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Old 08-26-2013, 10:34 AM
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Fiction that predicted the fall of the Soviet Union? (and those that didn't!)


I've just finished reading a pretty entertaining technothriller novel, 'Firebreak' by Richard Herman JR, written in 1991 it ties up one of the subplots by having a hardliner winning a internal power-competition in the USSR and reversing Gorbachev's reforms.

Its fairly common to read pre-1992 novels set in the future that assume the USSR will be around for a long time to come but which novels predicated the fall of the Soviet Union before it actually happened, and how did the scenario play out?

A long time ago I read a book by Donald James called, 'The Fall of the Russian Empire', released in 1982 I can't recall much about it other than it had a central female Gorbachev like reformist figure.

If anyone has any interesting examples of novels showing the USSR still in existence after 1991 I'd be interested in those as well, its fairly common in science-fiction but I can't recall any particular examples at the moment.

btw there was once a fairly entertaining game released in the early 90's that had the player taking the role of General Secretary and trying to solve the many problems of that state in an attempt to maintain power, if you were too successfully and achieved a stable society the game ended in around the year 2023 with a devastating asteroid strike in Russia, game over!
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Old 08-26-2013, 12:20 PM
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2001: A Space Odyssey and its sequel, 2010, both predicted that the USSR would still be around.
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Old 08-26-2013, 12:30 PM
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Can the Soviet Union Survive until 1984? by Andrei Amalrik basically answered "no." It was nonfiction but the conclusion was surprising.

The best example of a book that didn't was Norman Spinrad's Russian Spring, which had the Soviet Union ascendant and the US doing poorly. Now, this probably isn't the only book that postulated that, but it was published in late 1991 -- after the Soviet Union had fallen apart.
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Old 08-26-2013, 02:00 PM
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The best example of a book that didn't was Norman Spinrad's Russian Spring, which had the Soviet Union ascendant and the US doing poorly. Now, this probably isn't the only book that postulated that, but it was published in late 1991 -- after the Soviet Union had fallen apart.
Was it an alternate-reality type of book, or was the author serious and had the misfortune of having his book published at the perfect time to make him look like a moron?
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Old 08-26-2013, 02:02 PM
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Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium books all assume a revitalized USSR that teams with the USA to maintain control of the planet.
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Old 08-26-2013, 02:53 PM
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Was it an alternate-reality type of book, or was the author serious and had the misfortune of having his book published at the perfect time to make him look like a moron?
It was not intended as an alternate history. Spinrad probably started writing the book a year or two earlier; given the usual production lead time, it meant it was probably accepted toward the end of 1990. It's actually a pretty good book done in by bad timing.

Asimov had something similar happen to him, publishing a story explaining why Mt. Everest would never be climbed about six months after it had been.
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Old 08-26-2013, 03:35 PM
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Spinrad should have know better. His non-fiction essay "Taming of the Bear" didn't exactly predict the fall of the Soviet Union, but did spell out some reasons that the eighties were not going to be their decade. (Written, by the way before either Reagan or Gorbachev took power.)

I think that Spinrad's novel, which now must be viewed as alternate history, had as a basis assumption the success of Gorbachev's reforms, transitioning the Soviet Union, [I]intact[I], into a free market, more democratic state.

Last edited by E-DUB; 08-26-2013 at 03:35 PM. Reason: spelling correction
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Old 08-26-2013, 06:22 PM
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"The Chinese Ultimatum" did but restored it in the end.
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Old 08-26-2013, 09:24 PM
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Nexus was a SF comic book series written by Mike Baron back in the eighties. It was a space opera set 500 years in the future with a bunch of different planets having been settled by humans. And one of the significant political organizations was the Sov Empire, which was essentially the worlds colonized and run by the Soviet Union.
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Old 08-27-2013, 07:52 AM
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Thanks for the answers everyone!
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Old 08-27-2013, 08:05 AM
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There was a book in the 1980's (can't remember title or author) in which the USSR fell because they did agricultural espionage on American crops and stole the genetic engineering of them so that they wouldn't have to buy wheat from Americans. However...

SPOILER:
The Americans knew what they were up to, and the formula they stole made any woman who ate it infertile. Time passed, and the USSR government was forced to resign so that the Americans would give its population the cure.


Personally, I thought that was a dirty trick.
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Old 08-27-2013, 08:08 AM
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In the afterward to his novel Earth, David Brin remarks on this. In the book - which was largely written before 1990 - he has an more open USSR still intact and cooperating with the USA and other western countries to combatting ecological and economic issues.

However, the book was published in 1990 (and took the Hugo and Nebula in 1991). Brin remarks in the afterward that he was put in the odd position that the people who read early drafts would say that his depiction of the USSR and opening and cooperating with the west was too optimistic while people who read the finished product would criticize him for still having the Soviet Union as a going concern.

