I’m excited that writers have finally discovered that a number of Russian and Soviet philosophers of 19th-20th centuries were bonkers in all kinds of creative ways that could provide a wealth of material for speculative novels. These guys were not joking around. Tsiolkovsky penned this oeuvre in 1928: “The Will of the Universe. Unknown Intelligent Forces”. None of that ‘how to lead a moral life’ small fry.
Russian philosophy in general is quite fascinating, but I’m talking specifically about Cosmism. In particular, Nikolai Fedorov now crops up in speculative fiction. His ideas show up in two novels I’ve read so far: The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi and now Strange Bodies by Marcel Theroux. They are two entirely different books, both in style and substance, but they do include elements of Cosmism, particular its ideas on immortality. You can read my somewhat gushing review of Strange Bodies if you follow the link. The Quantum Thief is also one of my favorite books, and yet it is so odd, that I find it hard to recommend to everyone.
This is a neat overview of Cosmism by George M. Young, focusing particularly on ‘practical immortality’ and, obviously, whether immortality is desirable. Transhumanism is a close relative of Cosmism and shares some ideas with it. Transhumanism was influenced by a number of science fiction works, and in a neat philosophical circle, science fiction now finds some inspiration in Cosmism.
And finally, if you want to read some classic sci-fi with immortality themes, Joachim Boaz has made a list of relevant novels and short stories arranged by publication date.