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January 19, 2017 No.
6750

Looking Backwards: How Soviet Writers In 1960 Envisioned The U.S.S.R. Of 2017

In 1960, V. Strukova and V. Shevchenko wrote a story, illustrated by L. Smekhov, about the Soviet Union in 2017. The date was not fortuitously chosen– it marked the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution that brought the Communists to power. The authors believed that people in 2017 would be fortunate to live in a world liberated by Soviet science, where the climate could be controlled, the flow of the northern rivers could be controlled, and Alpha Centauri was a flight destination.[1] The Moscow-based newspaper The Moscow Times described as follow that Strukova and Shevchenkos’s story: "A hundred years ago, the men and women who brought Communism to the Tsarist Empire had big plans. Decades into that experiment, the U.S.S.R. was leading the world’s 'Space Race' and it seemed there was nothing the country couldn’t do. In 1960, the Soviet movie studio ‘Diafilm’ released a filmstrip titled 'In the Year 2017,' by V. Strukova and V. Shevchenko, depicting a vision of the U.S.S.R. set 57 years in the future… In Strukova and Shevchenko’s vision of 2017, it’s the ‘imperialists’ of the West who have destroyed themselves, and the Soviet Union has mastered science to such a degree that ‘atomic trains’ traverse the Bering Strait and flying power stations control the planet’s weather.”[2]

The story unfolds as a chief meteorologist discovers that "the last imperialists," "hiding on a distant island” in the south of the Pacific Ocean, were testing prohibited meson weapons (the meson bomb was a nuclear weapon under study, but its theoretical basis was rejected by most scientists as impractical, although during the Cold War when the story was set the U.S.S.R. revisited the approach due to fears that the Americans had already mastered it). This testing created a force 12 storm alert in the Black Sea. This storm created an enormous tornado that tore off rooftops and uprooted trees on the Black Sea coast. However, thanks to a flying weather control station, 2017 Soviet scientists managed to save the lives of hundreds of people, just in time for “the 100th anniversary of the Great October” in Moscow. “This celebration coincided with the great victory of Soviet science over nature,” the filmstrip reads.

The filmstrip in its entirety follows below:

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 1
Filmstrip no. 1

V. Strukova, V. Shevchenko

In The Year 2017

Artist: L. Smekhov

Produced by: Diafilm Studio, 1960

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 2
Filmstrip no. 2

Caption: "Who isn’t concerned about our future? What will it be like? Who does not want to look into the next century? When we read science fiction books, when we look at the scientists’ calculations and bold engineering projects, we can imagine pictures of the future."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 3
Filmstrip no. 3

Caption: "So let’s look into the future, let’s travel forward by 50-60 years. Maybe, on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Great October, schoolchildren just like you will be sitting at a geography lesson, watching a film about the recent past and present of their country – about how the Soviet people alter nature for the sake of peace and happiness on Earth."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 4
Filmstrip no. 4

Caption: "These 2017 schoolchildren are in an educational movie theater. A special cinema device – ‘the magnifying lens of time’ – allows them to observe how the country’s new look was created."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 5
Filmstrip no. 5

Caption: "The children saw how parts of bridges stretched to meet each other over bottomless mountain gorges…"

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 6
Filmstrip no. 6

Caption: "how pinpointed nuclear blasts shear off superfluous hills and dig canals…"

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 7
Filmstrip no. 7

Caption: "…how the flow of the Ob and the Yenisei was redirected towards the Caspian Sea. The sea, which only recently had been drying up, now received [water from] abundant new rivers."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 8
Filmstrip no. 8

Caption: "The children heard the narrator’s voice: ‘And here is the dam over the Bering Strait. Can you see atomic-powered trains passing over it? The dam has stopped the cold current from the Arctic Ocean, and the climate of the Far East has improved’."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 9
Filmstrip no. 9

