“Part BioShock, part X-Files, part Sopranos—and 100%, uncut Nickle . . . a glorious, chaotic delight” from the Bram Stoker Award–winning author of Volk (Peter Watts, author of Blindsight).
Post–Cold War, a group of Russians bred from childhood to be psychic spies are called from around the globe to achieve their true purpose: world domination. But some of them have flourished in the lives they have carved out for themselves—often in nefarious ways—and they will not give up their freedom without a fight, even as a new generation of telepathic children, the beautiful dreamers, are coming into power . . .
In Rasputin’s Bastards, David Nickle—the acclaimed author of Eutopia, Monstrous Affections, and Volk—offers readers “an enormous tale, bewilderingly complex, but with lots of twists and turns that reward close attention. It is grotesque, violent, and exciting, with a supernatural tinge that is his hallmark” (Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing).
“This novel is supernatural eeriness at its best, with intriguing characters, no clear heroes, and a dark passion at its heart. Horror aficionados and fans of Stephen King’s larger novels should appreciate this macabre look at the aftermath of the Cold War.” —Library Journal
“Stiffly compelling. Once you’re done, there’s no question: the hours spent enfolded in Nickle’s imagination are well spent. You won’t ever feel the desire to ask for them back.” —January Magazine
“A journey from the depths of the sea, the heart of Mother Russia, to the darkest corners of the soul.” —K. E. Bergdoll, The Crow’s Caw
This fantasy novel about cold war psychic spies and their controllers is written in the tradition of the great Russian novels: it's very long, it's got an enormously unwieldy cast, and a casual reader will often have no idea what's going on. The "bastards" in question are children who can "dream-walk" and control the minds of others. They end up in the hands of an exploitive American ex-spy and are rescued by a Chinese dream-walker and a Russian bodyguard before getting mixed up in another dream-walker's attempt to take over the world. While clever chapter titles give useful hints, it's hard to keep everyone straight, given that at any point, a character may or may not be inhabited and controlled by another character or group of characters, and it isn't necessarily clear whether any of their surroundings are real. There are many brilliant moments in this genuinely inventive book, but they're too often separated by fanciful digressions and heavy-handed evocations of classic literature.