This book was based on an incomplete manuscript that my father Robie Macauley was working on when he died on November 20th, 1995. He had planned to devote the last years of his life to writing a series of novels which he had been elaborating in his mind over the course of several decades. Unfortunately he was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in February, 1995 and wrote much of this book while undergoing chemotherapy and radiation therapy. I accompanied him to the hospital on one occasion and watched him scribbling in a notebook in the time-honored ritual of pen and paper performed by so many other novelists throughout history.
He spoke to me lovingly of the concept for this book which I thought bizarre at the time; I dismissed the story of a citadel in the ice as rather implausible science fiction.
In 2010 my stepmother Pamela Painter graciously gave me the unfinished 112-page manuscript along with my father’s research notes. Upon reading it for the first time I realized that this story was not pure invention, and a brief investigation revealed that during World War I, both the Austro-Hungarian Army and the Italians built extensive and sophisticated installations under the alpine glaciers, including the Ortler, and that much information about these works is available. Virtually everything in his manuscript was based on historical facts that my father carefully researched at the Athenaeum Library in Boston.
I decided to finish the book, adhering as closely as possible to my father’s original conception and leaving most of his prose unchanged. I hope it approximates what he himself would have written.
Robie Macauley’s career spanned 50 years during which he published fiction, The Disguises of Love (1952), The End of pity and Other Stories (1957), A Secret History of Time to Come (1979) and a popular textbook on writing (Technique in Fiction, 1966), plus over a hundred short stories.
He taught literature and writing at Bard College, The University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop, The University of North Carolina, Kenyon College, The University of Illinois, Emerson College, and the Harvard Extension. During the final years of his career he was a Senior Editor at Houghton Mifflin Publishing Company.
Cameron Macauley has worked in humanitarian aid and international development since 1984. He is currently Trauma Rehabilitation Specialist at James Madison University’s Center for International Stabilization and Recovery. He has published short fiction in The North American Review, The Sonora Review, Prism International, and Quick Fiction.