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Savitsky, Georgiy

Entry updated 3 October 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1981-    ) Pen-name for Georgiy Polevodov, Russian-Ukrainian author of many War novels, some of which drifted into Alternate History and a Future History favouring, and some cases chillingly foreshadowing, the strategic policies of Vladimir Putin in the twenty-first century. His least contentious genre work is arguably Russkaya Luna ["Russian Moon"] (2019) which takes the same Jonbar Point as the Apple TV series For All Mankind (2019 US) – the real-world death of the rocket scientist Sergei Korolev (1907-1966). Whereas the American version of the story simply has Korolev not dying, and proceeding to lead a revitalized Russian space programme that beats the US to the Moon, Savitsky has him transformed into a Cyborg and put to work on deep-space exploration, returning from his mission to find Russia falling behind in the space-race. Korolev takes over at a vital moment, spearheading the colonization of the Moon for Russia.

The bulk of Savitsky's output is far more controversial, amounting to an escalating library of right-wing Military SF, increasingly rooted in the politics and history of his birthplace, the Donetsk region in modern Ukraine, claimed by separatists since 2014 as the Donetsk People's Republic, although only recognized as such by the Russian Federation. In this regard, he is part of an oddly large group of Russian-Ukrainian writers, identified by Cathy Young in "The Sci-Fi Writers' War" (July 2014 Slate), whose speculative fictions have often taken on aspects of propaganda and Prediction; see, for example, Gleb Bobrov who performs a similar role in the nascent literature of the breakaway Luhansk People's Republic.

His early work in the field of Future War was redolent of Tom Clancy and similar authors who raided military strategy playbooks for war stories, with a somewhat wearying tone of War All the Time. Pole boya: Arktika ["Battlefield: Arctic"] (2009) imagined a stand-off between Russian and American forces on the Kola peninsula east of Finland (compare to Ilkka Remes); Pole boya: Amerika (2010) pitted Russian and US forces against each other in a Venezuelan proxy war. Savitsky's early work was hence not a unified Future History, but a series of wargame scenarios, each taking place in a different Pocket Universe from the others, including one in which the Great Enemy is for a change not the US but the People's Republic of China, which mounts a pre-emptive nuclear strike and ground invasion in Pole boya: Sibir' ["Battlefield: Siberia"] (2010). This latter work subsequently expanded into a trilogy, with a Russian counter-attack leading to Pole boya: Pekin ["Battlefield: Beijing"] (2010) and Pole boya: Kina ["Battlefield: China"] (2010).

Savitsky's tone already featured a rising note of shrill racism – "Russia fights the hordes of a new Genghis Khan" – and an arch ideology that celebrated the ending of "thirty years of suicidal reforms", suggesting that the history of the Russian federation since Gorbachev has been a terrible wrong turn, only correctable through a strong leader and an aggressive foreign policy. As the 2010s went on, his works began to take on elements more akin to Prediction, expanding into larger book serials as particular scenarios met with greater presumed interest. His Atomnyy ["Nuclear"] series posited a conflict between Russia and NATO caused by an economic crisis that requires the United States to distract its citizenry from troubles at home. Beginning with Atomnyy Taran ["Atomic Ram"] (2011), Savitsky imagines a Western coalition, over-confident that Russia will not resort to nuclear retaliation, and that conventional Weapons will swiftly end the war. Instead, a hard-fought battle sees local forces pushed back behind the Urals and a quisling government installed in Moscow, only for the forces of Russian patriotism to surge back in Atomnyy Revansh: Vstavay, strana ogromnaya ["Nuclear Revenge: Rise Up, Great Nation"] (2011).

With a ghoulish glee reminiscent of Jerry Ahern's The Survivalist series, Savitsky outlined a Future War scenario in which a civil conflict in Ukraine leads to a proxy war between Russia- and NATO-backed forces (compare to Fedor Berezin). The violence escalates from the special operations of his Pole boya — Ukraina ["Battlefield Ukraine"] (2014) into a genocide in eastern Ukraine conducted by "Banderite" terrorists, NATO-backed immigrant fifth-columnists in Russia itself, and ultimately, a NATO counter-attack that leaves Moscow in ruins and the Ukrainian battle theatre playing host to the opening overtures of World War Three. Although not given a specific name, the unified covers and designs of the quartet has led to its filing in the Checklist below under the arbitrarily assigned title Pole boya: Ukraina ["Battlefield Ukraine"]. Key to Savitsky's narrative is a discourse commonplace in the Russian media around the time of the invasion of Crimea in 2014 – that eastern Ukraine has been overrun by terrorist militia beholden to the far-right ideals of Stepan Bandera (1909-1959), a sometime Nazi collaborator who had hoped to unite a fascist Ukraine with Hitler's Axis.

