Book Review: Vladimir Voinovich – Moscow 2042

Vladimir Voinovich (1986) – Moscow 2042
Rating: 2/5
TLDR: Good perspective on sovok-liberal Russophobia.
book-moscow-2042Vladimir Voinovich died the other day. In the Anglosphere, this only seems to have been noticed by RFERL, where this Serb/Jewish literary dissident worked during his exile from the USSR in the 1980s.

Like Solzhenitsyn, Voinovich opposed the Soviet regime – but that was approximately where the similarities ended. Solzhenitsyn viewed the USSR as a perversion of the traditional Russia, a carapace that needed to be thrown away for the Russian people to flourish; Voinovich viewed it as a continuation of the traditional Russia, which needed to be deconstructed entirely and replaced by a Western (or what sovoks imagined to be Western) facsimile*. This, incidentally, is the reason that Voinovich was employed by RFERL, while Solzhenitsyn became progressively unhandshakeworthy in Western circles once he revealed that he was not just another Russophobe (see his 1982 letter to Reagan).

Voinovich’s most famous work is Moscow 2042, published in Russian in 1986 and translated into English in 1987. The hero is Vitaly Kartsev, wan emigre dissident who lives in Munich, and who was patently based on Voinovich himself. Kartsev books a time travel holiday to the year 2042 at a travel agent’s, though not before Sim Simych Karnavalov – a fellow dissident writer who is just as patently based on Solzhenitsyn – hands him 36 of his lugubrious tomes (“glybs”) in defense of monarchism and reaction on a computer disk, which he imperiously commands him to propagandize in the future Moscow.

The future USSR has abandoned the idea of world revolution and Socialism in One Country for “Communism in One City.” The head of state is the Genialissimo (a portmanteau of Generalissimus and genius), though in truth he rules in name only, having been confined to a gilded prison on a spaceship. Meanwhile, real power belongs to the gerontocratic bureaucrats and generals of the CPGB (the Communist Party of State Security, i.e. what resulted from the formal merger of the Communist Party and the KGB).

The Moscow Communist Republic is walled off from the outside world by a six-meter barbed wire fence guarded by machine gun outposts. Outside, it is surrounded by three “circles of hostility”: The rest of the USSR, which has since retreated into a subsistence, neo-feudal existence; the rest of the socialist bloc; and the capitalist world. In the world’s first Communist state, everyone lives according to their needs, though some needs are naturally more equal than others – Moscow is itself subdivided into three “circles of Communism” (shortened to “kaki”, which is also slang for “shit”), corresponding to areas of “extra needs,” “ordinary needs,” and “self-sustaining needs.”

Living conditions are extremely bad. Food consists of “primary products” (e.g. ersatz rutabaga, fishmeal), which are given out at “points of Communist distribution by location of work” (shortened to “pukomrasy,” with “puk” meaning “fart” in Russian). Food is distributed in exchange for talons, which can only be obtained in return for handing in “secondary product” – nightsoil, which is now the USSR’s main export, after oil and gas had run out. Yes, there is no shortage of scatological “humor” in this book.

The pathologies of the late Soviet era are maximized for absurdity. Problems are blamed on “cultists, voluntarists, corruptionists, and reformists”. Nomenklatura privileges have been preserved and expanded. There is overweening bureaucracy and censorship. Transport has broken down, and now takes place exclusively via armored personnel carriers. The cult of the Genialissimo is endemic – all of Moscow’s statues have been beheaded and replaced with cheap plastic portraits of the Genialissimo, and people are only allowed to read his manuscripts, speeches, and memoirs.

The Church has been given back all of its privileges in return for replacing God with the Genialissimo. The official ideology is now a “Pentarchy” of “nationality, party, religiosity, vigilance, and state security”, and the sign of the cross has been replaced with the sign of the pentagram. Marx, Engels, Lenin are now saints along with Jesus Christ (who is the world’s first Communist) and the Genialissimo.

