Spectre At The Feast


Part 3 of the East Berlin Series has been released:

Spectre At The FeastLook InsideBuy

Spectre At The Feast

Cover of Spectre At The Feast

ISBN: 978-0993324741
eISBN: 978-0993324758

East Berlin, Summer 1994
In the wake of a divisive referendum, the people of the GDR are struggling to find common ground.
Concerned that populist leader, Klaus Kaminsky, is poised to take power in East Germany, Karo and Martin come together again to defend the grassroots democracy they are helping to build.
But as Kaminsky holds rallies across the country, the mood of the people of the GDR begins to change. Can the delicate balance of round tables and workers’ councils survive, or will the country be dragged back into the authoritarian rule of the past?

“The Soldiers’ Council of the Border Regiment 33 had a
meeting this morning. We’re on strike.”
“You call this being on strike?”
“Yeah, fun isn’t it?”

Book 3 of the East Berlin Series

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Peace News review for Thoughts Are Free

The first review for Thoughts Are Free is in:

Peace News

Cover of Thoughts Are FreeThere’s a referendum in the offing and the far right is on the rise…. in East Berlin, 1994, the capital of the counter-factual people’s Grassroots Democratic Republic of East Germany, created when the Communist government was dissolved and the people turned down the option of uniting with West Germany. Continue reading “Peace News review for Thoughts Are Free”

Map for Book 2: Thoughts Are Free

GDR made map of Berlin - West Berlin is just a blank

It’s always an exciting moment when my publisher sends me the maps for my next book. I like maps, and I’m pleased that my publishers are prepared to put the effort into making decent maps for the books I write.

For a small publisher like Wolf Press the costs of a professional cartographer and licences for commercial maps would be prohibitive – there just isn’t very much money in publishing any more. So thank goodness for Open Street Maps! Continue reading “Map for Book 2: Thoughts Are Free”

For Our Country

The original print out of the Für Unser Land statement

(This article was originally written for and posted on the website of the interdisciplinary academic network Cultures of the Cold War.)

In the counter-factual novel Stealing The Future the rift with reality is pinpointed as beginning on the 4th November 1989, and the For Our Country statement has a significant role to play in building East Germans’ confidence in their ability to remain independent of West Germany. Continue reading “For Our Country”

Book Tour 2016

Graphic for Stealing The Future tour

Readings and Signings

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The long awaited Stealing The Future book tour has been finalised, and here are the dates and venues. Feel free to bring your copy of the book for a signing, or you can buy a copy on the day.

How realistic is Deutschland 83?

As the author of Stealing the Future I’ve been asked a fair bit about Deutschland 83 over the last few weeks – mostly about whether or not the series is at all realistic. The series is a fun but unreliable witness to both East and West in 1983, but in this post I shall be outlining how Martin Rauch would have been recruited in the real GDR of 1983.

Continue reading “How realistic is Deutschland 83?”

Political Structures in Stealing the Future – Part I

Citizens enter the main Stasi HQ in Berlin

Where to start?

When writing a political novel the author needs to be very clear about the political structures that form the framework of the story, not to mention how they work on a day-to-day basis (indeed it is the tension between the theory and the practice of these institutions that provide the gaps that allow such stories to be developed).

The reader of Stealing the Future will have picked up on the fact that there are parliaments at several levels (Volkskammer at the federal level, and the Landeskammern at the Land, or regional level). But in Martin’s everyday life, most of the actual decisions are taken by the Ministry of the Interior (at which he works) or by the various assemblies – from the Central Round Table right down to the plenary meeting of the residents in his tenement block. Continue reading “Political Structures in Stealing the Future – Part I”

Could the GDR have survived? Part III – the Geopolitics of Stealing the Future

Gorbachev and Honecker in conference



As I said in Part II, in Stealing the Future I’ve tried to remain as true to historical fact as possible – practically this means trying to keep the history of countries other than Germany pretty much true to real life. Outside the GDR the biggest surprise is the continued existence of the USSR. I decided to let Mikhail Gorbachev keep the Soviet ship of state afloat, despite all its leaks and mutinies. Continue reading “Could the GDR have survived? Part III – the Geopolitics of Stealing the Future”

Spelling – how to spell West Berlin, Westberlin, West-Berlin…

An East German Map, showing West Berlin as an empty space.

