A. Joachim Glage
Greatly influential are the books that everybody reads (or tries to read) but no one fully understands; far fainter is the influence exerted by those works that everyone knows but nobody reads. Joyce's Ulysses, Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit, and certain books of the Bible may fall into the former category (they once did at any rate; perhaps they no longer do). The second, less appraisable group—at least for those readers who have taken an interest, not only in the theory of narrative, but also in what is still and somewhat curiously called "science fiction" today—would have to include a little-studied work by Dmitry Shkolnikov, published in 1903 under the excruciating title, The Eighteen Possible Plots of Fantastic and Scientific Story Over the Next One-Hundred Years.
As is probably already known by most readers of the present note, Shkolnikov's book—a slender volume of little more than a hundred brittle pages, issued in royal octavo by Lawrence & Sons of London in a single run of only two hundred copies—would likely still be languishing in near-perfect obscurity had it not been for Darko Suvin's now famous article on the subject (published, remarkably, only once and as an appendix to the twentieth anniversary edition of Suvin's own most celebrated work of narrative theory, Metamorphoses of Science Fiction). That essay, called simply "Dmitry Shkolnikov's Astonishing Predictions," is Suvin's definitive (and sole) statement on the concept of "science fictional criticism," i.e., criticism that not only is about science fiction, but also aspires to be a kind of science fiction in its own right. That is, after all, what Shkolnikov's book all but proclaimed to be with its fabulous first sentence:
My simple purpose in these pages is to divine the fundamental structures and themes of all the stories that will be told over the next century by future artists of the fantastic.
The "fantastic"—or the "fantastic and scientific," as he more clumsily calls it sometimes—is of course Shkolnikov's term for what we would now recognize as science fiction proper, that literary genre that had been pulled into existence by the likes of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne and Mary Shelley, and whose most characteristic device—the imagining of strange futures—Shkolnikov deployed quite deliberately in the execution of his own work. "For whatever else it is," Suvin writes, "The Eighteen Possible Plots is also an instance of that rarest and most speculative form of literary history, namely, a literary history of the future"  (at least from the vantage point of the book's publication at the turn of the twentieth century). Let us quote Shkolnikov again:
My simple purpose in these pages is to divine the fundamental structures and themes of all the stories that will be told over the next century by future artists of the fantastic. As it happens, those stories can be reduced in principle to only eighteen basic plots, which I shall describe—in terms suitably broad to such an endeavor, for each plot can be manipulated into various and sundry forms—in the following eighteen chapters. Each chapter heading is also the title I give to the root narrative discussed in that section.
Was this structuralism avant la lettre? The concepts of "basic plot" and "root narrative" might suggest such a thing, and indeed it may be that Shkolnikov's prophecies involve not just literature but the human sciences more generally. But, regardless, the eccentricity of Shkolnikov's writing, as well as its fancifully prophetic and "science fictional" character, can scarcely be disputed. In order to give the reader a better sense of the flavor of this rare book (since hard copies are exceedingly difficult to come by), I reproduce below a scan of the whole of the book's front matter, including the table of contents, so that you may glimpse for yourself the strangeness of those eighteen chapter headings.
Before undertaking any deeper examination of the mysteries of The Eighteen Possible Plots, it is necessary first to dispense with two immediate and interrelated questions. Each of these preliminary questions has both a simple answer and a more complex one. Here is the first question: Why, if almost no one has read it, is the existence of The Eighteen Possible Plots so widely known (at least among those readers who take seriously the scholarly consideration of the forms and the history of science fiction)? The simple answer can be summed up tidily in the name of Darko Suvin, whose preeminence as a theorist of science fiction is indisputable, and whose 1999 essay on the topic of Shkolnikov's book received a good deal of critical attention (indeed the twentieth anniversary reissue of Metamorphoses of Science Fiction, where the essay appears, was something of a momentous event in and of itself, at least within certain academic circles). The more complicated answer to the question has to do with Suvin's actual findings: for what is most "astonishing" about Shkolnikov's book, according to Suvin—who normally had no special interest in prophecies or in the predictive qualities of science fiction—is just how incredibly accurate its visions of the future have proved to be (so accurate, in fact, that at least one critic has gone as far as to suggest that the book might be a hoax). Over the course of his essay, Suvin tallies up no less than 148 "major works of science fiction"—not only stories and novels, but films and television programs too—that appear to have been successfully predicted, in whole or in part, by The Eighteen Possible Plots. Naturally it is not my objective in this note to rehearse all of those findings; I would simply adduce, as an especially interesting example, the case of chapter two, called "The Distant Outpost," in which Shkolnikov describes one of his plots as follows:
Just as there shall always be a periphery to the known world, an outer limit where our knowledge dims, so shall there always be the first-explorers beyond those limits. H. G. Wells and Jules Verne have already begun telling proper stories about such first-explorers. The natural sequel to these tales, then, will involve the second-comers to such outer realms. Here is how it shall be: Something strange has happened at one of those distant extremities, something mysterious—perhaps the protagonists of the story have lost touch with the original team of explorers, or they've received communications from them which are incomprehensible, or oddly out of character, or even monstrous—and thus a second team must be dispatched in order to discover what has happened. (Naturally this plot may be reversed as well: the distant outpost begins to receive strange communications from the homeland, thus signifying some horrifying change there.)
