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Literature / Alice, Girl from the Future

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Алиса Селезнёва.

It is the end of the 21st century and the Soviet Union has gone on to encompass the globe.

There is no disease (except the flu), no shortage of anything, and no private property. Soviet Superscience has gone on unopposed to give us faster than light spaceships, timetravel, and all manner of other wonders. However, this new society faces many external problems, having to deal with "less developed" planets, Space Pirates, and aliens.

Written by Kir Bulychev, and highly popular in Russia and the countries of the former Soviet Union, the books feature adventures of a young girl, Alice (Alisa) Seleznyova and her friends. See the list here. There have been several adaptations.


Books in the series (in publication order; internal chronology are different and quite often inconsistent):

Tropes common to the series:

  • Action Girl:
  • Adults Are Useless: Often Alice solves a problem adults have repeatedly failed to solve (such as the mystery of the Empty Planet in A Girl From Earth).
    • Subverted in some installments where Alice fails, and adults (like regular police) save the day (for instance, in The War With Lilliputians, she wouldn’t have survived for long without Granny Lucretia and Puccini-2). However, while she can fail at actual fighting, she always solves the mystery.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: One of the planets had a few robots survive a starship crash there years ago. They started building duplicates for themselves until the resources of the entire planet ran out. They would have probably gone to do the same on other planets, but no one provided them with starship blueprints.
    • Played straight in The Rusty General's Island; the squad of old 20th-century military robots, accidentally activated by researchers, mindlessly follow the preset war-fighting program - despite being at least partially sentient. Ironically, it is revealed that the war those robots were programmed to fight never actually started, and they were just forgotten in an old storage facility.
    • Subverted in The Captives of An Asteroid; while this seems to be the situation at first, the alien robots are perfectly sane and have resorted to desperate measures just to maintain their degrading asteroid generation ship and descendants of its crew. It turns out that the robots have done so well that their creators have become completely dependent on them and slowly degraded to a near-brainless state after centuries of idleness.
  • Alien Non-Interference Clause: The End of Atlantis.
  • Aliens Speaking Russian: Zig-zagged. Many aliens (Rrrr, Gromozeka, Rat etc.) are fluent in it, however, Translation Convention is commonly applied: the usual lingua franca in space is the Cosmolingua, and there are stories set on other planets where mostly the planets' native languages are used (such as Alices Birthday, The City Without Memory etc.). But sometimes, aliens or creatures from the legend era speak perfect Russian with no explanation provided.
  • Aloof Leader, Affable Subordinate: Subverted in The Star Dog. Dobrets (whose name literally means "a kind guy") is the more personable minion of evasive and paranoid General Besf. As it turns out, they are the same person.
  • Ancient Astronauts: The End Of Atlantis features a lost colony under the Pacific Ocean. Another book has Alice finding a crashed starship underwater, and, apparently, another from four million years ago was found in a desert.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Several cases of it across the series, though, to be fair, it's more the fault of Canon Discontinuity than the characters. To name a few: in One Hundred Years Ahead, Alice says invisibility is unscientific (despite having once used an invisibility cap herself); in The Star Dog and Alice and the Pretenders (both among the last books of the cycle), shapeshifters are described as something phenomenal and new for the crew of the Pegasus, while the series has already featured more of these than one can count, most notably, the recurring Big Bad Rat.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The space pirates’ invasion of Brastak, the inhabitants of which are generally the same size (and roughly the same shape) as domestic kittens from Earth.
  • Author Filibuster: Quite often, mostly about history.
  • Baleful Polymorph: Sometimes, most notably in There Are No Ghosts and Secret of the Black Stone.
  • Barefoot Sage: Downplayed; the wise Chinese professor Lu Fu from The Kindness Ray wears only light sandals even in cold weather, probably as a way to show asceticism and/or nonconformism.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Quite a few of the good guys.
    • Alice is a sweet, friendly, easy-going girl, which doesn’t stop her from beating galaxy-level villains left and right.
    • Gentle Giant Gromozeka may not be so gentle if his friends are in danger...
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Tons of examples. Aliens range from relatively human-like with only a few differentiating traits (the purple-eyes, six-digited Vesterians, the bluish-skinned Krinians) to completely extraordinary for a human’s eye (the residents of Kromanyan who resemble huge waterpots on legs, shapeshifters such as Rat or the people of Zavydkovaya and Millenium). And that’s without getting started on the non-sentient fauna.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: Quite often.
    • Special point for The Kindness Ray, when villain used the abovementioned ray to grow a monster predator plant to kill the prisoners. He apparently never realised that under the influence of said ray, his monster simply could not harm anyone.
  • Bound and Gagged: Happens from time to time to Alice and her friends, for example, in Twilightsons the Vampire.
  • Canon Immigrant: Werther the robot was a Canon Foreigner in Guest from the Future whom the fans immediately adored. After that, he made small cameos in several later-written books.
  • The Cavalry: Alice sometimes is rescued by it, though mostly she is on her own. She even lampshades it in Twilightsons the Vampire, when she thinks that she has reached the point where, in the movies, the cavalry usually appears on the horizon, but there doesn't seem to be one in her case.
  • Child Soldiers: In The Secret of the Black Stone, Alice, along with other children is drafted as one against her will.
  • Common Tongue: Cosmolingua, an interplanetary language known in the entire civilized galaxy.
  • Darker and Edgier: Opinions differ, but almost everyone agrees that The Voyage of Alice, One Hundred Years Ahead, A Million Adventures (except for the first part), The City Without Memory and Ghosts Don't Exist stand out for their much darker tone.
    • The Kindness Ray is darker than the rest of the series to a completely ridiculous degree. Unlike the other books, where late-twenty-first-century Earth is a post-scarcity Crystal Spires and Togas utopia with No Poverty, no wars or crime, this novel depicts South-East Asia as a dirt-poor land of Banana Republics where drug barons are rich, powerful and maintain private mercenary armies.
  • Death World: Lilac Sphere features one.
  • Dinosaurs Are Dragons: Mostly averted, though there's one story centered around a new dinosaur species with dragon-like abilities.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Professor Lu Fu from The Kindness Ray may be a mild case of this; he wears only open-toed sandals even in cold weather, probably implying a disdain for footwear in general.
  • A Dog Named "Cat": Alice's pet cat is called Mouse, because he is grey and was very tiny as a kitte
  • Dolled-Up Installment: Captives of Asteroid started as an unconnected idea for a Soviet-Japanese anime. The idea was never carried out, so Bulychev made it into an Alice story - still one with a Japanese character.
  • The Dreaded Dreadnought: No one want to mess with Galactic Patrol Cruisers, and when one (finally) appears, it is usually Game Over for bad guys (and reason to panic). On the other hands, they doesn't seems to be very good in chasing the fleeing pirates...
  • Early Personality Signs: The very first short story of the series features Alice as a three-year-old. She refuses to go to sleep in time, her father says he'll phone Baba Yaga if Alice continues to be naughty, and the girl is extremely interested and begs him to do so as she would love to meet the hag. That foreshadows Alice's plucky, adventurous and rebellious character that would develop by her preteens and early teens (her age throughout most of the series).
  • Eternal English: The galactic Common Tongue, at least, is unchanged from thousands of years ago.
  • Explosive Breeder: The space pirates attempted to destroy the atmosphere of an entire planet by unleashing air-eating worms fitting the trope. Also, see A.I. Is a Crapshoot.
  • Extra Digits: Iria Gai has 12 toes because she is actually an alien from the planet Vester (the inhabitants of this planet are distinguished from humans by their lilac eyes and six toes on both feet).
  • Extremophile Lifeforms: An airless chasm on an asteroid converted into a Generation Ship is inhabited by "ice dragons" — octopus-like creatures possibly inspired by the Lucky Starr example. There are also sapient species fitting it — for example, a hotel on one planet was described as too hot to touch despite a thousand layers of insulation.
