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In Carbide, the town square of the fictional town Vedmediv was called "Peace Square." The book mentioned that it had been called that "ever since the days of the Bear Empire." I'm a little confused as to what the book was referring to, though.

I am aware of the Russian bear, but am not sure if that's what the book had in mind. If it was a reference to the Russian bear, was the book thinking in particular of the Soviet Union, or to a different time in Russian history?

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  • you need an Ukrainian to answer this, but I guess it's ussr
    – Andra
    Apr 25, 2023 at 9:34
  • Naming something Peace Square seems very much like something the Soviet Union would do, and less like something the previous Russian empire would do.
    – Peter Shor
    Apr 25, 2023 at 12:08

1 Answer 1

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It is not stated explicitly in the text, but I believe enough details are provided to say with reasonable certainty that the "Bear Empire" refers to the USSR.

Carbide is set in modern-day Western Ukraine, close to the border with Hungary (close enough for it to be feasible to dig a tunnel from the town to Hungarian territory). This places the town in Transcarpathia (the Zakarpattia Oblast). From the 1860s this area formed part of the Austro-Hungrian Empire. Following the collapse of this empire after the First World War, the area was ruled briefly by Romania, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia, until it was invaded by the Red Army in 1944, and then absorbed into the USSR.

This is consistent with the details given in Carbide. The Austro-Hungarian heritage of the town is indeed mentioned:

Around the oak tree in the central square of Vedmediv, construction was raging... Now these were large-format photos of old Vedmediv or, more precisely, Mediv, made by unknown artists in the prosperous times of Austria-Hungary.

So in the good old days, the town was named Mediv ("honey" in Ukrainian) and was ruled by Austro-Hungary. The author gives more details about the town's renaming in the first chapter:

Earlier, the town was called simply and comprehensively - Mediv, but later hordes from the Bear Empire came and renamed the settlement.

So the hordes from the "Bear Empire" came after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian empire and renamed the town Vedmediv, "honey-eater" i.e. "bear". A bear is indeed a frequently used symbol for Russia, and by extension, to the USSR, so this can only refer to the invasion by the USSR. The timing, and history of the region, mean that the Russian Empire could not have been involved.

Finally, renaming a town square as "Peace Square" ("Mir") is indeed very characteristic of Soviet politics.

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