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Yefremov, Ivan

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1908-1972) Russian palaeontologist and author, a leading figure in the renaissance of Soviet sf (see Russia); his surname has also been transliterated as Efremov. He began writing "geographical" sf on a modest scale in the 1940s, assembling his early work in Vstretcha Nad Tuskaroroi (coll 1944; trans M and N Nicholas as A Meeting Over Tuscarora; And Other Adventure Stories 1946), Piat' Rumbo ["Five Wind's Quarters"] (coll 1944) and elsewhere. Some of the contents of the first volume overlap with those assembled in Stories (coll trans Ovidii Gorchakov 1954); new to this were two ambitious novellas, "Zviozdnyie Korabli" (1947; trans as "Shadow of the Past") and "Ten' Minuvshego" (trans as "Stellar Ships"), in which palaeontologists make discoveries which offer them glimpses of spectacular possibilities, with hints of interstellar travel. Another important novella, "Cor Serpentis (Serdtse Zmei)" (1959), appeared as the title story of The Heart of the Serpent (anth trans R Prokofieva 1961; vt More Soviet Science Fiction 1962 US, with new intro by Isaac Asimov); it is an ideological reply to Murray Leinster's "First Contact" (May 1945 Astounding), dissenting from the attitude of suspicious hostility manifest in Leinster's First Contact story and contending that people "mature" enough to undertake interstellar exploration will have put such anxieties (the alleged result of alienation under capitalism) behind them.

It would be difficult to overestimate the importance to Soviet sf (and sf in Eastern Europe) of Yefremov's first novel, the utopian Tumannost' Andromedy (1958; trans George Hanna as Andromeda 1959; filmed 1968 as Tumannost' Andromedy), a full-scale panorama of the Far Future, a world made clement through Weather Control, the first (and one of the few) attempts by a Communist writer to create a literary model of the ideal socialist state envisioned by Marx. In his last published novel, Yefremov returned to the future History begun in Andromeda; but Chas Byka ["The Hour of the Bull"] (1968; exp 1970) was banned almost immediately upon publication, due to its dystopian mood and to some hints of an eco-catastrophe (see Climate Change; Ecology) caused mostly by the ignorant, corrupt and tyrannical ruling elite. The book interestingly confronts a "communist Utopia" with a "capitalist Dystopia" in a structure similar to that employed by Ursula K Le Guin in The Dispossessed (1974). Other novels include Lezvie Britvy ["The Razor's Edge"] (1963), a large borderline-sf "experimental" tale, and historical novels about the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece: Na Kraiu Oikumeny (1949; trans George Hanna as The Land of Foam 1957) and Tais Afinskaia ["Thais of Athens"] (1968).

In the introduction to Stories Yefremov produced a manifesto for Soviet sf:

To try to lift the curtain of mystery over these roads, to speak of scientific achievements yet to come as realities, and in this way to lead the reader to the most advanced outposts of science – such are the tasks of science-fiction, as I see them. But they do not exhaust the aims of Soviet science-fiction: its philosophy is to serve the development of the imagination and creative faculty of our people as an asset in the study of social life; and its chief aim is to search for the new, and through this search to gain an insight into the future.

The emphasis here is significantly different from that in most US Definitions of SF, stressing as it does the social role of sf as an imaginative endeavour. [BS/VG]

see also: Aliens; Spaceships.

Ivan Antonovich [Antipovich] Yefremov

born Vyritsa, Tzarkosel'skogo [now Peterbergskoi] Province, Russia: 22 April 1908

died Moscow: 5 October 1972




  • Tumannost' Andromedy (Moscow: Molodaia gvardia, 1958) [Andromeda: binding unknown/]
    • Andromeda: A Space-Age Tale (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1959) [trans by George Hanna of the above: Andromeda: illus/hb/N Grishin]
    • Tumannost' Andromedy (Moscow: GIKhL, 1961) [rev of the above: Andromeda: binding unknown/]
  • Chas Byka ["The Hour of the Bull"] (Moscow: Molodaia gvardia, 1970) [Andromeda: binding unknown/]

individual titles (selected)

  • Na Kraiu Oikumeny (Moscow: Molodaia gvardia, 1949) [binding unknown/]
    • The Land of Foam (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1957) [trans by George H Hanna of the above: illus/hb/N Grishin]



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