The Foundling in Production

The Foundling, the new remake of the 1939 classic Soviet film about the adventures of a lost child in the big city, is in the midst of production in Moscow. Reinvented by the Dyachenkos, it has been transported into modernity, while featuring some of the most iconic locations in the original film – see if you can spot a couple in these snapshots from set!

courtesy of the Official Dyachenko Fan Club on

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Food for Thought

August is the eve of summer. September is the dawn of autumn.

from Alena and Aspirin


from, the official Dyachenko Fan Club.

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Representing Russian Fantasy Worldwide

Earlier this month, the annual Hugo Awards Ceremony took place at the WorldCon convention held in Helsinki, Finland. The award, one of the oldest and most respected in the industry, has been commemorating science fiction authors and artists worldwide since 1953, notable recipients including Isaac Azimov, J. K. Rowling, Ray Branbury and Orson Welles.

According to records, more than 8,7 thousand visited WorldCon this year, the majority representing the States and Finland. Strikingly, only 26 attendees identified as Russian.

The surprisingly low number raises the issue of representation of Slavic fantasy on the worldwide market, and why awareness is low among Western readers.

Of course, the issue of translation is at the core of that reason. The Russian language is notoriously difficult to transfer into American terms, and much of the pressure falls on the translator themselves. At times, the cultural rift between the two cultures causes even more to be lost in translation.

Be that as it may, Sergey and Marina identify another possible reason for this issue in the modern context: the differing roles of multimedia in the two fantasy traditions. Fantasy films and TV shows are a huge chunk of the American film scene, pulling strings behind book sales and merchandise, which is not the case in Slavic countries.

It’s a difficult rift to mend, but Russian fantasy ought to take steps to put itself out there.

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Food for Thought

“To be alive is to be vulnerable. The depths of hell are a soap bubble’s membrane away. Ice on the road. An old cell’s error. A child picks up a pill from the floor.”

– an excerpt from Vita Nostra.

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Draconic Sequel In The Works


A few days ago, director Igor Tsay – known for his work on Day Watch (2006), Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012), and Lucky Trouble (2011) – pitched the sequel to He Is A Dragon on behalf of Bazelevs to the Russian Film Fund. The story will bring to life character from the original novel by the Dyachenkos, and will explore love in long-term relationships and modern romance. The film is to be produced in collaboration with Chinese film companies.

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He’s a Dragon: International Titles

In the world of dragons, one’s name bears sacred meaning and tells tales of ancestries and bloodlines. Interestingly, the title of the film adaptation of The Ritual has been translated in a variety of ways. Worldwide, the film is known as He’s A Dragon (as seen on this page) or Dragons. In France, the title was translated to Dragon Inside Me, in the UK to I Am Dragon, and in Germany to Dragon: Love Is A Scary Tale. Which title speaks most to you?

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Concept Art for He’s a Dragon

In honor of the recent release of He’s a Dragon in France earlier this month, here is some beautiful concept art created by artist Dmitry Dubinsky during pre-production. These are some of the original ideas later developed into the film, exploring perspectives and interpretations of the fantastic locations. Is this close to your vision of the story?

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Vita Nostra arriving 2018 at HarperCollins!

20170427_123047We’re happy to announce plans for Vita Nostra by HarperCollins in Fall of 2018!

Here are David Pomerico, our editor at Voyager, Julia Hersey, translator of Vita Nostra and core member of Team Dyachenko,  and our literary agent Josh Getzler after a productive meeting on April 27th at Harper Collins.

Lots to look forward to in the comings months and years, stay tuned!

