Talk about a revolution. Francis Spufford’s reimagining of the mid twentieth century utopian Soviet dream is a refreshingly audacious melding of historical fact reimagined as presumed fiction that puts Communist leader Nikita Kruschev and American president Eisenhower in the same milieu as a roll-call of model workers and revolting peasants as a sleek sci-fi future based on misguided optimism gradually caves in on itself.
If the planned economy sounds like a dry subject for such a sprawl, think again. Spufford’s approach may be exhaustively detailed, but it’s also a self-consciously playful piece of meta-fiction that comes complete with more than fifty pages of notes and a full bibliography. Yet beyond such archness is an epic re-reading of a much misunderstood and often romanticised era that casts a serious eye on its subject beyond its comic style, creating a glorious myth out of a past gone mad that never quite found its future.
The List, August 2010