Russian Sci-Fi


The Demon (Lermontov)

1829 - 1839

Not published until 1942, The Demon is a poem about a demon in the Caucasus Mountains wandering alone until he finds Princess Tamara and feels emotions. He kills Tamara's husband and courts her until they fall in love. Seeing him as a tortured soul, Tamara kisses the Demon and dies, leaving the demon alone yet again.

The Bronze Horseman (Pushkin)

1833 - 1834

Evgenii survives a flood in St. Petersburg where he sees the Peter statue come to life, which drives him to madness and ultimately death.

The Queen of Spades (Pushkin)

1834 - 1835

Officer Germann hears about an officer's grandmother winning a large sum of money and becomes obsessed. He courts her ward, Lizavyeta, and scares the old woman to death during a threat to find out her secret. In a dream, the old ghost comes to Germann and tells him to play 3,7,Ace to win and orders him to marry Lizavyeta. The final night, the Queen of Spades shows up and winks at Germann, which drives him to madness.

The Nose (Gogol)

1835 - 1837

Described as grotesque or phantasmagoric. One morning, Kovalyov's barber wakes up and finds his customer's nose in his breakfast bread and tries to get rid of the evidence by throwing it in the river. The Nose becomes his own person (even ranked civilly higher than Kovalyov) as Kovalyov is shamed to be in public without his (phallic symbol) nose. A police officer returns the nose to Kovalyov, but cannot reattach it. He thinks he has been cursed by Grigorievna, a woman who wants him to marry her daughter, but she is innocent. He wakes up and finds the nose reattached as if nothing ever happened.

Vera Pavlovna's Fourth Dream (Chernyshevsky)

1863 - 1864

From the novel "What is to Be Done?," tells the story of an agrarian utopia in the aftermath of the Revolution, which is depicted by the iconic image of a crystal palace, an image of technological modernity.

Dream of a Ridiculous Man (Dostoevsky)

1877 - 1878

The narrator is walking through St. Petersburg, contemplating suicide. A little girl asks him to help her mother, which he declines. As he is about to kill himself, he falls asleep and dreams of killing himself and being transported to another planet by dragon creature. He arrives on a utopian planet, but his human emotions make an impact on the perfect world, which creates corruption and an all-out war on the planet. He awakens from his dream changed with a positive attitude of basic human kindness and potential to love. He spreads his story and helps the little girl.

The Demon painting (Vrubal)

1890 - 1891

Classic painting of Lermentov's demon, he looks westward away from the Soviets and is alone in his quest.

Lenin and the October Revolution

1917 - 1918

NEP (New Economic Policy)

1921 - 1927

Created the idea of the new Russian man and woman, who were more equal and less individualistic.

We (Zamyatin)

1921 - 1922

D-503 lives in One State, a "utopian" world devoid of logic or thought. Every part of D-503's life is controlled and watched, until he meets I-330 who shows him how to break the rules of society. I-330 is involved with MEPHI, which is planning a revolution. He meets people outside of the Green Wall who are hairy just like him. O-90 is impregnated illegally by D and is smuggled outside of the Green Wall to take care of her child. D is subject to a lobotomy procedure, where he reveals all of MEPHI's plans, unlike any of the other captured members. MEPHI members are killed, but the uprising begins, leaving the viewer to doubt One State's power as it begins to be dissolved.

The Cave (Zamyatin)

1922 - 1923

Society is in an apocalyptic future that looks like the past. Told as if dinosaurs roamed the Earth during this period in Russia and tells the tale of a couple trying to get firewood to keep from freezing to death. They commit suicide to escape the dystopic Russian future.

The Fatal Eggs (Bulgakov)

1922 - 1923

Persikov discovers a red ray of light that can expand and multiple cells. His experiements grow bigger as he makes animals multiply and become larger. As a media storm swirls, a poultry plague spreads across the country. A farmer, Rokk, wants to use the rays to multiply the chicken population, but Persikov's reptile eggs and the chicken eggs get mixed up. Rokk ends up multiplying large reptiles which attack Russia. Persikov is blamed and killed in a riot during the chaotic reptile attacks. With the first use of "deus ex machina," the reptiles are killed by the cold Russian winter and Russia is saved by divine intervention.

Aelita (dir. Protozanov)

1924 - 1925

Soviet engineer Los travels to Mars with assistant Gusev. There, Los finds that society is separated like old forms of capitalism with strong contrasts of the powerful and the poor. THe leader, Toscoob, claims that their city must be destroyed in the wake of Mars' failure, since an environmental catastrophe is on the brink. Gusev becomes a leader of the rebellion, which fails, and after falling in love with Aelita, Los and Gusev make it back to Earth. Due to time dilation, it is ambiguous as to the fate of Mars and Aelita, but radio transmissions make it believable that Aelita is still alive.

A Dog's Heart (Bulgakov)

1925 - 1926

A stray dog, Sharik, becomes a man in an experiment by Filip Filippovich. The dog seems normal at first but devolves into a hillbilly man with the "heart of a dog." He gets a job strangling cats and becomes a menace to Filip and society. After attempting to kill Filip one night, Sharik is captured and transformed back into a dog. A search warrant is out for him, which becomes useless once the police find out he is becoming a dog again. The dog calms down but seems nervous as Filip begins new experiments on human brains. Satire of reanimation about how you "can take the man out of the Soviet, but you cannot take the Soviet out of the man."

Envy (Olesha)

1927 - 1928

Did not read, but is the first science fiction story to create the idea of a human named Ophelia becoming a machine. This is where the idea of the ROBOT forms. The word Robot comes from Chopek's RUR story.

Socialist Realism

1930 - 1931

Picture of Stalin in innocent white clothing receiving flowers from blond hair, blue eye Russian children. Glorifies the common struggle to be a proper socialist, drives socialist and communist themes across in realistic ways.

Khrushchev, The Cold War, and The Space Race

1950 - 1960

Sputnik launces

October 4, 1957 - October 5, 1957

Laika first living creature in space

November 3, 1957 - November 4, 1957

A Dog's Heart (dir. Bortko)

1988 - 1989

The Fatal Eggs (dir. Lomkin)

1996 - 1997