Dedicated to all those who don't believe in altruism. ;)
Honestly, it's hard to put in a few words what's the purpose of - anything... But it's necessary to do. Too often I had to hear recently - "And all that is done for free?" - said with disbelief. The answer is - YES!
"No one is gonna be better than us on our street!"
(An old children's game battle cry.)
This page was created in 1996 for a very simple reason - there was NO information at all on Russian SF&F to be found on the web at that time. Meanwhile, I had in my posession (because of FIDO and scanning) quite a bit of material on the genre in general and on various writers.
Since then the situation, generally speaking, HASN'T IMPROVED!!! To
this day, it's not a problem to find in the Russian Net information
on Harrison or Zelazny (I don't even mention Tolkien), while
information is almost lacking on Russian authors. There is a little
something on Strugatsky brothers (on our pages, by the way) - but
what about Efremov, Belyaev, Bulgakov??? They are CLASSICS, my
friends! Their pages SHOULD be out there! At the same time, people I
know have a literal treasure trove of books, drawings, essays,
photographs, manuscripts of bibliographies, fanzines, etc., etc.!!!
Archives collected by I.G.Khalymbardja (an outstanding bibliographer,
who is no longer with us) contain relatively complete files on 40,000
Russian authors and on 100,000 Western ones (less exhaustive)!!!
That's an OCEAN of information which SHOULD but CANNOT be published,
for lack of financing for such projects.
Thus good analytical reviews get lost, without wide publication, without readership.
A similar situation is with artists. Not only it's often cheaper for publishers to pay licensing fees for an illustration from a westerm image bank than to commission an original work -- oftentimes, the publishers aren't even AWARE of good contemporary artists. Especially if these artists live not in Moscow or Petersburg.
The result of all that is that high quality art, critical essays,
photographs, bibliographic information, etc. - are underused or lost.
The cause of that is lack of any funding even for the gathering and
preservation of such information, not to mention its publishing.
After 20-30 years of that, it turns out that, say, "there are almost
no pictures left with the writer X", or UNBELIEVABLE mistakes are
being made in writing on Russian SF&F - because the authors have used
rumors of unknown origin instead of hard facts ("Lyudeny" can tell a
lot stories involving fantastic rumors about Strugatsky brothers, and
comment on where those myths come from).
|So, that's WHAT "RUSSIAN SF&F" PAGES ARE ABOUT:
It doesn't matter that nobody is going to pay for it. What's important, is NO ONE ELSE IS GOING TO DO THAT! Only fans could spend huge amounts of time collecting and checking materials on their favourite authors and on Russian SF&F literature.
IF NOT US, THEN WHO?
A consequence: the materials on the history of the literature (like the section on the Russian SF of the 19th century) SHOULD get precedence over the up-to-date information.
The collection and processing of the materials is the responsibility of the section editors.
We have done quite a bit: "Russian SF&F" server contains 100,000+
files. But this is just a small part of information avalable about
our "small" field. It is important that this information is being
made available to the general public.
Our greatest achievement this year is, perhaps, the project "History of Fandom" (http://fandom.rusf.ru/). It was officially launched in August, 2001 and has grown from 10 to 600 visitors a day since. 600 visitors for a server dedicated to the history of sci-fi and fandom - that is a result two-three times greater than what we had expected. Recently some archives of SF-related FIDO echoes have been added. Very soon the amount of material is going to increase greatly (there are now 2.4 Gb in 36900 files), so come, use, and don't forget to refer!
The number of authors at the "Bookshelf" became more than 1000 in April. Our library is one of the few libraries on the Net that freely (by author's will) accepts fragments of books, which explains its popularity. Also, last December all books have been laid out more conveniently at a specialized server: http://books.rusf.ru/
These days, more than 100 people work on our server in their spare time... And this number grows all the time. We are glad to welcome new people who would like to do something for their favourite author, or for Russian SF literature in general. To avoid turning a good thing into a mess, it's important that those who want to join are responsible (very important!), modest, hardworking, and wanting to do that work long-term (In other words, irresponsible egomaniacs wishing to do something for a bit, until they are bored, should not bother ;-)
And if someone doubts that such outstanding (truly!) people, who do this work for free, do exist at all, I'll just laugh and point to the list of our section editors (and also to the epigraph to this text).
There are such people! They live in different cities and countries, and they do a great and important work! And that's the important thing!
© 1996-2000 by Dmitriy Vatolin (editor-in-chief)
© 2000 English translation by Alexander Gimelbrant © 2002 Modernization by Denis Lianda