A few years back I was at a talk by Misha Glenny, who is best known for his writings about the Balkans. He waxed lyrical about his childhood discovery of the Balkans through Tintin’s adventures in Syldavia, particularly in King Ottakar’s Sceptre first published in 1939. But then he finished with a riff about how the Cold War would have treated Syldavia; probably it ended up as effectively a US protectorate, with history of suspicion of the Communist neighbours in Borduria and mutual ill-treatment of each other’s respective minorities.

As I came back from Vienna yesterday I passed by the huge model Tintin rocket in the airport (which is itself something of an icon of Belgian culture) and it occurred to me that of course Syldavia had a space programme, as told in Destination Moon and Explorers on the Moon from 1953 and 1954. I was thinking to myself, wouldn’t it be interesting to set a short story of someone investigating, perhaps even trying to revive the Syldavian space programme from half a century ago?

This was on my mind as I drove across Brussels today for a lunch, and to my surprise I found that I ended up sitting opposite the very same Misha Glenny. He was delighted with the concept, and more or less gave me his blessing for it. Now I just have to find some time to write it up… but it’s a good excuse to go out and stock up on Tintin (as if having a literate four-year-old weren’t excuse enough).

One thought on “Syldavia

  1. Ew, hope you and F are both feeling all better soon. I’ve been fortunate with my teeth (they might be untidy but they’re very healthy) but I am prone to coughs and colds and have had pneumonia twice. It was very very unpleasant indeed (to put it mildly), so I certainly hope poor F doesn’t actually develop it!

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