The Tunguska event was an explosion that occurred on June 30, 1908 in the Siberian region of Russia, possibly caused by a meteoroid airburst. The event has inspired much speculation and appears in diverse fictional contexts, reviewed here. This list demonstrates the extent of the event's influence on popular culture.
- A Real Bang-Up Job, a tongue-in-cheek science fiction story by F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre published in 2000, links the Tunguska event and the Roswell UFO incident: in a future where time travel becomes commonplace, time-tourists will journey afterwards to 1947 in order to witness the Roswell event for themselves. A time-traveling criminal wrecks the time machines of tourists who materialize in Roswell 1947, and diverts their bodies to space-time coordinates in midair directly above Tunguska in 1908. All the abducted time travelers materialize at the same physical point in space-time, creating the massive explosion of the Tunguska event. Wreckage from the various time machines, left behind in Roswell 1947, has been misinterpreted as UFO debris.
- Thomas Pynchon's book Against the Day, puts forth a complex explanation for the Tunguska event, centering around the idea that an expedition near the North Pole unearthed a sentient geological being which, after being transported to the Tunguska area, proceeded to unleash rage-fueled destruction on the humans that transported him.
- The humorous 1978 alternate history novel And Having Writ... by Donald R. Bensen features four space travelers whose ship crashes to Earth in 1908, after narrowly missing Tunguska, landing in the Pacific Ocean off San Francisco. The aliens then travel the planet analyzing world affairs and attempt to jump start World War I to improve the Earth's technology level.
- FOX HUNT, the first Lachlan Fox thriller from James Clancy Phelan, features the rare extra-terrestrial element Theterium that was found at the Tunguska site.
- