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Лубенский Андрей
A Short History of Russian “Fantastica”


There is no point in beginning the story of Russian fantasy much too distant in time than from popular fairy tales in which there were flying carpets, seven league boots, and a table with 24 hour food. It wasn\'t SF then. But to give the beginnings of Russian fantasy closer ties to our time means paying no attention to the considerable stretch of time which Russian fantasy had passed through. The fantastic narrative became a genre equal to Russian prose in the middle twenties of the Nineteenth Century. V.M Marcovich has written, "At the end of the (Eighteen) twenties and by the thirties Russian prose writers began to write" in a fantastical way. "The number of works of such kind increased uninterruptedly"    He considers the beginning of Russian fantastical literature to be the year 1825 when there was published A.A. Pogorelsky\'s work LEFORTOVO\'S CUPOLA and A. A. Bestudgev\'s ASHEN CASTLE (the first title of this work was BLOOD FOR BLOOD). Marcovich points out that these works were influenced by Hoffman\'s fairy tales, but he recognizes they were quite original. Soon new novels put in an appearance: THE DOUBLE, OR MY EVENINGS IN MALOROSSIA by Pogorelsky-Perovsky (1828), EVENINGS IN A HAMLET NEAR DIKANKA by N. V. Gogol (1831-1832), MIXED FAIRY TALES by V.F. Odoevsky (1833), EVENING ON THE HOPER RIVER by M.N. Zagoskin (1834), and many others. V.F. Odoevsky\'s utopian novel THE YEAR 4338 depicted the Russia of the forty-fourth century. According to Odoevsky, the colossal speed of technical progress would not affect Russia\'s social life; there would be a Monarch and privileged estates, but the latter would consist of scientists and poets. According to this utopian story Russia would be a prosperous country owing to achievements in science and enlightenment, and the West would be in a deep crisis. The failure of the West\'s profit motive was also predicted in his book THE NAMELESS CITY (1839). Fairy tale fantasy of that period of time is represented by such authors as I.V. Kirevsky, K.S. Aksakov, and A. A. Pogorelsky. A. A. Pogorelsky\'s narrative THE BLACK HEN, OR INHABITANTS OF THE VAULT (1829) is still in print and is popular with children (the author indicated his work to be "a magical narrative for children"). Using the theme of the story, records have been released as well as an animated cartoon. Also at that time were published stories by A. A. Bestudgev-Marlinsky (THE TERRIBLE DIVINATION, 1831), E.A. Baratinsky (THE RING, 1832), O.M Somov (THE ORDER FROM THE NEXT WORLD, 1830), KIKIMORA (THE FRIGHT), 1830 and THE KIEV WITCHES, (1833). It is interesting that O.M. Somov justified the incredibility of the plots by quoting folklore tradition, which was always strong in Russian romanticism. One may also mention A.K. Tolstoy\'s story  "Upir", N.V. Gogol\'s "Wiy", "The nose", and finally A.S. Pushkin\'s THE QUEEN OF SPADES. "In THE QUEEN OF SPADES", wrote I.V. Vinogradov, "the border line between fantasy and reality is attempted to be defined, but this is not achieved. It is as though the author cannot determine it." This statement by the well-known expert may be attributed to many literary works of that time. And still, in spite of the "border", F.M. Dostoevsky considered THE QUEEN OF SPADES was "the height of perfection in the art of fantasy," noting that after reading the story, "you cannot decide whether it was only Herman\'s imagination, or was he really a man who was on the verge of another world. That\'s art!"  

You see, Russian romanticism didn\'t continue alone, without fantasy; neither did the West\'s romanticism. V.M. Marcovich has written in his long preface to the anthology RUSSIAN FANTASTICAL PROSE IN THE AGE OF ROMANTICISM, "The development of Russian fantasy in the twentieth and thirtieth decades (Nineteenth Century - A.L.) turned out to be a complex process. But despite an apparent remoteness between some branches of Russian fantasy there is a common trend in fantasy which attempted to express as clearly as possible the new ideas about the undiscovered fundamental laws of the universe. <...> All the forms of fantasy contributed to the progress of art." V. M. Marcovich attributed the utopian tendencies of early Russian realism to the influence of fantastical prose. His statement was supported by I. V. Vinogradov, who remarked that the fantasy of romanticism "is first of all the fantasy of intelligence and of the imagination." He observed also that "it is very logical and rational despite an apparent disorderliness."   Perhaps the fantasy of romanticism is nearer to the Middle Ages than modern times. The fantasy researcher T. A. Chernishova is of that opinion. She wrote, "The old system of fantastical characters, which was formed in the depth of the pagan world and early Christianity,  underwent a crisis at the time of romanticism. It had little to correspond to the spirit of rationalism in modern times and to the conception of the world which changed its central characteristics. Late romantics began to change their orientation, but the formation of the new system of fantastical characters falls to modern science fiction.  


So, Russian fantasy passed under the banner of romanticism in the nineteenth century. Of course, there were works which still interest us in our time, because they contain a fair amount of scientific and technical pre-visions. Such works may be attributed to science fiction, as we understand it today. (For instance, in N. Shevlonski\'s IN THE WORLD OF THE FUTURE novel, 1892, was depicted a journey to the North Pole which was put into practice using a large vehicle). There were utopian and anti-utopian works, parodies and literary mysteries such as K. Sluchevski\'s CAPTAIN NEMO IN RUSSIA. This narrative was written and published in 1898 as an accidentally found work of Jules Verne. One of the main characters of this talented mystery was an Australian by the name of Mr. Tick Roy (Fich Roy) who decided to change the climate and to settle New Zand island in the Russian North. The insensitive Australian built greenhouses there, which were surrounded by electric fences and wherein were grown palm trees and cacti. He utilized wind energy and even "the magnetic power of the northern lights", which aroused Captain Nemo\'s envy. But little by little romanticism, which revealed a person\'s mystery and soul, moved aside, letting social research take its place. In 1907 the magazine THE IDEAL LIFE was released in St. Petersburg. The magazine aimed to make its readers acquainted "... with the more outstanding works of that kind of literature, which was interested mainly in the life of the future". The well known historian V. Bulgrov wrote "The Russian magazine differs much from Mr Gernsback\'s WONDER STORIES, which valued "... a special bewitching type of a novel which included some science facts and daring pre -visions.." very highly. Only the feasibility of the principle inventions in engineering and science interested the father of American fantasy. But it was not the technology of hypothetical tomorrows that was most interesting to those in Russia, which was torn by the storms of revolution.   The publishers of the Russian magazine especially marked out utopias, i.e. the social not the technical aspect of the future which must be the main part of literature "interested in the life of the future". Hence one can understand the name of the Russian magazine".  

In 1908 A. Bogdanov\'s socialist utopia, THE RED STAR, was published. In that utopia "...the sanguineous, energetic and boiling communist world was depicted" . A. Bogdanov wrote yet another two utopias, ENGINEER MANN (1913) and THE HOLIDAY OF IMMORTALITY (1914), in which, as V. Bugrov noted, "was visible the indecision interpreting the Proletarian Revolution. (At first they must raise the culture of the Russian Proletariat to a proper level and then lead them in the struggle) . V. Lenin who, as we know, carried his utopia into effect without any preliminary rising of proletarian culture, criticized A. Bogdanov harshly.

Russia buzzed with excitement; its literature buzzed with excitement.

In 1914 the First World War descended. The bloody XX Century came into its own. In that year, a writer Y. Perelman introduced the term "science fiction" for the first time in Russia. But one year before that event (1n 1913), A. Ossendovski\'s narrative THE SHIP HORROR, which used the genre\'s background extensively, was published. The plot of the novel is very simple. Some scientists bred a new species of gigantic fungus, which was called "Plasmody". The fungus reproduced quickly and it also heated the soil. It seemed all was well, but the plasmody went out of control because the scientist Yacov Silin, who dreamed of controlling the whole world, infected the ocean with the fungus. The fungus annihilated fish and even fishing boats. The scientists were forced to struggle against their own creation. "A fantastic story about a gigantic fungus which was created for the public weal, but suddenly was changed into a colossal disaster, and rings true for contemporary readers", wrote V. Bulgrov , "and in our own time this "suddenly" repeats too frequently. Remember: common to all mankind is the basis of the struggle against fascism and the monstrous mushroom over Hiroshima... genetics\' colossal progress and biological weapons... men\'s journey to the Moon and a finger lying on the firing button of a ballistic missile..."  

