A Tall Tail
July 21, 2012 4:43 PM   Subscribe

Thanks for this (I think)! I just finished reading the Laundry books, and this gave me the uncanny feeling that they're all autobiographical...
posted by Sing Or Swim at 5:10 PM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

I twigged the ending at the mention of Atom City Number Nine, but still enjoyed this immensely. He should have sold this story to Playboy or The New Yorker and made a few bucks.
posted by Old'n'Busted at 5:29 PM on July 21, 2012 [2 favorites]

"the EPA-bullied wimps at NASA"

Speechless here.
posted by 3.2.3 at 5:35 PM on July 21, 2012

Operation Acoustic Kitty failed because the elephants-on-LSD had not been properly dosed.

I've said too much already.
posted by vozworth at 5:51 PM on July 21, 2012

Dioxygen-diflouride and Dimethylmercury.

No, thank you.
posted by Scientist at 6:18 PM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Still and all I'd love to know enough chemistry to be able to tell where this story goes from "scientifically plausible, but suicidal" to "complete nonsense". Somewhere around where the idea of using dimethylmercury as fuel, I think.
posted by Scientist at 6:28 PM on July 21, 2012

I think the dimethylmercury was the "wick," not the "candle".
posted by LogicalDash at 6:35 PM on July 21, 2012

No, I don't even remember the story well enough to be sure of that. Trying again...
posted by LogicalDash at 6:36 PM on July 21, 2012

I would bet that cstross did a good chunk of his research on "Things I Won't Work With," as FOOF and Dimethyl Mercury appear in adjacent posts.
posted by modernserf at 7:14 PM on July 21, 2012 [1 favorite]

Fantastic reading Charlie! And I hope you find a solution to the Carpal Tunnel...
posted by Chekhovian at 7:34 PM on July 21, 2012

Video showing the glassware for making FOOF.
posted by 445supermag at 7:39 PM on July 21, 2012 [3 favorites]

I enjoyed that. And I even understood most of the chemistry stuff!
posted by deborah at 8:28 PM on July 21, 2012

"After a fashion."

Liar! Not americanese at all, even anglophile Americans! You read too much Lovecraft, and nowhere near enough Howard.

Now, fess up! The truly scary shit was with the internal combustion engines that breathed in poison through carefully tweaked and carbs with non-reactive irridium venturis, and belched out pure death, at the merest whiff from the titanium-alloy tailpipe!

Tell them of THAT, and leave the rockets be.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:28 PM on July 21, 2012

That's a fun tale. well done!
posted by rmd1023 at 8:29 PM on July 21, 2012

ALSO - how do the vintage Singer sewing machines fit into this? Red Mercury a fake? The =needles= in those venturis, with a hole all so conveniently at the tip... they're not as harmless NOW, are, they, Mr. Stross? The Axis Of Evil can so conveniently deploy hyper-motor outboards, a single engine replacing a sternfull of Evinrudes on a semi-inflatable craft...

Only corpses man the tiller as ten tons of cocaine runs itself aground at near sonic speed... and the strong, sturdy, quiet men loading bales into the back of the truck say nothing at all, as this is seven times their usual wage, and, hey, they'll all be dead by morning.

You're fault, Mr. Stross! YOUR. FAULT.

posted by Slap*Happy at 8:50 PM on July 21, 2012

It is worth mentioning that the video 445supermag linked is a must-watch, if only for the truly rampant and majestic Science Hair displayed by the presenter. One day, I will go gray and then I will have hair like that. (It already has the right general shape.)
posted by Scientist at 10:45 PM on July 21, 2012 [4 favorites]

That was a lot of fun, but also written precisely like one of his blog posts, which blurred the lines of my certainty somewhat.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:29 AM on July 22, 2012

I used to be in a writers' group with Mr Stross. So far as I could gather, his life really was like that.
posted by Hogshead at 3:44 PM on July 22, 2012

I would trade a month of parties at the Playboy mansion for a weekend at that conference.
posted by CaseyB at 1:08 PM on July 23, 2012

It reminds me of Derek Lowe's biochemistry blog, where he has a whole category devoted to "Things I Won't Work With".

Lowe actually shows up in the comments:

Hah! Glad to see my "Things I Won't Work With" series wrapped up with a nice conspiratorial bow on top. (I have to say, though, I never would have brought FOOF and dimethyl mercury together; you have a weird mind, which is a compliment you've probably heard before).
posted by mediareport at 1:33 PM on July 23, 2012

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