by John Joyce


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Because of my personal interest in Extra-Sensory Perception (ESP), I spent a great deal of time researching it. Here is only a fraction of what I found out. You can see from this brief extract of my researches why linking remote viewing to nuclear submarines was such a plausible idea for the Cold War thriller Fire & Ice.

Military interest in remote-viewing (RV)

This goes back at least to the 1950’s when the Russians were the world leaders in the use of extra-sensory perception for military purposes. Their research in this area was concentrated on military uses of biophysical field effects and telekenesis (the ability to move objects at a distance), as well as the search for the biological ‘psi-genes’ that promote and mediate RV in human subjects and the biophysical fields involved in telekenesis. This led the Russians to study the biological basis of RV.

The Russians were always been more advanced than the US in the development of RV and biophysical remote mind-control technology (RMCT).  They were better funded in this area and adopted a very scientific approach to remote viewing as a method of spying, while the US preferred hard techology such as spy planes, satellites and the like. It was only in the 1960’s that the Americans decided to catch up with remote viewing programmes of their own, but found them difficult to control and fell back on conventional electronic techniques of surveillance.

The Scientific Basis of Remote Viewing

For RV to work, the subject must project ‘something’ of themselves out of their body to distant places so that remote locations can be viewed. Research indicates that this "something" is the biophysical field which practicioners of yoga call the "aura". Auras can sometimes be seen around people (or indeed photographed with Kirlean photography).

The Russians used every means at their disposal to develop this skill in suitable subjects – drugs, hypnosis, invasive brain surgery, electronic implant technology and a number of electromagnetc, electrostatic, magnetic and psychotronic means - to boost the latent psi abilities of carefully selected psi-able Russians.

It has also been suggested that the act of calming the mind and lowering the frequency of brain wave patterns release psi and RV ability ( by means of mediation, religious practices, drugs etc.). Australian Aborigines (and North American Indians) have long possessed a traditional body of knowledge about their "Dreamtime reality", which is also manifested in out-of-body-experiences (OOBE’s). In Fire & Ice, the part-Havasu Indian Ruth Weylon has inherited this ability from her mother and grandmother, and been recruited by the CIA to a remote-viewing programme, which has brought her to the brink of madness.

As the story progresses and the need for her unique talents becomes critical, she is hunted by both the CIA and the mafia as the world teeters on the brink of nuclear war.

Can Anyone "Remote View"?

The research I've done on the subject suggests that, if the ability to "remote view" means slowing down, or reducing the frequency, of brain waves then methods of relaxing the mind and shutting out ‘inner dialogue’, such as meditation, should facilitate remote viewing.

Once the mind is slowed, then the subject should be able to focus the stilled mind by imagining it as a blank screen. From there, they may be able to then direct their attention by focussing on that screen and, in theory, project themselves out of their body to any point on the planet.

Did the Americans Really Use Telepathy on the submarine Nautilus in 1954?

This story began with an article in the French magazine Constellation, which published an article in 1959 called “Thought Transmission – Weapon of War” (followed by a more in-depth treatment by Gerard Messadié in “Science et Vie”. Both articles made the assumption that telepathy was being used to communicate with atomic submarines under ice.

In Fire & Ice, I take that assumption one step further - in that, if the Americans had such abilities at their disposal, the Russians would race to develop them too. What happens when these abilities are hijacked during the critical period of the Cuban Missile Crisis, is the basis for the plot of the novel.

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I've always been a great submarine buff and so researching this topic was great fun for me. The submarine Captain Petrachkov commands is K- 6, a Project 627 Leninsky Komosol Class – “Kit” or (November) nuclear attack submarine.

November Class Submarine


It is a NATO designated “November Class” and is a direct descendant of the K-3, the first Russian nuclear submarine.  It was commissioned in December 1961. The Russians designated their submarines according to their cruising ranges, and a “K” class submarine was nuclear powered with unlimited range.

