On publication of his new novel, DARK STATE, SF novelist Charles Stross shares ‘10 things I'd like my readers to know about me’ exclusively for Female First. 

Charles Stross

Charles Stross

I'm not fashionable.

I'm a middle-aged guy with a beard and glasses. Although I've the beard since 1985 and I'm secretly annoyed that they're suddenly fashionable this decade. I'm just hiding a double chin and a weak jaw.

I've been writing science fiction since I was 7 or 8 years old.

No, you really don't want to read my early works. Trust me on this.

I’m a qualified pharmacist (thanks to some spectacularly poor careers advice in secondary school).

Things pharmacists need: encyclopedic memory, nit-picking attention to detail, and zero imagination about the consequences of accidentally poisoning a patient. Things I lack: encyclopedic memory, nit-picking attention to detail. Luckily this happened back in the stone age, before student loans had been invented.

I'm stubborn.

But even I was forced to concede that I'd made an unwise career choice when I found myself running a pharmacy for the richest junkie in West Yorkshire and the Police staked me out for an armed robbery twice in one month. Computers seemed a whole lot less dangerous so I signed up to study for a conversion degree in Computer Science.

With this background, I don't write cyberpunk fiction.

Pay no attention to the pervasive use of computing and biotechnology in my books, okay?

I don’t recommend a stint as a programmer at an unsuccessful dot com.

The hours suck, you never know if the company will be around to pay you at the end of the month, and the office environment leaves something to be desired. Also, the duties can be a bit weird: "keep Danny the tomcat from spraying on the modem racks at all costs", for example.

I can't recommend joining a successful startup, either.

Although I got a couple of novels ("Accelerando", "Halting State") and a bunch of Hugo award nominations out of the stress…

I live in Edinburgh.

My apartment has a circular garret that is slightly older than the State of Texas. Yes, it predates indoor plumbing. (It's been retrofitted, along with gas, electricity, and broadband. I'm not crazy.) I work at home, as does my wife.

My cat is named after a Nubian war goddess who took the form of a lioness.

Mehit means "she who massacres". This is a very accurate name for her, but if I was to rename her today, after four years, I'd call her MurderCat. ("She's a shy wee thing," they told us at the Cat and Dog home when we collected her, "she'll be no trouble at all.")

I write because I'm trying to understand humanity (I'm not very good at it).

Getting a handle on how we live requires a deep understanding of the human implications of technology and the technological implications of humanity. Fiction is where these fields collide, and that's why I do what I do.