A sad day for Russian science fiction
September 5, 2003 10:54 AM   Subscribe

Kir Bulychev died today. (Also here.) Those of us familiar with Russian sci-fi will always remember him for such masterpieces as Poselok (Those Who Survive) and a famous children's series Devochka s Zemli (The Girl from Planet Earth). More than just a writer, he was a profuse translator, East Asian researcher, and playwright. Over ten films were produced from his books and scripts. Almost all works are online in Russian, but I could find no online translations.
posted by azazello (9 comments total)
I should have looked closer... Those Who Survive and Alisa Selezneva in translation. Not a very good translation, but better than nothing.
posted by azazello at 11:43 AM on September 5, 2003

As a kid in Norway I used to watch a Russian children's TV program where the hero was a girl w/superpowers. Don't remember much about it except some pretty cheesy special effects - but I loved it anyway. For anyone who might know it, does this sound like The Girl From Planet Earth?
posted by widdershins at 12:05 PM on September 5, 2003

Some of the finest sf I have read -- specifically, the works of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky -- is Russian. How would you compare Bulychev? Seems there are only a few translations to English, though. Isbn.nu categorizes them as juvenile fiction. Did he write any sf for adults?

IMDb calls him Kir Bulychyov -- it has always puzzled me that there seems to be no standardized way of rendering Russian names into English, or any language for that matter. "??????????" is variously rendered as Strugatski, Strugatskii, Strugatskij and so on.

widdershins, that TV series was a 1978 Czech, not Russian, production. See Majka - jenta frå verdsrommet and the IMDb entry. And yes, I watched it too. ;)
posted by gentle at 12:14 PM on September 5, 2003

So MetaFilter doesn't understand Cyrillic, even though it displays fine on preview. Now I know.
posted by gentle at 12:16 PM on September 5, 2003

Hey gentle - there you are! Was missing you in the international MeTa thread. clavdius was for some reason looking for "Norweigians" and I couldn't remember your username. Norwegians in da house! Nordmenn i huset... neivel.
posted by widdershins at 12:30 PM on September 5, 2003

Yeah, MeFi is bad with i18n. Switch to UTF-8, I say.

gentle, Bulychyov is nearly as famous in Russia as Strugackie. I consider him on par with them, if not as profuse. (I love Strugackie's work, too.) There's nothing juvenile about Poselok or any number of his other works, it's just that Alisa is his most famous work due to more publicity.

In fact, Poselok was the first sci-fi novel I've read (I was 8 or 10 I think), and remains one of the best I've read. It's a pity there's apparently no good translation.
posted by azazello at 12:56 PM on September 5, 2003

Most of what he wrote is simply horrid. It is very badly written. His earlier works (Girl that nothing ever happens to) are cute, but his success ruined him. I do not recommend him as a good read, or as a good representation of Russian literature.

However, may he rest in peace.
posted by adzuki at 1:28 PM on September 5, 2003

widdershins, hallois! I don't read MetaTalk, but thanks for the pointer. We nordbaggar must stick together.

azazello, perhaps Bulychev's passing will bring about more translations, although admittedly it didn't happen with Arkady died: The only in-print Strugatsky that I know, is "Roadside Picnic" on Gollancz' wonderful yellow "Gollancz SF" series, and that one might have gone out of print since I last looked. That is very unfortunate indeed, and not everyone knows about abebooks.com.

Then again, I hear Russian is a fun language to learn.
posted by gentle at 1:30 PM on September 5, 2003

Folks, IMO Bulychev and Strugastki brothers wrote in essentially different genres. I've read pkenty of Bulychev back when I was in my early teens, and I was precisely the audience he wrote for. The vast majority of his science fiction was oriented at young adults. It reminds me a bit of early Heinlein writing, before his "Mad scientist saves the world, screws his daughter, proclaims it normal" phase.

Strugatski brothers fiction is generally intended for more mature readers. It is light on the "sci" part, instead offering contemporary ideas outside traditional fiction environs.

Great writers, all of them. I certainly have Bulychev to thank for many fun memories reading his books.
posted by blindcarboncopy at 1:49 PM on September 5, 2003

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