New publications on Russian science fiction

Regular readers will be delighted to learn of two new (both 2014) publications in the field of Russian science fiction studies. kremThe first is Nikolai Krementsov’s long-awaited survey of the interaction between early Soviet science and fiction, Revolutionary Experiments: The Quest for Immortality in Bolshevik Science and Fiction. See full details and order a copy from the publisher’s website, here. The cover illustration looks as if it may owe some inspiration to this blog’s home image!

matthiasThe second book is equally long-awaited and fascinating (although unfortunately, for now, available only in German): Matthias Schwartz’s Expeditions into Other Worlds: Soviet Adventure Literature and Science Fiction from the October Revolution to the End of the Stalin Era. Here is the publisher’s blurb in English translation:

Adventure literature and science fiction were among the most popular literary genres in the Soviet Union. It was within these genres that collective desires and fears about the present could be projected onto distant and exotic worlds. At the same time, this “literature of the masses” was very controversial. Adventure literature was regarded as ideologically problematic colonial literature, while science fiction was seen as challenging the official optimism about science and the future. This volume is the first to take an in-depth look at this neglected field of popular literature. The author reconstructs the journalistic and internal debates around the genres’ creation and presents a selection of texts that reveal the changing poetics within this field. He thereby provides fundamental insights into the operation and aporias of Soviet cultural policy. You can order a copy here.

Matthias Schwartz is a scholar of Slavic studies and a historian. He is currently a researcher at the Centre for Literary and Cultural Research (ZfL), Berlin. Nikolai Krementsov is a professor in the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology at the University of Toronto.



Visions of the Future – Conference Review

This post and the next feature reviews of recent sci-fi conferences attended by Snail on the Slope contributing member Eric R. Laursen (University of Utah) – namely, April’s Global Science Fiction Cinema conference in Iowa and July’s Science Fiction Research Association conference in Detroit. For pictures, useful links, and more, read on!

Visions of the Future: Global Science Fiction Cinema Conference was held in Iowa City at the U of Iowa April 12-14 (  Panel titles ranged in topic from “Empire and the State” to “Biopolitics and Bioethics” to “Cyborgs, Affect, and Sexuality.”  Scholars delivered papers (and tantalizing clips!) on films from cultures around the world, including Bollywood, North Korea, and of course Japanese Anime.


Two keynotes were delivered, one on April 12 by Katherine Hayles entitled “Theorizing the Global Influence of Digital Media through the Technogenetic Spiral.”  Hayles is the author of How We Became Posthuman: Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature and Informatics, which won the Rene Wellek Prize for the Best Book in Literary Theory for 1998-99, and Writing Machines, which won the Suzanne Langer Award for Outstanding Scholarship. Her latest book, How We Think: Digital Media and Contemporary Technogenesis, appeared in Spring 2012 from the University of Chicago Press.

On April 13 Thomas Lamarre delivered a second keynote entitled “Humans and Machines–Media Interface after the Cyborg.”  Thomas Lamarre is a James McGill Professor in East Asian Studies and Communications Studies at McGill University. He is the author of books dealing with the history of media, thought, and material culture, with projects ranging from the communication networks of 9th century Japan (Uncovering Heian Japan), to silent cinema and the global imaginary (Shadows on the Screen) and animation technologies (The Anime Machine: A Media Theory of Animation), the latter which won an Honorable Mention for the 2011 Katherine Singer Kovács Book Award.

Lamarre’s keynote was followed by a live taping of an NPR and PBS program WorldCanvass dedicated to science fiction.  Participants included Istvan Cicery Ronay, Jr., Rob Latham, film-maker Alex Rivera and six of the panelists presenting at the conference. You can listen to the broadcast here:

Each evening there was a screening of a science fiction film.  The first two nights participants viewed the Japanese film Ghost in the Shell II: Innocence (2004, & the German Transfer (2010,  On the final day of the conference, after the last panel participants viewed a showing of world science fiction shorts.  This was followed by a banquet, after which participants raced through a torrential Iowa rainstorm to see Sleep Dealer (2008), a Sundance movie that was filmed in the U.S. and Mexico, which was followed by a Q & A with the film’s director Alex Rivera (  The picture below is a still from Sleep Dealer taken from the conference program.

ImageOrganizers of the conference were Jennifer Feeley (Dept of Asian and Slavic Languages) and Sarah Ann Wells (Dept of Spanish), both faculty members at the University of Iowa.

