Advanced High American Sci-Fi Legend in Russian Opinion

Click here

Listen to the episode about one of the most influential contemporary writers of science fiction and fantasy, who died recently at age 91. He was one to predict earthlings landing on Mars more than half a century ago. Even more important, although his works are not what most would consider hard-core sci-fi, he has been turning fantasy genre into the respected genre of literature.

In USSR, in the Thaw period (1956-64), still under the dominance of Socialist Realism, Bradbury’s books began appearing on the shelves of Russian bookstores and libraries. Bradbury was lucky with Soviet translators who preserved and delivered in Russian versions the finest nuances of his language and style. The total numbers of copies of his works was relatively large; they were also comparetevly cheap so that every citizen of USSR was able to buy them. His books sold rapidly while many Soviet authors gathered dust on the shelves.

The content of his books was particularly important, as it represents the image of America as reflected by the American writer which Russians read. It seemed that Bradbury was at least as alien to the official ideology of Khrushchev’s Russia as Scott Fitzgerald or Ernest Hemingway to mention just a couple of the most popular American authors in the Soviet Union.

What attracts Russian readers in Bradbury’s fantasy books was the defence of personal rights of individuality and disdain for literary heritage. A wonderful Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451, and its antiauthoritarian content has made it of very strong interest to the Soviet and Russian readers. In this novel he created a projected world where according to the distorted government’s rationale, the only way to be happy is for everyone to be alike, live in the identical houses and read no books. Without books, there are no ideas to talk about, therefore no mental experiences that would give person individuality. In this bland authoritarian society the power decided that exposure to the ideas found in books makes people different; differences, in its turn, create social friction; therefore books must be destroyed. However, soon curiosity gets the better of one who was called upon to burn the books, and he begins secretly reading some of the books he is supposed to burn. The experience transforms him.

However, it appeared that the author himself did not write a book about government censorhip. In 1953, the farsighted Ray Bradbury feared that television would kill books and stuff young students with so much useless information.

There were more and less successful cynematic adaptations of Bradbury's works in Russia -- 1997 feature film Dandelion Wine, 1988 The Thirteenth Apostle (based on The Martian Chronicles), 1984 animation There will come soft rains. At present, one of the most devoted readers of Bradbury’s works, Russian director Rodion Nahapetov has been commissioned to write and produce a film adaptation of Ray Bradbury’ s Dandelion Wine.