Codex (2012)
Added on 21-Mar-17 | Last updated 21-Mar-17
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I’m thinking on the fly, here. (Although now that I’m in middle management I think I’m supposed to call it “refactoring the strategic value proposition in real time with agile implementation,” or, if I’m being honest, “making it up as I go along.”)

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Apocalypse Codex (2012)
Added on 28-Mar-17 | Last updated 28-Mar-17
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There is a role for bureaucracy; it’s very useful for certain tasks. In particular, it facilitates standardization and interchangeability. Bureaucracies excel at performing tasks that must be done consistently whether the people assigned to them are brilliant performers or bumbling fools. You can’t always count on having Albert Einstein in the patent office, so you design its procedures to work even if you hire Mr. Bean by mistake.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Apocalypse Codex (2012)
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Added on 11-Apr-17 | Last updated 11-Apr-17
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Bureaucracies are inefficient by design. Inefficiency is the twin sister of redundancy, of overcapacity, of the ability to plow through a swamp by brute force alone.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Apocalypse Codex (2012)
Added on 25-Apr-17 | Last updated 25-Apr-17
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So you end up with divergent sects reading from subtly different versions of the same book — which in turn is a third-generation translation of something which might have been the original codification of an oral tradition — and all convinced that their interpretation overrides such minor obstacles as observable reality. Which still wouldn’t be a problem except that some of the readers think the books are an instruction manual rather than a set of educational parables, a blueprint instead of a metaphor.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Apocalypse Codex (2012)
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Added on 2-May-17 | Last updated 2-May-17
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In the Laundry we supposedly pride ourselves on our procedures. We’ve got procedures for breaking and entering offices, procedures for reporting a shortage of paper clips, procedures for summoning demons from the vasty deeps, and procedures for writing procedures. We may actually be on track to be the world’s first ISO-9000 total-quality-certified intelligence agency. According to our written procedure for dealing with procedural cluster-fucks on foreign assignment, what I should do at this point is fill out Form 1008.7, then drive like a bat out of hell over Highway 17 until it hits the Interstate, then take the turnoff for San Francisco Airport and use my company credit card to buy the first available seat home. Not forgetting to file Form 1018.9 (“expenses unexpectedly incurred in responding to a situation 1008.7 in the line of duty”) in time for the end of month accounting cycle.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Atrocity Archives (2004)
Added on 20-Dec-16 | Last updated 20-Dec-16
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The trouble is, you can ignore history — but history won’t necessarily ignore you.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Fuller Memorandum (2010)
Added on 31-Jan-17 | Last updated 31-Jan-17
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As the man put it: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Any sufficiently advanced alien intelligence is indistinguishable from God — the angry monotheistic sadist subtype. And the elder ones … aren’t friendly. (See? I told you I’d rather be an atheist!)

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Fuller Memorandum (2010)

See Clarke..
Added on 7-Feb-17 | Last updated 7-Feb-17
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“He’s awake.” The woman’s voice is heavy with satisfaction. “All-Highest will be most pleased.” As words to wake to, those leave something to be desired; but beggars can’t be choosers.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Fuller Memorandum (2010)
Added on 14-Feb-17 | Last updated 14-Feb-17
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Computational demonology adds a new and unwelcome meaning to terms like “memory leak” and “debugger.”

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Jennifer Morgue (2006)
Added on 3-Jan-17 | Last updated 3-Jan-17
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While I’m having these grim thoughts, I notice that my martini glass is nearly empty. It’s not a terribly endearing drink — it tastes like something that got hosed off a runway, then diluted with antifreeze — but it does what it says on the label.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Jennifer Morgue (2006)
Added on 17-Jan-17 | Last updated 17-Jan-17
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The Laundry field operations manual is notably short on advice for how to comport one’s self when being held prisoner aboard a mad billionaire necromancer’s yacht, other than the usual stern admonition to keep receipts for all expenses incurred in the line of duty.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Jennifer Morgue (2006)
Added on 24-Jan-17 | Last updated 24-Jan-17
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Vampire super-strength is a poor fit for many of the modern world’s problems — it really doesn’t help you fill in your time-sheet any faster — but when it comes to breaking damp-weakened wooden door frames it’s superb.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Nightmare Stacks (2016)
Added on 12-Sep-17 | Last updated 12-Sep-17
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Y2K was a real end-of-civilization problem. And the people who could deal with it treated it as such, working flat-out on disaster management for the last year-long countdown. With the result that the end-of-the-world scenario didn’t happen … causing everyone not directly involved to conclude that it was a false alarm.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Nightmare Stacks (2016)
Added on 10-Oct-17 | Last updated 10-Oct-17
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Some people are just better than others at noticing things that don’t align with their concern, and Mum and Dad are simply oblivious to elves, vampires, vegans, and other esoteric manifestations of modernity.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Nightmare Stacks, ch. 12 (2016)
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Added on 5-Sep-17 | Last updated 5-Sep-17
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Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Nightmare Stacks, ch. 18 (2016)
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A variant of Clarke's Third Law.
Added on 3-Oct-17 | Last updated 3-Oct-17
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Somehow he has internalized the ur-cultural narrative: you grow up, go to university, get a job, meet Ms. Right, get married, settle down, have kids, grow old together … it’s like some sort of checklist. Or maybe a list of epic quests you’ve got to complete while level-grinding in a game you’re not allowed to quit, with no respawns and no cheat codes.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Nightmare Stacks, ch. 9 (2016)
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Added on 29-Aug-17 | Last updated 29-Aug-17
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The five stages of bureaucratic grieving are: denial, anger, committee meetings, scapegoating, and cover-up.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Rhesus Chart (2014)

Satirizing the Kübler-Ross model of grief.
Added on 16-May-17 | Last updated 16-May-17
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After we do the washing-up, I get to spend the rest of the evening reading FAQs on cat maintenance on the web. It takes about half an hour to come to the unwelcome realization that they’re almost as complex as home-brew gaming PCs, and have even more failure modes. (When your gaming PC malfunctions it doesn’t stealthily dump core in your shoes.)

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Rhesus Chart (2014)
Added on 9-May-17 | Last updated 9-May-17
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KARMA’S A BITCH. No, let me rephrase that: Karma is your vengeful bunny-boiler ex, lurking in your darkened front hallway wearing an ice-hockey mask and carrying a baseball bat inscribed with BET YOU DIDN’T SEE THIS COMING.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Rhesus Chart (2014)
Added on 23-May-17 | Last updated 23-May-17
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It’s a cat, singular. A solitary diurnal ambush hunter with good hearing and binocular vision and a predilection for biting the neck of its prey in half while disemboweling it with the scythe-like claws on its hind legs. Basically it’s a velociraptor with a fur coat and an outsize sense of entitlement.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Rhesus Chart (2014)
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Added on 30-May-17 | Last updated 30-May-17
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I think it’s reasonable to say that vampire hunters either have an extremely short life expectancy, or constitute one of the most deadly threats you are ever likely to encounter. They are invariably howling-at-the-moon stark raving bonkers, and not in a good way.

Charles "Charlie" Stross (b. 1964) British writer
The Rhesus Chart (2014)
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Added on 6-Jun-17 | Last updated 6-Jun-17
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