It was designed as an anti-ship submarine and has very limited capability against hostile submarines. (Because the target of Russian subs was always thought to be the US carrier fleet).

November Class Submarine front

K-6 was designed by the same design bureau (Special Design Bureau 143) in St. Petersburg, that designed the first Russian nuclear submarine K-3, and built at the Admiralty Yard in St. Petersburg.

November Class submarines were known as Project 627A in Russia and 13 were built in all. Most were rushed into production, the shipyard and government sea trial programmes were combined, telescoped and abbreviated, taking no more than six or seven days at sea.

Then, without mechanical inspections, the ships were sent up north, with spaces and quarters unfinished and unpainted. Not one of these submarines was put through its complete programme of trials. Their power plants and weapons systems were not comprehensively inspected, despite the fact that there was still a long way to go before the installation and testing of their reactors and reactor auxiliary systems. Many left the shipyards with defects and incomplete assemblies and had to undergo repairs and final construction at their bases.

In addition, the hulls were made of very crude construction and were shoddily maintained.  Hull plates were of irregular thicknesses and of inconsistent manufacture. Internal hatches did not fit snugly and were obviously not watertight. Some sections of the hull were supported by wooden shoring where poor-quality welding had failed. High pressure air and hydraulic piping showed signs of excessive leakage. In some sections there would have been scores of movable lead weights that were used to trim the boat by hand when at sea.

The problems of commanding a submarine like this in a time of nuclear emergency are described in detail in Fire & Ice.

What it's like to be in a submarine

Submarine Torpedo Room

Forward Torpedo Room of USS Squalus

As well as combing through the web for details of the 1960's Russian submarine fleet, I also visited the US wartime submarine USS Squalus in port in San Francisco with Jane during my research trip to the Grand Canyon.

Jane in submarine control room

Jane with veteran US submariner in the control room of USS Squalus

That gave me an insight into the cramped conditions that submariners worked in and what it must have been like to be packed into the control room during moments of high tension. I hope I've managed to convey some of that claustrophobia in the novel.

Submarine at Gosport

I also spent some time at the Royal Naval Submarine Museum in Gosport, England which is a fantastic place for submarine fans like me (remember I've also written a series of children's books based around the fictional submarine commander Captain Horatio Nelson Cockle and his submarine Cormorant).

Sub control room

At Gosport there are mock ups of submarine command and control stations as well as a wealth of displays, books and demonstrations on submarines.

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Flamingo Hotel

Part of my research for Fire & Ice included a trip to America with Jane, including a visit to Las Vegas where an important poker scene in the Flamingo Casino takes place. I was fascinated by the atmosphere in Vegas and how the gambling tables are a complete world in themselves - with no windows or clocks to tell you what time of day or night it is.

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The most enjoyable piece of research I did for Fire & Ice was a field trip to the Grand Canyon with my Jane. This trip not only included an exploration around the southern rim, where Ruth lives in the book and where the fictional souvenir shop she works in is located, but also a trek down into the Canyon itself into the real world of Fire & Ice. This started at dawn on the first day, took us to the Phantom Ranch at the bottom that afternoon, and then back up through Indian Gardens and on up to the Rim again on the third day.

John and Jane at the RimBattleship Rock

A few of the pictures we took on that trip are included, along with a few shots of the helicopter ride out over the canyon, just to get a feel for the character of Hooper, the helicopter pilot in the novel. Today, the only helicopters allowed to fly inside the Canyon belong to the National Parks Service. But back in 1962, at the time of Fire & Ice and the Cuban Missile Crisis, tour helicopters were allowed to fly inside the Canyon itself.

High view of Colorado River

View of the Colorado River from the Kaibab Trail

Pit toiletJane by the Colorado

The pit toilet where Ruth has her battle with the Mafia in Fire & Ice / Jane by the Colorado

Choppers at the Grand Canyon

Choppers at the Grand Canyon


Fire & Ice will be available soon


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Copyright John Joyce 2008