Sergei Lukyanenko

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Sergei Vasilievich Lukyanenko
Lukyanenko in 2011
Lukyanenko in 2011
Born (1968-04-11) April 11, 1968 (age 53)
Karatau, Kazakhstan, USSR
OccupationPhysician, Writer,
Journalist, Blogger
GenreScience fiction, Fantasy
Notable worksLabyrinth of Reflections,
Night Watch series

Sergei Vasilievich Lukyanenko (Russian: Серге́й Васи́льевич Лукья́ненко, IPA: [sʲɪrˈɡʲej vɐˈsʲilʲjɪvʲɪtɕ lʊˈkʲjænʲɪnkə]; born 11 April 1968) is a Russian science fiction and fantasy author, writing in Russian. His works often feature intense action-packed plots, interwoven with the moral dilemma of keeping one's humanity while being strong.

Recently his works have been adapted into film productions, for which he wrote the screenplays. He was also a blogger, keeping a blog at LiveJournal,[1] and posting both personal and public information or snippets of a book in progress. His first blog was discontinued on 11 July 2008 after a conflict with readers over the issue of foreign (American) adoptions of Russian children.[2][3] He started another blog a few days later, promising firmer moderation policies.[4]


Lukyanenko was born in Karatau, Kazakhstan, then a part of the Soviet Union. After graduating from school, he moved to Alma-Ata, and enrolled at the Alma-Ata State Medical Institute in 1986 majoring in psychotherapy. He had started writing as a student, and in 1992 had just started making money from it. During this time he became an active member in Russian fandom, visiting conventions and attending seminars all around the Soviet Union. In 1996 he moved to Moscow where he currently resides.[5]

Name transliteration[edit]

Lukyanenko's name is romanized as Sergey Lukianenko on the English version of his official website[5] and as Sergei Lukyanenko by his publisher on works translated into English.[6] Other spellings such as Sergey Lukyanenko are also found.[7]

Writing career[edit]

Early years[edit]

Lukyanenko started writing in the mid-1980s, and his first publication, the short story "Misconduct" ("Where The Mean Enemy Lurks", although written earlier, was published later), followed soon in 1988. Science fiction in the Soviet Union was exposed to political control, as it was viewed chiefly as a political tool rather than an art. In the late 1980s, however, it was viewed somewhat benevolently, and he was able to jump on the bandwagon of the state support, attending a number of literary seminars and publishing several novellas and short stories.

First works of this period show the clear influence of the Russian children's author and teacher Vladislav Krapivin, whose fan Lukyanenko remains up to this day. These works, such as the novella Eighth Color of Rainbow, feature the same themes of coming of age, loyalty and friendship, as well as teenage protagonists and a similar target audience. However, Lukyanenko soon moved from imitating Krapivin toward a more polemic view of his idealistic views of children and their interaction. In the 1994 novel Knights of 40 islands, Lukyanenko established himself as an author of the Goldingian tradition.

After dissolution of Soviet Union[edit]

After the dissolution of Soviet Union and the switch to the market economy, Russian authors now had to struggle with unfamiliar realities of a free publishing system. The hopes of a creative boom never materialized, as publishers were eager to exploit the lucrative pulp literature market (virtually nonexistent before) largely ignoring the existing literature establishment. This led to rather low confidence in domestic authors, and it was extremely hard to find a publisher ready to invest in a local writer.

Lukyanenko, though, fared somewhat better than the others, already having made something of a name in Russian science fiction circles.[8] Nascent computer networks (mainly FidoNet), distributing electronic copies of his works, also helped to create demand for printed versions. Another contribution was his writing style, combining intricate but captivating plots with deep intrigue and concentrated action.

His books at the time included the aforementioned Knights of the 40 Islands, plus Nuclear Dream, a collection of short stories and novellas, published in 1992, and two space opera trilogies: Line of Delirium, the setting of which was loosely based on that of the Master of Orion series of videogames, and the earlier Lord from Planet Earth, based on the dark setting brought forth in his early short stories (entitled A Splendid Faraway Universe). Autumn Visits, was also written during that time, when the author was struggling with depression.

Labyrinth of Reflections, a book heavily based on various internet subcultures and cyberpunk mythos, is another product of this period. Although Labyrinth is often labeled as cyberpunk, it is a rather straight romance story, hardly meeting Dozois criterion, and, more to the fact, was written when the author did not even have an Internet connection; all his internet knowledge was limited to FIDONet membership.

After moving from Kazakhstan to Moscow, he continued to write there, now often venturing into literary experiments – like the religiously themed alternative history dilogy Seekers of Heaven, where he experimented with language stylization. He also continued several series started in his earlier period, and started several new ones (often in his favorite genre of space opera) – like the Genome series, now featuring two novels (Genome and Dances on the Snow) and the Cripples novella, or The Stars Are Cold Toys dilogy, sharing the same themes with David Brin's Uplift series.


