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Sci-fi, horror, fantasy, and weird fiction from Central/Eastern Europe?
February 10, 2014 11:14 AM   Subscribe

What are the best sci-fi, horror, and fantasy books, movies, and comics from Central and Eastern Europe? "Best" includes both the finest and also the most popularly influential, as well as both pro- and anti-communist material, as well as both past and contemporary work. Bonus points for such fiction from the former Yugoslavia!

I'm already a huge fan of Karel Čapek, Stanisław Lem, Zoran Živković, Bruno Schulz, and the Strugatsky brothers.
posted by Sticherbeast to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not personally familiar with this canon, but I do know that the always interesting Dedalus Books imprint has some novels and collections in this vein. They skew heavily towards weird and surrealist fiction, so I would imagine that any of their anthologies, even if not specifically sci-fi/fantasy, would be up your alley.

A couple of them: Russian Decadence, Estonian literature, Polish fantasy, a translation of the "Polish Poe", Austrian fantasy, Lithuanian literature. And that's barely scratching the surface; have a browse through their catalogue for more.
posted by WidgetAlley at 11:30 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Would Jan Švankmajer count? Start with Little Otik.
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:49 AM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Not sure what language you're looking for. Posle Devedeset Godina (After 90 Years) is one that I know, which inspired the Serbian horror film "Leptirica."
posted by jph at 11:50 AM on February 10


Aleksandar Zograf is a Serbian comic book artist with a significant body of work translated into English.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 12:22 PM on February 10


The Night Watch series is magnificently dark Russian urban fantasy. Not to be confused with the Terry Pratchett Night Watch books, obviously.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:31 PM on February 10 [2 favorites]


Metropole. A man awakes from a plane trip to find himself in a country where everybody speaks an unknown language, there are no cultural markers he recognizes, and apparently no way for him to get out. It's a disturbing, uncomfortable, unsettling book.
posted by dzot at 1:09 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


My partner's cousin suggests Borislav Pekic, who was a political prisoner and who wrote sci-fi. Cousin compared it more to 1984 than to Star Wars. There appear to be some English translations available on Amazon.
posted by jph at 1:37 PM on February 10


No such list will be complete without The Nikopol Trilogy by Enki Bilal.
posted by Dr Dracator at 1:54 PM on February 10


Kafka.
posted by Alex Voyd at 4:32 PM on February 10


The Strugatsky brothers. Mikhail Bulgakov, especially The Master and Margarita, a towering classic of imaginative literature. And, of course, Stanislaw Lem.
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 7:13 PM on February 10


The Night Watch and Day Watch movies are faboo too.
posted by Lucinda at 8:07 PM on February 10 [1 favorite]


Jacek Dukaj - only a handful of his short stories have been translated to date, which is a shame, as he's one of the most original sf writers worldwide.
Andrzej Sapkowski is much better known thanks to two games (with third due to arrive this year) based on his Witcher saga. Dark fantasy with plenty of rather sarcastic humor and some modern allusions (like mutations or environmentalism), also quite original.
Yevgeny Zamyatin: his dystopian novel We written in 1921 preates several more famous titles like 1984 and Brave New World.
I'll try to locate my anthology of Yugoslav sf when I'm back home, but it's been long since I saw it last time so it might take some digging.
posted by hat_eater at 2:05 AM on February 11


Also Janusz A. Zajdel - his dystopias Limes Inferior and Paradyzja written in 1982 and 1984, respectively, are both prescient and largely unknown in the West. Surveillance state, mass disinformation system, social stratification, hackers, contactless payments - like he saw all that coming. Sadly, he died in 1985.
posted by hat_eater at 3:08 AM on February 11


Late to the party here, but I want to recommend Embers by Sándor Márai -- he's Hungarian. It's a haunting novel, which I found horrifying, although it's not exactly horror.
posted by OrangeDisk at 3:29 PM on February 11


Romantically Apocalyptic (previously) is a vibrant dystopian black humor webcomic by Russian-Canadian artist Vitaly Alexius.

At the other end of the spectrum, the deeply disturbing art of Polish painter Zdzisław Beksiński is the stuff of nightmares.

Also, if you like the Strugatsky brothers, you might be interested in work their book Roadside Picnic inspired, including Tarkovsky's Stalker and the S.T.A.L.K.E.R. video game series (developed by a Ukrainian team).

Speaking of video games, have you heard of Pathologic? It's a Russian cult masterpiece of deep, open-ended, narrative-driven psychological horror gameplay. The original is a bit inaccessible, especially hampered by a poor English translation, but there's rumors of a remake coming.
posted by Rhaomi at 7:28 PM on February 11


Perhaps Michel Avjaz from Czechoslovakia. Review of his novel The Other City; he also has a story in the Vandemeers' The Weird. Interview with him here (in which he recommends another Czech writer, Ladislav Klíma, who looks cracking).

There's also an anthology of Croatian SF being released as an ebook that might be of interest.

On preview, I'd enthusiastically second Pathologic were it not antithetical to enthusiasm or anything resembling fulfilment or joy (this is a recommendation).
posted by inire at 3:31 AM on February 12


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