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Research for Pyat Series

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  • Research for Pyat Series

    Am currently reading the series. Just finished reading the first book. There is an amazing amount of historical detail. Also, the engineering principles discussed are very interesting.
    How did you go about your research for this series? How much time was involved?
    \"No, I think Space is a dimension of Time. My theory is that Time is a field and that Space exists as an aspect of Time.\" Michael Moorcock

    \"All I know about anything is \"I wasn\'t. I am. I will not be.\" Michael Moorcock

  • #2
    It was a long, intense period of research. I also talked to people who were actually present in Ukraine during the 'Civil War' period. I had to learn Cyrillic and some Russian and I read an enormous amount of 20th century Russian writers of all kinds. I also read traveller's reminiscences, guide books and so on. I had to learn to distinguish between propaganda from all sides, but I read a great deal from the Soviet side as well as the White Russian side, both fiction and non-fiction. The world around me (I wrote the book itself in about five months in Notting Hill) tended to disappear and the world I was writing about became real. I reached the point where I knew which tram went where in Kiev, felt I could find my way through the backstreets of Odessa and so on. I read an enormous number of accounts, mostly by ordinary people, and while I had to read some academic histories I mostly ignored those in favour of anecdotal memoirs. I was very flattered when Ukrainians wrote to me wondering when I had lived there and how I knew so much. I've done similar research for the other three, but probably not at the same almost lunatic level of intensity! My feeling was that unless I got every detail of the background right I couldn't have Pyat lying about anything else. So it's a weird combination of history and background as accurate as it's possible to get and outrageous lies by the narrator! The engineering claims, of course, are his boastful self-delusions, but I had to have him know at least something about what he was saying. In The Laughter of Carthage I did a lot of deep research on the Ku Klux Klan, too. I couldn't do that at home but had to travel to California where UCLA had an enormous collection of material I could use. I also travelled to all the places Pyat
    went to and again read many 'naive' accounts of the places and period.
    The same was true of Jerusalem Commands. Perhaps the most gruelling research, however, was for the last book, The Vengeance of Rome, which involved me immersing myself in Nazi material and realising that most academic or journalistic accounts of the Nazi period are almost incapable of studying the period outside the context of the Second world War. Most people who come to that study are either there to study the run up to the War. The Holocaust studies are more useful, but their focus is obviously on certain elements of the Nazi rise. I began to realise that very few people have studied the daily and emotional lives of the Nazis and for me much of the secret of their hideous careers is to be found there. I've used, for instance, details of the relationship between Hitler and Geli Raubal in other fiction, though I didn't give details of that relationship (merely used the results of my research) in Vengeance. I must admit I am very glad that long period of study is over. I have studied books, films and photographs for the past twenty seven odd years and while you can never rid yourself of those images, I hope never again to have to work at that level of familiarity with the Holocaust. I began the books in the hope of finding some of the answers to how such a terrible crime could have been allowed to happen,
    in the hope that it would teach us how to stop it happening again. I am particularly concerned that many of us have not learned that lesson. Those of us who have learned it have a duty, I believe, to educate or resist those who haven't... Prince Harry should know, for instance, that the sight of that swastika still makes some of us feel physically sick. I've lived with it for a long time and I still feel the outrage and horror.

    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

    Comment


    • #3
      I have an historical interest in both the 'Nazi' period of Germany and the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union, as well as the immediate preludes to these episodes. This started as a strictly 'technical' fascination with military hardware and organisation, but as I delved deeper (and grew more mature, perhaps) I became drawn into the human stories of the period. My 'research' has been rather more casual than Mr M's, to say the least, but I continue to be staggered, and perhaps feel almost tainted, by the ghastly revelations of events in those partly simultaneous eras. The sheer scale of suffering and brutality (God, the words sound so cliched, but I'm at a loss for anything more hyperbolic) seems to seep into one's consciousness like the micelles of some hideous mould. The Hitler- Geli Raubal story seems an appropriate metaphor for the rapine and despoiling of the period, and yet it is nowhere near as frightful and depraved as the millions of tragedies, the weltering waste, that were ultimately the daily norm from the Caucasus to Berchtesgarden. For me, to delve deeply into this era is to strip away any illusion of humanity's basic goodness. That is an artificial state that we must constantly fight to maintain, while we wait for social evolution to catch up with our dangerous, inventive intellects. Works of 'fictional veracity' like the Pyat novels, and the largely unbiased histories of Simon Montefiore, Cornelius Ryan, Max Hastings, Solzhenitsyn, etc can help to remind us of our precarious state.