Caption: "Then the Earth’s surface seemed to melt, and one could see what was happening in bowels of the Earth. In the depths of volcanoes, subterranean mole-boats made of special heat-resistant steel excavated shafts to provide perpetual sources of energy."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 10
Filmstrip no. 10

Caption: "Then the Earth disappeared, too. Photon rockets – interstellar ships – traveled in outer space at almost the speed of light. They went towards the closest, but still distant, planetary system – Alpha Centauri."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 11
Filmstrip no. 11

Caption: "When the movie was over, Nikolai Borisovich, the geography teacher, reminded the children that the next day the class was going on a field trip to the underground town of Uglegrad (Coaltown) north of the Arctic Circle."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 12
Filmstrip no. 12

Caption: "The next morning, Igor woke up from a light flick on the nose. That was the way his wall clock woke him up. The clock was designed as a joke by his father, an operator at the Central Institute of Weather Control."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 13
Filmstrip no. 13

Caption: "The boy saw the soft plastic arm that had just awakened him retreat back into the clock. ‘I will see Uglegrad today with my own eyes!’ Igor thought happily."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 14
Filmstrip no. 14

Caption: "Mother was not in the kitchen but she had left a note with an assignment for the smart cooking machine. ‘My favorite breakfast!’ the boy said joyfully."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 15
Filmstrip no. 15

Caption: "Igor carefully switched the machine on and put the note into the slot. Invisible rays scanned the outline of letters on the note, automatic scoops measured the necessary ingredients, special knives quickly cut vegetables."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 16
Filmstrip no. 16

Caption: "Suddenly, Mum’s voice was heard from Dad’s office."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 17
Filmstrip no. 17

Caption: "Mum was looking from the televideophone screen. She was standing on a boat deck. It was the kindergarten where her younger children were. ‘Have you managed breakfast?’ she asked smiling."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 18
Filmstrip no. 18

Caption: "'Are you on the Black Sea?’ Igor was surprised. ‘I’m on a business trip, inspecting floating kindergartens in the Black Sea and using the opportunity to visit my own kids… Tell Dad on the phone that I’ll be back only tomorrow’."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 19
Filmstrip no. 19

Caption: "Half an hour later, Igor was far from the capital. The Arctic greeted its guests with a violent snowstorm. Local employees surrounded the visitors from Moscow."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 20
Filmstrip no. 20

Caption: "A hatchway opened in front of the visitors, and a broad moving stairway carried them down."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 21
Filmstrip no. 21

Caption: "Then they traveled along the streets of Uglegrad. There was a delicate fragrance of linden trees in the air. Looking at the people sunbathing on a beach under a quartz ‘sun’, it was hard to believe that a snowstorm was raging above."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 22
Filmstrip no. 22

Caption: "On the outskirts of the city, huge steel mining machines were biting into the rock. Uglegrad's chief engineer, Vladislav Ivanovich, told the schoolchildren many interesting things."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 23
Filmstrip no. 23

Caption: "'Here, underground, we have eternal spring', he said proudly, 'but the capricious weather above is disrupting our shipping schedule'."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 24
Filmstrip no. 24

Caption: "‘What about the flying weather control station that is being constructed now? Could it deal with the whims of Arctic weather?’ asked Nikolai Borisovich. The children keenly awaited the chief engineer’s answer."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 25
Filmstrip no. 25

Caption: "‘So far, the flying station operates only temporarily’, answered Vladislav Ivanovich. ‘And proper conditions for the non-stop flow of goods can only be created by an inter-city underground railway through the entire Arctic region’."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 26
Filmstrip no. 26

Caption: "This is the model of a new high-speed rock-drilling machine. It will work on the newly discovered meson energy, which will triple its rate of advance."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 27
Filmstrip no. 27

Caption: "And the flying weather control station has a very promising future. A man in his office will press wireless control buttons, and the machine will fly and rein in a hurricane or terminate a storm".

