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Thanks everyone for the opinions and recommendations. And reminding me that I did read Definitely Maybe but hadn't remembered until I saw the cover for the recently released edition.
I read a note (on wikipedia) said that Snail on the Slope was an almost rewrite of the first draft of Disquiet (the touchstones really don't like me) has anyone read both of these? Would a reader be able to guess this going into these two novels cold?
Are there any other Soviet Era Science Fiction authors people can recommend? SciFi authors and I have had a bumpy relationship but I rather enjoy the interchange of science fiction and soviet ideology.
I am more interested in Soviet era SciFi works. Wikipedia actually a page for Russian Science Fiction and Fantasy. Can anyone recommend anyone from this list?
Alexander Belayev, Grigory Adamov, Vladimir Obruchev, Alexey Tolstoy, Alexsander Kazantsev, Georgy Martynov, Vladimir Savchenko, Georgy Gurevich, Kir Bulychov, Alexsander Kolpakov, Sergey Snegov, Nikolay Nosov, Evgeny Veltistov, Vitaly Melentyev, Yan Larri, Vladislav Krapirin, Vitaly Gubarev?
There's some information about most of these authors on wikipedia but I trust the people here more than the faceless people behind wikipedia.
The Peregrinations of Semyon Nevzorov or Ibiscus
The Ancient Route
The Marie Antoinette Tapesty
The Russian Character
I believe I read it about 7-8 years ago and can no longer remember exactly which stories I thought best, but I remember enjoying all of them tremendously. Although online sources cite Alexei Tolstoy as a an early Soviet SciFi writer, I believe the stories in this collection would likely be classified as fantasy or historical fantasy with more than a little satirical humor in each story.
So while doing some research based on the information everyone has given here I found the above link. It will take you a list of translated (into English) Science Fiction listed alphabetically by the original language. The definition of SciFi is stretched a bit at times but I enjoy lists.
A Part of the World by Gansovsky, Sever
- Reminded me in parts of Brazil (bureaucracy and the descriptions of the backgrounds just brought the movie to mind, the plot was no where near the same)
Another's Memory by Bulychev, Kir
-Essentially Frankenstein without the gothic horror aspects. Clone with identity crisis
A Tale of Kings by Larionova, Olga
-An alien kidnaps an Adam and Eve from Earth to remember their humanity-- I feel like the translation failed this one as the plot elements were interesting but the overall feeling coming out the story for me was eh
Tower of Birds by Oleg Korabelnikov
-This was not Science Fiction. It's a fairy tale. Man gets lost in woods, meets up with forest spirits, learns how to be one with the universe. The story is good (do need some knowledge of Russian/Slavic spirits b/c these are not explained) but I was confused the entire time about its inclusion into this collection.
Thank you for everyone who recommended Aelita! I devoured that. I kept picturing a Fritz Lang version of the story in my head as I read it. Going to attempt to get the movie.
I also read Aliens, Travelers, and Other Strangers. As with any mix of stories it's a bit of a mixed bag. I will say reading this collection I noticed how suspenseful or tense a lot of Soviet/Russian Sci Fi is. I highly highly recommend picking this up if only for the novella by Sever Gansovsky called Vincent Van Gogh. I don't want to say too much because it deals with time travel but it does it in a refreshing, good way.
I did end up watching Aelita. The movie was so changed from the story and not in my opinion for the better. I also picked up the movie for The Amphibian but I haven't gotten to read the book yet. It's up next.
>29 agmlll: My copy of The Doomed City came in at the library so I have that for another 2 weeks so that will probably come after. I've been looking forward to it for some time. I have not been questioning the re-release (or just release) of Strugatsky in english I've just been enjoying it and hoping for more.
>20 kaggsy: I've finally put in an interlibrary loan request for The Ultimate Threshold so I'll probably get to this after The Amphibian
Finished The Doomed City. That was the least hopeful of all the Strugatsky's I've read. Boris Strugatsky wrote an afterword where he talks about this being autobiographical and there fear of being caught/arrested/erased pervades the narrative.
Finished The Amphibian I can't tell for sure but I think the translator may have excised little bits. The story is a fun short tale a little in the line with Doctor Moreau (but optimistic instead of horror). I am a big fan of the idea of changing people/species by grafting in other species, most of the time this is a horrific act against nature/God which were being written before we had our current grasp of genetics. (I hope I live long enough to get the see the same naive joy in current science fiction in the future). Overall though the short story is a bit weak.
I also read Journey Across Three Worlds. This is another short story anthology. The titular story is by the Abramovs (father and son team) and was the strongest (and longest, which may be connected) story in the collection. It's a rather odd little story about a man jumping between parallel worlds (well "jumping" more like he takes over his other self in parallel worlds). It has some major pit falls but was interesting enough.
Next there's a very short Strugatsky story The Gigantic Fluctuation. This was fun but very short, around 20 pages in my copy.
Then there's The Snowball by Yemstev and Parnov. This suffered the most by the obvious plot hole of time travel. The main character takes a journal he knows a character in the future has to prove that he travel in time, except that if he had taken it in the past it wouldn't duplicate it in the future it would just be gone. That was distracting from an otherwise well written story.
Cadet Ploshkin by Varshavsky seems to have been added as science fiction because they're technically on space ships but no actual "science" is seen as the plot revolves around the titular cadet playing a prank on the officers.
I have zero memories of Gansovsky's The Two.