      Comment


      • #4
        OK, Solzhenitsyn can't be expected to be exactly unbiased, but he gets it across...And I was being conservative about 'Caucasus to Berchtesgaden' of course: Irkutsk to Rome might have been better.

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm inclined, in spite of all, to believe that human beings have both good and evil in them, that neither state is 'natural' and that how we structure society has a great deal to do with whether we live civilised, decent lives or lives of cruel barbarism. We have to keep our faith in the good but we have to have to be on permanent guard against the evil and the many forms in which it masquerades and insinuates itself into our daily lives, our political rhetoric, our actions. Maybe this is no more than a kind of muscular Christianity without the supernatural elements, but I don't believe that people have a will to sin, for instance. You can witness the human tendency to co-operation and empathy in the response to the tsunami. Somehow you have to marshall that tendency and not, as I believe people like Bush do, work on the worst competitive and fearful aspects of people. Some would argue that Bush marshalls idealism and that's what I mean about vigilance and masquerade. I know people who believe he is the Antichrist and I wouldn't go that far because I think he is probably honest in his self-deception, if that makes sense. It makes it much harder to continue guarding against the worst and promoting the best when one's language is requisitioned by the forces you hope you are standing against and those who you would resist believe themselves to be champions of Law. That's partly what Pyat is about. In one part of the last book he refers to 'Nazi chivalry', which has given pause to more than one person who has been kind enough to read it for me, but that is how many of them saw themselves. Himmler's 'secret' speeches to the SS about the death camps, for instance, say what a horrible job it is they are going to have to do and they don't have to do it if they don't feel up to it, but those who do take part in the Final Solution will be remembered with honour... It might even be fair to say that when you hear rhetoric like that, you have to be prepared for the worst sort of human infamy.

          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
          The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
          Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


          Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
          The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
          Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

          Comment


          • #6
            Perhaps I see the danger as the potential ease with which basic human 'goodness' can be subverted, rather than the reality of inherent human evil. Bush's rhetoric has some uncomfortable echoes of the rallying cries of Goebbels, the appeals to 'decency' and 'values' that characterised the Nazi idealogy: a code that in some ways was terrifyingly internally consistent, once the fundametally erroneous bases were accepted. Ehrenburg was just as effective in his 'dehumanisation' of the enemy (resulting in two untermensch, in each other's eyes, effectively ending up in a death-struggle). The 'Western' - 'Muslim' dichotomous rhetoric (of extremes) is just a horrible stencil of the past.

            Comment


            • #7
              I wonder how Bush would speak and behave if he didn't have those cynical neocons, who do know what they're up to, around him. I see them referred to as 'intellectuals'. They are about as 'intellectual' as the Nazi gang. A much over-used term. Note, too, how the word 'Doctor' comes into use wherever possible... They know how to give themselves spurious authority, don't they ?

              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
              The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
              Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


              Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
              The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
              Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

              Comment


              • #8
                Aye. Only two types of Doctor amongst that lot: Doctors of Spin, and Doctors of the Truth.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Mike: Thank you for the insigtful explanation. очень оцененный!

                  MM:

                  The world around me (I wrote the book itself in about five months in Notting Hill) tended to disappear and the world I was writing about became real.

                  This is how I feel when reading these books. I wondered if you'd lived there myself. Expertly written! Only 5 months?!

                  Was there an actual person who was an inspiration for the Pyat character?

                  This story has prompted me to learn more about my own family history. I'm currently having research done by archivists in St. Petersburg. They've evidently been involved with helping several authors research for novels as well. It seems a wonderful source of information. Unfortunately, the current government plans to move millions of archives in the near future. When this happens, these records will become unavilable, perhaps permanently. I'm attaching a link below in case anyone is interested:

                  http://feefhs.org/BLITZ/FRGBLITZ.HTML


                  Can you tell me anything about the cover photos on the first two books? The figures in the images are intriguing.



                  \"No, I think Space is a dimension of Time. My theory is that Time is a field and that Space exists as an aspect of Time.\" Michael Moorcock

                  \"All I know about anything is \"I wasn\'t. I am. I will not be.\" Michael Moorcock