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 28
Filmstrip no. 28

Caption: "Very soon the children discovered what the flying station could do… At the moment when Vladislav Ivanovich was talking to them in his office, in the Central Weather Institute in Moscow, the chief meteorologist of the country and the weather operator on duty, Igor’s father, Yevgeny Sergeievich, were discussing the urgent message that had just arrived from the Pacific Ocean."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 29
Filmstrip no. 29

Caption: "The chief meteorologist said: ‘We’ve just been informed that the last remaining imperialists who were hiding on a distant island were testing prohibited meson weapons. During the test, there was an explosion of unprecedented power, which destroyed the entire island and, at the same time, caused disturbances in the planet’s atmosphere’."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 30
Filmstrip no. 30

Caption: "‘So that’s why our smart forecast machine has suddenly predicted a force 12 storm in the Black Sea this morning, even though yesterday forecasts were favorable,’ said Yevgeny Sergeievich."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 32
Filmstrip no. 31

Caption: "‘The explosion in the south of the Pacific Ocean will cause terrible hurricanes and storms. We need to save people immediately!’ said the chief meteorologist decisively. ‘Is our flying station ready?’"

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 31
Filmstrip no. 32

Caption: "A horrible realization struck Yevgeny Sergeievich. Boats… Floating kindergartens… His wife and children – Nina, Vitya. The hurricane is approaching with every minute. And the flying station is not yet equipped with wireless control."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 33
Filmstrip no. 33

Caption: "‘We will seek permission to send people on the weather control station’, said the chief meteorologist. ‘We will go ourselves. Of course, we’ll be risking our lives. But we must save children, seamen, boats’."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 34
Filmstrip no. 34

Caption: "The permission was obtained. And now, huge pillars of water are all around the flying weather station. They are so high they reach the clouds."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 35
Filmstrip no. 35

Caption: "The Black Sea coast appeared on the station’s TV screen. An enormous tornado was tearing roofs off buildings, pulling out ancient trees up by their roots."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 36
Filmstrip no. 36

Caption: "The chief meteorologist pulled black glass over the windows. Lab workers were on duty by the control board. Fire was hurting their eyes even through the black glass, since the station was emitting mesons of energy that had never been seen before. And those beams were fighting the tornado."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 37
Filmstrip no. 37

Caption: "When, finally, the meson lightning bolts were switched off and the black glass was raised, the tornado had disappeared as if by magic. The flying weather control station had saved the lives of hundreds of people."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 38
Filmstrip no. 38

Caption: "The explosion in the south Pacific that posed a deadly threat to the Black Sea coast was felt in the capital as well. Grey impenetrable slime was crawling over a bleak sky."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 39
Filmstrip no. 39

Caption: "But the capital was getting ready for a holiday. One could feel uncommon excitement in the streets. Moscow residents snatched the fresh issues of the newspaper telling them about new achievements of the Soviet science in weather control."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 40
Filmstrip no. 40

Caption: "Suddenly the clouds parted and pillars of golden light slanted on buildings and parks. The corridor of light kept getting wider."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 41
Filmstrip no. 41

Caption: "The flying weather control station was slowly passing over the city. The jubilant capital was getting ready to celebrate the  100th anniversary of the Great October. This celebration coincided with the great victory of the Soviet science over nature."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 42
Filmstrip no. 42

Caption: "When Igor’s father emerged from the flying weather station, his embrace was particularly strong and took his son a long time to escape it."

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 43
Filmstrip no. 43

Caption: "In the evening, Yevgeny Sergeievich turned on the televideophone and called the Kakhetia boat. His wife smiled at him from the screen, and Nina was standing by and shouting: ‘Daddy, we had such a nice warm rain!’"

Description: Как представляли 2017 год в СССР: диафильм 44
Filmstrip no. 44

Caption: "The end"

 

 

 

 

[1] Mirf.ru, January 3, 2017.

[2] Themoscowtimes.com