Nabokov as sci-fi

While reading Nabokov’s description of mechanical mannequins, or robots, in his early novel ‘King, Queen, Knave’, it reinforced my view that he often introduces subtle sci-fi elements into a lot of his work. It could be that Nabokov was as intrigued by robots as the character Dreyer is in the novel. Karel Capek’s play ‘Rossum’s Universal Robots’ was extremely popular in the 1920’s after all.
There are no spaceships sending laser blasts crackling into exotic alien carapaces in V.N.’s novels but they often contain fantastical facets. Seems like I’m not the only person to have noticed this as Nabokov has a nicely written entry in the sci-fi encyclopedia –

I’ve always been slightly surprised that Nabokov held the stories of H.G. Wells in such high regard. Not sure why, just that they seemed such different authors. I think I see the link between them now however, what with Nabokov’s admiration, and also usage of, fantastical scientific ideas. It’s encouraging to think that Nabokov enjoyed a ripping yarn like War of the Worlds or The Time Machine as much as everyone else.



3 thoughts on “Nabokov as sci-fi

    • I was not aware of Hitchcock and VN corresponding about screenplays. That’s really fascinating information, thanks. It’s mightily intriguing what denouements VN had planned for his sci-fi plot. More imaginative than those in The Astronaut’s Wife I would guess (I’m going by plot synopsis and reviews as I haven’t seen the film, so my statement may be slightly unfair). Sci-fi would have been an interesting choice of genre in the early 1960’s. I’m not a movie expert but I always got the impression sci-fi at that time was firmly in B-movie territory. If VN and Hitchcock had made a mature, intelligent sci-fi film it might have proved a seminal work, in the same way 2001: A Space Odyssey was regarded a few years later.

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