Future societies in your novels are far from idyllic. Why is that?

   Technological progress is a dead end, and we’re careening towards it with a breakneck speed. I don’t know how and why we ended up on this road. There are two basic theories. The first theory says that man used to be the son of the gods and could create and destroy with a word, could move through space with the power of thought – in other words, could alter nature without any technological help. We carry certain inactive genes that are a complete mystery to scientists. Can they be the remains of our godlike abilities?
   The other theory says that these untapped reserves are there for our future use. Every once in a while, a person is born with access to a whole other level of abilities. There are many legends that talk about people who, having reached a certain frontier, cross over to the next plane of existence, become superhuman, live in several realities simultaneously. This is the point at which those genetic reserves come into play.
   In our present state, however, the universe doesn’t want us – even the Earth doesn’t want us! That’s why we’re not allowed to go out into space. We can’t even get to Mars!

Reading your novels, one gets a real sense of your knowledge of various fields of science. Do you normally make it your business to know these things, or do you collect information specifically for your books?

   I have a technical education, and I’ve always been interested in physics, astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology. If I don’t have enough materials for a book, then I look it up specifically for that purpose. For example, the main character in The Dark Man is a neurosurgeon. I didn’t know anything about neurosurgery, so naturally I spoke with experts and read dozens of books on the subject – all to find a few professional terms that I could use in the book. This might be the hard way of doing things, but I can always be sure that I know what I’m talking about.

Have you been approached by film or television studios?

   I’ve been in talks with studios twice and even started writing the script – but there wasn’t enough money. People wanted to work with me: actors, directors… but when we got to the financing part of the movie, we’d hit a wall. But now, after the breakthrough of Night Watch, I hope the situation will change. Night Watch demonstrated that people want to see domestic science fiction movies.

Who are your favorite writers?

   The masters of science fiction – Harry Harrison, Andre Norton, Isaac Asimov. Among Russian writers, Efremov, the Brothers Strugatsky. But I also read new books from Divov and Benedictov – despite his young age, he’s already published two or three great books.
   Of course I don’t just read science fiction: I’m a huge fan of O’Henry, Chekhov, Pushkin, Jack London, Alexei Tolstoy.

What advice would you give budding writers?

   I never planned to sell millions of books – I just wanted to write. I firmly believe that if you have something to say, you must say it! A young writer must keep writing, learning the craft, instead of sitting around waiting for inspiration. My advice is, be patient, but at the same time be tenacious. And most of all, keep searching! The moment you stop searching for new ideas, you die as a writer.

What is your state of mind as you celebrate 35 years as a writer?

   I’m very lucky: all my books, even the earliest ones, are still in print, with 3-4 new editions coming out every month. I’m happy that I’m able to stay grounded in the present. I’ve never followed any political regimes, never tried to anticipate the mood of the country. I just wrote about the things that interested me: space exploration, personal relationships. And in the process, I’ve managed to make my readers feel my characters’ passion, live my characters’ lives…

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