In response to the profound changes in Soviet society in recent years, the author considers the demise of Soviet literature and the emergence of its Russian progeny through the prism of the writers' engagement with fantasy. Viewing the mutual interaction of Soviet/Russian literary output with aspects of the dominant culture such as ideology and politics, Nadya Peterson traces the process of mainstream literary change in the context of broader social change. She explores the subversive character of the fantastic orientation, its Utopian and apocalyptic motifs, and its dialogical relationship with socialist realism, as it steadily gathered force in the latter Soviet decades. The shattering of the mythic colossus did not put an end to these opposing forces, but rather diverted them in various unexpected directions–as the author explains in her concluding chapters on the new "alternative" literatures.
Introduction -- Writers, Readers, Society, and Literary Change -- Fantastic Prose as an Escape from the Literature of Purpose -- Socialist Realists in Space -- Between Fantasy and Reality -- Peasant Dreamers, Shattered Dreams: Village Utopians -- Mikhail Bulgakov's Disciples in Soviet Literature -- Envisioning the End: The Apocalyptic Novels of Glasnost -- Alternative Literature I: The Thieves of Language -- Alternative Literature II: Games Women Play -- Conclusion