The Best Asian Speculative Fiction

Our ascent to the mountain peak was predictably long and tortuous. I was sweating and blaspheming in my mind, trying to maintain my balance and resisting my inner urge to give up the climb. My snowboard grew heavy on my shoulders and it was painfully bumping against my spine. When we had left careless shrieks of the skiing crowd far behind, it suddenly started snowing. Fluffy snowflakes were melting on my face and infiltrating unpleasantly under my collar. I could hardly see Clara, purposefully making her way through the thick lace of the snowfall curtain enveloping the earth all around us. That is why, when she suddenly stopped, I bumped into her nearly causing us both to fall into the abyss below. She stood there immobile, her hand raised in a warning sign.

“I think I saw her,” she said in a low voice. “Who?”

“The Mountain Maid.”

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Stalin thought so. So, apparently, did the CIA, according to a new account of how the U.S. secretly distributed Doctor Zhivago in the Soviet Union: The Atlantic

Soviet leader Joseph Stalin once described writers as “the engineers of the human soul.”

“The production of souls is more important than the production of tanks,” he claimed. Stalin clearly believed that literature was a powerful political tool—and he was willing to execute writers whose works were deemed traitorous to the Soviet Union.