FOUR SHORT STORIES WORTH READING

FOUR SHORT STORIES WORTH READING

This post highlights four short stories. They feature Comrade Joseph Stalin. Although roughly, very roughly, based on the historic figure, who was responsible for the deaths of between ten and fifty million people, the Comrade Stalin of these stories is a somewhat different person.

In part, this is because in three of these stories, Comrade Stalin appears as a ghost, and in the fourth, he is a clone. Death and/or cloning will, I assume, change a person. Primarily, however, this is because these stories are works of speculative fiction. By definition, fiction is untrue. Duh!

On to the stories!

 

“Comrade Stalin Attends a Wedding, Special Edition”

When it comes to weddings among the fraternal comrades in America, even in this relaxed day and age, the happy couple must take great care with the guest list. Sadly, this is not always the case.

Overcome with enthusiasm and a sincere desire to share their happiness, Comrades Ludmilla Alexandrova and Oliver Dinkle, of Portland, Oregon, invite Comrade Stalin to their wedding. Yes, he’s been dead for decades, but so what? They send off a neatly embossed invitation, all the way to Moscow. After all, what can it hurt?

A few days later, and much to their ecstatic surprise, Comrade Stalin accepts their invitation. Ludmilla and Oliver jump for joy. Truly, Comrade Stalin showers the people with a boundless, fraternal affection.

However, Comrade Stalin—whose unparalleled ability to ferret out careerism, corruption, and treason is legendary—has discovered that the happy couple is not all that they appear to be. Once again, it is Comrade Stalin’s solemn duty to protect the workers, peasants, and working intellectuals from the malignant forces of counterrevolution and bourgeois deviationism.

Truly it has been said that no one has ever found a substitute for stalwart vigilance.

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“Comrade Stalin Goes to Church, Special Edition”

Many decades after his death in 1953, Comrade Stalin finds himself in an Orthodox church, locked in a furious debate with St. Seraphim of Sarov, one of Russia’s more popular saints.

As a former seminarian and dedicated Marxist revolutionary, Comrade Stalin is able to make his case against the Church; however, he is up against a man of limitless spiritual insight and deep religiosity. St. Seraphim, both as a man and as a saint, possesses an intensely rational mind and unparalleled courage.

It would also seem that being dead for many, many decades has provided both men with unexpected experiences and equally unexpected insights.

St. Seraphim of Sarov (1754–1833; canonized in 1903) is a popular Russian saint, both inside and outside of Russia. His discussion with Motovilov in the snow has come down to us. Known primarily within Eastern Orthodox Christianity, it forms one of the key treatises on the Holy Spirit and the purpose of the Christian life, namely, to acquire the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.

As with Stalin, my depiction of St. Seraphim is wildly at odds with the historical figure. For one thing, I doubt that St. Seraphim was plagued by the degree of doubt depicted here. For another, I have vastly understated his powers of perception, spiritual insight, and loving kindness. He was, indeed, a true staretz.

As far as I know, Sima is the accepted Russian diminutive of Seraphim.

Soso was one of Stalin’s nicknames, especially in his younger years.

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“Comrade Stalin Goes to Mars, Special Edition”

The scientists created him, a clone of Comrade Stalin. The politicians deployed him, a weapon to vanquish the rising tide of global chaos. He smiles, everyone’s beloved Uncle Joe, and gets back to work. Right where he left off.

The music rings from his dacha, and the screams ring from the Lubyanka.

The cowards hadn’t counted on that. No, indeed. And so they exile Comrade Stalin to Mars.

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“Fr. Andrei Meets Comrade Stalin, Special Edition”

Quite unexpectedly, an Orthodox priest meets the ghost of Comrade Stalin. The ghost is sitting quietly in the priest’s church. Why? And what is St. Seraphim of Sarov’s role in all of this?

Primarily, the Russian branch of Orthodox Christianity followed two distinct paths to the United States. The first was the route from Alaska, which at one time was a Russian colony. The second was that it arrived with the various waves of Russian émigrés who fled the Bolsheviks and the Soviet Union. Greek, Serbian, and other national groups have brought their branches of Orthodoxy to the United States.

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