Last edited by Jonathan Chance; 08-27-2013 at 08:10 AM.
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Old 08-27-2013, 08:59 AM
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The Third World War, published in 1982, featured a coup that overthrew the Soviet Union's Politburo.
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Old 08-27-2013, 11:07 AM
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Jack Chalker's Well of Souls series essentially replicated the Cold War tensions (communist states vs. capitalist democracies), but had the Com worlds ascendant (IIRC, due to a drug or spore or something that made people work for the collective (or something... it's been a while since I've read them.))
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Old 08-27-2013, 11:14 AM
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Cyril Kornbluth's 1951 The Marching Morons mentions, almost as an aside, a (presumably) western "partition" of Russia that couldn't have happened any later than 1988. The details of how this happened aren't revealedóbut some of what happened afterwards figure in one character's backstory quite centrally.
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Old 08-27-2013, 12:52 PM
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Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising has the Soviets losing a war with NATO and at the very end of the book a military coup throws out the communists.
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Old 08-27-2013, 01:39 PM
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I do think that Red Storm Rising took place in the 80s, right? When there was a Soviet Union to go to war against NATO?
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Old 08-27-2013, 05:18 PM
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Robert Heinlein's fiction generally assumed that the Soviets would be gone or reformed, and that "Australasia" would be ascendant although suffering terribly from overpopulation.

Heinlein's belief in the ultimate destruction of the Soviet Union probably stems from his extensive touring of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, and what he saw as major contradictions between the claims about the strength of the Soviet economy by its leadership and what he saw with his own eyes as being a failing, unworkable system.

His views on that ebbed and flowed over his career - in 1950 he predicted that Communism would vanish from the world by the year 2000. In 1960, after visiting the Soviet Union he felt that the system was crumbling and that birthrates were so low the population was not even replacing itself. But by the late 1970's he was more pessimistic and felt that the Soviets were a growing threat. He should have stuck to his earlier predictions.
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Old 08-27-2013, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Dendarii Dame View Post
Personally, I thought that was a dirty trick.
Ouch. Something close may have actually happened. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siberian_pipeline_sabotage

There's a series by Jerry Pournelle that postulated the US and USSR co-operating to dominate the world

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CoDominium
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Old 08-27-2013, 07:35 PM
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I've also heard stories that the CIA intentionally misled the Soviet space program. A number of different substances are possible for fueling a rocket. One of them is theoretically very powerful but is extremely unstable.

Then Soviet spies were able to steal some classified American reports that told them our scientists had been able to solve the stability problems and would be using the fuel. So the Soviets ordered their scientists to work on the same fuel and duplicate what the Americans had been able to do.

It was a hoax. The CIA arranged to have some fake reports claiming the fuel problems had been solved but this wasn't true. And then they left these reports somewhere where the Soviets would be able to steal them. The CIA managed to trick the Soviet space program into going down a dead end.
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Old 09-01-2013, 09:27 PM
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Star Trek:

At least one of Chekov's "Russian inwentions" is attributed to someone from Minsk, which is in modern-day Belarus.

Leningrad's cloud cover rating is given during the disaster scene in Star Trek IV.

And a dedication plaque for the SS Tsiolkovsky in Star Trek: The Next Generation gives its construction as taking place in the Baikonaur Cosmodrome in the USSR (modern-day Kazakhstan). That means that in the Trek universe, the Soviet Union existed at least up until 2364. (Or perhaps it was restored sometime between 1991 and the 2260s).

On the other hand, the Trek universe is already a full-blown alternate continuity from our own, since they had the Eugenics Wars (which included the rise and fall of Khan) in the 1990s.
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Old 09-01-2013, 09:49 PM
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On the other hand, the Trek universe is already a full-blown alternate continuity from our own, since they had the Eugenics Wars (which included the rise and fall of Khan) in the 1990s.
To be fair, it is, like every other entertainment universe, an 'alternate universe' where the laws of physics are clearly different from those in our universe.
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Old 09-01-2013, 10:19 PM
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he has an more open USSR still intact and cooperating with the USA and other western countries
In a way, that is what we have now, except that it is now called Russia, and is a little bit smaller. It is still huge, and still ruled by a former Soviet official. (And, of course, it was very often informally called Russia, even when it was the USSR.)
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Old 04-22-2014, 02:18 AM
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Spinrad should have know better. His non-fiction essay "Taming of the Bear" didn't exactly predict the fall of the Soviet Union, but did spell out some reasons that the eighties were not going to be their decade. (Written, by the way before either Reagan or Gorbachev took power.)

I think that Spinrad's novel, which now must be viewed as alternate history, had as a basis assumption the success of Gorbachev's reforms, transitioning the Soviet Union, [I]intact[I], into a free market, more democratic state.
I've been reading Russian Spring and its quite an amazing novel even with its rather ridiculous sibling Cold War (with one being almost completely Americanized and the other Russianized) and all the characters having sexual lives resembling that of Hollywood movie starts. While some of its specific predictions were obviously incorrect, its picture of American society and government policy is spot-on while the secessionist movements toward the end of the novel foreshadows the collapse of the USSR albeit delayed massively. The most incredible part is that there is a nuclear standoff between the US and the USSR due to a Ukrainian secessionist movement.
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Old 04-22-2014, 02:34 AM
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David Brin's The Postman (1985) is about the aftermath of a nuclear war and subsequent American social and political collapse, but the enemy in the war is described as the "Slavic Resurgence" ruled by "Slavic Mysticism" rather than the USSR ruled by Communism.
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Old 04-22-2014, 03:06 AM
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This is not what the OP asks for exactly, but I think Ayn Rand's 1957 book Atlas Shrugged does a remarkably good job of predicting the implosion of a Soviet Union-like economic system.
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Old 04-22-2014, 05:37 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Disposable Hero View Post
I've just finished reading a pretty entertaining technothriller novel, 'Firebreak' by Richard Herman JR, written in 1991 it ties up one of the subplots by having a hardliner winning a internal power-competition in the USSR
He must have aced the swimsuit part.
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