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Nadya Mercik: The Utopia of Us Anthology. Pre-Order Available Now!

Cover of the author Nadya Mercik
Nadya Mercik on The Utopia of Us

The Utopia of Us anthology is now available for pre-order! Editor Teika Marija Smits has brought together 15 incredible writers and their stories, directly inspired by We by Yevgeny Zamyatin.

It is a charity anthology, and given Russia's current war with Ukraine, royalties from the book will be donated to the Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal.

If you pre-order directly from the Luna website, you will also receive a discount. Check it out!

Today we'd like to introduce you to Nadya Mercik and the story "Buoy – Perfect Citizen – Mother".

About the author:

NADYA MERCIK is a writer and literary translator based in London. She is also a member of the British Fantasy Society and an assistant editor of BFS Horizons magazine. When not working on stories, she takes long strolls around London, connects to her body on a yoga mat or crochets fluffy things. Her recent passion is taking Japanese Sword lessons.

Nadya on the story:

We by Evgeny Zamyatin wasn’t a compulsory read in my Russian school curriculum. I read 1984 in my twenties, and that’s when I fell in love with dystopian fiction. But We had always been on my radar. I kept it on my TBR list. Eventually, I brought a copy of the original text with me when I returned to London from my last trip to Russia. And then I finally got down to reading it. I was so stunned by it that I almost straight away re-read it. There was so much in this novel, I didn’t want to miss things: the nonsensical-at- first-sight headings, the abundance of metaphors, the narration of a soul desperately struggling to understand the world and himself. Published a century ago, it resonated and felt familiar in the reality it depicted. I guess in some ways it was coming back to the roots; something in between the history lessons and the snippets of my grandparents’ and parents’ lives. All that packed in a futuristic (for the Soviet time) setting. All so bright and vivid and somehow not outdated.

It wasn’t easy to choose one thread of inspiration for my own story. They ranged from singular metaphors – rich in meaning, fruitful for exploration – to bigger themes and world elements. The opaque ‘flats’ of human heads. Imagination as a disease. The multilegged leviathan. Hour Tables. The impossible last revolution. The lyricism of the three-element chapter headings echoing the poetry of the Russian Silver Age. I was at a loss where to start – the novel spoke to me in volumes, nudging me to see further and go deeper.

In the end, after having the novel percolating in my head for evenings on end, it appeared – almost like that eyelash in the novel. I was drawn to the character of O-90 – a person who seemed to remain in the background, a meek woman of round lines, a symbol of comfort and home cosiness, the last person you would see as a rebel and opposition to the order. And yet when it came to the most important thing to her – love and a child, she found determination and steel in her heart. I wanted to know more of O-90’s future. I realised I wanted to explore more of that mother- child bond – what it gives us, how it forms us, how it can, perhaps, be a hindrance. And from there the world of a story was born – the world where these connections were deliberately severed to “improve” humans for the “greater” (read government) good. The world where minds were monitored and influenced. In this world, by some miracle a woman and a girl still had traces of this bond. Not knowing what it is, they were pulled by it. I also had the pleasure of returning to the city of my birth in this story, setting it in a futuristic version of St Petersburg.

I loved every bit of writing ‘Buoy – Perfect Citizen – Mother’.

And I am sure I will return to We more than once.

TOC of The Utopia of Us
TOC of The Utopia of Us

More on the anthology:

The year 2024 marks the centenary of the first publication of We, the direct inspiration for George Orwell’s 1984, and many other novels, such as Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed and Kurt Vonnegut’s Player Piano.

Strikingly, the Russian novel was first published in English, and in the US. Indeed, it wasn’t until 1988 that it was published in the author’s native country. Clearly, this was a book that the people in power in the Soviet Union wanted erased. Yet it ushered in a new genre – the future dystopia – and in doing so gave birth to the many dystopian novels and films which have found their way into our popular culture.

Setting aside what its publication history says about Russia’s past, it also happens to be a beautifully written and page-turning novel, and one that is still currently relevant since it speaks to the very heart of what it means to be human. In short, the centenary of this wonderful novel should be, and needs to be, celebrated, and how better to do that than by a globally minded, independent press, publishing an anthology of science fiction stories inspired by We?


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