Risingshadow has the honour of publishing a guest post by S. L. Lahna.
About S. L. Lahna:
S. L. Lahna goes by they pronouns and knows way too much about Weird Things and Cold War history. Will tell you all of the reasons why James Bond is Wrong. They are hard at work on various novels for teens and adults. Some are about asexual magicians and their demonic mentors, some are about mentally-ill monster hunters, some are about pansexual teenage boys trying to survive a horror movie. Their day job is tearing apart books for money as a freelance editor at Word Vagabond. The Bulletproof Spy series is their debut novella.
About The Bulletproof Spy #1: The Silver Bullet Affair:
The year is 1965, and Alan Gable is the best spy America doesn’t know they have. Operating off books and outside the law, Alan has been tasked to do the impossible - get inside a laboratory in Moscow, get the Russian’s lead nuclear scientist, and get out, all without the KGB ever knowing he was there. No human could do it.
But Alan isn’t human.
Yulian’s life is perfect. A top counter-intelligence agent for the KGB, favored by the head of Section 1. His best friend is happily awaiting his first child. His indiscretions have remained discreet.
Until Dr. Tamm and his entire lab goes missing, and Yulian’s life starts to unravel.
The only way to survive long enough to get the bottom of the mystery is for Alan and Yulian to work together. If they can survive each other that is.
A madcap mashup of Hellboy and The Man From Uncle, the Silver Bullet Affair is a winning combination of espionage and the supernatural, an action-packed novella from start to finish lead by LGBT characters. Fans of the genre who’ve grown weary of the same old James Bond song and dance will find a new series to love with the Bulletproof Spy.
GUEST POST: You Spilled Your Weird Stuff In My Spy Stuff: Speculative Espionage Writing by S. L. Lahna
Speculative elements within an espionage setting often raises a few eyebrows, and yet this little niche of writing has a long history both within story-telling and history itself.
I’m often baffled why folks are so baffled. Did...did you ever watch Indiana Jones?
But that’s not espionage.
No, but the historical basis for Raiders? Yeah, that’s real. Very very real. Though it was less Hitler, more Hitler’s crazy friend Himmler. Heinrich Himmler founds the Ahnenerbe, which fronts itself as the Nazi historical society. Their goal on paper is to go find historical, preferably solid archeological evidence, of the Aryan superior race throughout history. This is…part of what Himmler wants, aka what Hitler wants them to do. And Himmler, in pure crazy best friend fashion, assures him that yes absolutely he will do this.
What Himmler really wants is to find things like the Arc of the Covenant and the Staff of Osiris because he thinks that if the Nazi’s have them they will be unstoppable. Himmler apparently came close to getting the Book of Tacitus, if you believe that Mussolini ever had it to begin with. He even tried to find Atlantis. He’s That Guy who believes in the Emerald Tablets. If he were around today his idol would probably be that Ancient Aliens dude.
Espionage was happening long before the Cold War in other parts of the world. And while the United States wasn’t involved in espionage at this time (we’re terrible at espionage I cannot stress this enough) the British and the Russians were. MI5 had spies with the SS, one of the most notable being Juan Pujol. And while the Russians despised the former SS, they weren’t above poaching their best to improve the USSR.
Today, you can find speculative elements within a few great spy shows, such as Alias (which if you haven’t seen, you should remedy immediately.) but otherwise it’s a game of opposites—speculative fiction with hints of espionage (Simon R. Green’s Secret Histories series is a fine example).
When the Bulletproof Spy started getting fleshed out, I knew two things right away. First, it had to be period set, and has WW2 had already been done to death for speculative spy stories, the Cold War was the next best bet. In the early years, the Cold War is still a slop for the United States. The SSU, which only exists because General Magruder on Sept 26 1945, undermines the President’s orders and meets with assistant secretary of war John McCloy to make it happen, is a privately funded disaster. They needed a miracle to get their act together.
In reality, they don’t get one. I cannot stress enough how bonkers it is the United States wins the Cold War. That victory was not won by US ingenuity; it happens due to USSR failures. Like a really, really bad football game, the opposition drops the ball enough times, throws enough interceptions, and you can take advantage. The reason why every fictional account you’ve probably read about US espionage is during the 80’s; it took us over forty goddamn years to get our act together. And even then, its barely there.
But I didn’t want this; I wanted the slop. I am happiest when writing The Mess, and so I gave the US a miracle within the OPC—the surviving organization of the privately funded SSU, which continues to exist apart from the CIA in order to carry out work that doesn’t get reported to the President—in the form of Alan Gable, a field agent is exactly what they need to get the job done.
But they are far from mistaken in thinking Alan is the only monster out there, and the enemies he faces are bigger than the OPC and the USSR both. Fortunately, he’ll have help in the form of a reluctant KGB spy.
But that’s a story for another day.