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We Modern People
Science Fiction and the Making of Russian Modernity
Anindita Banerjee

Early Classics of Science Fiction

Wesleyan University Press
2013 • 230 pp. 8 illus. 6 x 9"
Literary Criticism / Science Fiction

$24.95 Paperback, 978-0-8195-7334-6
$75.00 Hardcover, 978-0-8195-7333-9

$19.99 Ebook, 978-0-8195-7335-3

Check your ebook retailer or local library for ebook availability.

(Cloth edition is un-jacketed.
Cover illustration is for paperback edition only)

Banerjee uncovers the secret history of early Russian science fiction, and how SF tied in with Russians' obsessions with modernity....”io9

How science fiction forged a unique Russian vision of modernity distinct from Western models

Science fiction emerged in Russia considerably earlier than its English version and instantly became the hallmark of Russian modernity. We Modern People investigates why science fiction appeared here, on the margins of Europe, before the genre had even been named, and what it meant for people who lived under conditions that Leon Trotsky famously described as “combined and uneven development.” Russian science fiction was embraced not only in literary circles and popular culture, but also by scientists, engineers, philosophers, and political visionaries. Anindita Banerjee explores the handful of well-known early practitioners, such as Briusov, Bogdanov, and Zamyatin, within a much larger continuum of new archival material comprised of journalism, scientific papers, popular science texts, advertisements, and independent manifestos on social transformation. In documenting the unusual relationship between Russian science fiction and Russian modernity, this book offers a new critical perspective on the relationship between science, technology, the fictional imagination, and the consciousness of being modern.

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“162 pages of chiseled thinking and no padding. ...We Modern People...does the hard work of a path-breaking book. ... In short, Banerjee’s book is a very, very smart one, and it is right on time.”—Yvonne Howell, Times Higher Education Supplement

A book of substantial scholarship, We Modern People is an important book for both science fiction studies and Russian studies, with major elements that will appeal to those who study utopia, the development of the early twentieth century, and literature.”—Clifford Cunningham, Sun News Network


“The basis of this book is an original and tremendously engaging idea—that science fiction served as a crucial model for national literature in Russia. It made Russian modernity possible. Banerjee treats science fiction not as a genre but as a mode of apprehending the world.”Stephanie Sandler, Harvard University

“Making the compelling connection between mass-scale revolutionary technological projects, such as the Trans-Siberian railroad, and the avant-garde campaigns to transform the Russian/Soviet imagination, Banerjee demonstrates how the techno-political and science-fictional imaginations are entwined in the modernization process. This book is an exemplary study in linking the popularization of science with modern literature.”Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr., author of The Seven Beauties of Science Fiction

ANINDITA BANERJEE is an associate professor of comparative literature at Cornell University.

Fri, 21 Feb 2014 11:01:55 -0500