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.