In 1914 A. Ossendovski published the novel THE APPROACHING STRUGGLE in which he foretold of the rise of technology and its bankruptcy because technology could not ensure mankind\'s happiness. In 1922 A. Ossendovski settled down in Poland and wrote many books in both English and Polish, but his first fantastic novels were written in Russia. The year 1917 divides Russia\'s history into two parts, which are "before the Revolution" and "after the Revolution". From 1917 we speak of Soviet fantasy, and the first Soviet writer was V. Itin, who wrote a novel THE GONGURI COUNTRY. V. Itin was born in 1894 in Ufa city. He studied jurisprudence at Petersburg University, but the Revolution changed a lawyer into a commissar. V. Itin was in the war with Kolchak; in 1920 he joined the Bolshevik party and after the Civil War was finished he settled in the Siberian town of Kansk, where he was the editor of a local newspaper and a Disciplinary Court chairman. In Kansk he wrote the novel THE GONGURI COUNTRY which was published in 1922. The book was printed "by faded type on rough paper which formally had been used for wrapping sugar-lumps and it was bound in board because of a shortage of paper".  V. Itin depicted a future life which was without war and crime. The well-known researcher A. Britikov wrote of THE GONGURI COUNTRY in his major work THE RUSSIAN SOVIET SCIENCE FICTION NOVEL: "There are optimistic and new (for that time) natural science surmises in the story. The story plot depicted the way to the future as a long and hard struggle against class enemies and also against the barbarity of people that must travel this road. V. Itin thought that communism  would be built by the "laws of the heart". In 1924 Mrs. Marietta Shaginyan published a novel MESS MEND or YANKEES IN PETERSBURG and hid under the pen-name "Tim Dollar". In the novel are described the adventures of an American inventor\'s son in Russia. The authors of the novel ATLANTIDA UNDER WATER (1927), O.  Savich and V. Piotrovski also hid themselves under the penname Rene Cadu. The heroes of this novel set out to search for a world which, so they believed, did not exist (the expedition worked for its image - it was created for advertising) and suddenly they discovered a real universe, Atlantida. There were other novels by "foreigners" and a special term "the spurious novel" came into use. V. Bugrov attributed it to such novels and also to a novel THE NEW LIFE VALLEY (1928) which was written by Teo Elli. Of course, it was a penname. The author\'s real name was F. Ilyin, who was a scientist from Bakul. THE NEW LIFE VALLEY was really "an exclusion from the spurious novels of the twentieth C", wrote V. Bugrov, "because F. Ilyin sought shelter under a pen-name not wishing to mystify anybody. He simply followed an old tradition which existed among scientists.  Another spurious novel BLEF (THE BLUFF) (1928) told of a practical joke. An American journalist group, for the purpose of increasing the circulation of their newspaper, impersonates Martians arrival on Earth and write reports about the event. But the practical joke backfired. It was written that the author of this novel was a certain Ris Whilki Li and the well-known Soviet writer A. Tolstoi in the preface wrote of his meeting and conversation with that mythical American. (The real author of the novel was B. Lipatov.) The true pearl of fantasy is A. Tolstoy\'s novel AELITA. The novel was first published in the magazine KRASNAYA NOV (THE NEW RED) in #6 (1922) and in #2 (1923), and is subtitled THE DECLINE OF MARS. As was written in a commentary to the third volume of A. Tolstoy\'s collected works, "AELITA is a science fiction novel in which the topic of interplanetary flight combines with social and political problems. Describing life on Mars and the Martian society, it shows the stormy revolt of the oppressed inhabitants of the planet and the hesitation of their leader, Mr. Gor. The writer, thus disguised, entered into a controversy with H. G. Well\'s social theories, with Spengler\'s advocacy of the "Decline of Europe", and several other bourgeois theories. It showed the Martian Mr. Tuskuba, who wanted a civilization for certain selected persons. A. Tolstoi exposed Mr. Tuskuba\'s anti-populist views and his traits common with fascist ideology" (p.708). The heroes of the novel,  (Mr. Gusev and Mr Los) arrived on Mars  where a Martian woman by the name of Aelita told them about the history of Mars: In time immemorial a fierce tribe of Magacites moved to Mars from the Earth. When Gusev and Los arrived on Mars there was a civilization for "selected" persons on the planet. The civilization was slowly declining, and the newcomers actively intervened in its current events. An interesting subject is the combination of exercises into the history of Mars and the Earth with A.Tolstoy\'s talent, which did its part and the novel was a bestseller for decades in the Soviet Union. In 1924 the producer Ya. Protazanov filmed the novel. The major SF award in Russia is named in honor of AELITA. Another of A. Tolstoy\'s science fiction novels is ENGINEER GARIN\'S HYPERBOLOID (1926-1927)  which was also a great success. In addition A. Tolstoy wrote an SF play THE REVOLT OF THE MACHINES and a story THE FIVE PERSON\'S ALLIANCE in which he cautioned against the danger of using the achievements of science and engineering to seize power. The author pre-supposed that American capitalists pursued such an object. In the Twentieth Century SF novels and stories by such famous literary artists as M. Bulgakov, Vs. Ivanov, V. Kataev and N. Aseev appeared. "The Revolution swept away the old capitalist world. The new socialist world was only just conceived and it was the natural course of things that young Soviet writers wanted on the one hand to settle accounts with the world of capitalism, to show all its insolvency and, on the other hand, to represent in full measure the joyous world of the future" wrote V. Bugrov in the book THE QUEST FOR TOMORROW. And nobody knew what real socialism would bring and how many human lives it would annihilate. But it appears that belief in a glowing future, in social and engineering progress was a sincere belief.


Romanticism came again, but this time it was socialist romanticism.

The storm of the Revolution and the Civil war had left an ineffaceable mark upon all kinds of art and also upon scientific fantasy, of course. As we tried to show, Russian SF didn\'t become as romantic and mystical as it was in the Nineteenth Century, but it did become mainly social. So what was remarkable, at first sight, was the metamorphosis which occurred with Russian SF in the thirties. Saving all outward signs of social literature and using the basic facts of science it came again in due course to romanticism. But that romanticism was of a special kind; it was "socialist romanticism" (I think that the term "socialist romanticism" is known to Western readers, but I want to use the term "socialist romanticism" for the purpose of describing some of the processes in Soviet SF of that period of time). It is astonishing only at first sight. The Revolution had finished, the new ruling class - the nomenclature  - had won victory and strengthened their place in society, and the totalitarian State began to create its own myths in which the romance of labor, "the romance of the five year plans", and "the romance of the subjugation of the North" played the leading roll. And with that "romance" they directed the brains of several generations of the Soviet people. It is only now, for example, Shalamov\'s stories have been published where the author, knowing about the GULAG from his own experience, shows that it was no romantic volunteers that subjugated the North, but it was done so by so called "enemies of the Soviet people". At that time the powerful propaganda machine was started up. And Stalin used it, in particular, to deceive many Western intellectuals such as Feichtwanger, etc. Soviet SF became a component of the machine, and just be thankful to the fact it acquired its romantic form. At least that form let the authors publish their works.

The founder of socialist romanticism in Russian fantasy was the writer Alexander Belyaev. He was also one of the founders of Soviet SF. In spite of this fact, Belyaev\'s works were based upon scientific facts and upon the extrapolation of its possibilities. That fact was noted by H. G. Wells, who met with Belyaev in 1934. Herbert Wells incidentally noted that "... there is incredibly a lot of fantasy in Western science fiction, and there is so incredibly little of science." It is interesting that such a condition has redoubled from that time, and not only in the West. So Stanislav Lem says in his article SCIENCE FICTION AND COSMOLOGY: "SF fences itself off so hard from cosmological science, that it isn\'t able to perceive signals, e.g. new information, from science with the exception of the information which succeeded in putting itself in the first pages of some newspapers (such as rumours about black holes)" (1977). And further, "But nothing is neglected in modern SF as much as intelligence..." Belyaev\'s works contained enough science. As researcher, M. Sokolova remarks, "Belyaev wished that all scientific achievements would be submitted to the interests of the people." A. Belyaev showed interest in all that was to subjugate Nature, though it was a man-made rain (VCBID, 1930), or suburbs (THE GREEN SYMPHONY, 1930), or using wind energy (THE KITE, 1931), the extraction of water in a desert (THE SUN HORSES, 1931), or problems of peat-cutting (THE DEVIL\'S BOG, 1931). He wrote about wind power, atomic engines, gliding, using chemistry in farming, and about metallic dirigibles. Some of Belyaev\'s works are dedicated to the problems of conquering the depths of the ocean. In the novel UNDERWATER FARMERS (1936) he depicted a Soviet farm (Sovchoz) at the bottom of the sea, where they cultivated water-plants. Huge plantations gave much farm produce and valuable raw materials (: M. Sokolova. From her afterword to the collection PROFESSOR DOWEL\'S HEAD ). It was what was later named "the fantasy of the near future". Such fantasy extrapolated some trends of science and engineering to the future (to the near future, as a general rule). Many of those predictions came true, but it is for these reasons that A. Belyaev was named the Soviet Jules Verne. In Leningrad he read Tsiolkovski\'s works  and took up Tsiolkovski\'s ideas, though at that time many authorities on science were sceptical about those ideas. Belyaev wrote THE AIRSHIP (1934), where he used Tsiolkovski\'s ideas about metallic dirigibles. THE JUMP INTO NOTHING (1934) was where he described a journey to Venus, and in THE STAR KATS  he anticipated (in the wake of Tsiolkovski) the appearance of laboratories and stations in outer space, and journeys to the Moon.

The most popular of Belyaev\'s novels were THE AMPHIBIOUS MAN (1928), and PROFESSOR DOWEL\'S HEAD (1937). There were two films based on the plots of these books. The novel THE AMPHIBIOUS MAN was about Professor Salvadore, who grafted a shark\'s gills to his adopted son and thus made him capable of living under water. In PROFESSOR DOWEL\'S HEAD Belyaev depicted a professor\'s head which could work without his body. The two novels were anti-bourgeois (anti-bourgeousness is the other side of socialist romanticism). The chief idea of the novels was that in bourgeois society all achievements of science and engineering did great harm to the people. Now we know this was not only in bourgeois society.... But in the 20\'s and 30\'s (the GULAG was created, millions of people were sent to prisons and hundred of thousands were shot dead) the revolutionary romanticism in Soviet SF had performed its role. "A. Belyaev wanted to show a beautiful future to his readers," wrote M. Sokolova, "he depicted lovely towns which were full of greenery, air and light; towns with an artificial climate, comfortable homes, airports on the roofs of buildings, electric cars, fast trains, towns where all the powers of Nature would be useful to people" . Did he write it sincerely? Undoubtedly. The creators of "socialist romanticism" were themselves deceived by that very romanticism. Those who were not deceived wrote about a wholly different subject. Michael Bulgakov (1891-1940) at that time wrote THE DEVILIADA, THE FATAL EGGS, THE DOG\'S HEART and finally the immortal novel THE MASTER AND MARGUERITA. But M. Bulgakov did not expect that his works would be published. And they were not published, then. Evgeny Zamyatnin wrote the dystopia WE. Alexander Grin continued and developed the traditions of Russian romanticism. But it was only "socialist romanticism" that became the official policy of Soviet SF for a long time.

I would like to say more about Alexander Grin, because he stood alone in Russian literature, although he was completely within the bounds of its traditions. Yet during Grin\'s life he was called the Russian Edgar Poe, the Russian Bret Gart, the Russian Jack London. He was accused that his pen-name (A. Grin) was picked for prestige as a foreign name.  But A. Grin was not an imitator. "A. Grin was not a transplanted exotic plant growing on the edge of the soil of Russian literature," wrote the researcher of Grins creations, V. Vichrov. "And if we look for the origin of his creative style then we find it in popular fairy tales , in Gogol\'s THE NOSE or THE PORTRAIT, in Dostoevsky, and in the fine novels and stories of the Russian writer N. P. Vagner (1828-1907)  who used the pen name Cat Murlike. Vagner\'s book was well known from A. Grin\'s childhood. <...> Alexander Grin is not an exotic flower or a transplanted one, he is not the other person on the multi-colored cornfield of Russian literature; he grew on its soil, his roots are in that soil."   A. Grin himself did not regard one of his most famous novels, THE SCINTILLATING UNIVERSE, as a fantastic novel. He spoke of it as a "symbolic novel", where "no man flew, but the spirit did". However, it was undoubtedly a philosophical fantasy.

