Science Fiction Studies

#94 = Volume 31, Part 3 = November 2004


Tatiana Chernyshova

Science Fiction and Myth Creation in our Age

Abstract. -- SF functions in contemporary life as a form of myth creation. Myth has a gnoseological function for archaic societies; it creates a whole world-picture by complementing accumulated empirical knowledge with analogies drawn from familiar experience. Thus world-models are structurally similar to myths, combining cognition and fiction. All writing that explains scientific knowledge at the level of popular consciousness also works in this manner; in the figures of sf, it overtly resembles myth creation.

Elana Gomel

Gods Like Men: Soviet Science Fiction and the Utopian Self

Abstract. -- This essay deals with the representation of the New Man in Soviet sf. The New Man is the ideal subject whose creation was one of the central goals of Soviet civilization. Soviet sf reflects the ideological paradox underlying his aborted birth: the New Man was supposed to come into being as the culmination of the historical process and, at the same time, to negate the contingency and violence of history. The article focuses on the articulation of this paradox in the canonical works of Ivan Efremov and the Strugatsky brothers and analyzes such aspects of the New Man as anthropomorphism, gender, violence, and relation to the Other.

Erik Simon

The Strugatskys in Political Context

Abstract. -- The Strugatsky brothers began their career in the early 1960s as writers of genial and down- to-earth utopian sf. Their important novels of the mid-1960s, Hard to Be a God and The Final Circle of Paradise, were popular successes, but they elicited some criticism from conservative functionaries for their deviation from official ideology. Opposition from their doctrinaire and opportunistic literary enemies steadily grew into outright obstruction. In the second half of the 1960s, the Strugatskys wrote primarily satirical and grotesque fantasies, such as Tale of the Troika and Snail on the Slope, and found hardly any publishers willing to print them. In the early 1970s, they attempted to write more popular works, but they continued to encounter obstructions, which finally became an institutionalized boycott by the end of the decade. In the 1980s, they were the most popular Soviet sf writers despite the boycotts and slander campaigns, and their oeuvre has been the only one continuously and completely in print by Russian sf writers.

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