His later Novorossiya ["New Russia"] books adopted the term for a new proposed confederation that briefly flourished in 2014-2015, incorporating what is now the breakaway Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics, and a swathe of claimed territory reaching all the way westwards to Kherson. It was hence a literature of proposed state formation, a "birth of a nation" that tellingly adopted a flag modelled on that of the Confederate States of America. "Novorossiya" deliberately appropriated the tsarist term for much of the land area that was conquered from the Crimean khanate by Russian forces, and had been part of political discourse since the 1990s, when the collapse of the Soviet Union led to arguments that the new state of Ukraine included territories that had been arbitrarily assigned to during the Soviet period. These "Wild Fields" in the words of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008), including Crimea itself and the Donbass region, were later defined by Vladimir Putin as stretching along the coast as far west as Odesa. Savitsky's narrative imagines Ukraine in the hands of an unelected "junta", while the Russian speaking provinces of eastern Ukraine contend against a Banderite insurgence. With a Technothriller aspect, Savitsky pursues not only agitprop against the enemies of "New Russia", now an upstart state seeking to free itself from Ukrainian oppression, but also a series of wargame scenarios requiring specific military conditions. Vertoletchiki Novorossii. Dayesh' Kiyev ["Helicopter Pilots of Novorossiya: Objective Kyiv"] (2016), for example, relies entirely on a scenario in which Russian helicopters can function in Ukrainian airspace without fear of retaliation from the Ukrainian air force. Notably, Savitsky's books were published after the signing of the Minsk II Accords in 2015, effectively raking over the coals of the conflict, kiting the rhetoric and aims of the conflict through the later 2010s, even as participants supposedly sought to resolve it.

Savitsky would return to his Banderite thesis in 2018, with another series that sought to lay the ideological foundations of Russian operations in Ukraine through the aid of a plot twist common to Japanese Light Novels and Young Adult fiction, accidental Time Travel, known in Russia as popadantsvo. Viktor Rakitin, the protagonist of the Pozyvnoy Volkodav ["Callsign Wolfhound"] series, is blown up by a landmine in the "Novorossiya" conflict, only to experience an Identity Transfer Timeslip eighty years back to the siege of Stalingrad. Rising in the ranks of the NKVD, Rakitin fights in the Great Patriotic War with a view to eradicating the "Banderite" terrorists of his own time before they can even rise to power (see Changewar), in a narrative device that aims to frame contemporary tensions in east Ukraine as a direct consequence and continuation of World War Two. Savitsky repeated the template with Nepristupnyy Sevastopol ["Impregnable Sevastopol"] (2019), in which Aleksey Leshchenko, a retired former lieutenant-colonel, back in command of an artillery unit in his native Donbass region as a result of Ukrainian "terrorists", is blown up by an enemy shell in 2015. Magically transported to 1941, he wakes up as a younger man in command of a coastal battery in the titular military port. [JonC]

see also: Yauza.

Georgiy Polevodov

born Donetsk, Ukraine: 20 October 1981

works (selected)


Pole boya ["Battlefield"]

  • Pole boya: Arktika ["Battlefield: Arctic"] (Moscow: Eksmo/Yauza, 2009) [Pole boya: hb/]
  • Pole boya: Amerika ["Battlefield: America"] (Moscow: Eksmo/Yauza, 2009) [Pole boya: hb/]
  • Pole boya: Tibilisi ["Battlefield: Tblisi"] (Moscow: Eksmo/Yauza, 2010) [Pole boya: hb/]
  • Pole boya: Sibir' ["Battlefield: Siberia"] (Moscow: Eksmo/Yauza, 2010) [Pole boya: hb/]
  • Pole boya: Pekin ["Battlefield: Beijing"] (Moscow: Eksmo/Yauza, 2010) [Pole boya: hb/]
  • Pole boya: Kina ["Battlefield: China"] (Moscow: Eksmo/Yauza, 2010) [Pole boya: hb/]

Atomnyy ["Nuclear"]

Pole boya: Ukraina ["Battlefield Ukraine"]

Novorossiya ["New Russia"]

Pozyvnoy Volkodav ["Callsign Wolfhound"]

Nepristupnyy Sevastopol ["Impregnable Sevastopol"]

individual titles

  • Russkaya Luna ["Russian Moon"] (Moscow: Eksmo/Yauza, 2019) [hb/]

further reading


previous versions of this entry

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