The official critics of Soviet literature glossed over the works of the Grins, Bulgakovs, and the Zamyatnins for a long time. Incidentally, Alexander Grin\'s fantastic world is quite an original phenomenon. Evgeny Zamyatnin\'s novel WE (1920) is a classic dystopia. It is a novel which has a warning. This novel "... was perceived by his contemporaries as a cruel caricature of the future socialist and communist society". "I" dissolved in WE, during Zamyatnin\'s lifetime (he was forced to leave Russian in 1931). The society which denied individuality was described by many authors. E. Zamyatnin is usually mentioned together with A. Huxley and G. Gruel. "But it is a great thing for us that E. Zamyatnin was the first," remarked O. Michailov  . Yes, Russia was the first. Then Germany followed Russia\'s example and today can anybody say that the world finally overcame the temptation of totalitarianism? E. Zamyatnin really brilliantly forecast a general tendency of socialism, which is the dissolution of I into We. Mathematician and publicist Igor Shafarevich wrote in the book SOCIALISM AS A PHENOMENON OF WORLD HISTORY, "At the least, three components of the socialist ideal - the destruction of private property, the destruction of the family, and equality - can be arrived at from one principle. This principle is the suppression of individuality. We can find some evidence that the socialist ideology is inimical to individuality. < ... > Marxism often voices a supposition that a person doesn\'t exist as an individual, that the individual is a pure invention of philosophers and that everyone is a member of the appointed class..."  E. Zamyatnin gave warning of danger. This danger was the creation of an anonymous society. But was he the first? Thomas Moore also described a rather terrible society, and not without reason he was prized in the manuals of Soviet scientific communism. I. Shafarevitch, though, reviewed the novel WE and gave the society created by the writer\'s fantasizing a comprehensive testimonial. However, I. Shafarevitch wrote about the real tendencies of real socialism. "We see that all the elements of the socialist ideal, such as the destruction of private property, family and hierarchy and hostility to religion can be considered as a display of the one fundamental principle, which is the suppression of individuality. We can see this principle in action if we can gather together the most typical traits which came into existence in socialist theory or practice during the two thousand five hundred years from Plato to the Berlin ComuneN1, and to construct a model of the "ideal" socialist society, although such a society never existed: People are dressed equally and their faces also look equal. They live in barracks, there is a labor service and after work people eat and seek relaxation at their work place. They walk only if their chiefs allow them to walk. Sexual activity and everything connected with it is checked by doctors and bureaucrats. All children are brought up in State creches and schools from the time they are born. Philosophy and art is completely political and are subordinated to the educational purposes for the State. Everything is geared to obey the one idea, which is the destruction or suppression of individuality, to such an extent that it is not a social force any more. Dostoevsky compared such a society with a bee hive or ant-hill. It is an accurate comparison. In this instance we really have a model of the ANONYMOUS SOCIETY . At any rate the Soviet powers quickly saw through Grin, Bulgakov, Planonov and Zamyatnin. (The witch-hunting of Zamyatnin began after his novel WE was published in the magazine RUSSIA\'S WILL in Prague. It was translated from English into Russian). Works by these authors (with the exception of Grin\'s novels) weren\'t published for quite a while. "... If we note the stormy social events in this country for the last three or four years then we can ask , who could foretell that the majority of masterpieces, which were rescued from oblivion, would belong to the fantasy genre?" wrote J. Medvedev . Those masterpieces were Zamyatnin\'s WE, Efremov\'s THE BULL\'S HOUR, Chavanov\'s MY BROTHER ALEXEI\'S JOURNEY TO THE PEASANT\'S UTOPIAN COUNTRY, Platonov\'s KOTLOVAN (THE FOUNTAIN PIT), CHEVENGUR, THE JUVENALIS SEA, and Bulgakov\'s THE FATAL EGGS, THE DEIVLIADA and THE DOG\'S HEART. These works were published by SAMIZDAT  and readers could only read them secretly. They always ran the risk of being imprisoned for such reading. Famous Russian fantasy and scientist Kir Bulichev  defined the 1930\'s as a fatal year for Soviet fantasy. ".... All the fantasy works of the great writers were published before 1930. As far as I know, only three writers continued to create fantasy, but they didn\'t hope to publish anything. They were M. Bulgakov, A. Platonov, and Vs. Ivanov. No other great literary artists wrote any fantastical works during the last ten years."   The changes that took place in Russia exerted influence upon its literature. The new economic police were abolished and people with differing opinions were put into prisons. (Frequently people were put into prison in order to acquire cheap labor, and it was exactly at that time the outrageous word RABCILA   appeared in the Russian language. Fantasy, as Kir Bulichev wrote, wasn\'t made an especial sacrifice. "Fantasy was in trouble because of its specific characteristics. Real fantasy can exist only when there is the possibility of seeking an Alternative"  But in a totalitarian society any seeking of alternatives has always been treasonable.

The author of the novel THE JOURNEY OF MY BROTHER ALEXEI TO THE PEASANT\'S UTOPIA, the scientist and economist Professor A. Chayanov, who published the novel under the pseudonym Ivan Kremnev in 1920, sought such an alternative. According to his utopia, peasants, not the proletariat, won victory. Could Stalin forgive such an attack on the idea of the proletariat\'s dictatorship? Of course he couldn\'t. And he did not forgive. Chayanov and many other economists were arrested. "And then," wrote Kir Bulichev, "there was an event unique in the history of world fantasy. Chayanov\'s utopia, MY BROTHER\'S JOURNEY, created the excuse for a political trial and the deaths of many scientists. Investigator Agranov found in Chayanov\'s utopia that in 1984 the ruling party in Soviet Russia would have the name the Labor Peasant\'s Party. The fantastical tale was announced as a manifesto for a group of conspirators and its utopian subject as a program for a actual existing party. Unfortunately life is more fantastical than any fantastic novel. Dozens of prisoners were subjected to torture and "acknowledged" that they belonged to the fantastical party. They pointed to Chayanov as the Chairman of the Party, and Chayanov himself, after he had looked through his old friends\' testimonies, also "acknowledged". The criminal procedure against the Labor Peasant\'s Party was closed. Chayanov was shot dead. It was a convincing lesson for Soviet writers."  

Many publishing houses and magazines were closed. "Between 1930 and 1935 was a period of death for Soviet fantasy," considered Kir Bulichev. Then he defined "fantasy of the near future" as a narrow political literature. (V. Goncharov. D. Dar (late A. Belyaev ) wrote, "\'near future fantasy\' was a result of the destruction of fantasy as a belles letters in the beginning of the 30\'s. "Near future fantasy" was a mode of existence for many writers including Alexander Belyaev, who was the greater of them."

Some re-animation of science fiction occurred towards the end of the 30\'s. It was provoked by the progress of science and technology and the approaching World War. All these facts demanded that young people seek new forms of training. Engineers (Nemtsov, Dolgushin, Ochotnikdov, Saparin, Vladko) entered SF and propagandistic fantasy novels were published. Among them were G. Adamov\'s THE SECRET OF THE TWO OCEANS, A. Kanzantsev\'s THE FLAMING ISLAND and P. Pavlenko\'s IN THE EAST. Pavlenko was even awarded with Stalin\'s Prize for the "right" foretelling of the victory over Japan. "It was the first case of Stalin\'s Prize being awarded to a fantasy novel," wrote Kir Bulichev.

As we can see, Stalin\'s regime treated SF (and all literature in general) very seriously. They punished writers for seeking out alternatives and they rewarded others for the "creative development" of Stalin\'s ideas. But these propagandistic SF novels were bad because they maintained an illusion about a quick and easy victory in the approaching war.

And war was not the time for fantasy. The total outcome of the 30\'s and 40\'s was that Soviet science fiction became a secondary kind of literature in reader\'s and publisher\'s eyes.



We have already shown that fantasy in Russia (the USSR) in Stalin\'s time did not have any significant achievements, and it was doomed to a subservient role in Soviet literature by the course of events. But, incidentally, the atmosphere of Soviet society was fantastic; the State had its myths and fantasies. S. I. Grabovski even proposed to consider Stalin as the greatest fantast. He wrote, "There is a great temptation to consider Stalin as the greatest science fiction author of all time. No-one before him and no-one after him could produce fantasy so complete that even H. G. Wells himself would believe it for some time during his visit to the USSR in the early 30\'s. No-one could turn his personal failures (peasantry collectivization, the first Five-year plan, the war against Finland) into somebody else\'s "dizziness from success" with catastrophic results for his own former comrades. At the very start of the period of collective farm organization, Stalin promised to make the USSR the granary of the whole world in three years. These years passed and the USSR was embraced by a disastrous famine. Six million people died of famine in the Ukraine alone, Agriculture had fallen into decay and even now hasn\'t come into its own. This simple fact is enough to enter into history one of the most horrendous villains. But even up till now... and after the August \'91 coup attempt failure - there are millions of people, even in the Ukraine, who consider Stalin as the greatest and wisest person; one who loved his people, and took care of them. Well, even Robert A. Heinlein and Isaac Asimov taken together have no such devoted fans as Stalin has  . In Stalin\'s dictatorship the conditions were such that any science fiction writer could only write about the theme "It\'s nice to live in the Soviet land" . And it will be better to live in the USSR in the near future. (Accordingly, one may write about "It\'s disgusting to live in capitalist countries" and it will be worse to live in such countries in the future). "... Soviet reality of the 30\'s-50\'s was an astonishing mix of utopian practice with the social myth and deliberate arbitrary fantasizing of the ruling elite," wrote s. I Grabovski, "No doubt that some grandiose projects, like the transarctic railroad, an underwater tunnel to the island of Sakhalin, etc,  were initiated by Stalin, not out of economic and political needs, but to leave his name in history. <...>. Literary science fiction of that period appeared as the necessary supplement to the general project of "building communism". It was "near future" science fiction, presented by a closed group of "ideologically correct" authors who were allowed to ponder future worlds" . If any author was not ideologically blameless, as officials saw it, then it was very dangerous for him and he would be in great trouble. (Later I shall show this,  as in the case of Soviet science fiction writer I. Efremov.) S. I. Grabovsky also drew attention to the antiecological orientation of Soviet SF (it seems it is the first mention about ecology in articles on Soviet science fiction).  In accordance with the majority of novels of that time. "...the Earth\'s climate is radically changed, cyclopean constructions are erected, e.g. the Polar Bridge across the Polar ocean, giant mountains are blown up or moved from place to place, the direction of rivers are changed and historical cities are completely reconstructed."

