A Secret Coffee Club: Discovering "Toast" by Charles Stross

Log cabin coffee corner
Knowing about the small collection of coffee equipment that I take along when I'm traveling, Martin Schröder (pictured in a red coat in a previous conference) pointed me to a remarkable piece of literary fiction by Charles Stross about a secret society of coffee aficionados that started at an assembly in the residence of Oscar Wilde with a history spanning more than a century.

It's a story in a collection entitled Toast. The book has gone out of print and the author has made it available for free in several versions:

The club of coffee connoisseurs consists mainly of technically inclined males, just as present day coffee forums are primarily the domain of men with tools and lab equipment. "There are no artists, and precious few philosophers in our club." writes the secretary in 1939.

The annals of the club reveal how several technical inventions, originally intended to perfect the brew of coffee in spectacular ways, have in fact provided the scientific breakthroughs that have at crucial moments changed world history more than once. Here, the story shares elements with "The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared" by Jonasson and also with the Forest Gump story.

On his website, Charles Stross explains why he does not have a "tipjar" link to send him money if you happen to have downloaded a copy of his book without paying for it. He prefers you buy one of the dozens of his books that are still in print and I intend to do that.

Martin Schröder tells me that in one of his books there's someone who owns a volume of Donald Knuth's "The Art of Computer Programming" that no one else even knows exists.

I must buy that one.


The book in question is The Atrocity Archives, the start of The Laundry Series.

All books by Charlie are here.
Frans zei…
Thanks! Bought the Kindle version at Amazon.

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