Monday, February 17, 2014

Allow me to introduce -- Anna Kashina

She is a mother of two, a cellular biologist, a fantasy novelist, a friend of twenty plus years without whom I would not have read The Lord of the Rings when I did, and not seen Star Wars when I did; a girl, unchanged by time, at whom I marvel to this day because she is a marvelous person —and because she is still a mystery to me.
The credit for starting this friendship goes to a lab course of immunology. Students had to pair up to do the experiments of the course, so she and I formed a team. We performed classical hands-ons, like letting an antigen and an antibody diffuse towards each other through a slab of jelly, and observing formation of arc-shaped zones where the two met and, if they were a match, formed a precipitate. We too proved a good match.
We studied for our finals together and walked our dogs together. We pierced our ears together. We each landed in our first serious relationship at about the same time, and went through the requisite ups and downs. We both were taking swings at writing fiction, first in our native language, Russian, and later, in English. We went to each other’s weddings. More than once. 
And yet we are so different — ah, let me count the ways. I can’t imagine why she’d prefer instant coffee to espresso. I had picked up martial arts when she’d picked up ballroom dancing (and went on to become a far better dancer than I — a martial artist). Many-many years ago, before Peter Jackson’s movies, we almost had a fight about the physical appearance of hobbits. And did I mention? She writes fantasy. I don’t, I’m pretty sure. But let me tell you: many years from now, we joke, we may just end up moving in together as two old blue-hairs. We’ll probably fight about hobbits, among other things. It would be fun.
Today, in anticipation of the release of the first book of Anna’s new Majat Code trilogy, Blades of the Old Empire (Angry Robot Books, Feb 25, 2014), and as media outlets talk about the book, allow me the liberty to talk about the author.

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Age of Ice is on the Locus magazine 2013 reading list and on the Ballot

I am very happy to announce that my novel The Age of Ice has made the  Locus Magazine's 2013 recommended reading list in the First Novels category!
And not only that, it is also included in the ballot. If you read the novel and enjoyed it, please take a moment  to go to the Poll and do some voting.


Thursday, December 26, 2013

A review of Karen Joy Fowler's novel We are all completely beside ourselves

There are books that tell stories that could have happened. And then there are books that make you yearn that the story they tell, however fantastic, had in fact happened — as if without it, without these particular events and without this human being who’d experienced them and now tells her tale, there is something amiss in the world. The only disbelief you suspend is the one where you can’t believe you’ll never meet this character in your real life.

Karen Joy Fowler’s latest novel is one of such books. Written as a memoir and filled with references to actual events and facts, the story balances on the verge of “happened” just as the narrator, Rosemary, balances on the verge of a grand disclosure that will expose her as she is, with all her idiosyncrasies, to the whole world.

In a nutshell, the novel imagines the fate of one of the experiments actually performed around nineteen seventies (if I am not mistaken) in the US, and pursuing comparative analysis of human and primate development. In such an experiment, a human and an ape infant are reared together from the very early age on, they are treated in the same way, as if both are human; they know each other intimately, they communicate with each other using sign language. It is researchers’ hypothesis that the ape child may be advanced, behaviorally, closer to the level of a human child. It was the actual outcome, at least in some cases, that the human child began to acquire behavioral traits more reminiscent of an ape. Rosemary Cooke, the heroine and the narrator of the novel is one of such children. She spent the first five years of her life with a sister who happened to be a chimpanzee.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013


This coming Thursday, November 21 (6-8PM) I will be participating in a panel discussion on Intersections between literature and science  at the Tacoma Art Museum.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Guest-blogging at

 My recent guest blog post for  details some of the story behind writing and researching The Age of Ice:

Memories of Ice
The Age of Ice started about six years ago, with me reading The New Yorker article by Elif Batuman, The Ice Renaissance. The article discussed two episodes in Russian history separated by two hundred and sixty six years. One — the building in the winter of 1740, upon the order of the empress Anna Ioannovna, of a palace made entirely of ice, where two of the empress’s jesters were forced to spend their wedding night. The other episode — building of a replica of that palace on the same site in the winter of 2006, and its popularity with St. Petersburg’s denizens.
Read the full post here:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A book reading in Bellingham, WA

I will be reading and signing The Age of Ice on October 18 in Village Books in Bellingham.  Starts at 7:00 PM. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

I agree

with this article in HuffPost

Sequestration ushers in a dark age for science in America

It is  a detailed, accurate account of today's state of affairs in biomedical sciences: