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Tam, gdzie stanie mutant sowiecki…

The rela­tion­ship between Poland and Rus­sia has been full of con­flicts for cen­turies. Start­ing with the three Pol­ish par­ti­tions, these prob­lem­at­ic rela­tions include also the Pol­ish-Sovi­et war and the dom­i­na­tion of the Sovi­et Union in the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Poland (Pol­s­ka Rzecz­pospoli­ta Ludowa, PRL). All these con­flicts were reflect­ed medi­al­ly, for exam­ple in Jan Kochanowski’s Trip to Moscow (Jedza do Moskwy, 1583), or, more recent­ly, in Andrzej Waj­da’s Katyń (2007).

In one of the most suc­cess­ful Pol­ish com­put­er games of all times, Gorky 17, this old antag­o­nism of Poland vs Rus­sia is renewed. Gorky 17 is a fic­ti­tious Sovi­et research facil­i­ty locat­ed in the PRL, which tries to cre­ate a Sovi­et Über­men­sch. After the col­lapse of the Sovi­et Union Russ­ian gen­er­al Kozov con­tin­ues these exper­i­ments to a trag­ic out­come: Loads of zom­bies begin to ter­ror­ize Poland. A NATO task force con­trolled by the play­er has to regain con­trol over the mutant-infest­ed premis­es of Gorky 17.

As regards the trans­la­tion of ‘the Russ­ian’, sev­er­al con­se­quences can be for­mu­lat­ed. First of all, the alien Sovi­et force invad­ing the PRL is rep­re­sent­ed in form of Gen­er­al Kozov. Sec­ond­ly, the post-Social­ist antag­o­nism NATO vs Rus­sia is reflect­ed. Third­ly, the Sovi­et mutants as evil specters from the past can be read as exam­ples for strate­gies to deal with the Sovi­et trau­ma (cf. Alexan­der Etkind’s notion of “mag­i­cal his­tori­cism”). Final­ly, also a Russ­ian trans­la­tion of the game exists, where good Rus­sians fight bad Rus­sians – all traces of Poland have been removed. Thus, I want also to focus on this dia­met­ri­cal­ly opposed direc­tion of the trans­la­tion process.

Slides are avail­able here:


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