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DE I / DESILLUSIONIST magazine#18

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DE I #18:

BORIS STRUGATSKY: STORYTELLER, BROTHER OF STORYTELLER

Text Maxim Masaltsev
Photo: Michael Lemkhen (from the writers archives)

During the last Moscow International Film Festival film critics, film experts and general sympathizers arranged a round table to discuss the complete dependence of modern Russian directors on the creativity of the brothers Strugatsky - Ugly swans, Hard to be God, Inhabited island represent the disappearing part of a nation who feel, think and make their choices in direct opposition to pr and propaganda. But good publicity will not harm any of these films, nor the books they are based on which is why DEI decided to talk to Boris Natanovich about why its impossible to cheat death, and why the Gospel is also sci-fi.

DE I: What should a person who has been unable to feel things vital for his spiritual harmony such as love and doubt for a long time do?

F.B.:   I dont see the problem! Just open some champagne or reread The Marriage of Figaro. Thats the advice given by Russias cleverest man (A.S. Pushkin, DEI). You can come up with a dozen more pieces of advice. And all of them will be more or less sensible, but at the same time horrifyingly boring.

DE I: What pension do you receive and do you make use of any privileges or payments?

F.B.:   I have rather decent pension given the times in which we live, e.g. I can pay for necessary medicines monthly and even something remains to buy food. I got confused long ago by all these privileges and payments for war veterans, the wounded, those that survived the blockade, state prize winners and some others. Anyway, if it wasnt for reprints of my work, I would have hung up my boots ages ago.

DE I: Did you make a private note for yourself when the life principles you follow started to form?

F.B.:   Of course, not. The formation of principles is a slow and secret process. Out of the blue you realize that you cant stand lies any more despite the fact that even yesterday you were tolerant to it. I clearly remember time when I thought that lies ( inventing something that doesnt exist) was quite a worthy business. Real life is boring so its not a sin (and often necessary) to replace it with an imaginary existence. Fortunately I didnt think that for very long. And it passed without leaving a trace, if we do not consider my present absolute non acceptance of lies. Any type of lie - even a white lie.

DE I: Even if it can cheat death?

F.B.:   Oh, stop! Its possible to lie only to a human, someone with a consciousness. Its not possible to lie to the sea, the forest, death, a bookcase, an ant hill or other aspects of Nature.

DE I: What do you think about prolongation of life using cryogenics?

F.B.:   Fantasy. And a tired subject. I am sure if life can be prolonged at all it will be in some other way.

DE I: Once you said that the prose of Strugatsky is the real world, distorted by a Miracle. Is this just a lucky phrase, or is it a real basis for a program of intellectual perception of the world?

F.B.:   Its a determination of my favorite type of science-fiction story. A realistic sci-fi story describes the fates of people in the real world, distorted by a Miracle. Other types pure scientific, adventure, alternative history and of course fantasy are much less attractive for me.

DE I: What is your determination of a Miracle? Do the Miracles of Jesus fall into this category?

F.B.:   Rare, incredible, inexplicable, impossible - in that sense Jesus performed miracles certainly and undoubtedly. And his ascension also was a Miracle. So from this point of view the Gospel is a fantasy or sci-fi novel I would say brilliant example of realistic fantasy.

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© DE I / DESILLUSIONIST 18.  BORIS STRUGATSKY: STORYTELLER, BROTHER OF STORYTELLER


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