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Serge Vasilievich Ratz

THEY SAY that fate likes to play with men. For Serge RATZ the contrary is the case. Son of a military pilot, a special services officer who worked for the security of Russia became a writer of unusual range.

When fate sent him to the faraway immense Yakutia, he fell in love with the local folklore and wrote a number of tales based on the Yakut legends. His knowledge of various sides of life helped him in creating criminal thrillers. 


His work for state security led him to serious historical research of KGB operations from the first years of the USSR to the tragic events of Afganistan.

Serge Ratz writes poems in the Japanese haiku style and teaches conflictology at the philosophy department of the Saint Petersburg university.

There are plays staged and TV series filmed based on his books.


Serge Ratz was born in 1951 in Kirgizia (one of the republics in the Asian part of the USSR), a son of a fighter pilot. He spent his childhood and school years in the capital of Kirgizia, the city of Frunze (now Bishkek). Even then his inclination towards literature was evident. Several times his school compositions won various competitions. 


At 18, as all the young men in the Soviet Union, Serge was called up for military service. In the army he was trained as a cipher officer, which determined his choice of the following career. During the time of his service the military counterintelligence department sent Serge to the KGB Higher School. After graduating the young officer was sent to serve in Yakutia. There his old passion for literature was given a new impulse. 


Well-educated and communicative, Serge Ratz fit in well with the local artistic and literary circles. At the same time he was struck by the originality of the local folklore. It interested him so much that his first literary works were fairy tales based on Yakut legends.

In 1985 the Yakutia newspaper Yakut Youth asked the young author to work on the regular column By the Fireside. For three years of his fruitful work his folklore-based fairy tales kept being published in the newspaper under the pseudonym of El-Vasyo. Among those were The Shaman Tree, Little Cholbon and Bayanay, Red the Little Devil and Tuyaryma, Icchite the Little Coal, Bergens Friend and others.


In 1988 for a volume of his folklore-based tales Serge Ratz was awarded the Leninsky Komsomol Prize for the Yakutia ASSR. By that time his success went further than Yakutia. In 1988 the all-USSR magazine Polar Star published Ratzs story Cold Ayan, in 1990, Magic Wings, in 1993, Comet Man. The fairy tale Shaman Tree, published in 1991 in the magazine Soviet Literature on Foreign Languages, was translated into Spanish and Yakut languages.


However, Serge Ratz did not limit himself to reworking local folklore, even though it was its distinctiveness that gave a new impulse to the writers work. Fantasy stories and novellas demonstrate his remarkable talent and unrestrained imagination. The adventures of the characters living in the fairytale world that Serge Ratz created in his fantastic story The Magic Ring of Shan-Shara grab both adult and child readers from the very first pages. From the 1990s Ratzs books begin to be published by notable Russian publishing houses («Russian-Asian Publishing House», Volgograd; National Publishing House of the Saha Republic; «Golden Century» Saint Petersburg; «Avtorskaya pesnya» Moscow).


Its interesting to note that the vivid imagery of Ratzs writing made it well-suited for theatre. His plays Magic wings and Golden snow inspired musical-dramatic performance by the Meetings musical and drama theatre in Gatchina. In 1991 the State Opera and Ballet Theater in the city of Yakutsk put on a ballet based on the Magic Wings fairytale. At present the production of the fairytale play The Tycoons Revival is being prepared. 


But the world of fantasy could not hold the writers whole attention. Its too difficult to run away from reality when you work every day with very mundane and complicated problems. His work in the state security brought the writer to encounter real life events which at times were so extraordinary that even the most farfetched imagination wouldnt have been able to invent them. This priceless experience needed an outlet. And so Serge Ratz turned to writing in the criminal genre. 


This way the novel Picnic over an Abyss (2006, 2009)  and the story collection The Third Candidate (2007) were born. Picnic over an Abyss is basically a thriller in which the characters will to live is severely tested. Tragic episodes of the Afghan war, illegal diamond sales, psychic séances The novel is based on many real facts and events, even though at times they seem like a result of the fantasy of the author who managed to link the unusual fates of his characters into a whole. At this moment there is a TV series being filmed based on this novel.


The protagonist of the Third Candidate story collection is a retired KGB special ops officer. He solves most difficult crimes and comes out a wner in his fight with organized crime.Both the novel and the stories were published by Saint Petersburg publishing houses and found their readers. Serge Ratz loves travelling. His impressions after travelling in the Near East turned into something rather unexpected: he started writing haiku poems. Those unusual poems made up the Singing Eternity book published by Golden Century of Saint Petersburg in 1999.    


Serge Ratz dedicated 20 years of his life to service, and the history of security services is a constant theme in his research and creative activities. Already in Yakutia, using the materials from the archive of the Yakut ASSR KGB, he wrote a play called The End of the Raven, which was performed in 1988 on the Yakut Republic radio. The first part of the novel Picnic over an Abyss was mostly written based on archive materials and the remembrances of people who participated in the described events.


Also based on unique archive materials are the historical studies done by Serge Ratz:  «Special Operations of NKVD in the 30s» (operation Duck  the liquidation of Lev Trotsky) (2006), «The deportation of anti-Soviet intelligentsia by OGPU, 1922» (the Chekist magazine, 2008), «The role played by Western secret services in the collapse of the Russian empire» (2007), «Notes for a portrait of I.G. Starinov» (2009), «KGB of USSR in the solution of the political conflict in Afghanistan», «The historical portrait of G.S.Syroezhkin» (2010), «The USSR counselor system as an instrument of solving political conflicts (1979-1989)» (2009), «Afghanistan as a subject of conflict in the geopolitical standoff between USSR and USA» (2010).


At the 20th anniversary of the removal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan at the initiative of Serge Ratz a book of reminiscences of the former officers of KGB USSR was published under the title Leningrads chekists in Afghanistan. Taking upon himself the hard work of the compiler, he managed to create a unique monument to that tragic war. Presently his next books are being prepared for publication, the study USSR military counterintelligence in Afghanistan and the multipart SF novel «Lost in the Parallel World».   

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