The novel Night Watch marked Lukyanenko's return to the fantasy genre, which he repeatedly visited during his career, but never ventured into seriously. Even in this novel he stayed in the less radical realm of urban fantasy; however, his gloomy but picturesque settings and vivid characters brought him a considerable success. He struck gold when improvements in the Russian economy permitted financing which revitalized a dormant domestic movie industry.

The 2004 film Night Watch (Nochnoy dozor), based on the book, was regarded as "the first Russian blockbuster." The film grossed over $16 million in Russia, a box office record at that time. In the United States, an adaptation of the film was released by Fox Searchlight.[9] The film Day Watch (Dnevnoy dozor) was released in Russia on January 1, 2006, and it was released in the US on June 1, 2007.[10]

He also released a number of sequels to the Watch series. In addition to the sequels, he published a short story Kid Watch (Melkiy dozor) featuring a teenage agent of the Day Watch who is also the son of a member of the Russian counter-intelligence service which monitors the Others.

Since then, a number of other movie adaptations of his books have been considered. To date, only one of these projects, a 2005 children's film Asiris Nuna, based on Today, Mother!, a humor novella coauthored with Yuly Burkin, has been completed; several other movies, however, seem to remain in production. In many of these projects Lukyanenko acts as both scriptwriter and consultant.

In the meantime, several other books have been released by him, such as the deeply philosophical, non-series novel Spectrum which deals with the themes of existentialism and omnipotence, among others. He also published a closely connected series, the novels Rough Draft and Final Draft.

Foreign releases[edit]

Until recently relatively few of Lukyanenko's works have been released outside of Russia, mostly in Baltic states, Bulgaria and Poland, countries with traditionally strong ties with Russian literature. Even fewer were commercially published in English. However, success of the movies finally changed the situation. Night Watch, translated by Andrew Bromfield, was published in English in July 2006,[11][12][13] Day Watch followed in January 2007,[14][15] Twilight Watch was published in July 2007. 2009 saw the international publication of Last Watch by Hyperion Press. Labyrinth of Reflections, published originally in 1997, was also translated and published in other languages.

Literary analysis[edit]

Lukyanenko himself said that his work has been heavily influenced by that of Robert A. Heinlein, the Strugatsky brothers and Vladislav Krapivin, and that he hopes to be remembered as a literary follower of the Strugatsky brothers. Although his books are often set in harsh worlds, Lukyanenko is a humanist writer, and in this sense believes he follows in the footsteps of the Strugatsky brothers.[16][5] In May 2000, Boris Strugatsky referred to the spirit of the brothers' books as "that goodness with fists, those tortured attempts by the heroes to remain kind while being strong", and added "this is the underlying theme for Lukyanenko: how to preserve your goodness in the world of evil when you are strong and well-armed."[17]

Position on copyright and politics[edit]

Lukyanenko has been known as an avid supporter of copyright, as seen from his statement during the large meeting of various authors and business people titled "Copyright defense on internet" in 2013. During this meeting, he complained that "only 1% of all downloads of his latest book were legal downloads".[18]

On his website and in his blog Lukyanenko has repeatedly spoken out against the adoption of Russian orphans by foreigners, especially by Americans.[19] He welcomed the bill banning US adoption of Russian children.[20] This bill was adopted in response of Magnitsky Act.

Consistently promoting sharply anti-Ukrainian views in his books, Lukyanenko was critical of the Euromaidan movement, saying that what will follow it will be a forced Ukrainization, which is "as much of a crime as a forced sex change". Lukyanenko, having Ukrainian ancestry himself, threatens authors who support the Euromaidan that he will make every effort to prevent their books being published in Russia.[21] He also forbade the translation of his books into Ukrainian.[22]

He welcomed the annexation of the Crimea to the Russian Federation.[23]

Earlier Lukyanenko boycotted Denmark because of the culling of a giraffe at the Copenhagen Zoo.[24]