But this decrepit totalitarianism hides seething popular resentment. Kartsev’s time traveling visit coincides with a revolution, as adepts of Sim Simych seize power in Moscow – helped along by a turncoat secret police general, Dzerzhin Gavrilovich (who now starts calling himself Druzhina Gavrilovich, and becomes the new regime’s security chief – he explains that people like him are always needed by any regime). Sim himself rides into Moscow on a white horse, and institutes “simoderzhavie” (from samoderzhavie – autocracy). The old “Communite” leaders are executed by crucifixion, or lynched by enraged and primitive mobs. Russia is proclaimed an Empire, “united and undivided” (after the White slogan).

The following edicts are proclaimed by Sim, now named Serafim the First, Emperor and Autocrat of All The Russias:

  • The CPGB is declared illegal, and Russia is proclaimed an absolute monarchy.
  • Communist propaganda is criminalized.
  • The republics are annulled and replaced with gubernias. Territorially it includes the USSR, Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania.
  • The people are called on to identify the cursed Communists and pluralists, and called on to be alert to any resurgence in the false and evil doctrines of Communism.
  • Commission to investigate Communist crimes.
  • Foreign debts are repudiated.
  • Obligatory Orthodoxy.
  • Renaming all cities and landmarks that carry Communist names.
  • All land and factories go over to the Emperor, who will proceed to give them out to people capable of productivity labor.
  • Passports and other documents given out by the Godless regime are declared null and void, and are replaced by a single residency card.
  • Steam and electric means of transports are to be replaced with animal horsepower.
  • Science is annulled and replaced with three obligatory subjects: God’s Law; Dal’s Dictionary; and His Majesty’s own works, such as “The Big Zone.”
  • Corporal punishment.
  • Mandatory beards for men over forty. Modest dress codes for men and women. Women are forbidden from riding bicycles.
  • The letter ѣ is reintroduced into the Russian alphabet.

So, in other words, this is basically the sovok shitlib’s fever dream – a projection of their own demented delusions and coprophilic complexes on Imperial Russia and Solzhenitsyn. Let’s just leave it at the fact that the Holy Russian Empire bans aircraft, whereas the actual Russian Empire had Europe’s biggest air fleet at the outbreak of World War I.

Unfortunately, this fever dream – promoted by the sovoks themselves – was shared by a sufficiently large number of people when the USSR collapsed, and this led directly to the catastrophes of the 1990s. Any alternatives to the neoliberal orthodoxy and Western cargo cultism could be answered with the refrain, “Well, what do you want, then? A Sim Simych?” And Voinovich played his small part in that self-destruction.

It should therefore come as no surprise that after returning to Russia in 1990, Voinovich has been a consistent champion of anti-Russian causes. He has opposed the Second Chechen War and supported Chechen self-determination, but didn’t have the consistency to also support Russian self-determination in Crimea and the Donbass. He has supported expressions of Western poz such as Pussy Riot (amusingly, his character Kartsev, back in 1982, asks one of Sim’s lackeys in 1982 whether he is a pedo in response to his homosexual-like behavior – it’s amusing to imagine him getting metaphorically crucified for it by SJWs, had he lived in the US). He has been strongly opposed to Putin and expressed a desire that Putin “answer for his crimes.”

* Or in the terminology of Fluctuarius Argenteus’ Double Horseshoe Theory, Solzhenitsyn was in Category C, while Voinovich was Category D. Naturally, Solzhenitsyn was never going to get hired by RFERL.

Anatoly Karlin is a transhumanist interested in psychometrics, life extension, UBI, crypto/network states, X risks, and ushering in the Biosingularity.


Inventor of Idiot’s Limbo, the Katechon Hypothesis, and Elite Human Capital.


Apart from writing booksreviewstravel writing, and sundry blogging, I Tweet at @powerfultakes and run a Substack newsletter.


  1. where this Serb/Jewish literary dissident

    Every single time.

  2. inertial says

    Voinovich’s most famous work is Moscow 2042

    Adventures of Soldier Ivan Chonkin is Voinovich’s most famous work.

    Also this song, an unofficial anthem of the Soviet space program.

  3. Jaakko Raipala says

    It all sounds much better than communism or liberalism. Hail Simych!

