Fyodor Dostoyevsky was absolutely right, saying: "What can be more fantastic and unexpected than reality?"
Lyubov Lukin (her maiden name was Belonozhkina, and she was of Cossack origin) was born February 4, 1950. Fortune favored her: a sportsperson, in honors at school, her poetry published in Volgograd newspapers. By the way, we found out that the readers still remember the verses of this schoolgirl:
Railway stations, transparent winds,
It seems that the course of life is predetermined.
But, in 1970, they stopped publishing Lyuba's works. This is quite understandable. In those times all writing public faced a difficult choice: either to adhere to social orders, or not to be published. Lyuba chose the second way. She got married in 1972, and, in 1974, her son Yury was born.
She did not stop writing poetry, but what a terrible thing it is to lose touch with the readers! She did have a lot to share with them. My goodness, how incredibly did she perceive the world:
The burrows, shooting yellow creatures
Oh, this sniper's precision! It's only a description of a winter stream:
And slowly, like a mercury,
You can actually see this air bubble, working its way in a narrow river-bed.
However, with time, the poems grew gloomier and lost all hope:
In grayish bog
These lines are written about herself and her husband - the same kind of loser poet.
It seems that life has caged her and all is known in advance: work till pension as a proof-reader, write poetry in her free time, knowing for sure that no one will publish it.
But Fyodor Dostoyevsky was right...
In 1975 a seemingly minor thing happens in the life of Lukins: one evening they sit down and write their first fantastic story "Drawings in the Soot". Just an attempt at writing...
Why would they get into fantasy? Trying to write in prose is quite natural: sooner or later, every poet tries his hand at prose. But why fantasy? Particularly, if both are philologists, raised on classic literature...
Maybe it was a hidden desire to take vengeance on the reality itself: for its falsity, dirt, cram, for ruined childhood dreams of poetry and fame. The early works of the Lukins are far from being the so-called science fiction. No science at all. All their stories are constructed in the same manner: they take a banal everyday situation and introduce some kind of mischievous devilry into it (a space alien, an evil spirit etc.), then the situation turns inside out, showing its unattractiveness and absurdity. There was a feeling that the couple just found pleasure in slicing the reality, using fantasy as a scalpel.
When the Lukins ventured to show their works to the editors of a newspaper, they received a frank reply: "Folks, the things you write are mockery aimed at our reality. Let us give you a good advice: don't show it to anyone else..."
And the Lukins got one more family pastime.
But the times were already different. In 1981 one copy of a small novella "Vacation and a Photographer" that was passed around, found its way to "Vecherny Volgograd" newspaper editor, and he, to the great astonishment of Lyubov and Yevgeny, considered worth printing it.
Since then, everything has changed. Stories and novellas of the Lukins were published in newspapers, magazines and collections, translated into many languages. In 1982, the couple was invited to Moscow to the seminar of young SF&F writers organized by Writers Union of the USSR. Even the scandal of 1984, when the co-authors were, for no reason, accused of anti-communist ideas, did them more good, than harm. After that, they became truly renowned.
In 1990, Nizhne-Volzhskoye publishing house published their first book; Lyubov and Yevgeny received a diploma and a medal of "Eurocon-90", France, and finally, both of them were affiliated to Writers Union of the USSR.
It seems: what else can they dream of?
But, unfortunately, Dostoyevsky is always right. "What can be more fantastic and unexpected than reality?"
More fantastic, more unexpected, more tragic...
At first, Lyubov Lukin thinks her sudden fame is a funny mistake; then, little by little, the fame starts annoying her. She feels she is betraying poetry with fantasy. Soon, the word "fantasy" itself repulses her. And finally, the co-authorship of the Lukins ceases to exist. For some time, Yevgeny translates from English, Lyubov writes poetry. Not for publishing, as before. She reads it to the relatives and close friends only. "When I die - then you'll publish it", - she often says.
Lyubov Lukin died May 14, 1996, not living one year to see her Silver Wedding anniversary. Before her death, she has destroyed her archive. No one will ever know why she did it.
© Boris ZAVGORODNIY
Yevgeny Lukin is not just an SF&F writer - he also is a humorist. For that reason, it is not completely clear how to treat his statement that he started speaking in rhymes, and learned to speak in prose only at four.
His biography, with all its diversity, is of no particular interest to the readers. Its first stage can be characterized in one phrase: being born March 5, 1950 in Orenburg, he, in the period of twenty years, has changed ten cities, three schools, four colleges - and, as a result, received only one diploma in Russian language and literature teaching. The years of Lukin's adolescence are not reflected in his works. The only exception is, probably, the ending of "Amoeba" (1976-1994), where we can see a certain shadow of the old Orenburg.
The only event worth mentioning: in 1972 in Nizhnyaya Dobrinka village of Kamyshin region Yevgeny Lukin got married to Lyubov Belonozhkina, who he had met earlier in Volgograd Pedagogical College.
For some time, the newly wedded teach in rural areas. However, a year later, Yevgeny emerges somewhere near Tashkent as a Soviet Army private. This fact it indeed important, as army service will later be reflected in a novella "Invasion" (1981) and a soldier's fairy-tale "Permission to Report!" (1989).