Year Awarder Award
1993 "Aelita" "Start Award" for his tale Atomny son (Атомный сон – Nuclear Dream)
1995 "Interpresscon" short form "Interpresscon Award" for his short story Fugu v mundirePoached fugu
"Sibcon" "Sword of Rumatha" Award for "Knights of forty islands" novel
1996 "Interpresscon" "Interpresscon Award" for "Servant" tale
1997 "Stranger" "Sword of Rumatha" Award for "Imperiors of Illusions" dilogy
1998 "SF Forum" "Sigma-F" Award for "Autumn Visits" novel
"Zilantkon" Award "Big Zilant" for "Labyrinth of Reflections" novel
1999 "Aelita" "Aelita" award for general progress in the Science Fiction genre
"Stranger" "Stranger" award in the nomination "Major form" for "Night Watch" novel
"Star Bridge" "Silver Kladutsey" award in the nomination "Serials and sequels" for "False Mirrors" novel
"Star Bridge" "Silver Kladutsey" award in the nomination "Major form" for "Night Watch" novel
2000 "Interpresscon" "Interpresscon" award in the nomination "Major form" for "False Mirrors" novel
Special Award "Best literature murder of Yury Semetsky" for "Genome" novel
"Star Bridge" "Gold Kladutsey" award in the nomination "Serials and sequels" for "Day Watch" novel
Special Award from the "Kharkov's institute crankes" award for outstanding merits in the Science Fiction
2001 "Russcon" "Gold Russcon" award for "Day Watch" novel
"Interpresscon" "Russian S.F." award for "Seekers of the Sky" dilogy
"Lituanikon" 1st place in the nomination "best novel of foreign author"
"Star Bridge" "Silver Kladutsey" award in the nomination "Serials and sequels" for "Morning Nears" novel
"Stranger" "Stranger" award in the nomination "Minor form" for "Evening conference with Mr Separate Deputy" short story
2002 "Ruscon" "Alisa" award for "Dances in the Snow" novel
"Interpresscon" "Interpresscon" award in the nomination "Minor form" for "From fate" short story
2003 "Ruscon" "Gold russcon" award for "Spectrum" novel
"Ruscon" "Silver russcon" award for "Frontier time" short story
"Kiyvcon "Big Urania" award for "Spectrum" novel
"SF Forum" "Sigma-F" Award for "Spectrum" novel
"Interpresscon" "Bronze snail" award in the nomination "Major form" for "Spectrum" novel
"Interpresscon" "Interpresscon" award in the nomination "Major form" for "Spectrum" novel
"EuroCon-2003" Sergey Lukyanenko admitted as the best Europe author
"Star Bridge" "Gold Kladutsey" award in the nomination "Major form" for "Spectrum" novel
2004 "Star Bridge" "Gold Kladutsey" award in the nomination "Serials and sequels" for "Twilight Watch" novel
2005 "Ruscon" "SF writer of the year"


  1. ^ Lukyanenko, Sergei. Судовой журнал Доктора Ливси. LiveJournal (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2014-05-06.
  2. ^ Сергей Лукьяненко ушел из ЖЖ. Lenta.Ru (in Russian). 12 July 2008.
  3. ^ Lukyanenko, Sergei (11 July 2007). Хорошо. Вы меня убедили. [Ok. You have convinced me.]. LiveJournal (in Russian). Archived from the original on 14 July 2008.
  4. ^ Lukyanenko, Sergei. Приемный Покой Доктора Пилюлькина. LiveJournal (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2013-01-09.
  5. ^ a b c "Sergey Lukianenko. Official site".
  6. ^ Lukyanenko, Sergei (2007-06-13). The Twilight Watch. ISBN 978-1401360214.
  7. ^ "Sergey Lukyanenko. Science Fiction Writer. Official Web Page". Russian Science Fiction & Fantasy.
  8. ^ McGuire, Patrick L. (January 2012). "Lukyanenko's Genom: Breezes through the Reopened Window on the West". The New York Review of Science Fiction. 24 (5): 12–17.
  9. ^ "Night Watch". Fox Searchlight. Archived from the original on 2012-02-19.
  10. ^ "Release dates for Dnevnoy dozor (2006)". IMDb.
  11. ^ Lukyanenko, Sergei (2006-07-26). Night Watch, US. ISBN 978-1401359799.
  12. ^ Night Watch, UK, paperback. ASIN 0434014125.
  13. ^ Night Watch, UK, hardcover. ASIN 0434016098.
  14. ^ Lukyanenko, Sergei; Lukʹi︠a︡Nenko, Sergeĭ; Лукьяненко, Сергей; Vasiliev, Vladimir (2006). Day Watch, US, paperback. ISBN 978-1401360207.
  15. ^ Day Watch, UK, paperback. ASIN 0434014435.
  16. ^ Royfe, Aleksandr (May 1998). "Сергей Лукьяненко: 'Жить нормально могу только в России'" [Sergei Lukyanenko: `I can live a normal life only in Russia`].
  17. ^ "OFF-LINE интервью с Борисом СТРУГАЦКИМ" [OFF-LINE interview with Boris Strugatsky]. Russian Science Fiction & Fantasy :Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. May 2000.
  18. ^ "Эксперты обсудили защиту интеллектуальных прав в интернете". RIA Novosti. 6 April 2013.
  19. ^ "Sergei Lukyanenko about the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens".
  20. ^ "Приемный Покой Доктора Пилюлькина - Занимательная дискуссия". Archived from the original on 23 March 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  21. ^ "Приемный Покой Доктора Пилюлькина - Я все сказал уже давно". Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  22. ^ ЗАО ИД «Комсомольская правда» (2014-02-24). "Сергей Лукьяненко о событиях на Украине: "Насильная дерусификация - это такое же преступление, как насильственная смена пола"". ЗАО ИД «Комсомольская правда». Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  23. ^ "Приемный Покой Доктора Пилюлькина - Кратко и не кратко". Archived from the original on 18 March 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
  24. ^ "Приемный Покой Доктора Пилюлькина - Два мира - два жирафа". Archived from the original on 10 February 2014. Retrieved 9 July 2015.


External links[edit]

Preceded by ESFS award for Best Author
Succeeded by