Technology and anti-ecologism are indissolubly connected with the acceleration of the so-called "class struggle". According to those science fiction writers, everywhere, in every laboratory there are spies, other vermin and "Enemies of the people", or simply people who confess to the "capitalist way of life" and Western values. All these people are trying to destroy the plans of the "building of communism", to organize shortages and to destroy the results of scientists\' work. However multiple NKVD -KGB special agents render these enemies harmless. The special agents function is to save the credulous intellectuals who deliberately give the Soviet\'s secrets to the foreign spies, to punish the guilty and to show those doubters their place.  Naturally, the anti-ecological nature of Soviet SF was determined and the anti-ecological policy of the Soviet economy brought the USSR to ecological catastrophe. The Aral Sea almost disappeared, the length of human life has shortened, there were nuclear catastrophes in the Urals and Chernobyl. The projects of communism must be finished at any price, including at the cost of people\'s health and life. But it was an unconscious anti-ecologism. Soviet society came to recognize ecology only in the sixties. Results of the rapacity of Nature were described by I. Efremov in his novel THE BULL\'S HOUR (the outside world of the planet Tormance). "...Forests disappeared, rivers dried up, fertile soils were destroyed <...> there were mountains of carcasses of wild animals which had been poisoned because people used fertilizers excessively.... Billions of tons of coal, oil, and natural gas were burned wastefully, masses of trees were felled <...> There were gigantic cities that that had to be abandoned owing to lack of water, pieces of reinforced concrete, asphalt, and iron sprawled everywhere. Enormous hydro-electric power-stations were blocked with silt, huge dams were broken up by moving blocks of the Earth\'s crust.... "New illnesses were springing up but medicine couldn\'t handle the struggle with them. Heredity defects and mental illnesses became a real distress." I. A. Kolchenko, in his work THE LIMITS OF FANTASY wrote - "Pictures of the destruction of the biosphere by people\'s irresponsibility which was depicted by talented artists stagger us by its authenticity\'.  The novel THE BULL\'S HOUR was withdrawn from all the libraries in the USSR for the reason of that authenticity. Passions about creative work and about Ivan Efremov\'s personality stormed up. Ivan Efremov (1907-1972) is the greatest writer in Soviet SF (and it is not only in SF; he was a famous paleontologist). The first stories of I. Efremov (there were ten in all) were published in 1944. They were awarded the prize of the notable Russian writer Alexei Tolstoi. In 1947 the story THE STARSHIPS was published, then the transarctic dilogy THE GREAT ARCH (which was about alien civilizations) was issued and, lastly, the utopian novel ANDROMEDA was published which overcome the "emptiness" of Soviet science fiction. In this novel Efremov depicted the communist society that would exist in thousands of years time. It was an unprecedented thing for the 40\'s and 50\'s. But it wasn\'t an unprecedented thing for Russian fantasy at all. There had been THE YEAR 4338 by Odoevski. (Odoevski, who lived in Pushkin\'s time, forecast that Russia would be the first country to go into outer space. "The novel appeared as a bolt from the blue," wrote J. Medvedev in his work THE LIGHT OVER THE LAKE OF DARKNESS, "There were long queues in front of news –stands where the magazine TECHNIKA MOLODEDGY ("Engineering for Youth") was sold  , in which this novel was first printed. I. Efremov explained his interest in futurism in his article COSMOS AND PALEONTOLOGY, where he emphasized the unity of all that which existed in the Universe. He wrote, "... this unity allows us to understand and even to foretell processes of development of events in other worlds,  and paleontology has a special place in it." It seems to me that the decisive influence on the cosmological theme in Efremov\'s creative work required a knowledge of such little known works of K. Tsiolkovski as THE WILL OF THE UNIVERSE, THE CAUSE OF THE COSMOS, THE PHILOSOPHY OF THE COSMOS, THE FUTURE OF THE EARTH AND MANKIND and several others of Tsiolkovski\'s works. In the above Tsiolkovski showed imposing pictures of the universe, which is fully populated. He considered questions of rescuing mankind when the sun\'s temperature was reduced and considered questions of man\'s immortality and cosmic architecture.  J. Medvedev ascribed Efremov to "the school of Russian cosmism" which was represented by such authors as V. Odoevski, A. V. Sucho-Kobilin, N. F. Fedorov, V. I. Vernadski, N. K. Rerich, N. G. Cholodni and A. L. Chidgevski. "Now this famous list is reinforced by I. Efremov" . As we can see, "the father of astronautics" (K. Tsiolkovski) ideas exercised great influence on Soviet SF. But only after Efremov\'s appearance did these ideas obtain powerful artistic expression  There were also Efremov\'s novels THE RAZOR\'S EDGE, TAIS OF ATHENS, THE BULL\'S HOUR, which followed the novel ANDROMEDA. The latter was named by T. A. Chernishova as "the best comprehensive utopia". Chernishova writes, "In this novel was summed up the utopist\'s search, and the first principles of Utopia were fixed in the reader\'s mind. Maybe it formed the principle meaning of the novel, and maybe the secret of its world-wide success lies in that."  But this novel had other things going for it. I. Mogeiko considered that "the novel ANDROMEDA is a real Utopia. It is the attempt to depict an ideal communist society. And it is in despite of its popularity up to now, it\'s despite the fact that this novel had many imitations and had much significance in the history of Soviet SF. I venture to say that it is only an attempt and no more".   Efremov\'s widow disputed this opinion: "I. Efremov... considered that every writer or every scientist had a right to show his own model of the future, and to say that "that it is only an attempt" is at least inane." The novel THE BULL\'S HOUR that was written four years before Efremov\'s death was the cause of his persecution by the officials. "It had occasion more than once," wrote J. Medvedev, "And especially in the middle of the 60\'s to say that the cause of the negative attitude of the authorities to the novel THE BULL\'S HOUR was "a gloom of predictions" and "making a cartoon of the communist future". But time, as it is know, has put everything into perspective.  In the early 70\'s people were excited by the story PROTEY by the same J. Medvedev. In this story he, in an indirect way, accused science fiction writers the brothers Strugatski that they had informed against Efremov to the KGB. This story provoked great interest and many people protested (see supplement I to Chapter 4). Not long ago the popular weekly magazine ARGUMENTS AND FACTS returned to this espionage version. The magazine printed: "Who was Ivan Efremov? What does the author of ROBINSON CRUSOE Daniel Defoe and the great science fiction writer Ivan Efremov have in common? The first created the English secret service and the second probably was its agent. As we know in the 70\'s the KGB thoroughly examined the story that I. Efremov was an agent of the Intelligence Service. And what is interesting is that they didn\'t definitely rule out that Ivan Efremov and Michael A. who was a son of the English timber industry boss living in Russia before 1917, was the same person,. The reason for the long lived examination of the espionage story was Efremov\'s sudden death, which came an hour after he received a strange letter from abroad. It was thought that the letter was impregnated with a toxic agent and that is why the KGB was charged to examine the case of Efremov\'s death."

It is possible that this story is fit only for a future fantastic story,  though another popular weekly magazine OGONEK ("The Small Light") showed an interest in what is written in the ARGUMENTS AND FACTS, and published a letter from the scientist A. Kashirtsev: "Who was Ivan Efremov? Such was an article titled in the weekly magazine ARGUMENTS AND FACTS , #18, 1992, which expounded the story of the KGB looking into Ivan Efremov\'s life. According to this story I. Efremov and Michael A. were the same person, who has an agent of the English secret service. I think that such a popular magazine must refrain from publishing such a story, especially if it came from the KGB. This article flings mud at our greatest compatriot." "I was associated with I. Efremov at sessions of the Scientific Council of the Pale ontological Research Institute and also at lobbies. He was a highly talented scientist who wrote many books on old fossils and moreover, he created a new branch of science about forms and conditions of the burying of old fossils."

