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Science Fiction Circuits of the South and East

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Edited By Anindita Banerjee and Sonja Fritzsche

The first collection of its kind, this anthology documents a radically different geography and history of science fiction in the world. Western, specifically Anglo-American, SF is not the only hub of the global trade of alternative realities and futures. Rather it is but only one of several competing flows and circuits of distribution, contacts, influence, translation, adaptation, and collaboration, across space and time. The essays collected here focus on arguably the biggest and most influential of those competing hubs: the socialist world and its extensive cultural networks across the global South and East. Written by scholars from around the world, the chapters address the «other» transatlantic of the Caribbean, Latin America, African America, and the Soviet Union; the surprising multitude of transnational networks behind the Iron Curtain; and asymptotic and subterranean discourses across Russia, India, and China. Science Fiction Circuits of the South and East is intended for scholars, students, and fans interested in science fiction, popular culture, comparative literature, film studies, postcolonialism, techno-science, translation studies, and the literature and cultures of China, Cuba, Germany, India, Mexico, Poland, and Russia.

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6 Naming the Future in Translations of Russian and East European Science Fiction (Sibelan Forrester)

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SIBELAN FORRESTER

6 Naming the Future in Translations of Russian and East European Science Fiction

Science fiction is the ultimate defamiliarizing verbal genre, uniquely well suited not only to imagining space exploration or embodying new trajectories for science and technology, but first and foremost to envisioning new ways of organizing social and political entities.1 Even works that lack encounters with sentient aliens provoke a confrontation between self and other as readers meet characters from remote times and places or alternative and very different presents. This article examines one factor among the ways SF2 creates worlds different from our own: the use of personal names to convey information about international, transnational or post-national groups and societies in the future, and the way these names have been or could be rendered in English translation.

Some works considered here predate the Second World War, but most were written during the great boom in Soviet and East European SF that began a few years after Stalin’s death. The “Thaw” of the late 1950s and early 1960s restored confidence in the promise of a bright socialist future, at least temporarily and at least among members of the technical intelligentsia who formed much of SF’s readership and provided most of its authors. SF in general tends to drop the national traits that mark the modernist novel and replace them with international futures, mobilizing persistent ← 165 | 166 → tokens of nationality such as names to point out this internationalization...

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