West Berlin, Westberlin, West-Berlin, Berlin (West), B(W), BW?!?

It wasn’t until I’d finished my first draft of Stealing The Future that I started worrying about how to spell Westberlin (or West Berlin, West-Berlin or even Berlin (West)!). I’d blithely tapped away at my keyboard, using the Eastgerman (East German) vernacular, only realising that this may seem odd to a non-German audience, or even a Westgerman (West German) audience.

In English it’s really not very hard: West Berlin, West Germany, East Berlin, East Germany. But in German the way you spell West Berlin tells the reader something about you, and your politics. Yep, you guessed right, it’s about the Cold War, of course. Continue reading “Spelling – how to spell West Berlin, Westberlin, West-Berlin…”

Spelling – Introduction

When I started writing Stealing the Future I didn’t waste much time thinking about spelling and transliteration. Of course, I had some decisions to make quite early on: I decided to leave the umlauts as they were and not make ä into ae, ö into oe and ü into ue – that just looks ugly, and most English language readers, I imagined, would be quite happy to ignore the strange dots over some of the vowels. Continue reading “Spelling – Introduction”

Publishing with the Penguin – How to use Free and Open Source software to write and publish a book

Screenshot of Zim Desktop Wiki

I am fortunate that my publishers, Wolf Press, are as passionate about Free and Open Source software as I am. That must be a pretty rare thing, despite the fact that there are lots of people using Free and Open Source software, and there are lots of good reasons to do so.

This is a list and quick review of some of the Free Software we tried out/used  to write and/or publish a book. Continue reading “Publishing with the Penguin – How to use Free and Open Source software to write and publish a book”

Für unser Land

Demonstration for an open country and free people 1989

Unser Land steckt in einer tiefen Krise. Wie wir bisher gelebt haben, können und wollen wir nicht mehr leben. Die Führung einer Partei hatte sich die Herrschaft über das Volk und seine Vertretungen angemaßt, vom Stalinismus geprägte Strukturen hatten alle Lebensbereiche durchdrungen. Gewaltfrei, durch Massendemonstrationen hat das Volk den Prozess der revolutionären Erneuerung erzwungen, der sich in atemberaubender Geschwindigkeit vollzieht. Uns bleibt nur wenig Zeit, auf die verschiedenen Möglichkeiten Einfluss zu nehmen, die sich als Auswege aus der Krise anbieten. Continue reading “Für unser Land”

Verfassung der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik – Entwurf 1990

Header from the government gazette of the GDR

(See also the post Constitution of 1990.)

Verfassung der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik

Berlin, April 1990



I. Kapitel
Art. 1-40 Menschen- und Bürgerrechte
Art. 1-25 Würde, Gleichheit, Freiheit, Solidarität .
Art. 26-33 Arbeit, Wirtschaft, Umwelt
Art. 34 Rechte der Sorben
Art. 35-39 Gesellschaftliche Gruppen und Verbände
Art. 40 Geltung Continue reading “Verfassung der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik – Entwurf 1990”

Constitution of 1990

Header from the government gazette of the GDR

One of the joys of writing fiction, I find, is the absolute power an author has over the characters and events in the story. Nevertheless, that power is limited by the needs of the reader—unconvincing, illogical and irrational plots may be fun to dream up and write, but will leave most readers unsatisfied. For that reason, when writing The East Berlin Series I found I needed to place the events into various kinds of frameworks and contexts—there was a real need to make the story both plausible and believable.

Clearly history presented me with one set of limits. The novel is counter-factual – branching away from ‘real’ history at the beginning of November 1989 – but I felt there was a practical limit as to what a society (no matter how energetic and idealistic) could achieve in just under three years. Continue reading “Constitution of 1990”

Point of Divergence – when history splits

GDR Coat of Arms

Point of Divergence

Stealing the Future is set in 1993 – nearly three years after (in ‘our’ world) the GDR ceased to exist. But in the East Berlin Series, the GDR has continued to exist, and is searching for ways to remain economically, politically and socially viable as a country in its own right.

Inevitably a change such as this would have an impact on the rest of the world, and perhaps more importantly, demands other changes in order to be at all possible. I talk about this more in the post How plausible is Stealing the Future, (including a look at the economic and the geo-political situation). Continue reading “Point of Divergence – when history splits”