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Looks good, even in black and white, 50 years later.

This extremely rare series of illustrations to various books by Alexander Kazantsev (one of the first Soviet science fiction writers) shows very clearly what kind of future the communist dreamers preferred. Think cool robots, intrepid explorers, brainy scientists, eerily Star Wars-like aliens and a huge doze of humanitarian optimism.

These government sponsored (and approved) images (most are by Yury Makarov) were published by Detskaya Literatura Publishing House from 1950s to 1970s - DETGIZ, geared toward Soviet Komsomol Youth - and were recently brought back from oblivion by M. Moshkov's online library.

To add a little touch of color - check out these gorgeous covers for "Knowledge is Power" magazine from pre-Sputnik times:

In 1965, rockets were still a "carrot stick" to hang before these capitalists, and motivate the Soviet youth:

Also read previous parts:
Retro Future Transportation, Glorious Urbanism, To The Stars!

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Anonymous Kristoffer said...

ah, the not so distant future.
Wait, we don't even have flying cars yet. drats.

Anonymous mikado said...

The black-and-white illustrations show amazing artistry. Makes me long for the more innocent times of early SF. Thanks for posting them.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

>> Wait, we don't even have
>> flying cars yet.

Let's be clear about one thing. We DO have the knowledge and technology to make flying cars for everybody. We DON'T have cheap enough energy to afford them.

It's amazing that these SF authors never sat down and did the math. It's easy to figure out the energy cost of sending a rocket to the moon. It's relatively easy to figure out what you might find there and how much energy you will get back from it. And to see that lunar travel for mining purposes will not happen, because it incurs an energy loss. Hence the non-appearance of the spaceships depicted in '2001'.

Anonymous Sr Peabody said...

I see they based some work on the classical Adamski UFO... http://forgetomori.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/adamski.jpg

Anonymous Lee, UK said...

Anonymous, it's called Science FICTION for a reason ;)

Kristoffer, we do have flying cars, it's just that they are neither affordable nor are they safe :)

Blogger Cottered Crank said...

Like Kristoffer said, we don't have flying cars. I don't have one, and neither do you.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

yes, Mikado - I was surprised by the level of detail in these illustrations.

Anonymous Nathan Zeldes said...

Superb art, thanks for sharing it!

I notice that image 13 from the top reproduces some of the "ancient astronauts" in prehistoric art, as popularized by Erich von Daniken - the goggled Japanese statuette is on the cover of his "In search of ancient gods" (1972). I didn't know that this master of pseudoscience had penetrated the iron curtain...

Anonymous Omega said...

my parents actually own some of the books with Kazantsev illustrations, what a flashback!

Blogger Gebeleizis said...

Nice images. I always liked the soviet-style design of the rockets.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

my god... i have re-read all of these books times and times again when i was a kid.... simply amazing sci-fi in the best of soviet tradition of "realistic sci-fi" thank you.... andrei

Blogger el sofista said...

Nice illustrations. Post linked with Spanish translation. Ciao.

Anonymous sarcarcar said...

It seems like Flash Gordon from Alex Raymond. Very good ilustrations.

Blogger Dmitry said...


Blogger Khathi said...

The last black and white one is not from a Kazantsev's book. It's actually the last illustration from a famous set to the Strugatsky bros.'s "The Land of Crimson Clouds" (their feud with Kazantsev was legendary). And, yes, Kazantsev WAS a proponent of the "ancient astronauts" theory -- and he might even precede Deniken, as his first books about it were in 40'es, IIRC.

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Wow Khathi - great info - i actually read "The Land of Crimson Clouds" - see http://www.scifi.darkroastedblend.com

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Small addition. A surname of illustrator -Makarov. Yury Makarov.
Юрий Макаров

Blogger Avi Abrams said...

Thank you! info adjusted


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