Tuesday, June 09, 2009


On looking back at some old notes from a version of the Lanakhidzist Revolution I wrote in the 1980's, I realize how a number of characters who have turned out to be very important had their beginnings as bit characters whose names were tossed off rather casually.

Tikhon Chalkov was just a friend who helped Iosebi Lanakhidze at a key point in one of the early versions of Children's Crusade. There was never any hint of his being unusual in any way, and he never really held any major postings. But when I returned to the story in 2001, he turns out to be an unusually small, fine-boned man -- and as I realized that the Soviet cloning project was far larger than just a few clones of Stalin, I realized who he almost had to be, even if his name didn't follow the usual pattern in the Soviet cloning program of having the same forename as the original. And now he's not only the Minister of Security, but he's also firmly within Iosebi Lanakhidze's inner circle and a major POV character who effects major changes.

In the novel that would become The Steel Breeds True, Sergei Gerasimov was originally the least important of the three brothers, almost an afterthought who hung around on the edges but didn't take part in any of the major action. But when I returned to the novel in 2001, I realized that his name had to be significant, rather than just a cool Russian name -- and I finally knew why he and his brothers had fled the Soviet Union. Suddenly he came to the fore, becoming one of the most important characters in the novel, not to mention a critical link with the Lanakhidzist inner circle, once he recovered his other-memories and accepted his identity.

Amanda Lordsley-Starcastle underwent an even more extensive transformation between a couple of early versions of The Steel Breeds True. In the earliest version in which she appears, she is just "the professor's wife," with little or nothing in the way of characterization beyond being named Amanda. But as the story continued unfolding, I suddenly discovered she was a poet and that she wore her hair in an unusual triple braid from a common root. And then she got to be the star of her own side-story, "She's Leaving Home" (yes, the title is taken from the song by the Beatles) -- although some of the backstory in the current version of The Steel Breeds True is difficult to square with details in it (in particular, there is no mention of Arthur Lordsley's alcoholism, which plays an extensive role in the current versions of both The Steel Breeds True and The Ballad of Katie Hart).

Friday, June 05, 2009


Isn't it interesting when a character finally comes clean and tells you the truth about something?

I'd been under the impression that Tisha Chalkov got his leg injury in the line of duty, in some kind of gunfight with a CIA agent. Yet it never quite squared with his having been an interrogator from the beginning of his KGB career.

Imagine my surprise when today he finally owned up to it being the result of an ordinary civilian accident. He was going to an outlying KGB office to pick up some papers needed at Lubyanka when the trolley car on which he was riding was struck by a truck driven by a drunk. Apparently he never talked about it, and when he came into prominence during the Lanakhidzist Revolution, someone fabricated a fanciful account of spycraft for an article.