Radiant State opens with a rocket being launched into space, powered by the detonations of nuclear bombs – a ‘magazine of two thousand apricots, rack upon rack of potent solar fruits’. It’s watched by President-Commander of the New Vlast Osip Rizhin. Those who have read Wolfhound Century and Truth and Fear, the earlier books in Peter Higgins’s Wolfhound Century trilogy, will notice two things in particular: atomic power, which saved the Vlast at the eleventh hour in its war against the Archipelago, has been put to new uses; and Rizhin is now the Vlast’s supremo. Anyone who knew of his past life as Josef Kantor has, it appears, been eradicated.
The Vlast is loosely the USSR circa the 1930s. Chapters open with quotations from Soviet voices, such as those of Mandelstam, Khlebnikov, Nekrasov and Stalin, the last of these inexorably called to mind by the book’s antagonist being originally named Josef. There’s even a gigantic statue of Rizhin, a mighty