"It is known that Efremov was a homeless child in the years of the Revolution, then a detachment of the Red Army gave shelter to him and he was later wounded. After that he was a workman in Leningrad, served as a sailor and sailed the Caspian and Ochotsk seas. He graduated at Leningrad Mining Institute and worked at the Geological Museum. Efremov was a founder of the world-wide, well-known Pale ontological Museum." "I. Efremov belonged to the category of men with spontaneous excess talent," wrote writer Ju. Medvedev. In 1944  Efremov suddenly published ten stories and from that time his popularity as a science fiction writer grew rapidly. His books THE GREAT ARCH, ANDROMEDA and THE RAZOR\'S EDGE were published at short intervals. His last novel, THE BULL\'S HOUR (1968-69) had a sense of purpose against Soviet totalitarianism, but the Chinese names of its main characters mislead the censors and the novel was published. This book was a best-seller. After six months officials raised the alarm and the book was withdrawn from all libraries in the USSR. An atmosphere of hostility was created around Efremov. The story by the KGB was published with the sole purpose of discrediting and annihilating Efremov.  Disputes will obviously continue, but I think a statement that the espionage story was published with the sole purpose of discrediting Efremov is convincing (although in this case we haven\'t direct evidence, but we know that such methods were widespread and even the chief of the KGB L. Beria was, after all, declared an "English spy"!) Whatever, Ivan Efremov launched the new stage of the recent history of Soviet SF. (This history came to a close in 1991, with the history of the USSR.) A whole galaxy of science fiction writers appeared after him. The brothers Arcady and Boris Strugatski were the most important and wellknown among these. The first novel that was written by Arcady Strugatski appeared in 1956. It was BIKINI\'S ASHES and was co-written by L., Petrov . This novel wasn\'t SF. Subsequently the brothers Strugatski created many famous literary works. They published their first SF stories in 1958. The next year they published their first SF novel, IN THE LAND OF THE CRIMSON CLOUDS. The novel received third prize in the competition for the best book about science and engineering for youth (the first prize was won by Efremov\'s ANDROMEDA). It was the first and only State prize for the brothers Strugatski,  but they have had many other prizes from readers. The International Small Planets Centre (Cambridge, USA) conferred to a small planet (3054) the name Strugatskia-1977 RE7. (The planet was discovered the 11th of September 1977 by the astronomer N. S. Cherkasov) . This fact, and also the other international prizes testify to the international recognition of the brothers Strugatski\'s creativity. Khruschev\'s thaw gave the brothers Strugatski a free hand. (N. S. Khruschev, who was Stalin\'s brother-in-arms, after coming to power moved away from the former repressive policy and gave indulgences to culture and the arts). "Khruschev\'s thaw period in the sphere of mind was the time of "romantic communism"", wrote A. Stolyarov, "Communism was a faith, but not a theory; it was a Kingdom of God on Earth and, as any faith, it does not allow critique or analysis". The thaw passed quickly and a lot of Strugatski\'s works didn\'t suit the authorities\' taste. Their novel TROIKA\'S TALE was published as an abridged edition in 1966 and its next release had to wait till 1987. It was thus because this novel was a sharp lampoon of bureaucracy. But the first part of the novel MONDAY BEGINS SATURDAY, in which criticism was disguised, had been in print all through. The book THE UGLY SWANS was written in 1967 but was published 20 years later. The novel SNAIL ON A HILLSIDE (1968) was published in a complete form in 1988. Before 1988 this novel, which "was the most intelligent and most important novel of the 20th Century" (A. Zerkalov)  was published in sections (THE FOREST and THE MANAGEMENT) in different parts of the country. It was published in the collection ELLIN\'S SECRET, Leningrad, 1966 and in the magazine BAIKAL #1 and 2, 1968. THE DOOMED TOWN (1969) was also published in 1988. This doesn\'t mean that the brothers Strugatski\'s novels were not known to readers. The Samizdat  (a typical Russian phenomenon) made all these books relatively accessible (see also the supplement II to Chapter 4). But none of the State publishing houses wanted to publish the Strugatski\'s works, for although they didn\'t encroach upon the ideals of communism, they did lance boils.... The brothers Strugatski were out of favor and their works were secretly prohibited. However, there was a continuing persecution which took place, even by some writers. "The second part (of ITS DIFFICULT TO BE A GOD) and the first part (of THE DISTANT RAINBOW) only confuse our youth and they do not help them to understand the development of mankind\'s laws", wrote the writer V. Nemtsov. "We are all, the citizens of this socialist society, more benevolent and humane than the characters of Strugatski\'s works. We partake in the course of historical events, we help people who fight for liberty and for national independence. And we shall do so as long as we have any revolutionary spirit."   The science fiction writer V. Nemtsov had political, not literary grievances against the science fiction writers the brothers Strugatski. But, as Kir Bulichev said, "... the offensive language only frightened the officials". An intelligent book has always been a terrible thing for communist rulers. In the novel IT\'S DIFFICULT TO BE A GOD, the brothers Strugatski warned people of the danger of interfering in other people\'s destiny. However, the Power which is always ready to support any revolution in any part of the world didn\'t like this warning of danger. I. Efremov answered V. Nemtsov. He wrote: "The novel IT\'S DIFFICULT TO BE A GOD I consider as the best literary work of Soviet SF of late . It was later in the 60\'s that there was a boom in SF (it was the second boom after the 20\'s). Dozens of books were published, the annual FANTASTICA was commenced, and the series of books The Library of Modern Fantasy became a model for other countries. The active science fiction writers were I. Efremov, G. Gurevitch, A. Strugatski, B. Strugatski, V. Savtchenko, S. Gansovksi, O. Larionova, A. Gromova, father and son Abramovs, A. Kazantsev, V. Michnovksi, A. Dneprov, S. Snegov, G. Altov, G. Gor, I. Varshavski, E. Parnov, E. Voiskuski, L. Lagin, L. Lukodyanov and many others. The Soviet readers got the chance to read some foreign author\'s works. (This chance was, certainly, restricted by "ideological opinions".) This did have an unexpected effect. As J. Grekov wrote, "... these circumstances caused a sharp polarization of the two layers of our fantasy. Hack literature immediately seized on the new examples and in a large number of works, which resembled one another, appeared a lot of Toms and Johns with laser rifles" . However, acquaintance with ideas from foreign science fiction was of great significance for the development of Soviet SF. At the time of the boom (in the 60\'s) many fan clubs were springing up. The fan clubs in Moscow, Charkov, Tbilisi and Saratov started in 1961-72. (Taratoo club, "The Reflection", is the oldest in our country. It dates from 1965 and is still active). It, as M. Yakubovski considered, was the first wave of fandom. "However, clubs which were born spontaneously now died spontaneously, and for different reasons. In some cases enthusiasm vanished because they were depressed by the mercenary spirit, and confirmed booklovers became "stingy knights" of books. In other cases enthusiasm blazed without warmth and it\'s fervor couldn\'t kindle an interest in social organisation. Besides, the basis of fan clubs were students, who often lost interest. This didn\'t contribute to the longevity of fan clubs" . By the time of the second wave, the fan clubs were created mainly with the help of newspapers, where science fiction stories were published from time to time. (Such fan clubs were Rifei (Perm ), Fant (Chabarovsk), Kluf (Stavropol),  Alfant (Kaliningrad) and all the others.) The small editorial board for SF literature  in the publishing house "Molodaya Gvardia" ("The Young Guard") that belonged to the Central Committee of the Soviet Young Communist League (KOMSOMOL) was of great importance for the development of science fiction at that time. "All the trends of modern Soviet science fiction were developed and clearly defined by that editorial board alone. All writers who produced literature after the appearance of the novel ANDROMEDA received their first baptism of fire by that small editorial board. That board also created the boom in the 60\'s," wrote A. Strugatski.  So, now we can summarize. During the period of time from the 50\'s to the end of the 60\'s the intellectual emptiness of Soviet SF was overcome, the "near future" principle was thrown out and science fiction works again became works of art; many brilliant writers appeared, large numbers of fan clubs arose and it was becoming easier for anyone to be published. Wasn\'t that great? If only!....

*     *     *



A while back Y. Medvedev\'s story PROTEY was published by the Molodaya Gvardia Publishing House in the anthology SIMPLE SECRETS (Moscow, 1988, in an edition of 75,000 copies). It was published twice more - over 2 million copies up to now. And in it many Soviet readers read, with great consternation, the following words. "Shervinsky: I would tell more about divine enlightenment after this meeting with the "brain" , now I am touching on the words: "and sea skunks\' entrance under water... I am not interested very much in sea skunks. But skunks on land... I thought: "Will I have another opportunity to become a thing of the past? Will I take a chance?" For many years I was stirred about the mystery of death; not even of death, but the loathsome events which happened soon after the death of one world-famous scientist and writer of the last century, who was a great traveler, historian, philosopher and prophet. The events were thus: after a false denunciation, the crowd of curious citizens, with appropriate certificates, appeared suddenly in the house of the sick man. They turned everything upside down, turned through the manuscripts page by page, looked over books, letters, personal effects, examined with a mine detector all the walls and even the urn holding the remains of the deceased. You may ask, what did they look for? They found one-and-a-half tons of gold, which the master seemed to have brought back from distant journeys. Certainly it is nonsense, delirium, banana oil; everybody understood that, and most of the curious also, because money was nothing to the scientist, nor the car, cottage or expensive things - oh, it was an good illustration of the social and even intellectual prestige of the scientist in that bygone century! So, you know these yourselves. So, all my life I tormented myself with the question: who denounced, scribbled about, fabricated the banana oil about the filthy lucre, and to what object. Though the object is very clear  -  his right name was kept covered for nine years after that search. It was struck even out of crosswords. In medieval Russia it was called "The deed of the dead". The Chairman: You are distracted, Mr. Senior Inspector! These events are really loathsome, but not important to today\'s talks. Shervinsky: But if they can happen after your death, are they not very important? Or after mine? You can imagine that as difficult, do you not? But his relatives, his friends, disciples - could they imagine such an enormous blasphemy after his death?... Though, I will finish... I saw those people, who devised this delirium, who urged on this base search. I saw two men, two relatives. One of them is skinny, acrimonious, an exact inquisitor. He excels in baseness, even the starry sky through he telescope he can butcher with a Galactic scale, with hatred for everything that is moral, harmonious, beautiful and eternal. The other is corpulent and goitrous, like a turkey. He is an informer, loudmouthed, against everyone, a pen-pusher, fiction writer and translator. When the world-famous genius was alive, they were together said to be his disciples, and it happened that the teacher defended them, but after his death they never telephoned his widow. I saw the ins and out of baseness, the microstructure of envy. And if only for such a discovery I may some day lose my life. Don\'t worry, the same thing happened the 8th  Magelian..." [Taken from UNUSUAL SECRETS anthology - Moscow, Molodaya Cvardia, 1988; Y. Medvedev, E. Gryshko A. Bachilo, editor M. Takachenko - (Efremov\'s School) - 75,000 copies] Really, any reader, if he knows even a little fantasy, can easily recognize this world -famous scientist and writer, whose house was searched after his death - of course, this is the classic Soviet fantast Ivan Efremov (author of the novels ANDROMEDA, THE BULL\'S HOUR, THE RAZOR\'S EDGE, etc) and he would recognize the "informer-friends" - they are the most famous Soviet science fiction writers the brothers Arcady and Boris Strugatsky.

The fantasy readers reaction was: the All-Union Council of the Fantasy Amateur\'s Club appealed with an open letter to V. I. Plshchenko, the director of the All-Union Creative Society of Young Fantasy Writers. This was the gist of the letter: We and other members of the Fantasy Amateurs\' Club in this country have had ample time to listen to your various assurances that you personally are opposed to the split in Soviet fantasy. Besides, you have repeatedly insisted that the All-Union Creative Society of Young Fantasy Writers attached to the "Molodaya Gvardia" Publishing House has given up using the printed word for any argument and paying off of old scores. The publishing of Y. Medvedev\'s story PROTEY in the anthology AN UNUSUAL SECRET indicates something different. This story is an unprecedented occurrence in Soviet Science Fiction. This story is immoral; it outrages A. and B. Strugatsky and its denunciation is provocative and cynical, and it is obvious that no explanation is sought. It is remarkable, and this is not the first time that Medvedev has used such an unscrupulous method. Fantasy Amateurs remember this author\'s story BAKERS\' DOZEN OF OSCARS - it is a disgusting lampoon about A. A. Tarkovsky. Such "Literature" of Medvedev\'s rises straight from his own viewpoint, which became infamous at the beginning of the 70\'s. At that time Medvedev was appointed a director of the fantasy section of the "Molodaya Gvardla" Publishing House, and he began the rout of Soviet science fiction literature and the persecution of its best representatives. We are asking you, on behalf of numerous fantasy amateurs: how can you combine your appeals to all authors and Clubs to "Live Together" with your publication of Medvedev\'s story? - The All-Union Council of Fantasy Amateur\'s Clubs. And many letters demanding an explanation of the situation poured down on each edition. The official editions kept silent; only amateur magazines published fans\' letters (for example "VESTNICE GLF). The fans\' bewilderment blew over a little, then the Strugatsky brothers sent all clubs the following letter: To the Council of Fantasy of the USSR To the Council of Fantasy of the RSFSR To the Council of FAC To the Council of ACS To all Fantasy Amateurs\' Clubs 1. We must inform you of the fact that Yury Medvedev, in the story PROTEY in the pages of the anthology AN USUAL SECRET by the numbers 3 and 4 tells of the event of the search in the death flat of I. A. Efremov, not giving out names, but in an unambiguous manner he accused us, Arcady and Boris Strugatsky, that we wrote denunciation our dead teacher and benefactor. We understand that our numerous verbal and written statements about Y. Medvedev\'s activity, which was destroying Soviet science fantasy - our statements could arouse the greatest enmity in him of us. We understand that he would not answer our queries, and this statement would inflame him to the greatest hatred. But there was a limit - the slanderous lampoon with a circulation of 70,000 copies. This is the answer of a drag and a coward - it cannot be forgotten. We haven\'t decided yet as to whether we would bring the case before the law. The lampoon is completely skilful and the answer to the question "Who is it in this lampoon" is very obvious to every "fan", but it is not obvious enough for justice, which is far from the history of Soviet fantasy. Except, in accordance with Clause 130 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR, "The libel in a published work will be punishable by imprisonment for a period of three years (only),  or by corrective labor for a period of one year." So any spoiler can hope to get off with a small scare. However we are quite sure, that all our "fan" friends, all societies, who are connected in any way with Soviet fantasy, will add their weighty words, without needing the "Law". We are addressing this to the Councils of all these organisations; asking them to give careful consideration to the writer Medvedev\'s action, and to express their opinion of this slanderous lampoon and its author.

