Bewildering Stories biography
About the Author
Editor’s note: the author’s pen name is pronounced “bu-li-chov,” with the stress accent on the last syllable. It’s indicated by the letter ë in formal Russian spelling. It could be reproduced in English typography, but most readers wouldn’t know what to make of it.
Kir Bulychev is the pseudonym of Igor Vsevolodovich Mozheiko (1934-2003), one of the best known Soviet science fiction and fantasy authors. Like Boris and Arkady Strugatsky, Bulychev was a scholar. He graduated from the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Languages and worked for two years as a translator in Burma. Returning to Moscow, he went to work at the Institute of Eastern Studies of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, where he also did his graduate work, with a specialization in the history of Burma.
While at the Institute, he began writing scholarly articles for professional journals in his field. His master’s thesis was on “Pagan Government (XI-XIII Centuries)” and his doctoral thesis, on “Buddhist Sangha and Government in Burma.” He became known in scholarly circles for his work on the history of southeast Asia.
He began writing science fiction and fantasy in 1965. He took the pseudonym Kirill Bulychev, which on some book jackets was abbreviated as “Kir. Bulychev.” The author eventually dropped the period, and became just Kir, as he is widely known today.
He kept his true identity hidden until 1982 for fear the administration of the Institute of Eastern Studies would not take him seriously if they knew he was wasting his time on frivolous pastimes like writing science fiction and that they might let him go if they found out.
In his lifetime he published several dozen books, and his stories have appeared in hundreds of anthologies. A number of his best stories have entered the canon of Soviet science fiction, including “I was the First to Find You,” “May I Please Speak to Nina?” “Red Deer, White Deer,” and others. Bulychev also worked as a screenwriter and as a translator of American fiction into Russian.
“Half a Life” is his masterpiece. In the age of “Socialist Realism” and toeing the “party line” in art, Bulychev found his voice in the optimistic, sentimental, heroic approach that characterizes much of Soviet literature of that epoch, including the Strugatsky brothers’ early work before they started to question and doubt — and got themselves into hot water with the authorities.
Copyright © 2010 by Bill Bowler
for Bewildering Stories