It is uncertain whether Shkolnikov had already read Heart of Darkness (first published in 1899) when he wrote these lines, but the basic plot described here is surely comparable to that of Conrad's novella, which has exerted a profound influence over modern authors of science fiction. Suvin rightly points out that Clarke's 2001 and 2010, as well as such films as Alien and Event Horizon, all make use of this same "root narrative," in which "a disaster or something baffling has happened way out far from home, thus compromising the first group of humans to have reached that remote location; now a second group must go to investigate . . ."
The second preliminary question that must be addressed is similar to the first, but is subtler. Really it is the same question, but now in reverse: Why, if Shkolnikov's book is widely known, does no one bother to read it? The simple answer is its physical scarcity, of course. As I've already mentioned there are precious few copies of the text still in existence, and for better or worse no one has yet thought to republish it. More complicated is the second answer, which I shall put as follows: No one reads The Eighteen Possible Plots because its success was also its failure. That is to say: since its predictions have in fact come to pass, the book's properly speculative energies are now depleted. The text has become, to use Bachelard's formulation, one of those "dead documents of a past period, untimely when written, and boring now."
Suvin, too, has his detractors, who argue that any claims regarding Shkolnikov's "successful predictions" are themselves unsupportable, and that The Eighteen Possible Plots must therefore be regarded as a failure, root and branch. One might respond to those critiques by pointing out that most of them amount to mere refutations of prophecy as such; Professor Kaufman's, for example, insists that any attempt to find successful predictions in Shkolnikov's awkward prose would be "akin to deciphering a quatrain by Nostradamus: you can read more or less anything you like into it." Then there's Ray Bradbury's gentler rebuke, made shortly before his death: "Type enough words, wait long enough, and then watch as more of your predictions come true every year." Even Stanislaw Lem, who made a few literary predictions of his own (at least in fictional form), weighed in on the Shkolnikov controversy: "The future is a big target, the biggest in fact. Throw a dart in its general direction and it's bound to stick somewhere."
I will insist here, however, that the most profound reason nobody bothers to read The Eighteen Possible Plots today is that the book appears to lack any discernible, reproducible method. In spite of Shkolnikov's prefatory remarks to the contrary (he actually boasts of the methodological rigor of his predictions), it would seem that his ideas are more or less haphazard, capricious at the very least, not unlike the loose and wide-ranging dreams of a failed writer. Nevertheless, let us hear him out:
The technique that governs the bulk of these speculations is one that I've drawn from H. G. Wells and C. H. Hinton, whose sympathies with each other are so evident that I've even suspected them of being one and the same man. One need only read the opening pages of both Wells's The Time Machine and Hinton's Scientific Romances to see the clear affinity between those two giants. The technique that I speak of, then, to borrow a tidy phrase from Hinton himself, consists simply of "supposing away" a limitation that has been placed upon our current state of existence; by engaging in such imaginative operations, "a state of being can be conceived with powers far transcending our own." And while Hinton believed that such mental exercises would allow us to conceive of new spatial dimensions, I have employed this method for peering into the time still to come. I sometimes refer to this mental tactic as the logic of the sequel.
Of course Shkolnikov gives us little to no guidance on how this "logic of the sequel" is actually to be put into practice. The excerpt reproduced below, however, from the chapter titled "The Unveiled Mind," gives as good a picture as any of Shkolnikov's "method" in action. He begins with a simple empirical observation, one of somewhat narrow scientific interest: "The Seismological Society of Japan has recently developed instruments so finely calibrated that they can detect the vibrations of an earthquake even before it occurs." Having established that technological premise, Shkolnikov then proceeds to "suppose away" the "limitation" presented by the substantive "earthquake," and imagines in its place—or rather, he imagines the writers of the future imagining—something far more fantastic:
The new machines [in the literature of the future] will be so sensitive that they will be capable of detecting the vibrations of human thought; indeed they will be capable not only of detecting them but also of recording them, reproducing them, and finally transmitting them instantaneously to all of the other thought-detecting machines on the planet (for, once discovered, such technology is bound to be multiplied and interconnected), and eventually they will communicate this data directly to all other human consciousnesses as well—a confluence out of which, finally, God Himself will arise, new born, the true Son of man, and an infallible social peace will then ensue (or maybe the end of the world, biblically they are the same thing). A variant of this theme will propose something like the opposite, with a more demonic essence rising up from that fresh sea of thought. This new villain of the piece will be a more curtailed force than God, to be sure, but it will be no less transformative, as it will seek to turn humanity into a mere element of itself, making our species into a base utility or substance from which to draw its own supervening life. That villain will be called Satan, or maybe some very ordinary name like John or Smith (it emerges out of our accumulated thoughts, after all), and its weapon will be the thought-detecting machines themselves, which it will use to throw forth its illusions. In this same vein there will be the makings-literal of Marxism, fantasies that will be indistinguishable from parodies, and in which not just private property but privacy as such will be utterly abolished by the new technology. Since all human minds shall be exposed to each other, all formerly conflicting purposes will gradually converge into one, and class divisions will be among the first to fall away. The whole human race, in other words, will be converted into a great individual in these tales—a Leviathan, infinitely-limbed, but of one mind. Probably some simple and perfect geometrical shape, a circle or a cube, will be the symbol for this new collective. There may also be bands of uncertain heroes who rebel or otherwise seek to preserve their own individual privacies in the face of that growing, indissoluble crowd.
Is there any method in all this dreaming? Probably not. But then, as Suvin has pointed out, these imaginings are remarkably prescient for someone writing in 1903. The Matrix (1999), for example, seems well predicted here: Shkolnikov at least gets its central premise correct (evil forces using machines and illusions to subdue the interconnected minds of the human race so that they might fuel themselves), and he even manages to predict the very name—Smith!—of the primary villain. One can also readily find the Borg from Star Trek anticipated in the passage above: Shkolnikov not only describes the obliteration of individual consciousness in that purely collective society, he even gets the cube right! Other modern sci-fi novels are also suggested remarkably well by this single paragraph (see, e.g., Gibson's Neuromancer or Orton's New Europa trilogy). At the very least it would not be outlandish to ask: Has anyone ever predicted future stories with more accuracy than Shkolnikov?
But is he predicting only literature, or the future itself? Sometimes it is difficult to tell. In some places (as in the passage just cited) he has all the assurance and grandeur of Fourier; in others he adopts a far humbler tone: "[t]he logic of the sequel, the simple removing of this or that limitation in one's mind, is often but a half-step into the future, a glimpse only an hour or so ahead." Regardless, it seems that everyone will agree—including Suvin himself—that The Eighteen Possible Plots, at least at the methodological level, is ultimately unsatisfying. The accuracy of its predictions cannot save it on that count.
As far as I know only one contemporary review of The Eighteen Possible Plots was ever published: a single unsigned paragraph in The London Round-Up on November 8th, 1903. In my estimation, this review, though caustic, gets mostly right the central flaw of the book, and it is worth reproducing in full:
It is not just the hypotheses proposed by Dmitry Shkolnikov's new book that are worthless (though they are, for reasons I shall clarify). It is also and more seriously the ludicrous pretense that any sort of methodical rule or procedure could have informed them. This pointless book is composed of eighteen pointless chapters, in which the author blithely proclaims the power to predict the future of so-called "fantastic" literature, and even goes so far as to advise his readers of all of the "basic plots" that will be written in that genre in the century to come. As it happens there are only eighteen of them. Why there shall be such a dearth of stories in the future the author never explains. But even setting that foolishness aside, the perfect futility of the book becomes evident upon just cursory reflection. For if Shkolnikov's predictions are correct (let us suppose he has some magic crystal ball), then his book accomplishes nothing but a spoiling of the surprise; whereas if they are wrong (for there is no such thing as a magic crystal ball), then his eighteen chapters constitute little more than the typical trash heap of false prophecies. As I mentioned, though, his most egregious error was to have supposed that such nonsense could have had any legitimate intellectual method. His "technique" he claims to have borrowed from C. H. Hinton (who is equally mad, but even more laborious), and it involves the imaginative "supposing away" of "limitations." And what is a "limitation?" Anything that exists! Anything that is, any condition or thing or idea or word. Alas, if the future was so transparent, and so simple a thing to divine, we'd all be rich from speculation by now. The Eighteen Possible Plots of Fantastic and Scientific Story Over the Next One Hundred Years is a contribution neither to philosophy nor to literature, nor even to prophecy. I predict the future will not be kind to it.
