UPDATE: Some have asked if I still have copies of THE TROIKA to sell in the original edition. Yes, I do, most all of them from the second printing. Please email me at [email protected] for more details if you’re interested.
Way back in the 1990s, my Ministry of Whimsy press published a novel called The Troika by Stepan Chapman that had been rejected by 120 publishers and which the author had tried to salvage by sending out chapters as stand-alone stories. One of them came to Leviathan 1, an anthology I was editing in the early 1990s. It made no sense to me out of context, but I still loved it. I felt like I was looking at a puzzle piece of something larger, and so I asked Stepan if it was part of a novel, and if so if he could send more of it. He sent another piece as a submission, and this one was self-contained and we published it in Leviathan 1: “The Chosen Donor”.
Then he sent the full novel…and as I read it and the back of my skull began to explode and my brain to melt from the audacious brilliance of it…I realized we had to publish it.
We did, and not only did it win the PKD Award and also garner over 120 reviews world-wide, Stepan, in one of those ironies too delicious to seem real, sat at a table during the PKD Award ceremony with some of the most prominent editors who had rejected his manuscript—all of whom probably had perfectly valid reasons for rejection, in that it’s not a novel that fits smoothly into any particular marketing category.
What’s it about?
Under the glare of three suns, three beings travel across an endless desert. They argue, whine, wheedle and needle each other. Sometimes they switch identities when the sandstorms roar in. As The Troika rolls on, we learn more about Alex, who started out as a man, then became cyborg, then jeep. About Naomi, a veteran soldier who woke up from her cryogenic storage tank to a new life, now a dinosaur. About Eva, who fled her native land to escape her fate as an organ-donor for the emperor.
The novel reconstructs their shattered lives through amazing tour-de-force flashbacks while driving closer to the central mystery of why they are trudging across an endless desert. It’s a truly stunning book in so many ways I don’t really know how to begin. What I do know is that without reading The Troika I could not have finished my novel Veniss Underground, and without the lessons learned from The Troika I could not have taken any number of leaps of faith in my fiction. Nor could I have jumped into my current serial The Journals of Doctor Mormeck without the influence of The Troika—several techniques I’m using were first perfected by Stepan in his novel.
So, as we prep the e-book, I’m wondering if any of you remember reading The Troika and liking it this much as well, and if you’re writer, how did the book influence you, if it did? We’ll probably publish a selection of responses in the back of the e-book as a bonus for readers, along with some other cool stuff.
And, here’s an excerpt from the novel—one of the flashbacks involving the character who keeps morphing into mechanical avatars.