best Russian science fiction

Informed perspectives on the surprisingly long and incredibly rich tradition of Russian science fiction, however, are hard to come by in accessible form.

Since the dawn of the Space Age, when the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite and sent the first human into the cosmos, science fiction literature and cinema from Russia has fascinated fans, critics, and scholars from around the world.

This critical reader aims to provide precisely such a resource for students, scholars, and the merely curious who wish to delve deeper into landmarks of the genre, discover innumerable lesser-known gems in the process, and understand why science fiction came to play such a crucial role in Russian society, politics, technology, and culture for more than a century.

Contributors include: Mark B. Adams, Anindita Banerjee, Lynn Barker, Eliot Borenstein, Aleksandr Chantsev, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Stephen Dalton, Dominic Esler, Elana Gomel, Andrew Horton, Yvonne Howell, Asif A. Siddiqi, Robert Skotak, Michael G. Smith, Vlad Strukov, Darko Suvin

Editorial Reviews


Russian Science Fiction Literature and Cinema … offers a compelling investigation of the genre whose development was significantly reshaped in the second half of the 20th century. … [The book] presents science fiction not only in terms of aesthetic inspirations and experimentation, but also in terms of political attestations and existential crises.” Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed, New Books Network (Nataliya Shpylova-Saeed, New Books Network, 23 February 2017 New Books Network)

A decidedly scholarly work attempting to reconcile Soviet-era space race Sci-Fi with Cinema – also politics, technology and society – though one which remains particularly valuable given the paucity of any consistent accounts to date. It’s a comprehensive, and even exhaustive, read featuring a host of contributors and which, to varying extents,
likely will appeal not just to those wanting a handle on the Sci-Fi/Cinema connection, but perhaps to Russophiles across-the-board, too.

(Screentrade Magazine)

Russian Science Fiction Literature and Cinema is a collection of articles and essays that offers multiple perspectives across many modes, from historical overviews to close readings. There is no single theoretical framework, nor is there an attempt at comprehensive treatment.

The resulting haphazardness of the book befits the subject, however. Shaped by the ruptures, pitfalls and political stagnations of the last hundred years, the history of Russian sf is essentially a record of Russian history. As with other forms of art, Russian sf has been hostage to censorship which, together with wars, was responsible for creating gaps, delays and diversions in the evolution of the genre.

The collection illustrates this vividly by patching together perspectives from literary and media studies, intellectual and cultural history, psychoanalysis, as well as science and technology studies.” ―Polina Levontin, Imperial College London, Foundation 133, 48.2

Russian Science Fiction and Literature: A Critical Reader consists of 15 remarkable texts on the history, developments and re-appropriations of the genre of science fiction in the context of Soviet and post-Soviet Russian literature and film.

The texts collected in this volume edited by Anindita Banerjee succeed in providing a comprehensive overview of a very broad spectrum of topics, approaches and transformations that have marked the developments of the genre of science fiction in Russia from the late eighteenth to the early twenty-first century. … Each of the essays in this collection addresses science fiction in a markedly intersectional way.

In doing so, the reader emphatically points not only to the genre’s national and regional significance, but also to its relations to other genres, its counterparts from the Western tradition of science fiction, its transformations across media, particularly literature and cinema, and its broader socio-cultural influences, inspirations and reverberations.” ―Natalija Majsova, University of Antwerp, Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema Vol. 12

(Natalija Majsova Studies in Russian and Soviet Cinema)

“Cementing her reputation as a leading scholar of world sf, Anindita Banerjee’s edited collection Russian Science Fiction Literature and Cinema introduces readers to the rich tradition of sf in Russia, from the pre-Wellsian period to the present day.

Overall, Russian Science Fiction Literature and Cinema: A Critical Reader provides a much-needed pedagogical tool and informative collection for scholars and fans alike. As it ably demonstrates, Russian sf is a vibrant tradition that contributes to contemporary scholarship on ‘worlding’ sf―incorporating national and globally intersecting traditions beyond the imperial centers of European and American modernity.” ―Caroline Edwards, Science Fiction Studies Vol. 46, No. 2

(Caroline Edwards Science Fiction Studies)

This collection of scholarly articles related to the chronological history and development of Russian science fiction in film and literature is a valuable contribution to a little-studied genre. (Ayse Dietrich, Middle East Technical University, International Journal of Russian Studies Issue no. 6, Jan 2017 International Journal of Russian Studies)

“This Critical Reader is a pioneering achievement, not least because it brings together, for the first time, important English-language essays on Russian and Soviet science fiction. … On the whole … the Reader does achieve Banerjee’s stated goal, to ‘highlight the treasure trove’ of Russian SF and its critical literature. Let’s hope this volume will stimulate many further studies in this still largely unexplored field of research.” ―Matthias Schwartz, Zentrum für Literatur- und Kulturforschung, Berlin, BASEES Newsletter

(Matthias Schwartz)

About the Author

Banerjee is an Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and a Faculty Fellow at the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future at Cornell University. She is the author of “We Modern People: Science Fiction and the Making of Russian Modernity” (Wesleyan University Press, 2013), winner of the Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Book Prize.

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