I found the girl in The Girl Nothing Happens To by Bulychev to be so obnoxious and precocious that I finished the story out of spite, others may not have the same feelings towards it.
The final story The Seventh Floor by Arkady Lvov was confusing. I don't know if I just wasn't doing a close enough reading or if the translator just decided to skip some transitions or if the story is just that malformed but while I got the gist of the story I also feel like I missed huge, important, chunks.
I'm not really sure why I went into so much detail except that I got annoyed that I couldn't find any information going into the collection. I will add that the Abramov and the Strugatsky stories are available for free online at archive.org.
I will also add that the edition I read was an English language edition that was published to be sold in Russia so there could have been linguistic differences in how it was translated verses how the English for the English speaking crowd was translated but I'm certainly not going to hunt down another copy to check.
"The postwar decade (1946-1956) was characterized by a type of science fiction bordering on popular science. Our critics have termed this type 'science fiction with short sight', and it contributed very little to the treasure of Soviet sf."
I'd love a few recommendations of especially good stories, since I'm unlikely to have time to read the whole book in the near future.
The Surf of Mars - Cautious astronaut discovers "ocean" surf on Mars. To prove he is not a coward keeps diving in. This one is better than the summary. Very well written, atmospheric.
The Port of Rock Storms - Humans discover alien highway infrastructure. I give this one an eh pass. It's not bad but just like eh
World's Spring - If you can get passed the contrivance of just one man and one woman living alone with an alien butler on a very hostile dead world (the science is not explained and it bothered me). Essentially they live on a world they think is dead but then spring comes to the world and it's all really about how the man is from Earth and the women isn't and so has never experienced seasons. It's not bad if you can get passed the science fails in it.
Nine Minutes - Astronauts return to an Earth that has aged a significant more than they have (I think a century has gone by for Earth but only two years for them) because of technological advancements they can't see Earth on their scanners for 9 minutes and so think that maybe the Earth is gone. It's short but can be passed. Mostly about how humans react to the planet being just gone.
The World in Which I Vanished - Pretty sure this the story were two people are brought back to life (officially dead to the government) to take part in an experiment. Satire about Soviet realism. Not bad and short.
Sun Sets in Donomag - The one I cannot remember or find anything to spark a memory of.
Testing Ground - Anti-war short story about a tank that is controlled by the thoughts of people. I really liked this one. Apparently I'm a big fan of Gansovsky.
The Ultimate Threshold - Man creates House of Death where people can choose to die. Man enters the house there is much discussion over whether what the man did was good or bad. I'll be honest I thought this one went on too long but it was still good.
City and Wolf - A wolf prevents the end of the world using his nose. An astronaut brings back sand from a dead planet. The sand has passed all human tests and deemed a non-threat. The wolf's nose says differently and so the sand must be hunted down. The wolf is great and makes this story. Do recommend.
An Ugly Bioform - Geneticists are able to modify the human form to perform experiments on otherwise hostile planets. One bioform is sort of stuck in his modified form and chooses death to protect a city. This is another where it is better written than the plot summary implies.
The Very Biggest House - Girl raised on doomed ship is sent to Earth after being brainwashed by her parents for her own good. I am not a fan of children in stories, particularly not written from their viewpoint as this one was, but for all that this was not the worst of its type.
Appendix - French mathematician is killed so that he cannot create the nuclear bomb before humans are ready for it. Wants to be a more important/heavier story that it is. Pass.
The Great Actor Jones - One scientist claims, using another scientist's theory, to have brought Edgar Allen Poe through time. Poe takes ever the actor Jones' body when he does. Lots of arguing over whether this is happening or if Jones is just that good of an actor. This was another not bad but I don't know if I recommend it stories.
The Stanlislavsky Method - a bit actor is so engrossed with living his tiny role he creates the world he is supposed to be enacting and ends up stuck there. I liked this one a lot. Helps that it was short.
Life Space - A man doesn't live out his life by time but rather by space. He dies over and over in time but always comes back as long as he does not leave a certain space. This was pretty good, interesting.
Day of Wrath - Humans create a super intelligent being, Otarks. Problem is they eat people (really thought this plot point wasn't true because the story is about what makes a human human and that it was like racist propaganda type thing but no they really do eat people and each other). This was much more on the horror side of science fiction and maybe a tad too long but still good.
Once at Night - Horse and robot meet and both interact with each like they would if the other was a person. Kind of a sweet story (especially after the Otark's one).
The Choice - An alien with powers, one of which is to change his shape is rescued by his people but chooses to stay on Earth because it is the only life he knows. Another eh not bad but not great story. I'm not mad I read it though.
An Old Robot's Two Times Two - Instead of Asimov's laws humans create robots with one rule they must love/worship humans. Humans find this so terrible they abandon the robots. Robots hear that humans have created different robots and so the robots create different humans. This was interesting but to me it focused too much on things I didn't care about that didn't further the plot.
Coincidence - An alien invasion is prevented by the story in the story (the story is that the alien is reading the story). I did not like this one at all.
The other stories I can't tell one way or the other from my notes.
On it's own the translation I read was clunky, I've read significantly better Voinovich at least. The story is entertaining enough and worked as satire. I didn't read it as a satire of the genre of Soviet SF but as satire of an entire specific movement (which I'm know has a name but I can't remember it right now) across Soviet culture.
There's also a 2018 translation by Olena Bormashenko available (https://www.chicagoreviewpress.com/snail-on-the-slope--the-products-978091409187...) that you're probably already aware of.
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