Finncon – The Russians Have Come

With the St. Petersburg Eurocon now being a real thing, Russian fans very sensibly turned up at Finncon to promote the event. They also kindly put on a panel to update us on the state of SF in their country. And boy is there a lot to catch up with. Last year there were 777 new novels published in Russia. Add into that anthologies, collections and reprints, and you have a heck of a lot of books. Never mind one person not being able to read everything eligible for the Hugos; no one in Russia can keep up with all of the SF in Russian.

Of course the quality is not always that great. If you are familiar with the Black Library series of books about the Warhammer universe you’ll have some idea of what the Russians mean by a “literary project”. They have lots of these, the most successful being an ongoing series about a group of meddling time travelers.

Oddly, at the same time, their magazine publishing is declining. The only Russian language short fiction print venue left is Mir Fantastika, which is more like SFX with fiction than like Asimov’s. (Apparently there used to be a Boris Strugatsky’s Magazine, but that has gone out of business.) Weirdly there is still a Russian language SF fiction magazine published in Israel, and possibly one in Germany too. And the Russians are starting to do online magazines, which is good news.

Something else that is on the decline is translation of English language works into Russian. That’s down to piracy, which is a shame, but doesn’t surprise me.

There isn’t much Russian short fiction available in English, but that will change. The St. Petersburg committee are planning to follow the excellent example of Zagreb and produce an anthology of modern Russian SF for Eurocon members. I’m very much looking forward to that. In the meantime I’m hoping to have a Small Blue Planet episode devoted to Russia fairly soon, and my new pal Nikolai (who lives in Estonia and appears to speak more languages that I have heard of) is hoping to write an article for someone about modern Russian SF.

I recorded the panel. It may appear as a podcast at some point if the quality is OK.

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6 Responses to Finncon – The Russians Have Come

  1. Farah says:

    Have they discussed what they will do about the new anti-gay laws? We are now used to programming on LGBTQ issues; will these be programmed?

    • Cheryl says:

      I’ll talk to them. The message I got from the Ukrainians last year was that these laws were only likely to be used against citizens, not foreign tourists. However, there’s a definite possibility that we’d be putting the local organizers at risk if we raised LGBTQ issues at the event. And, of course, some of us are walking examples of queerness.

  2. Susan de Guardiola says:

    Yeah, I was wondering about this too. Harvey Fierstein sums up the new laws here: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/22/opinion/russias-anti-gay-crackdown.html

    I love St. Petersburg dearly but these laws are scary, and probably not the end of the matter either.

    • Cheryl says:

      I’m talking to the Russians and hope to have something to post fairly soon. The situation certainly is worrying, but equally struck by how most of the coverage in the Western press appears to be deliberate scaremongering.

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