David Nickle has a new novel out this summer, Rasputin's Bastards, out this month actually, courtesy of Chizine Publications. Considering how much I've enjoyed every other book I've read that Chizine has published, I'm optimistic about this one, too. To help get the word out a little more, David was generous enough to write a guest post, giving some insight on how the book came about--and what took him so long to get it published. Enjoy.
Nostalgic for the Cold War
by David Nickle
Rasputin's Bastards is a book long in the making. I'd completed a draft of the book around the time it is set -- in the late 1990s. It might have been a quicker book if I'd had the sense, and ability, to sell it from outline. Because of course a couple of years later, things changed in the world, and in the world of espionage fiction. When the two 757s smashed into the World Trade Centre, all of our thoughts and anxieties, and let's be honest, fascination with the Cold War evaporated.
So my novel about psychic savants running intelligence operations on behalf of the Kremlin -- and themselves -- went onto the back-burner for a time. And the lesson was learned: my next novel, Eutopia: A Novel of Terrible Optimism, I set back in 1911. Current affairs wouldn't step on this book's toes.
But current affairs marched on. The United States went to war, in Afghanistan and then Iraq. Torture, or something so near it as to be indistinguishable, became a standard M.O. in the War on Terror, which like the War on Drugs, appeared to be endless. There were two presidential elections, and despite great promise, the new American president showed little interest in stepping back the incursions on person and privacy that his predecessor had begun.
And in Russia, ex-KGB man Vladimir Putin ushered in a new era... of corruption, repression and economic chaos, just like the old days.
It was enough to make me nostalgic for the Cold War, when all we had to worry about was Mutually Assured Destruction, communist infiltrators and double agents. And it made me -- and the editors over at ChiZine Publications -- think that maybe, the time had come when a novel set in the 1990s, concerning itself with the fall of the Soviet Union, the secret history of the Cold War of the Mind, wasn't as dated as all that. That it might be kind of reassuring... harkening back to a simpler time, as it were.
So we went back to work on it. It's a big book -- over 180,000 words -- and I apologize in advance if it's a little intricate. Such is the nature of both Cold-War spy novels, and Russian novels -- not to mention novels about mind-reading, body-swapping psychics engaged in their own Great Game.
Rasputin's Bastards is coming out this month, and should be available in bookstores everywhere by July, easy. It is a beautiful package; ChiZine's cover artist/designer Erik Mohr has, I think, outdone himself on this one. It is the first of my books designed by Erik that shouldn't give anyone nightmares.
And that is appropriate, I think. Because the nightmares of the Cold War are over.
The ones we're having these days are of an entirely different genus.