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I'd lived in some of those places. I also travelled a lot on Russian ships and got to know Ukrainians as well as Russians both at home and abroad. I talked to Leah Feldmann, who had actually been on Makhno's 'education train' and read dozens of 'naive' accounts of people who had lived through the periods I described. It was somewhat easier to research in America and Turkey, of course, since the books were written during the Soviet period when all you got, really, was propaganda (often from both sides -- government and exiles). There seems, incidentally, to be a new wave of anti-semitism running through Russia at the moment. The actions of the current Israeli administration have allowed latent anti-Jewish feeling to come to the surface again -- though it's fair to argue that such feelings were what inspired Jewish paranoia in the first place. An appalling vicious circle, I must say, which might indeed end only with Armageddon, as fundamentalist Christians believe!
                    America in recent years simply has not done enough diplomatically to improve conditions in that region which is a great shame since at one point America was seen as a reasonable arbiter.
                    There was a person who was the inspiration for Pyat. I forget his name, but he was a neighbour of mine often referred to as 'the old Pole', a Polish emigre who had a house stuffed with machine-parts and so on.
                    I also based Pyat partly on an old loony who used to live around Camden Town and stuff long rambling 'letters' through John Clute's letter box.
                    Pyat was essentially, however, an amalgam who came into existence slowly via small parts, originally, in the Jerry Cornelius books. As with books like Warlord of the Air I blended both realistic fiction with fantasy in order to form a kind of 'bridge' between the two, using characters who had originally appeared in my realistic fiction or vice versa. Pyat was one such who grew more and more substantial as I wrote about him.
                    The first picture is of Russian irregulars taken during the Civil War, but I know little else about the picture. The second appears to be a meeting of French and Turkish officers perhaps during armistice negotiations. The publisher never told me the provenance of the pictures which were selected from the Radio Times Hulton Picture Library, as I recall. The second set of Cape covers were mostly images taken from my own collection, including some toy soldiers!

                    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Thanks for the information of Pyat, the character, MM. I think Pyat's evolution from a sort of semi-formed, yet vivid, perrsonality in the JC stories to the Max we know is fascinating. I think that connecting the two makes his relationship with Mrs. C. more interesting, as well.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        *my eyes are opening.* hopefully my focus will shift from fearful insight to confidence with understanding. i'm ready to go back to MM's literary fiction.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Must say it's nice to be back after an extended hiatus due to ISP issues.

                          Wanted to say I recently saw a good show on the TV regarding the Ukraine. Would be worthwhile to check out if you have not already. The documentary deals with some of the same issues as the books.

                          MY BABUSHKA - SEARCHING UKRAINIAN IDENTITIES
                          directed by Barbara Hammer

                          YEAR
                          2001

                          53 MINS, Color

                          Barbara Hammer, who has been called "the Stanley Kubrick of documentary filmmakers," travels to the former Soviet Union to investigate her maternal grandparents, and in the process discovers a region of emerging identities and cultural differences. As it gradually opens to the West, the Ukraine has had to deal with questions of human rights, feminism and a history of anti-Semitism. An eclectic group of contemporary Ukrainians talks with Hammer as they reflect on everything from the notorious massacre at Babi Yar to new definitions of sexuality. TVPG (AC) CCAP/Stereo

                          PRODUCER
                          Barbara Hammer

                          EDITOR
                          Barbara Hammer


                          As a side-note, I just had many items shipped from storage in Texas after 20 years. I found my grandfather's passport hidden in an old Bible. He was born in St. Petersburg in 1904 and left for North America in 1922 via Berlin through arrangements by the Russian Delegation in Berlin.


                          Very much looking forward to "The Vengeance Of Rome!"
                          \"No, I think Space is a dimension of Time. My theory is that Time is a field and that Space exists as an aspect of Time.\" Michael Moorcock

                          \"All I know about anything is \"I wasn\'t. I am. I will not be.\" Michael Moorcock

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Thanks! I must admit I'm looking forward to a long holiday from all that, in the hope it will wash some of Babi Yar and Dachau out of my head.

                            Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
                            The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
                            Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


                            Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
                            The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
                            Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I must have missed this thread first time around!
                              Some of your experiences with Hollywod as described in 'Letters to...' seem to have worked their way into Max's reminiscences. Would I be right in that observation, Mike? Also, how much did your research into the Nazis influence the current von Bek/Elric trilogy?

                              There is has been a series on the BBC chronicaling the rise and fall of the Nazis, and it would seem that a lot of the common people were swept along in the currents of the time and forced to choose (what seemed at the time) the lesser of two evils.

                              This news report would seem to support, to an extent, this assertion -

                              http://www.newscientist.com/article....mg18624984.200

                              It too is a period of history which fascinates me. The inhumanity to man is impossible to fully comprehend. Is there an equivalent work to Solzhenitsyn's which chronicles the atrocities of the Nazis?
                              You see, it's... it's no good, Montag. We've all got to be alike. The only way to be happy is for everyone to be made equal.

                              -:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-:-

                              Image Hive :-: Wikiverse :-: Media Hive

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                              "I am an observer of life, a non-participant who takes no sides. I am in the regimented society, but not of it." Moondog, 1964

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