Sergey Lukyanenko, Chengdu Worldcon guest of honor, is one of the 40 members added to Russia’s Civic Chamber in April by President Vladimir Putin.
The Civic Chamber (sometimes translated as Public Chamber) is a consultative institution with 168 members that has a role similar to an oversight committee. It analyzes draft legislation and monitors the activities of the parliament, government, and other government bodies in Russia.
A Parlamentskaya Gazeta interviewer asked Lukyanenko about his new role. (Translation by Google.)
Literature on a state basis
– Sergey Vasilyevich, do you already have any thoughts on the subject of what you will do in the Public Chamber? Maybe developments or concepts of proposals?
– There are no specific ideas – I’m just thinking about this topic. But I would like to deal with issues of literature, cinema, culture in the broad sense of the word. These are still the areas where I am the most professional, understand the deepest and can bring the most benefit.
– Have you already been to the meetings?
– Not yet – we will only have the first meeting in the updated composition in the summer. Now there is only a preparatory stage.
He received a brief mention in the Civic Chamber’s official article about the additions posted on April 6. (Translation by Google.)
…40 Russian citizens who have special merits to the state and society agreed to the proposal of the head of state to become part of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation. Their candidacies were determined by the President of Russia based on the results of consultations with public associations, non-profit organizations, and Russian academies of sciences….
…According to Irina Velikanova, director of the Museum of Contemporary History of Russia, right now, taking into account the global threats that Russia has faced in the XXI century, the role of the cultural factor in ensuring state sovereignty and national security is steadily increasing, since it is culture that plays the role of the guardian of the civilizational code of the nation, its value basis.
“At the same time, the basis of the cultural sovereignty of the nation is historical memory. Together with our colleagues, we will continue to work on the protection of historical truth, we will be engaged in the popularization of the history and culture of Russia among young people,” she shared her plans.
In this activity, Irina Velikanova will be supported by the rector of GITIS Grigory Zaslavsky, who is a member of the seventh composition of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation, and science fiction writer Sergei Lukyanenko, who entered the Public Chamber for the first time….
The Parlamentskaya Gazeta interview also probed Lukyanenko’s opinion about ways to use his position in the Chamber to promote sff.
– Nevertheless, how to popularize domestic science fiction? One gets the feeling that publishers, for example, have little interest in this.
– Publishing houses are absolutely commercial, capitalist, profit-oriented structures. It is clear that, first of all, they focus on ratings so that the maximum number of people buy the published book, select literature as simple and massive as possible. Therefore, it is quite problematic to demand that they publish some unusual, bright, risky things. But this is where the state could get involved. I see two ways – either subsidizing publishers, or the establishment of some kind of federal structure that would publish books that are niche, but useful, educating the reader in the right values and the ability to think. But this, of course, will be a long and difficult work. You need to be able to look for diamonds. You remember the textbook story of J.K. Rowling, who, with the manuscript of the first Harry Potter, went around eight publishers before she was told in the ninth: “Well, let’s try to publish your fairy tale, although we do not understand who will read it.” Plus, you need to think through and organize some kind of advertising campaigns, spend money on it – and serious money. But there is no other way.
– Do you plan to raise this issue in the Public Chamber? And, perhaps, could they themselves lead such a publishing house, if it appears?
– As for the Public Chamber – yes, I think the idea is sound, and it should at least be discussed. But as for my candidacy for the post of head – no, probably not. So far, I have more pleasure in writing books than in administrative activities. If I ever get tired of it, then I can talk.
In an interview on another topic, “Who should write books about the special operation”, published by Moscow Region Today on May 10, Lukyanenko was asked about the literary treatment of Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, always referred to there as the “special operation”.
…We talked to one of the most popular Russian writers, science fiction writer Sergei Lukyanenko. He told exactly how to transfer the history of the special operation to paper.
“It would be completely wrong to invent. There are a lot of good writers who have been at the front, participated in hostilities. It’s probably more their job to write about it. Because it is not entirely reasonable for the author to write about what he himself did not directly participate in,” Lukyanenko said in an interview with the correspondent of the online publication Podmoskovye Segodnya.
The writer clarified that the theme of patriotism is not alien to him.
“The action of my works takes place, as a rule, not in our days. But in my books, the topic of patriotism and Russia is almost always raised,” the source said….
Lukyanenko, the best known writer who signed a 2022 open letter defending the invasion, has been an outspoken proponent of Russia’s aggressive policy towards Ukraine for years. His statements sparked passage of a resolution at the Chicon 8 Business Meeting calling for the 2023 Worldcon to refuse him as a guest. Two months after Chicon 8 while Lukyanenko was being interviewed on television an RT presenter responded to one of his anecdotes by calling for the drowning of Ukranian children.