At the moment I’m participating in a project to bring Yefim Zozulya’s Russian stories to a new English audience.
We started with “The Dictator: The Story of Ak and Humanity,” and it is a blistering satire of the Russian Revolution. It centres on a proclamation that the ruling Council will be liquidating all persons deemed inferior and surplus to society; these people must kill themselves by a certain time or the council will arrange it for them. However, the titular Ak comes to the realisation that this is the wrong approach. Rather, the council must encourage the good in people and record it in their cabinet. But this in turn encourages even more wrong behaviour in the society he is trying to perfect, but by then no one wants to listen to him, and so he disappears, never to be seen again.
It’s a deconstruction of the quasi heroic dictator figure, who is lionised and despised in turn, and it works beautifully. This story inspired the novel We by Yevgeny Zamyatin. I thoroughly enjoyed copy editing it, and Tor will be publishing it in 2022.