And yet—there still are mysteries that swirl about The Eighteen Possible Plots, mysteries that may well make it an object of great and ongoing fascination. At least one of those mysteries is about to be revealed in this very note. But let us first consider the man himself: What do we really know about the astonishing Dmitry Shkolnikov?
There are no photographs of him, at least none that have survived. The biographical information that we do possess is scant: we have no birth record, there are no known relatives (he had no offspring, as we'll see), and we know of no other publications from him besides The Eighteen Possible Plots. We do not know his ancestry (though his name suggests Russian origins), only that he appears to have been fluent in both French and English and lived for some time in Paris. We have a handful of letters he wrote to Henri Bergson (they are among the philosopher's personal papers that can be reviewed with permission at the Bergson Center at the Collège de France), as well as a diary entry or two, made by this or that intellectual of the time, which mention him by name (both Jean Bourdeau and Georges Sorel apparently knew him personally). Indeed it would seem that Dmitry Shkolnikov regularly mingled among the intelligentsia in Paris in the first decade of the twentieth century, and made frequent appearances at social events thrown by the Collège where Bergson and other famous professors were often among the guests. Somehow, though, Shkolnikov has remained a ghost. To my knowledge, the only existing description of the man is to be found in a memoir by one Isadora Marceau, a Parisian socialite who was a regular acquaintance of Bergson's. In chapter twelve of that memoir, Marceau recounts meeting one "Dimitri Skolnikoff" on Bergson's balcony during an evening soirée:
He was a striking figure to look at, a slight man of only medium height, but with a wide-eyed green gaze and jagged, variously-colored teeth and a perfectly-shaped triangular beard that he kept flattened and glistening with oils. He smelled faintly of shallots. His pale face blushed easily, and there were little red and blue vessels visible along the tops of his cheekbones, as if something had burst there just beneath the skin, or as if just that part of him, just his face, was straining to exist, or perhaps had come from the sea and was still ill-adjusted to the bright and gaseous simplicity that lay above the surface. His shapely nose and bulging eyes only intensified my impression that he was, secretly, some form of sea life, come perhaps to learn of what we landwalkers are made, of what salt and what mettle. To my surprise, he and Bergson were in fact discussing marine animals when I approached them on the balcony (surely the good professor had brought the topic up himself; I recall that during this period Bergson would lecture anyone who cared to listen about the similarities between the structures of the human eye and those of the eye of the squid). At that particular moment, Skolnikoff was just concluding some sort of Marxist allegory about the "power relations" between sharks and fish; I remember he ended his speech, which drew a laugh from Henri, with an outburst somewhat like the following: "Sharks appear to be more powerful than fish, and indeed in many respects they are, they feast upon them after all; and yet it is also evident that the shark depends upon the fish, and so occupies a structurally inferior position: the fish don't need the shark!"
There was something so strange about him, this Dimitri Skolnikoff; he seemed to be not wholly at home in his own body, the way his head bobbed and his fingers nervously formed shapes on either side of his face while he spoke—almost like he wasn't really talking to you at all, or as if he were signaling to hovering spirits that only he could see. There was an unlikely youthfulness about him, too—I mean he was awkward in that way that comes from being too-limber and soft-muscled and prone to enthusiasm, all fits and starts, all elbows and knees, like a marionette, or a pup not yet grown into its paws. Henri introduced me; Skolnikoff clasped my hand and suddenly lurched forward a step, drawing our two faces—his seemed now filled with sadness—close together. He spat some melodious nonsense into my ear (he may have been drunk), something more or less like: "All the forces that make up human existence are jealous of each other, and none more so than happiness, especially the happiness that is mine right in this moment, which anyway is only a portal of death." I recall I pulled back at this; I'm certain Skolnikoff was pleased by my response, for he flashed a piebald smile and then added: "Once she gets into you she will replace every other plan and dream you've ever had, and all before the moon is full." I don't know if he meant happiness or death (or me) in that last bit; regardless, I promptly excused myself and avoided Skolnikoff for the rest of the evening.
