-How did you get the idea to write a book based on the universe of _The
Lord of the Rings_? Can you say that your studies and work are reflected in this book?
Let"s accept, after numerous Tolkien"s fans, that Middle-Earth is entirely real universe, and Tolkien in fact had recorded and treated the real local eposes (as well as Mallory had treated the legends about King Arthur). But the well-known Tolkien"s map of Middle-Earth is clearly "broken" at its eastern and southern edges; and what is situated there?.. Probably the portion of Middle-Earth described in detail in "The Lord of the Ring" (i.e. Eriador, Gondor and Rohan) is in fact but the remote, despairingly retarded in politic and economic respects periphery of that Oecumena - why not?
You see, the Tolkiens universe is in fact the modified universe of Celtic and Scandinavian sagas, i.e. the Early-Medieval Northern Europe. From the viewpoint of contemporary "civilized world", i.e. Mediterranean, it was but useless and dangerous snow desert, generating only the hordes of shaggy foul ruffians in the horned helmets, each counts without embarrassments in his family tree a dozen of "kings" and a couple of "gods". While in the "civilized countries" the arts, sciences, technologies, parliamentarism, monotheistic religions are already exist... as well the espionage of the modern mode.
And if the Middle-Earth is reality, its residents are realities too. If Aragorn and Saruman are not invented literature images, but the historical personalities reflected by any way in local heroic eposes, the estimations of their real activity may be drastic discrepant - as well in our universe. Who is the "real" Richard III: Shakespeare"s gibbous monster, perjurer and filicide, or Josephine Tay"s magnanimous knight who had paid for this his magnanimity by both throne and life, and was meanly defamed by usurpers, Tudors? Who was the "real" Edward I: the traditional "portrait for show" in gallery of British historiography, or the ruthless intriguer from Mal Gibson"s "Brave Heart"? Who was the "real" Aragorn?..
So I made a habitual work of paleontologist (as well of detective): the reconstruction of the object (i.e. the universe) by its imperfect mould (i.e. the heroic epos of its remotest province).
-Would you say that _The Last of the Ringwraiths_ is a satire, or a parody
of Tolkien, or something else? Can your book be taken as a criticism of the
ideas and ideology behind Tolkien's work?
"The last of the Ringwrathes" is not a parody, but a literature game. Mark Twain has been played once the similar kind of game with the King Arthur Legends. Another, more recent, sample of such game is "The mew" by Boris Akunin, who transmuted "The mew" by Chekhov to the classical detective story, supposing the suicide happening in course of original Chekhov"s play is the murder in fact. In any case, "The last of the Ringwrathes" is not "anti-Tolkien" (as some people believe), as well as the "Yankee at King Arthur"s Court" is not "anti-Mallory", and "Rosencranz and Guildenstern are dead" by Stoppard is not "anti-Shakespeare".
To my mind, the main difference of "The last of the Ringwrathes" from the origin is not the "Eastern" viewpoint to the War of the Ring instead the "Western" one, but the configuration of border dividing "good guys" and "bad guys": Tolkien draws this border exactly by the fairway of Anduin River, while for me this line should be much more sinuous. One clever critic perceive that the missions of my heroes and Tolkien"s ones are the "mirror images", based on the well-known Kippling"s opposition "Sons of Martha versus Sons of Maria", and I can"t object to this estimation.
As regards my personal relation to Tolkien, it is quite ambivalent. I admire Tolkien-demiurge, the creator of the wonderful Universe (with its own cosmogony, alphabets etc), but I do not care of Tolkien-narrator, the author of story about the quest of the four hobbits. In other words, the scenery of "The Lord of the Rings" seems for me more interesting than the play itself. And I agree with the Terry Pratchett"s opinion: "Mountains in Tolkien novel are more individual then personages".
-How was the book received wherever it has been published? Did you get any
negative reaction on the part of the fans of Tolkien, or rather the opposite?
The reaction was quite stormy: from wild enthusiasm to appeals to burn the book (preferably together with the author). I was glad that various readers had found something to their own taste: the first ones liked best of all the spy-adventure intrigue, the second - analysis of Orwell-followed technologies of information manipulations, the third - postmodern game to multiplayer cues and the latent quotation. I am proud of having the readers who perceive, that (quoting) "the very stylization OF Middle-Earth was made, not stylization TO Middle-Earth", or "the spy-thriller in Yeskov"s novel is sweet-wrapper only, and the book was written in fact about quite another subjects"; but I hope, that persons who read the novel simply as the "spy-thriller" didn"t waste time either. "Il nome dela Rosa" by Umberto Eco is the example for me in this respect: it can be read "simply as the detective story" as well...
In any case, if a book serves as the source of epigraphs, the latent quotation and internet nicknames, and is the base of parodies, role-play games and anime - it means that the text has begun to live its own life, separated from the author. And now any my opinion about "The last of the Ringwrathes" should be treated as the opinion of one of the readers only - and nothing else.
As regards to the negative reaction of the part of the orthodox Tolkien fans, it was quite predictable. The peculiar subculture ("tolkienists") has formed around Tolkien"s texts; sociologists investigated this subculture found the numerous features of so-called "totalitarian sects" in it (that is not insulting, but statement of fact). Tolkien"s novel is treated by tolkienists as the sacral text, and a literature game with this text naturally is considered by them as a "blasphemy". But the orthodoxies (religious or tolkienistic - it does not matter) are not my audience, and I am indifferent to their opinion. I always said that my novel was addressed not to tolkienists, but to sane men including the admirers of Tolkien too.
-Why the orcs in your book aren't called "orcs", but a variation of this
word (in the Spanish version, "orocuenos")?
It"s would be too strange, if a nation calls itself following the enemy"s slang, aren"t it?. The Germans don"t call themselves "boches", the Nipponese - "Japs", and the Catholics - "papists".
-We are currently experiencing a new wave of cross-publication of SF and
fantasy among Continental European countries (Polish authors get published
in Spain, Spanish authors get published in France, and so on). Do you feel
that as an European writer you have something to offer to the European
readers that the American (and generally the Anglo-Saxons) writers are lacking?
First of all the division of fantasists to Continental-European and Anglo-Saxon seems a very artificial. To my mind, American and British schools of SF/fantasy seems to have very few common features, as well as the West European and East European ones. And what"s about the belonging of the brilliant Latin-American school of non-realistic literature (the line from Borges to Marques)?..
The modern global cultural unification obviously is a very dangerous trend. I insist on the later statement not as a writer, but as the scientist: the monoculture (one-crop) ecosystems are known as principally non-stable. The decrease of the diversity of elements in any system extraordinary enlarges the risk of the fatal error as the result of the single decision. Such fatal errors seems unavoidable, even if global unification of a system was based on the "best" specimens, such as parliamentary democracy (undoubtedly, the most perfect political system all over the world) or American cinematograph (undoubtedly, the most advanced and trustworthy national school in this field). Due to these reasons the special efforts should be undertaken in course of maintenance of cultural diversity (as well the maintenance of biological diversity in ecosystems). So the abovementioned trends in the development of the European SF/fantasy literature seems to be quite positive.
It should be noted that the "store of irregularity" of Russian SF/fantasy literature seems to be too big, and can be claimed by the European reader. During the last fifteen years the mainstream literature in Russia turns into amusing subculture of philologists solely (thus, some years ago the winner of Russian Bucker frankly confessed to the neglect of all the rest books of the short-list), while the SF/fantasy (or, rather, non-realistic) literature rapidly developed. There are delicate psychological novels into the fantasy entourage (Dyachenko, Khaetskaya), witty social satire (Lukin, Uspensky), original variants of cyberpunk (Pelevin, Mercy Shelley, Kaganov), historical reconstructions and alternative history (Oldie, Valentinov, Vershinin, Rybakov)... Several last years Russian fantasists successfully conquered Poland, and, probably, the turn of West Europe has come too!..