Red Stars: Political Aspects of Soviet Science Fiction

Patrick McGuire


List of Tables
1 The Tradition of Russian and Soviet Science Fiction
2 The Communist Future (I)
        Means of Transition to Communism  

        The Fate of Nations

3 The Communist Future (II)

        The Ultimate Fate of the State


        Material Abundance


        The Division of Labor

4 The Communist Future (III)

        Relations Between the Sexes


        Personality and Education


        Challenges to Marxism‑Leninism

5 Forbidden Themes and Devices (I)

        Philosophical Bans


        Nuclear War

6 Forbidden Themes and Devices (II): The Cautionary Tale  
Appendix A  Background and Attitudes of Soviet Readers of Science Fiction
Appendix B  Background of Soviet Science-Fiction Writers
Appendix C  The Publishing and Censorship of Science Fiction
Appendix D  Additional Tasks Suggested for Science Fiction

        Information on Sources


        List of Works Cited


List of Tables

1. Production of Soviet Science Fiction: Prose Titles of All Lengths 14

2. Production of Soviet Science Fiction: New Prose Titles of All Lengths, 1939-1956

3. Production of New Soviet Science Fiction, 1957-1976 20
4. Preference for Science Fiction in Baku Poll 86
5. Preference for Science Fiction in Moscow and Baku Polls 87
6. Number Out of the Ten “Best-Received” Stories and Ten “Best-Received” Soviet Stories Which Are Set in the Future 89


Philosophical Bans

Some literary devices are excluded not for direct political reasons, but because they contradict some aspect of established Soviet philosophy. [1] Stories about parallel universes, somehow coexisting with our own, while not entirely excluded, [2] are strongly discouraged, probably because the idea seems to close to supernaturalism, and especially to the spiritualist conception of “the Other Side.” [3] One subtype, stories about alternate universes where historical events have turned out differently than in our world, is almost completely forbidden, ostensibly because such stories are voluntaristic, [4] but perhaps also because the regime wishes to convey the impression (not entirely supported by its own philosophy) that the crimes and mistakes of the Soviet era of Russian history were inevitable under the circumstances.

Time-travel stories are permitted, but only if it is clear that time travel is simply a literary device, not something put forward as being really possible. [5] Sometimes time travel is used merely to provide a you-are-there historical perspective, as in L. Lagin’s novel about Russia in the 1890s, Goluboi chelovek (“The Blue Man,” 1967). Other stories teach the lesson about historical determinism mentioned in connection with alternate universes. Thus in Sever Gansovsky’s “The Demon of History,” [6] a man goes back in time to pre-World War I Vienna to eliminate the future fascist dictator. The time traveller indeed succeeds in killing Jurgen Aster, but one Adolf Hitler takes his place.

SOURCE: McGuire, Patrick. Red Stars: Political Aspects of Soviet Science Fiction. Ann Arbor: UMI, 1985. This book was written in 1976 and first published in 1977, revised for this publication.. The research covers up to the year 1975. The author did not survey science fiction in non-Russian languages of the USSR.

Contents and List of Tables, pp. ix-xi.

Universal Language in Soviet Science Fiction: Extract from “The Fate of Nations,” section of chapter 2: “The Communist Future (I)” & selected endnotes: pp. 31, 121, 122.

Lenin, H. G. Wells, & Science Fiction: Endnote to “The Fate of Nations,” section of chapter 2: “The Communist Future (I)”: p. 122, note 39.

Extract from “Philosophical Bans,” section of chapter 5, “Forbidden Themes and Devices (1)”: pp. 55-56.

Dystopia west, dystopia east: the vanishing of speculative fiction under Stalinism
by Erika Gottlieb

Lenin, H. G. Wells, & Science Fiction

Leon Trotsky on H. G. Wells as Philistine

Mankind and the Year 2000 by V. Kosolapov

The Life and Thought of H.G. Wells by Julius Kagarlitski

Yevgeny Zamyatin on Revolution, Entropy, Dogma and Heresy

Jevgenij Zamjatin pri Revolucio, Entropio, Dogmo & Herezo
(en Esperanto, trad. Ralph Dumain)

H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine: Selected Bibliography

Science Fiction & Utopia Research Resources:
A Selective Work in Progress

Sciencfikcio & Utopia Literaturo en Esperanto /
Science Fiction & Utopian Literature in Esperanto: Gvidilo / A Guide

Futurology, Science Fiction, Utopia, and Alienation
in the Work of Imre Madách, György Lukács, and Other Hungarian Writers:
Select Bibliography

Salvaging Soviet Philosophy (1)

Marx and Marxism Web Guide

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