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ADVERTORIAL


SERGEI LEBEDEV UNTRACEABLE


Hailed by critics as “the new  brightest young authors is being published in the UK for  is inspired by the Skripal poisonings in Salisbury. 


F


irst, can you introduce Untraceable to our readers: what it is about, and what was the inspiration? While reading about the Skripal affair, I was surprised to find out some links to my fourth novel, The Goose Fritz. The place in Russia called Shihany was


mentioned in the news as a probable source of the nerve agent used for the assassination attempt. But I already knew about this place: this testing facility was established in the late 1920s as a fruit of the secret co-operation agreement between USSR and Germany, the latter aiming to develop its chemical warfare [capability], bypassing the Treaty of Versailles. Since then, I understood that this story has a long shadow from the past. And I became obsessed with an idea to write a novel about the dark romance between the science and the totalitarian power, the romance which—as in Greek mythology—resulted in the creation of the modern-day monsters.


08


I found it interesting you chose to make the main character Kalitin, the chemist who develops the poison, rather than perhaps one of the spies who might use it in the field. Can you tell us why you chose to pin the narrative around him? A killer would have been an obvious choice. But I am more interested to probe the ethical respon- sibility of the scientists, the people of knowledge, who supply the modern tyrants with the tools of control, intimidation and extermination. Behind Russia’s assassinations, [Syrian ruler] Bashar- al-Assad’s chemical attacks, Chinese high-tech concentration camps for Uighurs, and many more current state crimes, there are always the hidden figures of those who develop the technical stuff, who invent and extend the ways to suppress humans’ nature and betray the ethics of science. The very phenomenon of chemical warfare was


created in the early phase of the First World War by German chemist Fritz Haber, who turned from developing fertilisers to developing lethal military gases. He became a dark apostle of this new weapon, while his wife Clara Immerwahr, also a


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