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This article explores two classics of Soviet science fiction – Konstantin Tsiolkovskii’s Beyond the Earth (1918) and Aleksei Tolstoi’s Aelita (1923) – in their related historical contexts. Both had their origins in the popular nineteenth-century “cosmic romance,” owing to their staple characters, settings, and plots. These were extraordinary adventures into the heavens, modern signposts of how the fantastic was becoming real. Yet both novels also became leading texts in the genre of Stalinist Socialist Realism, stories that made “fairy tales come true.” Tsiolkovskii and Tolstoi both appealed to the Bolshevik Revolution as a radical break in time here on earth, much as they predicted that the rocket would become a radical new means to reach beyond into outer space. They centered their stories on real science and technology, articles of comprehension and anticipation. They created characters that revealed the utopian potential of human beings to create new regimes of equality and freedom. Part inheritance from abroad, part innovation at home, the cosmic romance in their hands became a successful medium to situate and justify the Soviet experience.

In: Canadian-American Slavic Studies

This article investigates the March Events of 1918: city-wide fighting for control of Baku that involved the Bolshevik party, the Red Guards, and various Armenian and Azerbaijani militias. Besides many of these combatants, thousands of innocent Azerbaijanis and others (Caucasus peoples and Persians) perished in the hostilities. Focusing on the Events as an exercise of power and violence, I argue that the establishment of the Baku Commune (like the later formation of the multi-national Soviet Union) was indivisible from these circumstances of national and sectarian war. Drawing from Azerbaijani sources long-suppressed by the Communist regime, I recount some of the key contexts, mechanics, and legacies of the Events. As an elucidation of the facts, this study sets out to help historians calibrate their interpretations, better weigh the nature of Soviet power, and refine what we usually term “Armenian” or “Azerbaijani” aggression. These peoples were not preternaturally disposed to violence. Suffering was not the exclusive province of either community. Rather, political strategies have drawn them into cycles of violence and bonds of recrimination that have recurred sporadically into the present day.

In: Russian History
In: Russian History
In: Russian History

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