Today I’d like to celebrate another modern Russian author, the magnificently coiffed Vladimir Sorokin. Like our previous spotlight, he also dabbles in the tropes and structures of science fiction genre novels mixed with heady philosophy. His novel, ” Day of the Oprichnik” imagines a future Russia ruled by a Czar with gangsters as his Boyars. His first novel, an experimental piece named “Queue” consists solely of dialogue by Muscovites waiting in a line at a shop for an unknown item of supposed great importance.
My favorite is his novel Ice, first of a trilogy about a mysterious cult that’s kidnapping Russians and smashing their chests in with special hammers made of ice for what turns out to be transcendental reasons. In this passage an old man is speaking with a new recruit to the cult.
Wolf finished chewing and wiped his lips with the napkin.
“You see, Miss Drobot, when a person is killed and then burned, something of him still remains. The ashes, for example. And not only that. Something more essential than ashes. When he leaves this world against his will, a man forms a kind of hole in it. Because he is torn from this place forcibly, like a tooth. This is the law of life’s metaphysics. And a hole is a noticeable thing, my esteemed Miss Drobot. It’s visible. It takes a long time to heal. And other people feel it. If the man continues to live, he leaves no holes. Thus, to hide a person is much simpler and more advantageous. From the metaphysical point of view, that is.”
Olga grew thoughtful. And understood.
“They killed ‘empties,’ as they call us, only in Russia. Under Stalin, when the Great Terror was on, and later, when the ‘small terror’ took place. The Brotherhood wasn’t worried about metaphysical holes created after the death of individual beings.”
“Because Russia itself was one large metaphysical hole.”