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Living Room Conversation: Henry Lion Oldie

Dear Readers!
Today’s guests are old friends and fellow fantasy writers. Dmitry Gromov and Oleg Ladyzhensky (working under the pseudonym Henry Lion Oldie) are Kharkov-based writers, dramatists, poets and publicists working in tandem. Awarded “Best Author” at Eurocon 2006 among many others. Oldie have published more that 230 books (including translations and new editions), selling two million copies in various languages. They also published some musical albums based on their books, and a rock opera.
The topic of today’s conversation is the art of epigrams – humorous rhymes and quips – something the Oldies are well-known for. Since these are rhymed, a translation is unlikely to do them justice, so we offer a short digest instead. Here’s a link to the original interview in Russian:
We discuss the art of humor, its place in the literary world and life in general. It’s fitting that this conversation happened on April first, although we did touch on serious subjects, such as the future of fantasy, cinema and television – how they’re threatened by low-quality blockbusters and a lack of depth in mainstream entertainment.
Even so, hope is not lost for good art, and it’s great to talk to our old friends!
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Grossman, Gaiman, and Gogol: Harper Voyager Acquires English Translation of Russian Fantasy Vita Nostra

Cover illustration by Elena Gondik for Vita Nostra, Eksmo Publishing House edition.


The words vita nostra, or “our life,” come from an old Latin student anthem “Gaudeamus”: “Vita nostra brevis est, Brevi finietur” or “Our life is brief, It will shortly end…”

In Sergey Dyachenko and Marina Shyrshova-Dyachenko’s fantasy Vita Nostra, described as “The Magicians but set in a rural Russian technical college,” Alexandra (Sasha) Samokhina is forced into a seemingly inconceivable situation: Against her will, she must enter the Institute of Special Technologies. A slightest misstep or failure at school—and the students’ loved ones pay a price. Governed by fear and coercion, Sasha will learn the meaning of the phrase “In the beginning was the word…”

The recipient of eight literary prizes and much critical acclaim in Russia, Vita Nostra has been translated into several languages. Harper Voyager has acquired Julia Hersey’s English translation of the novel, which was named the best novel of the twenty-first century in the sci-fi/fantasy genre at Eurocon-2008. The Magicians author Lev Grossman has described it as “a book that has the potential to become a modern classic of its genre.”

According to the publisher, Vita Nostra is a thrilling journey into the deepest mysteries of existence, a dizzying adventure, an opening into a world that no one has ever described, a world that frightens and attracts readers. The novel combines seemingly incongruous aspects—spectacular adventures and philosophical depth, incredible transformations and psychological accuracy, complexity of ethical issues and mundane details of urban life.

Sergey Marina Dyachenko

Marina and Sergey

This was a key acquisition for Harper Voyager Executive Editor David Pomerico, who has been building a steadily more diverse literary list for the imprint. “As editors, we’re rarely in a position where an agent is so confident a project is right for you that they say, ‘I haven’t gone out with this to anyone else—I think you’re just the perfect person for this project,’” he said. “So when you hear that—and after you deflate your ego just a touch—you are excited to dive right in. When the Dyachenkos’ Vita Nostra came to me, I was already intrigued by the premise: basically The Magicians, but set in a rural Russian technical college. But when I finally got into the narrative, it was almost as if I was hypnotized, especially when Sergey and Marina’s story were combined with Julia’s incredible translation. There were aspects of Grossman’s novels, but also a bit of Gaiman… and a bit of Gogol. The effect was lyrical and immediate, and I had to know not only what kind of magic they were learning, but how it would change Sasha. And maybe that’s ultimately what drew me in: that the fantasy was couched in something incredibly real, and yet told in a way I’d never quite experienced. I’m hoping that’s what others feel when they read it, too.”

Julia Hersey translator Vita Nostra

Julia Hersey

Night Watch director Timur Bekmambetov has optioned Vita Nostra, which he describes as “a fantasy so authentic that, having turned its last page, I thought that Marina and Sergey Dyachenko somehow know everything that happened to me during the first year of my adult life. I am so grateful to them for giving me another chance to relive those experiences; with all the means of cinematography at my disposal, I will do my best to convey the magic of those times.”

Vita Nostra will be available in hardcover November 2018 from Harper Voyager.

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