Years later I would learn, from Jacques Rivière, that Skolnikoff was a virgin, and had died as such only a month or so after Bergson's party. According to Rivière he often boasted of the fact: "The chastity of a house cat," he apparently liked to say; and: "Oh this unconquered heart of mine!" Somehow this detail—which, in spite of Skolnikoff's strangeness, I would not have guessed at the time—has since warmed me to his fading memory. Every now and then I even feel a touch of regret for snubbing him that night.
But now, finally, I come to my foremost purpose in making this report. You may be perplexed, to be sure, that it's taken me this long to get to my true subject matter; has everything in this note up until now been mere preparation for the thing I am about to unveil? Probably no answer to this question will satisfy you, so I'll get to it.
Six months ago, while in Paris, I made a startling discovery. While I was browsing in a bookshop that lay all but hidden down one of those alleys that have no light but half-light in the sixth arrondissement (I do not recall the name of the bookseller; even more maddening is that Gérard, my traveling companion at the time, insists now that we were not in Paris at all that day, but rather in Saint-Germain-en-Laye), I discovered, on a shelf full of other antique volumes, a copy of Shkolnikov's book—in French. The French title, however, was different; it read: Les Dix-neuf possibles intrigues d'histoires fantastiques et scientifiques dans les prochaines cent années. Frantically I opened the book and scanned the table of contents; it appeared to be a perfect transcription of the English version, with only one modification: a nineteenth chapter had indeed been added. The new chapter was called La Dialectique à l'envers, which I translate as "The Dialectic in Reverse" (this rendering, as should soon become clear, is superior to "Dialectic Upside Down," which may at first seem equally plausible). I paid the bookseller the exorbitant sum he asked for, and then hurried back to my hotel to study the text. The book had been published in 1909 by Larousse in Paris. No translator is named anywhere in the front matter, and I can only assume that Shkolnikov himself did the job. As far as I can tell, but for the nineteenth chapter, the book is an exact translation of the Lawrence & Sons edition.
Naturally my copy of the French version will have to be authenticated (and for that reason you will be within your rights if you conclude that this whole note of mine has been premature). But if I've jumped the gun it's only because I wanted to ensure that I would be the very first to introduce English-speaking readers to the nineteenth plot that Dmitry Shkolnikov foresaw (a prophecy that he made, apparently, shortly before his death, which also took place in 1909). I will not bother quoting the text at great length; the new chapter is longer than all of the others by at least half, so for the most part I shall paraphrase instead. The chapter begins with Shkolnikov narrating what he calls "a typical dialectical progression" (I translate as best I can from the French):
Imagine an early human society, some fifty-thousand years ago. An earthquake happens. How do they interpret this? Naturally they reach for empirical concepts that are ready to hand: Surely it's some giant beast deep in the ground, stirring in its sleep! Many thousands of years later, as humans progress to the religious or spiritual stage, such cataclysms are conceived as the just or capricious punishments of the gods, with Nature itself being colored by a moral aspect. Finally, as they progress to a properly scientific and conceptual stage, during which the moral dimension of Nature is eradicated, the quaking ground is attributed to nothing more than the broad shapes and mechanisms of the earth itself, which is governed solely by the impersonal laws of matter.
This "typical dialectical progression" can thus be represented as a development that proceeds along the following path:
MONSTER -> GOD -> SCIENCE
Shkolnikov's nineteenth plot, then, will be this very same progression, only now condensed and played in reverse. That is to say: An earthquake happens, and we assume it's to be explained scientifically, like any other earthquake; but then something strange occurs—the epicenter begins moving from place to place, the tremors manifest where there are no fault lines, etc.—such that there seems to be no proper scientific explanation for the phenomenon at all, which grows more violent by the day, and even begins bringing whole cities to the ground. This causes great panic among the people, who soon turn religious; they begin praying to God in the streets; they believe that surely this is Judgment Day, the world is going to end:
But lo! It is finally revealed: the cause of the tremors has in fact been a monster all along! A giant and ancient beast has been awakened after thousands of years of sleep; it has been rummaging about beneath the ground; it will now burst free and ravage the human world.
