Last year (2021) I took part in the Comma Press Short story course with K.M. Elkes and a bunch of budding (but clearly very talented) new authors to get back in touch with my passion for creative writing which was dormant for a while.
For one reason or another, when I was doing the course, I also developed this complete obsession with Soviet space dogs and their space program. I was working on a short story about Laika, the first animal to orbit the Earth and the events that surrounded the launch which essentially condemned the poor dog to death in the name of science.
And then I started going down the rabbit hole of research – as you do – and came across this philosophical movement called Cosmism which was developed by the Russian philosopher Nikolai Fyodorov in the late 19th century. More than anything, I was surprised to learn that this man – who lived and died in poverty, more out of religious reasons than necessity – and who remains a pretty obscure figure, at least in the West, inspired generations of Soviet space engineers that followed, as well as writers like Tolstoy and Dostoevsky.
I was just struck by his bizzare ideas, for example, he believed that “All matter is the dust of ancestors” and that man’s greatest mission and the only reason for space exploration is ultimately to restore our ancestors from the cosmic dust. It was also fascinating to discover how much his philosophy was rooted in the tragic losses that he experienced in his own family, and how his rather eccentric ideas ultimately inspired the space age.