  4. The Big Red Scary says

    I only hope that Sim Simych will brand all the liberasts with a big ѣ on their foreheads.

  5. Verymuchalive says

    I read his biography. He was born in Stalinabad in 1932! Obviously, a Soviet Liberal before his time.
    He even won the State Prize of the Russian Federation ( presented by V V Putin himself )
    Was he sent to the Gulag ? No, the stupid old fart died ( peacefully?) in his sleep in his bed, aged 85.
    No nerve agents or radioactive isotopes were found, apparently.
    AK, you should be hailing this as a triumph for Russian Civil ( Civic, if you want) Society.

  6. inertial says
  7. Serafim the First régime would have certainly be better than the grotesque mix of Soviet and Late imperial symbols that actually serves Putin’s establishment.

    Every time one watches Russian channels, one sees some more or less glorifying references to Soviet era. In the talkshows sometimes you even see people, not necessarily members of the Communist party, that rave about the supposedly good life under the Soviets.
    All this creates in the minds of the younger Russians an imaginary Soviet union where everything was fine and dandy, until some evil traitors came and destroyed the Russian utopia.
    So soon many low information young Russians may well believe that the USSR collapsed not because of a nexus of unsurmountable structural problems, but just because of the dastardly acts of a group of dissidents, traitors and members of the Fifth column.
    Not a good perspective for the Russian people, methinks.

  8. MEH 0910 says


    WWE Hall of Famer Nikolai Volkoff died this weekend.

    His onetime ring partner, The Iron Sheik — with whom he won WrestleMania I’s World Tag Team Championship in ’85 — confirmed in a tweet Sunday that Volkoff had passed away.

    Volkoff, who’s real name was Josip Nikolai Peruzović, wrestled in the WWWF from 1968 to 1971 where he won a tag team title in 1970. After that, he went on to wrestle singles … and later returned to the WWWF between ’74 and ’80 and then again for a second time in ’84.

    Volkoff had a successful run teaming up with Sheik in multiple wrestling events between ’84 and ’87 as well as other wrestlers in the years after. He went back and forth between foreign heel and hero through the ’90s and eventually scaled back wrestling through the 2000s … although he did make appearances in WWE.

    Although he was Croatian, Volkoff was portrayed as a Russian … and would often rile up the crowd by singing the Russian National Anthem.

    WWE released a statement on Volkoff’s passing, saying in part … “As one of the greatest villains sports-entertainment had ever seen, Volkoff’s infamous rendition of the Soviet National Anthem before his matches made him an instant icon in the eyes of the WWE Universe as a Superstar they truly loved to hate … WWE extends its condolences to Peruzović’s family, friends and fans.”

    Volkoff was inducted into the WWE’s Hall of Fame in 2005. He was 70 years old.


  9. Thanks for this summary of the novel, Anatoly. I find it really interesting to explore people’s fantasies of earlier historical eras. I haven’t read any Russian sci-fi, but certainly post-WW2 American sci-fi (e.g. Isaac Asimov, Brian Daley) and modern American sci-fi (e.g. Stephen Baxter, Alastair Reynolds, Sergey Brin) have an entirely different feel to them and cover rather different ideas and concepts. The former have a friendly, optimistic frontier feel, with a universe huge but accessible and capable of being grasped with both will and intellect. The latter tend to be about the inhumanity of the infinite, the eventual certainty of decay and death, even if local successes can hold that off or even reverse it for a while, and the potential of small mistakes to ever-so-slowly balloon into eternal, unsolvable problems.

    What those tendencies say about the changes in Western society and thinking over that time-span (at least among the more future-oriented citizens) are pretty self-evident…

    It seems, also, that historical fantasy novels started being written in Russia post-1990s (e.g. Клинки), as the country stopped being quite so space- and futurism-oriented.

