Android Karenina by Ben H. Winters, and a fellow named Tolstoy

by |May 6, 2010

When Quirk Classics published Pride and Prejudice and Zombies there were some who said that Western Civilisation was ill. When they published Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters they declared it was officially dead. Actually, it was me who declared it and no one listened.

And you were all right not to listen. I now understand that  Western Civilisation is not upheld by Jane Austen, it is tethered by her. Shakespeare, Austen the Bronte’s, Dickens, well, they just make the rest of Western Culture feel inadequate.

We don’t want to be reminded that we could be reading better books, thinking bigger thoughts, improving the world instead of destroying it, living peacefully with our neighbours, eating right and exercising… no!

For far too long Western Culture has been looked at upside down.  I’m here to tell you that Shakespeare is not a peak but a trough! Looked at the right way up we find our cultural successes far outstrip our failures… and not vice versa as the naysayers would have it!

And why have I finally accepted this unpalatable truth? Because my therapist says its better to see that the glass is half full (or fool, I wasn’t paying attention).  Oh, and I have just heard that Quirk Classics have brought down the once proud tower of Tolstoy – they offer us Android Karenina. It is clear that nothing is sacred and soon all of the classics will suffer the same ignoble fate. Why fight it? Besides, it’s kinda funny.

Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters co-author Ben H. Winters is back with an all-new collaborator, legendary Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, and the result is Android Karenina: an enhanced edition of the classic love story set in a strange new world of robots, cyborgs, and interplanetary travel.

As in the original novel, our story follows two relationships: the tragic adulterous romance of Anna Karenina and Count Alexei Vronsky, and the much more hopeful marriage of Nikolai Levin and Kitty Shcherbatskaya. These four, yearning for true love, live in a steampunk-inspired 19th century of mechanical butlers, extraterrestrial-worshiping cults, and airborne débutante balls.

Their passions alone would be enough to consume them—but when a secret cabal of radical scientific revolutionaries launches an attack on Russian high society’s high-tech lifestyle, our heroes must fight back with all their courage, all their gadgets, and all the power of a sleek new cyborg model like nothing the world has ever seen.

Filled with the same blend of romance, drama, and fantasy that made the first two Quirk Classics New York Times best sellers, Android Karenina brings this celebrated series into the exciting world of science fiction.


(Special Note for Our Generation Y Readers: LEO TOLSTOY was a man who lived a long, long time ago in a far off land called, Russia. He wrote two of the greatest novels in world literature: Anna Karenina and War and Peace.)

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About the Contributor

While still in his twenties, John Purcell opened a second-hand bookshop in Mosman, Sydney, in which he sat for ten years reading, ranting and writing. Since then he has written, under a pseudonym, a series of very successful novels, interviewed hundreds of writers about their work, appeared at writers’ festivals, on TV (most bizarrely in comedian Luke McGregor’s documentary Luke Warm Sex) and has been featured in prominent newspapers and magazines. ​Now, as the Director of Books at, Australia’s largest online bookseller, he supports Australian writing in all its forms. He lives in Sydney with his wife, two children, three dogs, five cats, unnumbered gold fish and his overlarge book collection. His novel, The Girl on the Page, will be published by HarperCollins Australia in October, 2018.

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