Info and Questions for Reading
Andrei Dichenko was born in 1988 in Kaliningrad (that little bit of Russia that wound up outside Russia when the USSR broke apart). His father was a military man who wound up stationed in Belarus, and Dichenko says that the experience of growing up in a small Belarusian town left a strong mark on him. He attended Belarus Pedagogical University, in Minsk, majoring in History and spending a lot of his time organizing and participating in literary readings.
Dichenko’s other intellectual interests include philosophy, esoterica and spirituality. For example, his book The Sky of Minsk (Минское небо, influenced by his reading of Yuri Mamleyev) is an example of post-cyberpunk; the author calls it the first part of a cybernetic trilogy. (The book came out in a small print run in Minsk, but parts of it have appeared in magazines and online.) Since that book appeared, he has published numerous other works both in print and online. He has been working as the assistant editor of the Belarusian journal Я (I).
These stories are translations in progress done by Andrea Gregovich and graciously offered for this class to read. She would be happy to get any comments or suggestions.
- How do the unusual elements of each story interweave with the ordinary elements?
- As I have asked you before: is this science fiction? If not, why not?
- In “Energy,” what traces of Soviet history and everyday life do you detect?
- In what ways does the story surprise you? Does the focus on fate (in the form of good fortune) suggest that the reader should pay more attention to the way the characters’ destinies take shape?
- In “The Poet Execution Committee,” how much do you need to know about the biographies of many of the (now) most famous Soviet-era poets in order to appreciate this plot? If you don’t know anything about that history, what’s the effect of the way poets are treated in this city?
- Do you see any echoes here of Zamiatin’s We?
- In “The Red Baroness,” what associations does the title call up for you?
- “Pasha” is the nickname for Pavel (= Paul), and is such a common name that a Russophone reader might not even think of the word’s Ottoman meaning.
- What has actually happened in this metro station? (What will the reader assume?)
- And what happens to Pasha, in the end?