  • Fantastic Drug: A Girl From Earth features a planet where a drug was invented allowing time travel. At first, people were going to the future to check what will happen, but then grew afraid of it and all started traveling back to the best moments of their life. Within a few years, the entire planet was a slum.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel: Spaceships can fly between different star systems in mere days or hours. Later books mumble something about gravitons.
  • Free-Range Children: Alice and her friends are allowed to wander around unsupervised from the age of seven. By the time she is ten, she already has traveled to other planets (sometimes with no adults or any sort of supervising) and been through a huge number of life-threatening situations.
  • Friendly Enemy: The space pirates in later books. Lampshaded several times.
    Rat (to Alice): I'm your enemy for life. If I ever kill you, who will Kir Bulychev write his books about?
  • Friendly Scheming: Alice's grandmother Lucretia, being The Trickster and a sorceress, really loves to do this.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Garold from The Underground Boat.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: If you intend to hunt or dig mines on Penelope, be prepared that one day your city will be leveled by an unnaturally localized earthquake.
  • Gentle Giant: A huge alien Gromozeka, who looks like a cross between an elephant, a shark, and an octopus, is a good friend of Alice and her father.
  • Giant Enemy Crab: The dog-sized cameusi from The End of Atlantis.
  • Gone Horribly Right: The memory erasure field from The City Without Memory.
    • The Super Cake from The Underground Boat.
  • Gotta Pass the Class: In The Class Repeaters, Alice uses an experimental time machine and accidentally skips six months of her life. The school headmaster announces that it will be impossible for her to pass after missing two-thirds of the school year and she will have to repeat third grade. However, Alice's friends don't want to study on without her, so they all demand to be allowed to repeat the year as well. Finally, she devotes her summer to studying with her friends' help and successfully passes the third-grade exams in September, making it to year four.
  • Happiness Is Mandatory: Usurper Zovastr's reign.
  • Hate Plague: Lilac Sphere features one, stored in titular spheres.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Werther in Guest from the Future. Blue Beard in Draconosaurus.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The creators of the Hate Plague wiped themselves out after being subjected to it.
  • Human Aliens: Many alien characters are either humans or very similar to humans. In fact, one book starts with the statement that most aliens are human like.
  • Kill and Replace: One of the books features an adopted son of an emperor who learned he won't inherit the crown. He assassinated him, and forced a law that everyone is to wear smiling masks.
  • Killer Rabbit: The titular critter in The Golden Bear Cub is a completely adorable and seemingly vulnerable alien bear cub with innocent purple eyes and unclear planet of origin. He is later revealed to be Vyprakhol, a former genocidal warlord who had subjected his own planet to a horrific Reign of Terror, was overthrown and spent decades on the run from the survivors of his regime wanting to get revenge. Vyprakhol's cuteness allowed him to avoid any suspicion from his human hosts, study human languages and technologies and develop mind control techniques against humans.
  • Lazily Gender-Flipped Name: Iria Gai is a daughter of an inventor who wanted a son as an assistant. He wanted to name him Iriy.
  • Lighter and Softer: Some darker stories have been rewritten for younger readers. For example, The Sorcerer and the Snow Maiden is a rewrite of Ghosts Don’t Exist (which some consider to be the darkest book of the franchise) and The Pirate Queen on the Planet of Fairytales is based on the fourth part of A Million Adventures.
  • Lilliputian Warriors: Quite a lot of them in The War Against Lilliputians. However, all of them are really human-sized, having been shrunk by technological or magical means.
  • Living Mood Ring: Indicators are animals that changes color depending on their emotions, such as turning yellow when mistrustful, dark green when content, and transparent to show admiration.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • One of the main plot points of The Planet for Tyrants features a former tyrant that was kicked out from his planet, and, in accordance with a general rule, he was allowed to take one thing of his choice with him. So he took a famous and treasured children's railway from his planet, hoping one day he'd be summoned back and would bring the railway back as a gift. The other tyrant managed to smuggle a mermaid as his slave the same way (he chose a trumpet and hid the mermaid inside it).
    • In The End of Atlantis, Poseidon, seeing the danger to the inhabitants, points out to Hera that this is the situation where she, as the head of station, is authorized to use the "sacred" blaster lying in the safe. She does. Then the heroes realize the regulations don't specify that the blaster must be used to deal with the particular danger in question.