Update on Science Fiction Panels at ASEEES and AATSEEL 2012

We’re very happy to announce that our three projected science fiction-themed panels for the 2012 ASEEES convention, to be held in New Orleans on November 15-18, are now being submitted – and fingers crossed, they will all be approved by the panel organisers. Our triad of panels examines, in  turn, three separate post-1917 historical periods within the general framework of the interaction of science and scientists with Soviet and post-Soviet literary fiction. Here they are, in outline:

  • Science Fiction I (Pre-revolutionary & Early Soviet): How the Style Was Tempered organized by Eric Laursen, University of Utah (
  •  Science Fiction II (Cold War): Cold War, Hot Topics organized by Sibelan Forrester, Swarthmore College (
  • Science Fiction III (Post-Soviet): Apocalypse Then: Dystopian Narratives in Contemporary Eastern European Fiction organized by Sofya Khagi, University of Michigan (

Many thanks to all those who volunteered to become panellists, discussants, or chairs on all three panels – we’re looking forward to November in New Orleans!

In other conference news,there were also a couple of science fiction panels at AATSEEL 2012 (Jan 5-8) in Seattle, the US’s second biggest Slavic Studies conference. At a panel on ‘Science as Fiction: Representing Soviet Science in Soviet Culture’, which was chaired by Sibelan Forrester (Swarthmore) and doubly discussanted by Devin Fore (Princeton) and Julia Vaingurt (Illinois), Muireann Maguire (Oxford) presented on the satirization of scientific research institutions in the works of Anatolii Dneprov and the Strugatskii Brothers, while Susanna Weygandt (Princeton) spoke about Stanislavsky, Lysenko, and Zelkind in the context of ‘Early Soviet Plasticity in the Sciences, Theater, and Dance‘. In a fascinating panel on ‘Automata, Robots, Clones: Anthropomorphism in Twentieth-Century Russian and Eastern European Culture’, Julia Vaingurt, Jacob Emery (Indiana), and Colleen McQuillen (Illinois) delivered papers on topics ranging from Karel Čapek and Kazuo Ishiguro to Władysław Starewicz, with Margo Rosen (Columbia) and Julia Chadaga (Macalester College) acting as chair and discussant respectively. See here for the full conference programme and abstracts. The call for papers and round tables at the next AATSEEL conference, to be held in Boston in January 2013, is now open, so get organizing those sci-fi panels!

Muireann Maguire

promotion, and a bit of self-promotion

I want to shout out to everyone who visits this blog about Nikolai Krementsov’s new book, A MARTIAN STRANDED ON EARTH: ALEXANDER BOGDANOV, BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS, AND PROLETARIAN SCIENCE (U Chicago Press, 2011). It’s not just for scholars and readers of science fiction, but for anyone interested in Russian and Soviet history and culture. Perhaps someone could post a review on this site? (Perhaps I will when I get a bit more time…)

Reposting (from SEELANGS) a list of SF sources that Kevin Reese just posted there in response to a question from a list member:


1. Geller, Leonid. Vselennaia za predelom dogmy: razmyshleniia o sovetskoi fantastike.
London: Overseas Publications Interchange Ltd, 1985.

2. Gakov, Vladimir, et al. Entsiklopediia fantastiki: kto est’ kto. Minsk: Galaksias,

3. Prashkevich, Gennadii. Krasnyi sfinks: istoriia russkoi fantastiki ot V. F. Odoevskogo do Borisa Shterna. Novosibirsk: Svinin i synov’ia, 2007.

The best fit is Geller: his work is a proper historical-literary study, with some references to translated works. Gakov’s book is really just a reference work, but with many entries on non-Russian writers. (Gakov reads English well, so an entry on an English-language sf writer does not imply the existence of a translation.)

Stite’s _Revolutionary Dreams_, while not a study of science fiction, contains many references to early Soviet sf writers.

Finally, as concerns influential non-Russian sf writers, there is an extremely detailed bibliography of translations of H. G. Wells into Russian. Many of the translations from the 1920s were edited by Zamiatin, who wrote some very fine essays on Wells:

Levidova, I. M. and B. M. Parchevskaia. Gerbert Dzhorzh Uells: Bibliografiia russkikh perevodov i kriticheskoi literatury na russkom iazyke: 1898-1965.
Moskva: Kniga, 1966.


And I’ll finish with a bit of self-promotion: A monumental (990 pp.) book for teaching about science fiction, SENSE OF WONDER: A CENTURY OF SCIENCE FICTION (ed. by Leigh Ronald Grossman, Wildside Press, 2011), includes a new translation of two chapters of Zamyatin’s WE by a recent Swarthmore graduate, Alex Israel, and my brief survey article on Russian and East European Science Fiction (both included in pp. 106-09).

Best wishes to everyone!



Konstantin Yuon, 'The New Planet' (1921)

Welcome to the new, collaborative blog organized by the Slavic (including, but not limited to, Russian and Soviet) Science Fiction mailing list members. This blog is planned as a forum for reviews and research relating to Slavic science fiction from the eighteenth century to the twenty-first.