II There is an old German proverb: "Every pig can give a slice of ham" or, in Russian, "There is a black sheep in every flock". Our lampooner reminds us that the strange search at the deceased flat, and the attempted oblivion of I. A. Efremov - that it may be extremely black today, but also that a very secret event occurred in our science fiction\'s history. It seems to us that now is the time to decipher this mystery. We are inviting all the Councils to combine efforts and address an inquiry to the State Security Council with an appropriate letter on behalf of all Soviet Fantastic writers and also all fantasy fans. In actuality, there is talk about the public rehabilitation of I. A. Efremov (the private one was some time ago, thank goodness). We want answers to some questions: - What such terrible crime did the greatest fantastic writer in the USSR commit, that his name was placed under a ban for so many years after his death? - What thing were they looking for in his flat - was it really gold or a manuscript of a certain secret novel? (Such was a version of the story). - Everybody understands now that certain mistakes were made at that time. Who is the author of this denunciation? What is his name? And where is he now working? What punishment did he receive because of this falsehood and slander? And was he punished at all? - Arcady & Boris Strugatsky,

January , 1989. Moscow/Leningrad. None of these questions have been answered up till now. They remain unanswered. And Yury Medvedev didn\'t think the affair needed a public apology to the writers whom he slandered. It is vague now as to what will be the next step. But we can say very definitely that it is quite inadmissible to use Soviet fantasy for a slanderous purpose. As one of the fans said: "After these pages I want to go and wash my hands".


In 1984 attacks on science fiction writers became more frequent. The letter below to the newspaper LITERATURNAYA GAZETA can shed some light on the situation regarding SF at that time.

Dear Sir,

I want to say some words as regards J. Bugelski\'s article THE CAPTIVITY OF A BLACK HOLE (LITERATURNAYA GAZETTE, 17.10.1984). It is usual either to prize fantasy or to criticize it severely. This fact testifies to the popularity of this genre and to readers and literary critics interest in it. This fact is a small wonder. What is fantasy? "...It is the form of a reflection of the world when it was created, on the basis of real conceptions of a picture of the universe which isn\'t logically connected with this world." Such a definition is given in an encyclopedia. Rable, Swift, Gogol, Gofman, Dostoevsky, Bulgakov, Strugatski... it is impossible to list all the writers. It is impossible to imagine world literature without fantasy. Fantasy, as with all great literature, doesn\'t exist separate from the acute social, philosophical discussions of mankind\'s common problems. It always concentrates on the main problems of our life, irrespective of the scene of action of its heroes. The American writer and magazine editor, H. L. Gold, believes that SF reflects wishes, alarms, fears and hopes, the inner and outer tensions of our times better than any other genre of literature. I think it isn\'t especially necessary to make a resolution that imaginary contradictions with logic is only an artistic device. True, it is one of the strongest in SF. Most likely it is not necessary also to explain what such a device is applied to. We can remember one of Gogol\'s protagonists whose nose runs away from him. Did anyone who had read this great work ask, "What did it run away for?" Or, "And why did the author write of such an awkwardness? Can anyone\'s nose run away?" We see only a challenge to common sense, but there is no conflict with artistic logic; such is the magical convincingness of Gogol\'s words.

I don\'t intend to speak in support of works which were criticized by J. Bugelski. On the contrary, I can also give dozens of examples which confirm Bugelski\'s view. And what is more, I don\'t want to argue with this author. Really, "... a new subject in modern SF, as in all other genres, is a rarity." It is, indisputably. "We can give dozens of cases where science fiction writers use the same plot, or they force their characters to say, with pathos, scandalous banality and trivial maxims. And do, as a rule, with pretensions of deep philosophical generalizations." This is quite right! But why did J. Bugelski choose only science fiction for this illustration of all these negative things? Why didn\'t he choose any other literary genre? Is it by chance? I think it is not by mere chance. The researcher of fantasy, V. I. Bugrov, wrote in the foreword to his delightful book, "in distant 1938 A. Belyaev entitled his notes about fantasy expressively and laconically - "Cinderella". Alas, this headline precisely reflected a scornful attitude to SF which existed at that time. And up to the present the state of SF is very distant from its ideal."  And here is yet another opinion which was expressed by science fiction writer R. Podolni: "Nobody says that A. Duma\'s novels or Agatha Christies adventure stories haven\'t a right to exist because they are the literature of adventure. But it was possible, with respect to science fiction, till now."  I will limit myself to only these two quotations, although I could continue. So, fantasy is easier to criticize severely than other literary genres, and it is only because it became a tradition. Fantasy is, in GOSCOMIZDAT\'s  account, "Cinderella" up-to-date. You may drop in to GOSCOMIZDAT and ask "How is your publishing of SF literature going?" "Okay!" they answer, "we have published a lot of things, and we are getting ready to publish more." All right! But we only know what is really published and Mr. Bugelski has also written about it. Can somebody in GOSCOMIZDAT or your editors affirm that he never reads such books as THE UGLY SWANS, THE TROIKA STORY, THE SNAIL ON A HILLSIDE, and so on? Then where did you buy these books and where were they published? Of course they were published by SAMIZDAT, that is to say, these and many other books were published by the readers themselves. They simply hadn\'t any other way. It is amusing to read critical articles in which are mentioned the titled of "non-existent" books. Mr. Zhvanetski  said, "they are reading books which nobody wrote, they are buying books which nobody sold." But SAMIZDAT is a dangerous thing. It leads to the creation of the black market where cultural values are sold. I don\'t talk about anti-social literature, pornography or the "medical" works of our amateur yogis. I talk about fantasy. Let you and I try to conduct a test. We can take V. Michailov\'s work THE STEM AND TWO LEAVES (which was published by one of the State publishing houses and which was criticized by J. Bugelski), then retype it with an old typewriter and try to sell it for 30 rubles. Does it get published? It is unlikely. But it does come out if we try to sell the book THE UGLY SWANS (which was published by SAMIZDAT). We must think of this fact instead of picking out the weakest works and thundering out against them. Nobody will deny that today the questions of issuing and publishing are the chief questions of literature, ideology and education. And that SAMIZDAT successfully competes with any State publishing house. It is our defeat. It is offensive that it concerns fantasy, which is very popular. NOTES:  1, V. I. Bugrov, "The Quest for The Day After Tomorrow", Swerdlovsk, 1984, . 2. R. G. Podolni, "Talk about SF, with respect and love". 3. The State Committee which controlled all the publishing houses in the USSR. 4. The popular comic actor.



I wrote the date in inverted commas deliberately; although the question is one of chronology, it isn\'t that of Orwell\'s well-known book. Simply the stagnation in the USSR culminated in 1984 and it adversely affected Soviet fantasy.  The fantasy boom was in the sixties. "Suddenly all changed," wrote the brothers Strugatski in their article on the condition of literary SF. "The editorial board  was driven out, excellent workers were discharged, and a group of authors that had collaborated with the new editorial board disintegrated. Pompous declarations and programs began to issue forth instead of books. " The new editorial board was led by the writer J. Mededev and later it was led by the writer V. Sherbakov. "Medvedev\'s editorial board issued about ten fantasy titles," noted the Strugatskis. V. Sherbakov\'s editorial board brought the total of fantasy books issued to the numbers of the boom of the sixties, but the quality of the books was poor.  New authors were in a difficult situation. (There were a lot of authors in the seventies: V. Krapivin, S. Drugal, V. Babenko, R. Ribakov, A. Gevorkyan, B. Gilin, B. Shtern, A. Lazarchuk, A. Dmitruk, L. Kozinets, A. Stolyarov, and others.) Nevertheless, the year-book FANTASTIKA and THE LIBRARY OF SOVIET SF continued to be published and some other publishers also published SF (they was the publishers Mir (The World), Znanie (Knowledge) and Detskaya Literatura (Literature for Children). Of course not all ideas could penetrate the armor of Soviet censorship. But the field of ideas widened gradually. Moral and ethical problems were examined. It is unlikely such problems could have been examined in the 40\'s and 50\'s. For example, the problem of the influence of the Universe on the person who investigated it was examined in S. Pavlov\'s novel THE MOON RAINBOW and in the Strugatski\'s stories THE BEETLE IN THE ANT-HILL and THE WAVES ARE SMOOTHED BY WIND. In the Strugatski\'s story MILLIARD YEARS BEFORE THE END OF THE UNIVERSE, the Universe compensates for the results of discoveries which are undesirable to it, and annihilates the scientists who are involved. Soviet SF began to acquire ecological features (the writers I. Roshoovatski, J. Nikitin, and A. Yakubovski). The phantasmagoria (D. Kovalenkov\'s EAST OF NIGHTMARE, the grotesque (M. Veller), and social fantasy took their rightful place. Many magazines, especially TECHNIKA MOLODEGY (Engineering For Youth), URALSKI SLEDOPIT (The Urals Explorer) and KHIMIA AND GIZEN (Chemistry and Life) printed works of SF. Publication of new works and the appearance of new ideas generated the second and thirdwaves of fan clubs. "The second wave was in 1975-1978. Fan clubs were formed in many cities. There were three factors governing their appearance. Firstly, a generation of people grew up who were able to read first-rate domestic and foreign SF nearly from the first year of Secondary School. Second, such authors as K. Bulichev, D. Bilenkin, V. Grigoriev, V. Michailov, Mrs O. Larionova, etc, were generally recognized, and they had influence with readers..... And thirdly, the fan clubs began to receive aid from the science fiction writers themselves. There were such authors in Rostov city (Yasnovski and Amatuni), in Kaliningrad (the writer Snegov) and in the Urals (Bugrov). A seminar of young SF writers worked in Leningrad with B. Strugatski as head of the seminar, and in 1979 a like seminar commenced in Moscow, headed by D. Bilenkin, E. Voiskunski and G. Gurevich. The magazine URALSKI SLEDOPIT played an important role and now it plays the most important role because the magazine became a kind of press-centre for all fan clubs.

