Cover to Cover #322A: Charles Stross

Saturn's ChildrenDiscussion: Keeping the e-book reader debate going! Jason on the road, commends Mike Stackpole on the iPhone app books, and thinks that a cross-platform media format for ebooks isn't a bad thing, and it isn't.

Interview: Hugo Award nominee and winner Charles Stross is in studio to chat about his latest book, Saturn's Children. Charles explains how the story is really a Heinlein styled period piece, an homage to Heinlein's late period, and tells the story of an android designed to be a sex robot for humans, only humans have gone extinct before she rolls off the assembly line.

Why else would a robot have been built with nipples?

The talk ranges from the appeal of Heinlein, the book sales percentages in the UK, and about the next few books he is working on, a sequl to Halting State, and more in the Merchant Princes series.

Submitting Listener comments: If you have any suggestions or comments, please let us know!

Promo: Variant Frequencies
Link: Charles Stross


  1. I think you guys are still looking at eBooks in a way destined to make them fail (although I suppose in the process you'll make some money, so maybe that's ok with you).

    eBooks aren't software. There are software readers and hardware readers, but eBooks are the media files. What else works like that? Digital music players. You know, like the ones that play your show? I remember when a lot of the players had incompatible formats, and the ones playing MP3s were few and far between. People who switched players to find themselves locked out of their old files were told to "deal with it". That business model made some money I'm sure, but in the end it failed, and left a lot of bad feelings and dead files behind.

    If that hadn't changed I doubt we'd be seeing podcasting. So for now I'm "dealing with it" now like I did then, by spending my money elsewhere.

    Also, just a note, I have "Accelerando" by Charles Stross in ePub on my iPhone right now.

  2. The eReader is now available on the iPhone/iPod Touch. I used to use eReader on my Palm for years. But I replaced my Palm T/X for an iPod Touch. So when the eReader became available for the iPhone/iPod Touch, I installed it and was able to login to my old account on and download books I had bought for my Palm. Including the Meriam Webster dictionary! If you tap a word in eReader, it opens up the dictionary.

    With the eReader, you can download books from a number of websites including,, So there's 20,000+ books available for the iPhone/iPod Touch, including recent titles. I bought and downloaded "Here, There Be Dragons" by James A. Owen after hearing about it here on Dragon Page.

    You can also create your own eBooks and add them to your personal library on

    I plan to download the French version of Les Miserables from and creating an ebook to read using eReader on my iPod Touch.

  3. jddennis83 says

    I just listened to this today, and thought it was an interesting conversation with Stross. Then, while I'm going through my webcomic RSS feeds, I find this little gem.

  4. Thanks for the great work I love the podcast.

    I want to add my comments about ebooks. Like many electronic formats there are and will be for some time different ebook formats. Today the most universal format is Adobe PDF. This however is poorly supported if supported at all by the current ebook readers.

    The epub initiative may take over if the various ebook readers adopt the format. Right now epub is supported by iPhone and Sony ebook reader. If the other large players Kindle, Palm, etc adopt this format then we have a winner for a common ebook format.

  5. Doesn't have to be one format, just open formats that are easily transformable or popular.

    As to who profits, if open formats sell many times more than the DRM variety - sort of as has happened in the music situation, then it would make sense to do it.