Ivan Yefremov

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Ivan Antonovich Yefremov
Ivan Yefremov.jpg
Born22 April 1908
Vyritsa, Saint Petersburg Governorate, Russian Empire
Died5 October 1972(1972-10-05) (aged 64)
Leningrad, RSFSR, USSR
Occupationpaleontologist, writer
Alma materLeningrad Mining Institute
GenreScience fiction, historical novel

Ivan Antonovich (real patronymic Antipovich) Yefremov (Russian: Ива́н Анто́нович (Анти́пович) Ефре́мов; April 22, 1908 – October 5, 1972), last name sometimes spelled Efremov, was a Soviet paleontologist, science fiction author and social thinker. He is the originator of the concept of taphonomy, the study of fossilization patterns.


He was born in the village of Vyritsa in Saint Petersburg Governorate on April 9 (22), 1908. His parents divorced during the Russian Revolution. His mother married a Red Army commander and left the children in Kherson to be cared for by an aunt who soon died of typhus. Yefremov survived on his own for some time, after which he joined a Red Army unit as a "son of the regiment" and went to Perekop with it. In 1921, he was discharged and went to Petrograd (today's Saint Petersburg) to study. He completed his education there while combining his studies with a variety of odd jobs. He later commented that "the Revolution was also my own liberation from philistinism" ("Революция была также и моим освобождением от мещанства").

In 1924, due to the influence of academician Petr Petrovich Sushkin, he became interested in paleontology. Yefremov entered the Leningrad State University but dropped out later. In mid-1930s, he took part in several paleontological expeditions to the Volga region, the Urals, and Central Asia. He headed a research laboratory at the Institute of Paleontology. In 1935, he took exit examinations and graduated from the Leningrad Mining Institute. The same year he got his Candidate of Science degree in biological sciences. In 1941, he got his doctorate degree in biological sciences.

Дом 4 на улице Губкина, в котором жил И. Ефремов с 1962 года до конца жизни

In the 1940s, Yefremov developed a new scientific field called taphonomy, for which he was awarded the Stalin prize in 1952. His book Taphonomy was published in 1950. He applied many taphonomic principles in his field work during a paleontological expedition to the Gobi desert in Mongolia. During these years, he was recognized as a successful scientist and won a state science award.

Algis Budrys compared Yefremov's fiction style to that of Hugo Gernsback.[1] Yefremov wrote his first work of fiction, a short story, in 1944. His first novel The Land of Foam (Great Arc, 1946) was published in 1946. His most widely recognized science fiction novel Andromeda Nebula came out in 1957. This book is a panegyric to utopian "communist" future of mankind. The society developed such that there is no material inequality between individuals, and each person is able to pursue their self-development unrestricted. The intergalactic communication system binds mankind into the commonwealth of sentient civilizations of the Universe - the Great Ring of Civilizations. The book became a moral guideline for many people in the Soviet Union. Besides the heavy didactic aspect, the book also contained an interesting space travel adventure subplot, so a lot of people appreciated it for its educational and entertainment value.

Personal life[edit]

Yefremov was married three times. His first marriage in the early 1930s, to Ksenia Svitalskaya, was short-lived and ended in divorce. In 1936, he married paleontologist Elena Dometevna Konzhukova, with whom they had a son, Allan Ivanovich Yefremov. After his wife died on 1 August 1961, he married Taisiya Iosifovna Yukhnevskaya in 1962. His last novel Thais of Athens, which was posthumously published in 1973, is dedicated to her.


A minor planet 2269 Efremiana discovered in 1976 by Soviet astronomer Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh is named after him.[2]



Short fiction


Scientific works[edit]

Ivan Yefremov has written more than 100 scientific works, especially about Permian tetrapods found in Russia, and on taphonomy. Only few of them were published in languages other than Russian. Below is a list of the works published in German or English. Source - the book "Ivan Antonovich Yefremov" by Petr Tchudinov (issued in 1987 by the Publishing House "Nauka", Moscow)

  • Bentosaurus sushkini, ein neuer Labyrinthodont aus den Permo-Triassischen Ablagerungen des Scharchenga-Flussess, Nord-Duna Gouvernement, Izvestia Akademii Nauk SSSR (Proceedings of Acad. Sci. USSR. Phys. and Math.), N. 8, P. 757-770 (1929)
  • Über die Labyrinthodonten der UdUSSR. II. Permische Labyrinthodonten des früheren Gouvernement Wjatka, Trudy Paleozoologicheskogo Instituta (Proceedings of Paleozoological Institute), Vol. 2, P. 117-158 (1933)
  • Some new Permian reptiles of the USSR, Comptes Rendus (Doklady) Acad. Sci. USSR. Paleontol., Vol 19, N 9, P. 771-776 (1938)
  • Die Mesen-Fauna der Permischen Reptilien, Neues Jahrb. Min. Geol. Pal., Bd. 84. Abt. B, S.379-466 (1940)
  • Kurze Übersicht uber die Formen der Perm- und Trias Tetrapoden - Fauna der UdSSR, Centralbl. Min. Geol., Abt. B. N 12, S. 372-383 (1940)
  • Taphonomy: a new branch of Paleontology, Pan-Amer. Geol., Vol. 74, P. 81-93 (1940)
  • Ulemosaurus svijagensis Riab. - ein Deinocephale aus den Ablagerungen des Perm der UdSSR, Nove Acta Leopold. (N. F.). Bd 9, S. 155-205 (1940)
  • The Godwana system of India, and the live history in the later Paleozoic, J. Paleontol. Soc. India, Lucknow D.N. Wadia Jubilee number, Vol. 2, P. 24-28 (1957)
  • Some consideration on biological bases of Paleontology, Vertebr. Palasiatica, Vol 2, N. 2/3, P. 83-99 (1958)


  1. ^ Budrys, Algis (September 1968). "Galaxy Bookshelf". Galaxy Science Fiction. pp. 187–193.
  2. ^ Schmadel, Lutz D. (2003). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names. books.google.com (5th ed.). New York: Springer Verlag. p. 176. ISBN 3-540-00238-3.

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