  • Lost Colony: The End of Atlantis features a research colony cut off from its homeworld for unknown reasons.
  • Lunacy: The cameusi are only agressive during the full moon, despite living half a kilometer underwater.
  • MacGuffin: Many, most notably the Mielophone from One Hundred Years From Now. Also "the absolute fuel" (whatever it means) in The Mystery of the Third Planet.
    • It's only "Whatever it means" in the cartoon. The book explains it's an extragalactic invention which will allow ships to be a hundred times as fast. Not exactly something you want Space Pirates to get their hands on - or the rest of the galaxy not to have.
  • Made of Indestructium: In The Mystery of the Third Planet, the captain's ship has been in the pirates' hideout for four years, and they didn't cut it open. The book it's based upon claims that wasn't from lack of trying. Also, the final part of A Million Adventures features a passenger ship invulnerable to pirate weapons, with a robot stewardesses to match.
  • Meanwhile, in the Future…: Time travel works this way in the series. Changes only happen when the travel ends or the connection to traveller is severed.
  • Missing Mom: Sometimes stated to be a space architect. Must be a workaholic.
  • Mugged for Disguise. Happens with children in The Star Dog.
  • Naked People Are Funny: Sometimes, modesty has to take a backseat when lives are at stake.
  • Never Accepted in His Hometown: In The War With Liliputs, Alice reminisces on this: she is hailed as a savior on many planets, but at home she is "just a girl". Well, in some books she is a capable genetics researcher and at least respected for that, but her adventures don't seem quite as known.
  • Objectshifting:
    • In Alice and the Enchanted King, the main villain's entire scheme depends on transforming people into dolls.
    • In The Secret of the Black Stone, Hrem kidnaps children by turning them into the titular black stones.
    • In The Sorcerer and the Snow Maiden, a retelling of Ghosts Don't Exist for younger readers, Snow Maidens get turned into dolls.
    • In The War with Lilliputians, it's mentioned that Rat escaped from prison by turning into a vacuum cleaner.
  • Prank Punishment: In The War with Lilliputs, when Alice and Pashka try to fend off Granny Lucretia by telling her that they have to care after "skunusiks" (a fictional breed of animals), Lucretia pretends to believe them and creates holographic images of fantastic monsters to convince them that their lie came to life.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: Houses are grown (using some coral-like bacteria) within hours.
  • Sapient Ship: Gai-do is definitely one, to the point of considering himself an actual relative of Iria. However, other spaceships exhibit traits of it as well.
  • Series Continuity Error: In spades. The author eventually confessed to never rereading his books, which led to him being unable to determine even his main heroine's age and date of birth.
  • Shapeshifter: Rat. There are at least four possible explanations for his powers offered at different points, sometimes within the same book (see Series Continuity Error above): either he is a master of disguise, or he uses hypnotism, or he really has a genetic ability to shape-shift, or he uses shape-shifting pills stolen long ago from a planet where they are produced.
  • Showing Up Chauvinists: A villainous/The Mole example: when Alice infiltrates a juvenile delinquents' school, she becomes the best student, in particular, by excelling in subjects usually reserved for boys, such as fighting dirty. When she first shows up to fight, the teachers allow her to participate because they think defeating a girl would be amazing training for the boys.
  • Shrink Ray: At least two books have such containers.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Firmly on the idealistic side, though the danger of being too trusting are honestly explored.
  • Space Pirates: The recurring antagonists, Rat and Jolly U.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Joan of Arc, who lives (a dummy is burned instead).
  • Spoiled Brat: Aphrodite from The End Of Atlantis is the last child born in a Lost Colony. She was spoiled rotten, and is still spoiled rotten at the age of ninety.
  • Starfish Aliens: While most sapient alien species have humanlike intelligence and are able to freely communicate with humans, they may look... somewhat weird. Walking watering cans or giant worms are not unheard of.
  • The Swarm:
    • Prisoners of the Yamagiri Maru has a swarm of mutant fish caused by 20th-century nuclear waste.
