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

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 your novel

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 your novel”

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 East Berlin Series 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”

Could the GDR have survived? Part II – the Economics of Stealing the Future

External factors were the main cause of death for the GDR economy. In those days the economies of the Soviet dominated Eastern Bloc were far more globalised than we are even today, and the collapse of COMECON – the East European trading bloc in January 1990 meant that export markets disappeared overnight. New trade links could theoretically have been built were it not for the preparations to introduce the West German D-Mark in the GDR. This happened in June 1990 and meant that all the GDR’s traditional trade partners were simply unable to pay for goods or services from East Germany. Continue reading “Could the GDR have survived? Part II – the Economics of Stealing the Future”