Simon Ings in conversation with Marcel Theroux : STALIN AND THE SCIENTISTS: A History of Triumph and Tragedy 1905 - 1953

Author Simon Ings discusses the thrilling history of Soviet Science. The Soviet Union’s sciences were the largest and best funded in history – and were at once the glory and the laughing stock of the intellectual world. From countless sources and with an eye to world events, Simon will describe what happened when, early in the twentieth century, a handful of impoverished and underemployed graduates, professors and entrepreneurs, collectors and charlatans, bound themselves to a weak and failing government to create a world superpower. 

Copies of Stalin and the Scientists will be on sale at the event.

STALIN AND THE SCIENTISTS is a thrilling history of Soviet science. The Soviet Union’s sciences were the largest and best funded in history – and were at once the glory and the laughing stock of the intellectual world. From countless sources and with an eye to world events, Simon weaves together what happened when, early in the twentieth century, a handful of impoverished and underemployed graduates, professors and entrepreneurs, collectors and charlatans, bound themselves to a weak and failing government to create a world superpower. He goes on reveal how Stalin’s philosophical obsessions – and his role as the state’s Great Scientist – derailed the Soviet Union’s great experiment in ‘rational government’.

As a flavour, characters include: he biologist taking notes on the physiological effects of his own death sentence, to the botanist delivering scientific lectures in a lightless underground cell while his wife, none the wiser, sent food parcels to the wrong side of Russia; the biologist who resorted to theft, fraud and kidnap to support his work, n the poet-ergonomist building achin o churn out new forms of human being. imo aptures something magnificent in the way the Soviet Union tried to light up a world of scarcity and poverty with the fitful glow of science. 

Simon Ings began his career writing science fiction stories, novels and films, before widening his brief to explore perception (The Eye), 20th-century radical politics (The Weight of Numbers), the shipping system (Dead Water) and augmented reality (Wolves). He co-founded and edited Arc magazine, a digital publication about the future, before joining New Scientist as its arts editor. Out of the office, he lives in possibly the coldest flat in London, writing for the Guardian, Times, Telegraph, Independent and Nature.

 

 

Marcel Theroux is a novelist and journalist. His novels are A Blow to the Heart, A Stranger in the Earth, The Paperchase (winner of the 2002 Somerset Maugham Award), Far North (shortlisted for America's prestigious National Book Award), and Strange Bodies.