After the demobilization of the husband the Lukins settled in Volgograd, and in 1974 their son Yury was born. The cities stop changing in the service record of Yevgeny - it' s time for work changes: printer, cold metal cutter at "Krasny Oktyabr'" plant, institute photographer, furniture factory newspaper reporter etc.
All this will come in handy later. The plant will be used in "When angels retreat" (1985), institute - in a dozen of stories, theater scene (he even managed to work as a stage assembler) - in "You, and nobody else" (1981).
By the way, the literary carrier of Yevgeny Lukin has at least three beginnings.
First - in Ashkhabad, when he was a schoolboy. In 1966-1967 a newspaper "Komsomolets Turkmenistana" and a magazine "Ashkhabad" published his first selections of poetry and "Orange Vega", a sci-fi parody. Apparently, leaving the capital of Turkmenistan, Yevgeny was naive enough to think that his works will be published in other places as well.
As a result - nearly fifteen years of silence. Still, every cloud has a silver lining. He has learned to play guitar, started writing songs, that were quite risky for those times, like "Poacher Ballade", 1980 or "The Beyond Ballade", 1979.
The second invasion to the printing areas is done together with Lyubov. In 1981 a newspaper "Vecherny Volgograd" publishes a novella "Vacations and a Photographer". A fantastic novella. As well as all the rest, written later in co-authorship by the couple.
Fantasy and science fiction themselves are only a technique for the Lukins. The fantastic part of their works only accompanies the reality, and, bumping into reality, the fantasy collapses. An alien cyber-spy goes crazy trying to gain an understanding of our life ("Information Flow", 1976); a painter, who has accidentally hypnotized his neighbors and made them see the world differently, gets, as a result, knocked on the face ("Don't Believe Your Eyes", 1983); a Soviet Army, not understanding the situation, bravely destroys space aliens ("Invasion", 1981). The rare exception is "Her Majesty" (1987), where the main character is rescued by a knight she invented herself.
The Lukins become famous. Their stories and novellas are published in magazines "Znaniye-Sila", "Iskatel'", "Vokrug Sveta", "Sovyetskaya Literatura" (in English, French etc.), in"
Using the glasnost (publicity) times, Ye. Lukin, under a transparent pen name Ye. Nulik (nulik (rus.) - a small zero), begins publishing in newspapers such things that, in earlier times, could only be sung with guitar in a narrow company of trustworthy friends...
The crisis, as ever, comes at the top of success. Lyubov Lukin loses interest in SF&F, and the fantasy itself loses its sense as a technique. The things that happen to people and to the country, surpasses the imagination.
Any Yevgeny Lukin starts anew for the third time. Co-authorship has fallen to pieces. Yevgeny, diffident, is afraid of publishing his first "solo" story "Philologists" (1993-1994) for several years. As it turns out, for no reason at all. In 1997 the story wins two prestigious awards in the field of SF&F - "Interpresscon" and "Strannik".
In 1992 Lukin, by chance, visits a "hot spot", where an armed conflict takes place. Moldova tries to destroy Pridnestrovye, announcing it to be "the last communist stronghold". And Yevgeny, again, takes a guitar into his hands. A series of "Pridnestrovye Ditties" is written under a general heading "I'm your nephew, Motherland" - it is about people, devoted to Russia and betrayed by Russia.
According to the information of press-center of 14-th Army headquarters, Moldavian nationalists include the author's works into destruction list. And in 1993, Pridnestrovye government announces him to be the first laureate of the State Award in the field of literature.
The next several years Yevgeny Lukin translates from English, tries to finish a novella "There, beyond Acheron" started together with Lyubov Lukin. In 1995 the novel is published. And, in 1996, suddenly and untimely, Lyubov Lukin dies.
The only remedy for sorrow is work. And Yevgeny works as hell. In five years he writes one novel after another "Predatory Wicked Moon" (1997), "We Rolled your Sun" (1997), "Justice Zone" (1998), "Scarlet Aura of Archcommunist" (1999), a novella "Blind Guides" (2000), and a dozen of new stories.
All works are fantastic ones, but that the portion of fantasy is noticably less. Some critics considered "Justice Zone" to be a realistic novel, and "Scarlet Aura of Archcommunist" was announced a satirical novella. Nevertheless, it did not prevent these works from gathering a collection of various awards and prizes in the field of SF&F. Eight "Interpresscons", four "Bronze Snails", three "Stranniks", three "Sigmas-F", two "Fancons", two "Star Bridges", a genre award "Sword in the Stone", "ABS-Award" and a "Small Golden Ostap" - the list is quite impressive.
Yevgeny Lukin admits that he no longer sees the difference between fantasy and reality. He assures that we live in a fantastic country and there is no need to invent anything - all you need is to look around.
In 2000, "Motherland Smoke", his first poetic collection, was published in Volgograd. A "Literaturnaya Newspaper" announced Yevgeny Lukin to be a winner of a "Golden Calf" award of the "12 Chairs Club" - for ironic poetry series.
However, the prize-winner says he, again, is in crisis. Probably, it is his working condition.
© Boris ZAVGORODNIY
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© L. & Ye. Lukin
© Russian Science Fiction & Fantasy. Editor-in-Chief Dmitriy Vatolin
© 1998—2000 Russian version by Artur Bigler, Vadim Philippov, Konstantin Grishin
© 2001 English translation by Katerina Pugacheva
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