The Atompunk era is fascinatingly paralleled across much of the planet. As in the west, the soviet block went through a similar arc. The 1950s were prosperous and held the promise of a future without limits. This led into an optimistic 1960s in which dreams of space were becoming real.. And of course, just like the in the west, over the course of the 1970s it crashed. There are different circumstances and reasons, but i still find an amazing assortment of parallels up until the 80s, and for me the 80s is the atompunk cut off.
I highly recommend the book Red Plenty by Francis Spufford. The book is historical fiction, the specific little stories are made up, but all the details are absolutely real and carefully presented. The book deals with the Soviet optimism of the 50s into the 60s and the details of how and why the dream of the planned economy rose, crested and crashed.
“20th-century magic called ‘the planned economy’, which was going to gush forth an abundance of good things that the penny-pinching lands of capitalism could never match. And just for a little while, in the heady years of the late 1950s, the magic seemed to be working.Red Plenty is about that moment in history, and how it came, and how it went away; about the brief era when, under the rash leadership of Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet Union looked forward to a future of rich communists and envious capitalists, when Moscow would out-glitter Manhattan, every Lada would be better engineered than a Porsche and sputniks would lead the way to the stars. And it’s about the scientists who did their genuinely brilliant best to make the dream come true”
But that’s not why we’re here today. While we’re on the topic, let’s check out the soviet space art of Nikolai Kolchitsky.
In the 1950s and 60s Soviet artist Nikolai Kolchitsky was in his prolific heyday, creating visions of outer space for various magazines, “Technique – Youth”, “Spark”, “Young technician”, as well as a wealth of illustrated books, short stories, essays. While American pulp mags like Amazing stories featured art that created a sci fi vision for the mind of american youth, Nikolai Kolchitsky was one of the most important pop culture artists doing the same for Russian children dreaming of a future in space where worlds waited to be explored and mankind’s future lead.
Nikolai Kolchitsky died in 1980. Here are his atompunk visions: