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Literature / Grinlandia

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Grinlandia is a fantasy realm which is the setting for stories by Russian writer Alexander Grin. It is implied that it exists on the real world map, but its exact location is different to pinpoint: the place itself is obviously exotic and non-European, but its inhabitants, their names and culture are vaguely Western European. Generally, it looks like Fantasy Counterpart Culture of European sea colonies.


The stories are set in a heavily romanticized version of 1910s-1920s, with some references and nods towards earlier epochs, such as The Golden Age of Piracy. They feature heroic sailors and sea captains, eccentric aristocrates, scientists, idealistic young girls, criminals and elegant villains along with some elements of magic and science fiction.

The stories were originally written in Russian, but some English translations are available.


The book series provide examples of:

  • Alternate History: The series' use of fictional geographic locations alongside with real ones and the combination of early 20 century technologies with romantic aspects of earlier epochs implies this trope.
  • Art Nouveau: Some art and architecture described in the stories have this feel.
  • Barefoot Loon: Assol is a Cloud Cuckoolander with a penchant for going barefoot.
  • Cloud Cuckoolander: Assol, who believes in fairy tales and a prince who will come for her on a ship with scarlet sails.
  • Darker and Edgier: Despite his reputation as a romantic writer, Grin has several darker stories, most notably "The Grey Automobile", which is MindScrewy and has a strong flavor of Decadence. The 1987 adaptation Mister Designer took this Up to Eleven: it switched the setting to actual Decadent era in pre-revolutionary Russia and gave the story a decidedly horror feel.
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  • Does Not Like Shoes: A lot of female characters have a penchant for going barefoot, including Assol from The Scarlet Sails, Molly from "The Golden Chain", and Daisy from "She Who Runs on the Waves".
  • Mind Screw: "The Grey Automobile". By the end it is strongly implied that the protagonist Ebenezer Sidney went off his rails: he believes that his girlfriend is a living wax sculpture, and that he's pursued by an infernal grey car. All of this may or may not be true.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Arthur Grey learned from the locals that Assol is waiting for her prince on a ship with scarlet sails, bought some scarlet cloth for his sails, and became that prince.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Firmly on the idealistic side.
  • The Casino: Lerch's casino from "The Grey Automobile".
  • The Edwardian Era: The stories are implied to take place during this period.
  • Through the Eyes of Madness: See Mind Screw.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Ebenezer Sidney from "The Grey Automobile" may be this; see Mind Screw.

Alternative Title(s): Scarlet Sails, Alexander Grin, The Grey Automobile


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