The Other Side of the Sky: An Annotated Bibliography of Space Stations in Science Fiction, 1869-1993.
By Gary Westfahl. Holicong, Pennsylvania: Wildside Press/Borgo Press, 2009.
A50. Beliayev, Aleksandr. The Struggle in Space. 1928. Translated by Albert Parry. Washington, D. C.: Arfor Publishers, 1965. 116 pp.
A Muscovite from 1928 wakes up in the future realm of Radiopolis, part of a communist utopia that now extends throughout Europe, Asia and Africa. As he learns about this new world, its harmonious social order, and its many scientific marvels, there looms the prospect of a final confrontation with America, the last bastion of evil capitalism in the world. He participates in an apparently successful assault on America, but he and a friend are captured by a remaining capitalist baron who takes them on board "a large airship... a veritable flying city," which can "go above the atmosphere to navigate in airless space" (114). The capitalists hope to "last an indefinitely long time away from this planet" (114), but the need for periodic supplies from Earth means they "are doomed" (115); instead, they decide to blow up the airship with atomic power and, in that way, destroy the entire planet Earth as well. As the protagonist and his friend are blowing up the airship with other explosives before atomic energy can be used, he wakes up, back in 1928.
The episode involving an early space station actually only involves the last three pages of the novel, which is otherwise an uninteresting combination of the scientific utopia and the future war novel. Still Beliayev is noteworthy as the first author directly inspired by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky (Parry's introduction says that Beliayev was a great admirer of Tsiolkovsky), and his book stands with Kurd Lasswitz's Two Planets as an anticipation of the military possibilities of a space station. Beliayev also differs from Tsiolkovsky in seeing some difficulty in maintaining life in space without regular supplies from Earth.
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