Stories, poems and novel fragments dating back to the 1700s, none written much later than the first half of the 20th century.
Using broad definitions of fantasy and science fiction, Levitsky selects various tales of the supernatural and the absurd, utopias (usually in warm places, far from Russia’s chill) and dystopias of the distant future, and some early stories of space travel. He draws on the work of such towering literary figures as Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Turgenev and Zamyatin, as well as others less familiar to Western readers. The editor intersperses these choices with his own dry, jargon-loaded essays on the pieces’ peculiarly Russian nature and their inspirations in folklore, philosophy and politics. Scholars of the fantastic with an interest in literary history will discover some curiosities and some genuinely fascinating, powerfully resonant works. Casual sci-fi fans in search of light entertainment—or contemporary Russian works of speculative fiction—will be disappointed and possibly bored.