The third wave was in the very beginning of the 80\'s. It was characterized by the rapid growth of fan clubs. The contingent of fantasy readers was divided into three almost equal groups: the ages of 17-20, the ages of 23-26 and the ages of 32-34. (Each group includes about 20% of those examined. The reader\'s opinion poll was made by the fan club Rifei in the cities of Perm  and Abakan among 300 fantasy lovers.)4 The first seminar of fan clubs was held in Perm in 1981 and in 1982 there were three held at the same time in Rostov, Sverdlovsk and Kaliningrad. Meetings of fantasy lovers in Sverdlovsk (where the Aelita  prize was handed to the author of the best SF work) became a traditional yearly affair and turned into the national SF fans convention. The Aelita prize was founded by the magazine URALSKI SLEDOPIT . But in 1984 (and here one automatically makes a comparison with Orwell\'s 1984), the fan clubs were persecuted. At the end of May the newspaper KOMSOM - OLSKAYA PRAVDA  published N. Kviginadze and B. Pilipenko\'s article I EXCHANGED FANTASY FOR DETECTIVE STORIES in which they sharply criticized (and, as it turned out, unjustifiably) the fan club Gelios (Tbilisi city). After that article the fan clubs were subjected to "verification": they received a lot of (official) questionnaires and enquiries. Some fan clubs ceased to exist under enigmatic circumstances, and other fan clubs fought for their existence. The fan club Protei (Odessa) even cried for help to the Central Committee of the CPSU. Regular meetings of fan clubs in Sverdlovsk was prohibited  Fan clubs couldn\'t undertake anything at that time. It was made a requirement (which was extremely naive, as we can see now) to analyze the situation and to expose the cause of such a negative attitude by the authorities to science fiction. This requirement was put into effect with an article, "The State of Things in SF"   which was sent to many fan clubs and to many newspapers and magazines (which didn\'t publish it). This was written in the article: "The fan clubs\' activities are in deep crisis, and we think this is the very moment to talk frankly about this fact. Very likely a single public and fan organization was the cause of many doubts, apprehensions, disputes and dissensions; it was an object of close attention and criticism in our country’s the fan clubs. The subject is what is the source of fan clubs\' activities?. Fantasy, as people understand it, is something unreal, abstract, and it is remote from real life; it is something about the future or about the past, it is about that which wasn\'t or what will not be. And there are people who are interested in all those things not only beginner science fiction writers but fans. They are interested in the distant future: they want to discuss some fantastic ideas, to regard the best works of Soviet and foreign authors, to see a new SF film, to make a survey of new SF books, and so on. They have an inexhaustible fund of inventiveness. These people give hours, days, months and years in their exhilaration. Maybe contemplation of others playing football is preferable for somebody. It is perhaps. But everybody has their own habits. People have created more than a hundred fan clubs in our great country, and they are enthusiastically busy with their fan business.

"Fantasy lovers\' usual activity and the specific features of fantasy itself bring the authorities\' suspicion of SF. The youth newspapers have almost stopped printing SF. But

there are many clubs which arose with the help of newspapers not long ago. For example the fan club Fant (Chabarovsk city) printed its science fiction works in a local newspaper for more than 10 years. The magazine TECHNIKA MOLODEGY (#10, 1983) wrote that other fan clubs might adopt the Fant\'s experience. Alas, now it\'s experience will be helpful to very few clubs." The fan clubs were persecuted not only because of their desire for unusual events. The Soviet authorities couldn\'t endure any fan organizations or associations. (And that the fan clubs were one of only a few larger safety-valves which were permitted an unofficial activity). The Soviet special services continued to scrutinize fan clubs. I have already mentioned the Strugatskis\' paper "The State of Literary SF" in which they subjected to sharp criticism the activities of GOSCOMIZDAT  and the publisher Molodaya Gvardia. The article was sent to many fan clubs, but not long after, I received a letter from A. Strugatski in which he asked that the distribution of the article be stopped, because he feared that it could do a lot of harm to fan clubs. "I am aware that the distribution of my paper can be taken in a very odious form. Yes, I... myself offered it to Odessa\'s fan club  to have them acquaint as many other fan clubs as possible (with it). But neither I nor Odessa\'s fan club foresaw how things would turn out. And you must note, and tell everyone who has any personal interest in SF, that only I, A. Strugatski, bear the responsibility for the article and its distribution. Let everybody who is asked, or will be asked, say only the truth: yes, A. Strugatski decided to familiarize all SF fans with this article; yes, A. Strugatski decided he didn\'t want to wait until they could publish the article in newspapers  ; yes, A. Strugatski took it upon himself the responsibility for this article, he wanted the readers to know at last, who, why and for what purpose SF was persecuted; the paper is for sale on the black market through A. Strugatski\'s fault, and you must accuse only A. Strugatski, and leave us alone. It is the exact truth. We must pull the fan clubs from beneath such a blow. I am thankful to Irakli, and I will be thankful to you, Andrei, if you put all your friends into the proper mode of action."  I do not think that A. Strugatski was frightened for fan clubs for nothing. The events of 1984-1985 were in his mind (at that time they could call any editor to the KGB and would let him go only if he had only published harmless articles in his newspaper). But the situation changed little by little. It seems the authorities realized that they would never be able to manage the fan clubs if only repressive measures were used. They decided to tame fan clubs, putting them under the control of the Central Committee of the Young Communist League (the Komsomol). Partly, the fan clubs tried to attain the same object, because they wanted to lighten the conditions under which they were active. It was suggested in the already cited article by L. Vachtangishvili, A. Lubenski and S. Gelikonov, "We ask the Central Committee of the Young

Communist League to create the All-Union of fantasy lovers, which would consolidate all fan clubs and other fantasy lovers.

"It is necessary 1) to elaborate the regulations of the Federation, which determine the structure and principles of this organization; 2) to consolidate the unity of fan clubs with the local party, Komsomol, and public organizations; 3) to create a science fiction magazine which will be a monthly

publication of the Federation; and 4) to support fan clubs, to grant them premises and cinematographic equipment (any club, Palace of Culture, library, and every school has such means).

"It is possible to create children\'s sections of fan clubs attached to the Young Pioneer Palaces that will create conditions for the organization of children\'s leisure.

"It is desirable to organize book supplies to fan clubs with the aid of the All-Union Society of Book Lovers." The fan clubs agreed to co-operate with the Young Communist League also because almost all of the young fantasy lovers were members of this League. (The Young Communist League took young people into its membership almost automatically when they became 14 years old up till they were 30 years old.  Results appeared very quickly. The first All-Union Meeting of fan clubs was organized in Kiev in March 1988. Representatives of more than a hundred fan clubs from every quarter of the country gathered at the meeting. It was there that the All-Union Board of Fan Clubs was created, which was founded by the Central Committee of the Young Communist League, the All-Union Society of Book Lovers, the Union of Writers of the USSR, the Ministry of Culture of the USSR, the State Committee for Publishing Activity and the Federation of Cosmonauts of the USSR . All these recognized institutions forgot at once the All-Union Board of Fantasy Lovers which they themselves had founded. Incidentally, the Central Committee of the Young Communist League became a sponsor of the All-Union Association of Young SF Writers which commended the series RUMBI FANTASTIKI (The Compass Points of Fantasy). "The principles of their Association were laid down by a group of enthusiasts in 1987 in Novosibirsk, where a meeting of beginner SF writers took place. That meeting marked the beginning of both a continuing working seminar and an association which not only found and chose worth-while books, but also published such works. This activity helped many readers to find dozens of new authors", wrote A. Gorshenin . The series RUMBI FANTASTIKI published such authors as V. Golovachev (the novel THE PATH OF THE HURRICANE), J. Glaskov (the SF writer and cosmonaut), A. Dmitruk (his novel DREAM ABOUT A FOREST LAKE is a continuation of Gobol\'s tradition in fantasy), J. Medvedev, J. Bruder, N. Chadovich, M. Puchov, Mrs L. Lukina, E. Lukin, N. Polunin, V. Sherbakov, J. Nevski, A. Bushkov and many others.  The series RUMBI FANTASTIKI provided many young and unknown writers with an opportunity to publish their works. (We must also remember that in 1985 Perestroika began in the USSR and Gorbachev proclaimed Glasnost  (publicity), which had some likeness to freedom of speech. But I doubt whether fantasy would have sighed freely without Glasnost). At that time supporters of the publisher Molodaya Gvardia fought against the brothers Strugatski\'s supporters. The brothers Strugatski criticized this publisher, and many fan clubs supported them. Here is a chronicle of events for only one year (from September 1988 to September 1989): 2nd-10th September, 1988. There is a festival of fantasy, "Big Fantan" (Odessa), which was organized by the fantasy lovers association Zemlyane  and the fan clubs Protei and Antei. The science fiction writers S. Gansovski, S. Snegov and B. Shtern were the guests of honor of the festival.

12th-13th November, 1988. A Far East conference, "Fantasy is the Literature of Intellectual Fearlessness" took place in Yuznosachalinsk city (on the island Sachalin). It was organized by the Sachalin committee of The Young Communist League, the All-Union Society of Book Lovers and the fan club association "The Far East Rim".

21st November - 3rd December, 1988. The seventh Young SF Writers All-Union seminar took place at Dubulti near Riga. The writers B. Bugrov, E. Voiskunski, S. Snegov, V. Michailov, M. Krivich, O. Olgin, Mrs. O. Larionova, A. Shalimov and the publishers Detskaya Literatura, Znanie, Mir, Moskovski Rabochii  took part in the seminar.

19th-21st May, 1989. The festival "Aelita" took place in Sverdlovsk. The prize Aelita was presented to S. Gansovski for his novel THE ESCAPE. The prize "Start" was inaugurated. This prize is presented to a young SF writer for the best work of the year. The first "Start" prize winner was B. Shtern from Kiev. He was awarded it for his novel WHO’S PLANET? The prize in honor of I. Efremov was presented to G. Grechko for the television serial IT\'S A FANTASTIC WORLD. The first conference of the All-Union Association of Fan Clubs also took place in those days in Sverdlovsk. May 1989. The Russian fan I. B. Zavgorodni took part in Eurocon in San Marino.

2nd-3rd June 1989. Readings which are named after I. Efremov were given in Moscow (they previously took place in Nokolaev). I. Efremov\'s widow, the scientists A. Britikov and I. Bestugev-Lada, the cosmonaut G. Grechko (who was in charge of fan clubs), the writers G. Gurevich, S. Snegov, Mrs O. Larionova, the literary critic V. Gopman and others spoke at a conference. 3rd -9th September 1989. The first congress of fantasy lovers of Socialist States took place in Coblevo (near Nikolaev). Representatives of fan clubs from the USSR,  Bulgaria, DDR, Poland, Romania and Czechoslovakia gathered at the congress.  Fan clubs also began issuing their own publications at the end of the eighties. They were FAN-OMEN (Vinnica City), MEASURE-F (Leningrad), OVERSAN and OVERSON INFORM (Sevastopol), ABS PANORAMA (Saratov), GELE, BLASTER, THE FIGHTING CAT and many others. They were publications that included criticism and bibliography and also printed the work of young SF writers. Professional SF magazines and newspapers only appeared recently, but that is another History.


