Prince of Central Planning

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Prince of Central Planning
AuthorVictor Pelevin
Publication date
Media typePrint (Paperback)

Prince of Central Planning (Russian: «Принц Госплана») is a novella by Viktor Pelevin, published in 1991 in Russia.[1][2][3]

Alexander Lapin is a programmer at a late-Soviet government agency who is fascinated by the computer game "Prince of Persia" and identifies with its unnamed character. The world of the game becomes a second reality for him, filled with dangers and enemies, the goal of which is to reach the beautiful and mysterious princess. At the same time, his reality coexists with others - co-workers also play computer games. At the same time being in the real world, he comes into contact with the worlds of "F-16 Combat Pilot", "M1 Tank Platoon", "Starglider". The main character is tormented by the question - what is the purpose of his life, is it real, or everything he sees - he sees through the screen of the monitor?[4][5]


The protagonist of the novel is Alexander Lapin, a young specialist who works in the IT department of the Gosplan. Along the way he plays one of the most popular games of his time - "Prince of Persia".[6]

"Prince of Persia" is one of the first computer games to appear somewhere in the early '90s, with a bookish, romantic plot and movie-like graphics. For the user this game is a real sensation. After all, the screen is no longer a circle eating dots on a black background, but colorful characters: a prince, janissaries with yatagans in turbans and picturesque clothes, a beautiful princess and an evil wizard in a sharp cap and gown. All the characters are perfectly "written out" and move smoothly, like in a classic cartoon like "Snow White". The hero must save the princess by overcoming a complex maze of corridors, traps and defeating all the guards.[5][7]

This game is interesting, but very complex, where various riddles are intertwined with dynamic action. It's not about the game, though. But in the life of Sasha Lapin. After all, long overdue for him to think about their own future.

What does his future hold? The same work and the same game? After all, if you try to imagine the future in terms of the game, each subsequent level as usual just a more difficult (for the player) version of the previous one.[8]

Why then strive forward? Is there an incentive to climb farther and farther? Sasha has that incentive - the princess, which will be a reward for the prince, when he reaches the very end of the game.

But after all, the game is not real life. In real life, no princess is waiting for Lapin. Although Sasha sometimes forgets so much that the world of the game becomes a real world for him. Even more real than the one in which Sasha lived before the game "Prince of Persia" appeared.[9]

In the world of the game, of course, life is much easier. The laws of the game are clear and simple. Not as in the real world, where everything is so confusing that even a lifetime to figure it out. Maybe it is because of the clarity of the game world is so attractive to humans that they are willing to easily swap it for the real world.[10][11]

However, if the game world can move to the real world, is it possible for the opposite to happen - when reality suddenly becomes a game. Alexander Lapin will have to answer this question, and in general to decide which world is real for him - real or fictional.

At the end, the main character will have to answer the questions. Who is he really an employee of the Gosplan or a prince? Does the princess exist and is it possible to get to her? Where is reality and where is only fiction? What is in fact the real world?[12]


  1. ^ "Prince of Central Planning". Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  2. ^ "Vladimir Vasilyev: Cyberpunk for Russians and non-Russians: Article". Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  3. ^ "Literature on the Margins: Russian Fiction in the Nineties".
  4. ^ Gritsenko, Daria. The Palgrave Handbook of Digital Russia Studies. Springer Nature. ISBN 978-3-030-42855-6.
  5. ^ a b Виктор Пелевин "Принц Госплана" (in Russian).
  6. ^ Андреевич, Катаев Филипп (2011). "Семантика и функции компьютерного дискурса в прозе Виктора Пелевина". Вестник Пермского университета. Российская и зарубежная филология (2). ISSN 2073-6681.
  7. ^ "Виктор Пелевин - Принц Госплана (Серый Критик) / Проза.ру". Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  8. ^ "Фрактальная логика Виктора Пелевина". Вопросы литературы (in Russian). Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  9. ^ Хромов, Алексей (2017-12-10). "Буддийский киберпанк: игры и виртуальность в творчестве Виктора Пелевина — Офтоп на DTF". DTF. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  10. ^ "Ксения Макеева "Творчество Виктора Пелевина" / Статьи / Виктор Пелевин :: сайт творчества". Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  11. ^ "Виктор Пелевин «Синий фонарь», 1993 год". 2017-10-21. Retrieved 2021-02-09.
  12. ^ Алексей (2015-05-27). "Критика. Загадки И Отгадки Виктора Пе6левина". Литературная Россия. Retrieved 2021-02-09.