    • The End of Atlantis has cameusi, dog sized Giant Enemy Crab species from which one must hide behind steel doors whenever they are agressive, otherwise they'll eat you alive.
  • Talking Animal:
    • The govorun (talker) birds are essentially parrots with perfect memory and capable of interstellar flight.
  • The titular dog from The Star Dog qualifies, though it can only remember one word at a time.
  • Temporal Paradox: Occasionally occurs. In ''Alices Birthday", for instance, the titular heroine saves the civilization of one planet from death by travelling back in time and changing the past. She does this during an archeological expedition to the ruins of said civilization. Go ahead, sort that out.
  • Tempting Fate: "Father, what can happen to me in 21st century?". Well, the whole series, including Space Pirates, Killer Robot attacks, facing one Evil Overlord after another...
  • Terraforming: In The Adventures Of Alice it is mentioned that one of the Captains works on Project Venus. Apparently, this is the first stage of terraforming the planet in question... by dragging it away from the Sun.
  • That's No Moon!: In Lilac Sphere, the titular artifact comes from an artificial planet created to escape an exploding sun.
  • There Are No Therapists: Well, at least not on Earth. Not that Alice would ever need one.
  • Three Laws-Compliant: In one of the books, Alice encounters a squad of old soldier robots, and the concept is so alien to her she believes their behavior is a malfunction.
  • Thou Shall Not Kill: Alice never kills her opponents, even though she is sometimes armed.
  • The Time of Myths: Pops up often in The Lilac Sphere and especially in the later books, as some distant past from which all myths have originated.
  • Toy Transmutation:
    • In Alice and the Enchanted King, the main villain's entire scheme depends on transforming people into dolls.
    • In The Sorcerer and the Snow Maiden, a retelling of Ghosts Don't Exist for younger readers, Snow Maidens get turned into dolls.
  • Villainous Glutton: Jolly U is implied to be one (in The Voyage of Alice, he claims his main goal is to have as much to eat and drink as he wants), but is only ever explicitly shown to be one in Guest from the Future.
  • Video Phone: In wide use starting from the very first short story.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Jolly U suffers a Disney Villain Death in the end of the first book featuring him. He appears in several more after that, alive and well, with no explanation.
  • Uniqueness Decay:
    • In One Hundred Years Ahead, unsanctioned time travel, let alone messing with the past, is explicitly forbidden for anyone who doesn’t work at the Institute of Time and isn't qualified. The whole second part with several characters going to the 20th century is only possible because 1) the institute is closed and empty because of a holiday 2) Rat and Jolly U melt its wall with a blaster, and that's how they (and Kolya, and Alice) can get inside. Several books later, time travel is almost as mundane as space travel, and changing the past goes from "forbidden", to "tolerated through gritted teeth if it has already happened", to "approved if it's for the better".
    • In the early books, intergalactic travels are considered pretty dangerous and epic journeys, which only some heroes dare to attempt. In the later books, they are pretty much mundane. Justified, because the plot device in The Voyage of Alice is exactly the fuel that make fast intergalactic travels possible.
  • Used Future: The City Without Memory.
  • We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future: In the time where the books are set, humans have cured every known disease, and even the common cold will be cured soon. They also enjoy better health and fitness in general, "better fitness" as in somewhat super-strength, -speed, and -agility.
  • Worthless Yellow Rocks: Most of the societies are moneyless. One of the stories features Alice looking for a replacement for a 1.5 kg gold nugget she took from the school's museum and lost. Since she has plenty of friends, the next day she comes to school with her dad carrying twelve times the required amount.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Alice's friend Pavel is often this, believing himself to be the Knight in Shining Armor Action Hero. In reality, when he succeeds getting through some especially dangerous adventures, he does so by using his brains rather than his strength.
  • You Are Grounded!: Happens in The War With Liliputs.
  • Zeerust: Since Bulychev's 21st century is based on beefed-up Soviet aesthetics, that's kind of a given.
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion: The Prisoners of the Asteroid features a Generation Ship with a robotic crew taking care of the organics. The latter are quite moronic after centuries of idleness.