Fantasy Horror and Science Fiction in Russian
There are a variety of genres of books in the Russian language, but few of them are as popular as fantasy, horror, and science fiction. Many of these writers followed a strict formula in order to get their work published. Many of them depicted future societies where communism has won, with scheming capitalists as villains. However, much of this literature was derivative of Tolstoy and Belyaev, and the majority of the literature was merely forgettable.
Western academe and authors often revere the fantasy, horror, and science fiction genres in Russian literature. Yet the general public may not be familiar with the best movie adaptations from Russian sources. The genres include Russian science fiction, Russian urban fantasy, and Russian alien contact. These genres often receive great reviews and often become cult classics. To get a taste of what these genres are like, check out some of these translations.
While many talented writers were suppressed under the Soviet regime, some remained. Yefim Zozulya, a prolific and highly successful author during the 1920s, may be the most famous Russian fabulist of his generation. His short story "The Tale of Ak and Humanity" is the inspiration for Zamyatin's novel We and is considered one of the founding works of the anti-utopian genre.
The works of Fyodor Dostoevsky contain many fantastic elements. His short stories, "The Landlady" and "The Dream of a Ridiculous Man," for example, are reminiscent of Greek mythology. In his "Bobok" novella, a mesmeric landlady makes her a memorable character, while "The Brothers Karamazov" features a mighty axe orbiting the Earth and a race of microbes that turn mankind into zombies.
Jules Verne's The Begum's Fortune
When he first read Jules Verne's The Begim's Fortune in Russian, his impressions of it were very different from his later work. Verne's father, who was against the idea of women marrying rich men, withdrew his financial support when he found out he was writing instead of studying law. Verne was forced to make ends meet by working as a stockbroker in order to support himself. But when he was a wealthy man, his success earned him a place in the famous literary circle that would eventually make him a household name.
"Faceing the Flag" was Verne's second novel, and published in the same year as "The Begum's Fortune." The story centers around the two heirs who inherit the vast fortune left by a French soldier of fortune who married the rich widow of an Indian prince. In both books, the two men have to settle a dispute over the inheritance.
Verne's success in translating the book into Russian was based in part on Hetzel's influence. Hetzel was an influential publisher in the nineteenth century and managed to convince Verne to change his work. Hetzel's influence is enormous, and Verne and Hetzel formed an exceptional writer-publisher partnership. In addition to publishing his books, Hetzel helped him with the publication of his last novel, "The Begum's Fortune in Russian."
Aleksandr Belyaev's Planet of Storms
Science fiction in Russian literature has a rich and diverse history. Originally derived from centuries-old Slavic mythology, it developed into a genre in the mid-19th century. In the Soviet Union, it reached its heyday during the Cold War, when it was widely produced by Soviet filmmakers. In modern Russia, however, science fiction has seen a revival following the fall of the Iron Curtain. Russophone authors have also made significant contributions to genres outside of modern Russia.
Belyaev's Planet of Rains was one of the first works of science fiction in Russia. It features a world where a shark has a human body and the Argentinean surgeon Salvator transplants a shark's gills onto his son. Despite his extraordinary abilities, the Ichthyander lives a life devoted to saving the world. His efforts are undermined by local pearl harvester Pedro, who wishes to exploit the unusual abilities of his son. The story's success in the USSR has led to a musical adaptation, which was widely popular.
Soviet writers also had an interest in the distant past. Belyaev's The Last Man of Atlantis (1926) describes a "historical" Atlantis, while Vladimir Obruchev's Sannikov Land (1924) focuses on dinosaurs and is set inside a hollow Earth. The two authors influenced each other, but their works are not necessarily similar.
Nikolay Gogol's The Alchemy of Stone
The Alchemy of Stone, by Nikolay Gogol, is an intriguing work in the genre of Russian fantasy horror and science fiction. It features a number of familiar fairy tales, such as Sleeping Beauty, which follows a beautiful woman taking revenge on a cruel king with her beautiful daughter. Another classic story, Beauty and the Beast, tells the story of a beautiful girl becoming devoted to a horrifying creature.
Aleksandr Belyaev's Lyumi
Aleksandr Belyaev, whose surname has been transliterated in several languages, died of starvation in 1942 in the Soviet town of Pushkin, which was captured by the Nazis. His body was discovered in January 1942, and his last published work, Professor Dowell's Head, has been adapted into films. Known as one of the pioneers of the sf genre in Soviet literature, Beliaev's novel, Lyumi, was widely published and adapted into films. While most of his works are based on his autobiographical experiences, he was especially prescient.
As a result of this rise in popularity of Russian fantasy and science fiction, Belyaev's works are still some of the best-selling literature in the country. The first novel to be translated into English, Andromeda: A Space Age Tale, was published in 1917 and became one of the most widely translated works of Russian fantasy fiction. The book's title was inspired by the character Dar Veter from Tumannost Andromedy.
Alexander Belyaev was born in Smolensk, Russia. His father was an Orthodox priest and wanted him to carry on the family tradition. However, Belyaev became an atheist while in seminary and didn't take vows to a religious order. After graduation, Belyaev moved to Yalta to live with his mother. During his time in the hospital, he read H. G. Wells and other science fiction pioneers. His work in the theater was influenced by these writers.
Aleksandr Zamyatin's We
The Red Star, one of Aleksandr Zamyatin'd We are Fantasy Horror & Science Fiction in Russia's early works, first appeared in St. Petersburg in 1908. The novel was reissued in Moscow and Petrograd in 1918, and a stage adaptation was produced by the Proletcult theater in 1920. The book was never reissued in the Soviet Union, but was later anthologized in The Eternal Sun: Russian Social Utopia and Science Fiction. In 1923, a German translation was published. The Esperanto edition came out in Leipzig in 1929.
Alexander Bogdanov, an early prophet of the Bolshevik movement, was an influential writer of the time. His novel "Red Star" (1908) describes a socialist and technological society ruled by the Red Star. Bogdanov's work is based on the dream of a socialist society ruled by the Red Star. Its themes of war, politics, and the future are relevant to the present-day world.
Belyaev was born in Smolensk, Russia, on March 4, 1884. He grew up in a family of Orthodox clergymen and had two brothers and sisters. One of his sisters died of sarcoma, and his other brother drowned while riding a boat. The family later moved to Kiev, and he wrote his first story, Lord of the World, in 1928.
Belyaev's surname has been transliterated a number of times, and his date of death is somewhat uncertain. While it is believed he died during the German occupation of Pushkin, his death date is disputed. It has been speculated that he died in late 1941, but his body was found only in January 1942. Beliaev is regarded as one of the founding fathers of the sf genre in Soviet literature. His Verne and Wells-influenced works dominated the field between wars and provided models for most Soviet practitioners at the time.
A. Belyaev's life was filled with challenges, but he persevered. At age 35, he contracted tuberculosis, which left him paralyzed. His wife left him because she didn't want to look after him. He moved to Yalta with his mother in search of a specialist. He began writing poetry while recuperating in a hospital bed.