That Martian Stranded On Earth

A quick mention that two reviews of Toronto-based scholar Nikolai Krementsov’s fascinating biography of Aleksandr Bogdanov, A Martian Stranded On Earth: Alexander Bogdanov, Blood Transfusions, and Proletarian Science (University of Chicago Press, 2011) have now appeared in the UK press.’This slim volume is an example of genuinely interdisciplinary, readable, erudite science history,’ says Yvonne Howell, writing in the THE, on 29 September 2011. (Read more here). In the TLS (January 13, 2012), Muireann Maguire claims that Krementsov’s book is the first study ‘to place Bogdanov’s three personae – literary, personal, and scientific – vividly and accurately in context. If Bogdanov was martyred, he willingly sacrificed himself to the naive hubris of Soviet utopian science’. Read more here – if you can navigate the paywall.

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Mars Attacks the TLS

It’s good to see Martian geography drawing mainstream attention in this TLS review of recent books by K. Maria D. Lane and Robert Crossley; and all the more welcome to me as I’ve recently been re-reading Aleksander Bogdanov’s Red Star (1908) and Engineer Menni (1913). I remain grateful to Richard Stites’s introduction to the English translation of the former for my introduction to one of the English pioneers of Mars adventure fiction, Percy Greg (1836-1889). Greg’s Across the Zodiac: The Story of a Wrecked Record uses the black-box device (in this case, a jettisoned manuscript) to reconstruct the adventures of a lone inventor on Mars, where he receives a suspicious and hostile reception from the natives and is lucky to be rescued by the local seigneurial types. (It’s all rather like landing a spaceship in rural Shropshire circa

A.N. Tolstoi crater on Mars

1850 and being escorted to the manor by pitchfork-wielding peasants). Fortunately for him, his hosts turn out to be exceptionally enlightened. But Martian resistance to novelty results in the self-sacrificial death of his Martian bride and his own flight homewards. No, it’s not Aelita, it’s Percy Greg writing in 1880 (read Across the Zodiac here). Perhaps unfairly, Greg has only had his own crater on Mars since 2010, whereas copycat A.N. Tolstoi has had his since 1945. Not only that, it’s 58 miles across (Greg’s is only 42). Here’s a picture of it:

Another recent academic publication on Mars I’d like to recommend (not least for its several Russian-interest articles) is Visions of Mars, edited by Howard V. Hendrix, George Slusser and Eric S. Rabkin (McFarland, 2011). I’ve only read those sections available online – here’s a somewhat tepid review. MM