Shades of Toho! If nothing else, this nineteenth plot predicts very well the kaiju movies from Japan, as well as their many clones from other nations (Cloverfield; Yongary, Monster From the Deep, etc.).
And yet—there may be a deeper and more biographical significance to this final plot. To introduce this more shadowy meaning, permit me to cite the first paragraph from one of Shkolnikov's rather strange letters to Henri Bergson, dated December 21, 1908:
you must never apologize for your optimism. Of course my harried Christian brain is not as skilled as yours at suppressing the grim thing to come, the debt due; though to be honest the reckoning that fills me with the most dread is a good deal duller than that of the Judgment. Really what plagues me is just DEATH itself (or its ashy foretaste anyway); and I mean by that no more than my own brute biological death, which, as time passes, seems more and more like an individual to me, like an actually existing being with a well-shaped self who one day will look me square in the eye and lay claim to me—a being I can already hear and smell from the other room.
I believe that this fragment may give us one of the keys to the nineteenth plot (and thus to the "dialectic in reverse") by revealing its properly allegorical dimension. For what is it, I ask you, that seems only like an abstraction or a scientific idea when we are still young, but then, as we grow older, causes our thoughts to turn religious (as we worry over the afterlife or the prospect of judgment or forgiveness), until, finally, it is standing right before us, with a gleaming eye and cold grim claws—if not death?
Of course I need not remind the reader that allegory is not a literal or metaphysical belief in the personhood of gods and goddesses, or of ideas or forces; though all allegorical thinking does indeed take us into that broad conceptual space in which nothing is ever really inert, and in which even seemingly static objects and ideas are felt to be "alive" in a way to which no mere definition can be adequate. As is almost always the case, Borges has a couple of perfect sentences on the matter:
[Dante's] Beatrice is not a sign of the word faith; she is a sign of the valiant virtue and secret illuminations indicated by that word. A sign more precise, richer, and more felicitous, than the monosyllable faith.
In a very different context, Gaston Bachelard brings the subject of allegory back round to death:
Those civilizations and those epochs with a taste for allegory had a keener sense and awe of death than we do now. For them, death didn't just happen; it took you.
Death is the ultimate object of allegory, as it is the ultimate object of the fantastic, for it is the last conceivable horizon of the human imagination. The temptation to represent death as an individual is therefore permanent, for the only thing that is equally unfathomable as death is another living being.
But is the nineteenth plot truly an allegory? I shall make the following confession in lieu of a conclusion. When I first discovered The Eighteen Possible Plots, I thought indeed that the book was allegorical. But now, as I find myself drawing closer to death—I am only old, not yet sick, but I am well enough along in my years that I can sense the finitude of my life—a second interpretation has revealed itself to me. I now think that the book, and the mysterious nineteenth chapter in particular, is maybe the opposite of an allegory; that maybe what Shkolnikov meant to convey was something far more literal; that maybe he had in fact seen or sensed his death as some stirring thing, a beast all but hidden from him, outside and apart from him, like an animal whose padded footfalls you can just barely make out from the brush. Perhaps, in the end, his death came swiftly, soft-footed and wetly clicking like a panther, and yet still he managed somehow to glimpse it first. Perhaps, in the end, he saw death in that way, in the flesh; perhaps he came to understand that death, too, is but a creature, an individual, a half-intelligent animal with only half-intelligent designs on our good life, like those beasts—from novels, from our movies, from the fearful minds of men many thousands of years ago—climbing out from the cradle of the earth.
 "[T]he cognitive value of all [science fiction], including anticipation-tales, is to be found in its analogical reference to the author's present rather than in predictions, discrete or global." Suvin 78. But see Suvin 74 for an example of the author making a science fiction prediction of his own.
 "As for Shkolnikov and his 'predictions,' I for one will not be surprised if his book (whose bibliographic details have always remained somewhat murky) proves to be an elaborate trick, perhaps pulled by Suvin himself in order to make a point." Gaddis, Edmund. "On Darko Suvin and Prophecy." Science Fiction Studies, vol. 39, no. 4, 2012, p. 602.