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For my sweetie, Kathryn:

who makes everything possible - Allan


To my wife, Olga, bravely bearing

a crazy writer for all these years - Nick





It was a collaboration that stretched across 5,378 miles. Or, if you were Russian, like Nick Perumov, you would write it as 8,655 kilometers. My end of the literary tether was in Truth Or Consequences, New Mexico. Nick's - St. Petersburg, Russia.

On the surface, it might appear that the differences between us were too great. Not only were our nationalities and cultures different, but our two countries were once locked in a Cold War that had kept the world on the edge of nuclear annihilation for nearly half a century.

Nick hailed from a family of scientists, and had served in the military. My late father had been a CIA operative during that period and I was raised abroad in many of the world's hot spots. Before becoming an author, I had been a journalist. Nick a scientist. His ancestors were Russian/Armenian nobility; mine Irish peasants. He was born in 1963. I was born in 1943.

At the time the collaboration was suggested, Nick's English was rather rough. My Russian consisted of only a few necessaries: Pozhalujsta (Please); Spasiba (thank you); Da (Yes); Nyet (No); Vodka (vodka); Nostrovia (Cheers); Gde tualet (where is the toilet); and, most importantly, Moio sudno na vozdušnoy poduške polno ugrey (My hovercraft is full of eels.)

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