Several speeches at the meeting in Kiev:

Academician K. M. Sitnik:

"In science we prize men who think non-standardly. Our society needs such fantasy, which forms a non-standard mentality. We have many problems. In the Ukraine 40% of the soil is subjected to erosion and many rivers are destroyed by drought. We must, not only in romance, stop this disaster and begin to restore the soil, rivers, etc. But fantasy can suggest many concrete things. Fantasy moves progress."

E. Parnov, the writer and chairman of the SF council attached

to the Board of the Union of Writers of the USSR:

"Science fiction is more than literature. It is an exceptional phenomenon of the culture of the 20th Century. It is like an encyclopedia. Any questions which we consider today were formerly considered by science fiction. It

concerns also ecological problems or moral improvement. Certainly, such SF (the brothers Strugatski\'s science fiction works, for instance) opened the way with difficulty, but everywhere fantasy spoke its pioneer works. Science developed its own way and it rarely makes use of science fiction writer\'s promptings although the works of K. Tsiolkovski were brought to the notice of the designers of space techniques <...> The essence is that SF surveys the problem more widely <...> China\'s authorities, not without reason, changed their attitude to SF right from the start of the economic reforms in that country. There are two sciencefiction newspapers in China (in Peking and in Shanghai) but there is no SF newspaper in the USSR."

V. Michailov (the writer):

"Fan clubs are in great need of any books... the All - Union publishing house (the fantasy literature) is essential for publishing SF books... <...> Serious criticism also is essential. But we haven\'t any SF magazines and science fiction novels, and stories are scattered in many magazines." A. Strugatski (the writer): "I didn\'t comprehend what you intended to do here. My brother and I didn\'t imagine the real scope of the fan clubs\' movement. You are the clubs of professional readers, that\'s why I was enjoying myself when Academician K. M. Sitnik told you about photosynthesis <...> I understand that great work is going on...<...> The magazine URALSKI SLEDOPIT became an organ of fan clubs, and everything else forms around this magazine."


This is the short history of science fiction in Russia (USSR). Of course, the author does not claim this is a complete picture, and understands that a comprehensive history of SF will not be written soon, because in the time of a general reappraisal of values, it is difficult for anyone to observe objectively!

"The brothers Strugatski, who were among the active fighters for democracy, are now accused of "Communism Utopianism"; "In 1957 we were particularly enthusiastic about I. Efremov\'s novel ANDROMEDA, but now that enthusiasm seems almost shameful." wrote Mrs. V. Chalinkova in her article DREAMERS: IDEOLOGY IS NOT WANTED. But we must be proud of our fantasy. If we remember the conditions in which it was developed, then we ought to be surprised that anybody ever wrote and published any "fantastic" books. And now it is difficult to predict the future of Russian SF. The author only hopes that soon normal life will take root and fantasy will take its deserving place in the Russian people\'s mind.


  The blow of fantasy. Anthology RUSSIAN FANTASTICAL PROSE AT THE AGE OF ROMANTICISM, Leningrad, 1990

  F. M. Dostoevsky. THE LETTERS, V.4., Moscow, 1959.

  I. Vinogradov, THE STRUGGLE FOR STYLE, anthology, Leningrad, 1937.

  T. A. Chernishova, THE NATURE OF FANTASY, Irkutsk, 1984.

  V. Bulgrov means the first Russian revolution of 1905-1907.

  V. Bugrov, THE QUEST FOR TOMORROW, Sverdlovsk, 981.

  V. Bugrov, Ibid, p.124


  Ibid p.127

  V. Samsonov, "The first Soviet fantasy writer" in the book THE GONGURI COUNTRY, Krasnoyarsk, 1985, p.62.

  Ibid p.140

  A. Tolstoy\'s fantasy was founded on K. Tsiolkovski\'s work "The exploration of outer space with jet devices" which was published in 1903.

  The Hyperboloid was a device which concentrated light into a narrow ray. It was an SF prototype of the laser.

  The nomenclature of the Party and Government leaders and officials.

  A. Belyaev. PROFESSOR DOWEL\'S HEAD, the collection of works, Moscow, 1987.

  K. A. Tsiolkovski was named as the father of astronautics.

  The novel was dedicated to K. A. Tsiolkovski and KATS was the acronym of the name of K. A. Tsiolkovski.

  Ibid, p. 458

  The true name of the writer was Grinevski. He was born in 1880 in the Vyatka region in the provincial town Slobodskoy. His father was a clerk.

  We did n\'t mention that famous writer in Part 1 of the History. N. P. Vagner (1829-1907) was a scientist, corresponding member of the Petersburg Academy of Sciences and a writer. He was the author of the "Cat Murlike Fairy-tales."

  V. Vichrov. THE KNIGHT OF A DREAM, the foreword to the collection of Grin\'s works, Moscow, 1965. O. Michailov. The grossmeister of literature in the book EL ZAMYATNIN, THE SELECTED STORIES, Moscow, 1989. p.16.


  10. I. Shafarevitch. SOCIALISM AS THE PHENOMENON OF WORLD HISTORY. Moscow. 1991, pp. 331-332.)

  Ibid. pp.338-339.

  The afterword to the collection of the works RUSSIAN FANTASTICAL PROSE AT THE END OF THE XXIX AND THE BEGINNINGS OF THE XX CENTURIES. Moscow. 1991. p.453.

  The underground publishing house.

  Kir Bulichev is the pen-name of Dr. Igor Mogeiko.

  Kir Bulichev. The Epoch\'s Stepdaughter in the Year Book THE CHRONOGRAPH. Moscow. 1980. pp.368.

  The labor force. But the first part (RAB) of the word RABCILA also means "a slave" in Russian, and anybody would understand the whole word as "a slave force".

  Ibid. p.369.

  Ibid. pp. 369-370.

  Ibid. p. 381.

  . S. I. Grabovski. Stalin and Science Fiction . CHERNOBILIZATION, #4,5. Kiev, 1992.

  Words from a popular song of that time.

  Ibid, p.8

  Ibid, p.9

  I. A. Kolchenki. The Limits of Fantasy, in a collection,  SANATORIUM, series The Compass Points of Fantasy, Moscow, 1989, p. 342

  Juri Medvedev, The Light over Darkness Lake, in the book IN THE WORLD OF FANTASY, Moscow, 1989, pp.103-4.

  J. Medvedev, Ibid, p.103-4.

  J. Medvedev, Ibid, p.109.

  "The father of astronautics" believed in cosmic strangers (or did he know about them?). Once K. Tsiolkovski made a curious note on the letter that was sent to him from Tomsk city by a student, A. Jutkin. He wrote, "The high creator\'s endeavours to help us are possible because they are continuing even now." (ON THE BRINK OF THE IMPOSSIBLE, #9, 1992, p.2).

  T. A. Chernishova, "The Nature of Fantasy", IRKUTSK,

1984, p.318.

  From the book IN THE WORLD OF FANTASY, Moscow,

1989, p.232.

  J. Medvedev, Ibiden, p.103.

  "The Arguments and Facts", #18 (May 1992). "Who was Ivan Efremov?"

  OGONEK #31-33. (August, 1992), p.4.

  It\'s interesting that Z. Petrov\'s wife was Mr. Khruschev\'s (one time leader of the USSR) grand-daughter.

  I. Efremov still received the State prize as a scientist for his work on paleontology (THE TAPHONOMY AND GEOLOGY CHRONICLE).

  THE MEASURE F, #3, 1990, p.21.

  THE LITERARY REVIEW, #5, 1990, p.40.

  The underground publishing house.

  V. Nemtsov. "For Whom do Fantasists write?", the newspaper IZVESTIA, 19th January 1966.

  The newspaper KOMSOMOLSKAYA PRAVDA, Jan 22,


  T. Grekov. Afterword to the collection "In the Circle of Light", KISHINEV, 1989, p. 683.

  Bor Bagalyak. THE LITERATURE REVIEW #2, 1984,


  The names of cities are in brackets.

  The chiefs of this editorial board were Mr Gemaitis and Mrs B. Klueva.

  . A. Strugatski, B. Strugatski, THE STATE OF LITERARY SF, 1986 (MSS).

  V. I. Bugrov, "The Quest for The Day After Tomorrow", Swerdlovsk, 1984, .

  R. G. Podolni, "Talk about SF, with respect and love".

  The State Committee which controlled all the publishing houses in the USSR.

  The popular comic actor.

  The editorial board of SF literature in the publishing house Molodaya Gvardia.

  A. Strugatski, B. Strugatski, "The State of Literary SF", the paper, 1986.

  "The editorial board in the publishing house Molodaya Gvardia handled its jobs with difficulty and the quality of the jobs were poor," wrote the brothers Strugatski in their article.

  B. Bagalyak, "The Knights of Science Fiction", THE LITERARY REVIEW, #2, 1984, p.95

  Aelita is the heroine\'s name from the popular novel by A. Tolstoi AELITA.

  Here the author of the history of SF wants to brag about this name given to the Aelita prize, which was proposed by the author.

  The main publication of the Central Committee of the Young Communist League.

  But nevertheless representatives of some fan clubs arrived in Sverdlovsk, and the Aelita prize was presented.

  The authors of the article were A. Lubenski and S. Gelikonov (the fan club Parallax, Cherkassi City) and I. Vachtangishvili (the fan club Gelios (Tbilisi).

  The State department which directs activities of all publishers in the country.

  The fan club Protei, Odessa.

  It was useless to await the publication of the article at that time. Only the magazine URALSKI SLEDOPIT (#4, 1987) published the interview with the brothers Strugatski, where they told of the principal points of the article.

  A. Strugatski appealed to Iracli Vachtangishvili with the

same request.

  As far as I know, only V. Sheluchin actively protested against co-operation. (V. Sheluchin is a literary critic and SF lover from Nikolaev City, Ukraine).

  See Supplement to Chapter 5 below. Science fiction writers\' statements that addressed the meeting can help you to understand the problems that were discussed at the meeting.

  A. Gorshenin, "Imagination and Reflection", (the notes of the new Siberian fantasy), in the book THE AGE OF THE DRAGON, Moscow, 1991, p. 334.)

  The inhabitants of the Earth.

  18. The Literature for Children, Knowledge World, and Moscow Worker publishers.

  V. Babenko, V. Gopman, THE CHRONICLE OF EVENTS, collection of SF works, Moscow, 1991, pp. 235-7.

The Andrei Lubensky’s  short history of Russian “fantastica”  was written very early in nineties of XX century and was first published in “The Mentor”, Australia (issues 78, 79 (1993)  and 80 (1994)). Those times, in Russia, there were hot discussions on Russian fantastic literature future and the ways for its development and this fact leaved an imprint on the history’s spirit. It was considered in Russian fandom that those ways right choice would determine all the society evolution ways. All the discussions are behind today and fantastic literature becomes simply business. However this book may be of interest for students and persons who study Russian literature.

A short history of Russian “fantastica”  Andrei Lubensky 1993, 2006

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