Author’s sci-fi thriller draws on his real-life experiences

Explosives, world travel and wars. Marc Meyers’ personal and professional adventures in these areas inspired his science fiction thriller Chechnya Jihad (Sunbelt Publications, 2010).

Meyers (PhD materials science ’74), an explosives expert and a distinguished professor of materials science at the University of California, San Diego, wove elements of his own life into the novel’s prose.

Set during the 1994 Chechen-Russian War, the book follows Jean-Claude Delvaux, an engineering professor who accidentally invents the world’s most powerful explosive. After the explosive is stolen from Delvaux’s New Mexico laboratory, he embarks on a covert mission to retrieve it from a Russian biological warfare lab in Siberia.

Delvaux witnesses the strife in the Slavic region and stays to help the Chechen Muslims fight for their independence by using his superexplosive to destroy Russian tanks. Delvaux later returns to the U.S., resentful of the violence and tragedies he experienced during the war. Twelve years later, love and loyalty lure Delvaux back into conflict, this time to Afghanistan during al-Qaida’s jihad.

Chechnya Jihad explores human relationships through the perspective of conflict. Meyers’ experience during a technological exchange program with Russian scientists from 1994–96 sparked his interest in the subject. While attending a conference at the base of the Caucasus Mountains near Chechnya, Meyers says he could feel the tension and animosity between the Russians and Chechen Muslims. He wrote Chechnya Jihad to illuminate a conflict he says few people around the world know about, and to educate readers about the positive values of Islam.

Meyers is no stranger to political conflict. He grew up in João Monlevade, Brazil, and served in the Brazilian army during an oppressive military regime, he says. When he was 22, Meyers fled Brazil after government officials flagged him as a terrorist because of a poem he published that ridiculed the military.

Meyers says his experiences prepared him to write from a place of compassion for people who have suffered under military regimes, prejudices and hardships. He hopes Chechnya Jihad will teach readers that violence always leads to tragedy and is never a solution to conflict.


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