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Pelevin, Victor

Entry updated 26 October 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1962-    ) Russian author active from the beginning of the 1990s; some of his early Absurdist short stories have been assembled as A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia and Other Stories (coll trans Andrew Bromfield 1998) – and whose first novel, Omon Ra (1992; trans Andrew Bromfield 1994), established his name as a Satirist of the excesses of USSR/Russia. Barely sf as it describes a hoax, the tale "uncovers" a scandal of the Soviet space programme: its Robot-guided spacecraft are in fact manned by kamikaze human pilots, but do not in fact actually work: the pilot narrator comes to his senses Underground, in the Moscow subway system. Жизнь насекомых [transliteration awaited] (1993; trans Andrew Bromfield as The Life of Insects 1996) is a Beast Fable [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. The protagonist of Chapaev i Pustota (1996; trans Andrew Bromfield as The Clay Machine Gun 1999; vt Buddha's Little Finger 2000) seems to be two persons of the same name, one a war hero in 1919, the other a contemporary convinced he is himself, a century earlier. Generation "P" (1999; trans Andrew Bromfield as Babylon 2000) describes Moscow as a Babylon, a Media Landscape irradiated by Advertising, which may be literally transfiguring the great City. Shlem uzhasa: Kreatiff o Tesee I Minotavre (2005; trans Andrew Bromfield as The Helmet of Horror: The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur 2006) Equipoisally balances a telling of the original myth against a Near Future entrapment suffered several men and women caught in an online chat room under the control of the eponymous Secret Master both of the Labyrinth and, perhaps, the irrealities beyond the Net. Sviashchennaia Kniga Oborotnia (2005; trans Andrew Bromfield as The Sacred Book of the Werewolf 2008) mixes Beast Fable and Werewolf tropes: a seemingly Immortal fox-werewolf, who works in Moscow as a prostitute, who becomes involved with a male werewolf: their complex relationship, and the ornately indirect but devastating portrait of the Russian world show the clear influence of predecessors like Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852) and Vladimir Nabokov. S.N.U.F.F.: utopia (2011; trans Andrew Bromfield as S.N.U.F.F.: Special Newsreel Universal Feature Film: A Utøpia 2015) is a savagely ambitious depiction of a Near Future Dystopian world – primarily Russia and its former satrapies – where neoliberal shibboleths have continued to metastasize to the point that the Ruined Earth surface of the planet, inhabited by Orcs (which is to say the non-rich), are manipulated from at least one flying City, occupied by oligarchs and the obscenely rich and powerful. Most of the action take place in the city of Byzantium (derived from Big Byz); to control Overpopulation amongst Orcs, Wars are created by their owners, who treat the torture and death of most of the humans on the planet as a Media Landscape for fun and profit. A Virtual Reality London landscape housed in Byzantium gives comfort to the absentee owners of decaying Britain. [JC]

Victor Olegovich Pelevin

born Moscow: 22 November 1962

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collections and stories

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