  10. AnonFromTN says

    As often happens to those who don’t see a lot of things on principle, Karlin missed the satirical aspect of Moscow-2042. Among other things, it is truly funny in some places. But that’s not too important: the best thing Voinovich ever wrote was Soldier Ivan Chonkin. It is much funnier and closer to reality.
    I liked Voinovich a lot until I read his own story how he was short-changed by getting (for free from presumably hated regime) an apartment that was smaller than he expected. Sorry, but I couldn’t respect him any more after that. As they say in Russia today, you either take off your necktie, or put on your pants. Applies to quite a few “dissidents”, “liberals”, and “human rights defenders”. Not only in Russia, more is the pity.

  11. Well most popular recent fiction still in future anti-utopia dressing – Metro 2033, 2034, 2o35.

    It’s just extremely imaginative, mass entertainment though, with some political discussions and satire attempts which is a bit boring (but not the reason anyone reads it, which is rather for entertaining imaginative fantasy adventure).

    Voinovich presumably just contemporary political satire though (like same genre as Jonathan Swift), which is dressed as anti-utopia fantasy? (Not that I have or will ever read this).

  12. Curious thoughts on possible ‘Trump-Putin joint covert action against Macron & Merkel’, from leading French alt-media writer Thierry Meyssan of Voltairenet org. Meyssan is based in Damascus, Syria, and is said to have at times received Iranian funding.

    France’s government is now shaking to its foundations over a scandal involving a bodyguard to France’s President Emmanuel Macron, said also to possibly be Macron’s gay lover.

    The story is very weird as to the ‘why’ of it all, and how it got to be major media.

    Meyssan thinks this may be the ‘nationalists’ (Trump Putin etc) taking down the ‘globalists’ (former Rothschild banker Macron)

    Macron is age 41, his wife 65, the much-older wife a common gay practice. Barack Obama, also rumoured to be gay, also had a bodyguard rumoured to be Obama’s gay lover, with the apt name of Reggie Love, but Reggie was never a big story.

    Macron’s age 26 Moroccan-heritage bodyguard, Alexandre Benalla, with links to Muslim extremists, was given ultra-privileges, ultra-high access, and was filmed beating up people like a thug.

    Macron personally denied Benalla was his lover, or, hilariously, that Benalla had the French nuclear weapon launch codes in his possession, as a French-language satire news site had joked.

    Quick riffs from Meyssan’s article (linked below) –

    Who pushed this material about Macron’s ‘special friend’ – gay lover? – out into the major media frame?

    (1) Was it perhaps a rather right-wing French Deep State of security services – who increasingly talk privately of a ‘near state of civil war’ in France, with a low-level violent insurgency from France’s now 10% Muslim population?

    The ‘old guard’ of the French Deep State may think more like Marine Le Pen, and may be quite hostile to the quasi-globalism of former Rothschild banker (and possibly gay) Macron

    Meyssan suggests it is possible that the French Deep State may in fact have ‘set up’ Benalla with some of his extraordinary privileges and police gear, and encouraged Benalla to act above the law and rudely beat up people … precisely in order to embarrass Macron afterwards

    (2) Or was Macron himself not trusting the French government to provide his security, and so began to seek to set up a ‘private force’ utilising Alexandre Benalla? … i.e., a ‘Deep State’ against the other ‘Deep State’, as Charles De Gaulle felt he needed to do against those who tried to assassinate him? Benalla’s extremist Muslim ties, would not necessarily be negative to someone of a ‘globalist’ frame of mind, setting up ‘alternate security’ against an ‘ethno-nationalist’ French Deep State … but Macron perhaps was no match for the ethno-French ‘establishment’

    (3) Or, Meyssan asks, was the info on Benalla leaked and promoted, by someone linked with what Meyssan sees as the ‘nationalist alliance’ of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin … fighting the ‘globalist Deep State’ in the USA and elsewhere … and who, as Trump’s former aide Steve Bannon has indicated he wishes to do, seek perhaps to break up the Merkel – Macron axis who are the ‘globalist-minded’ fading leadership of the EU? – Meyssan notes that Bannon has now set up shop in Brussels, Belgium, his think tank intending to be the ‘anti-globalist’ resource centre in Europe

    The Elysée and « Gladio B » by Thierry Meyssan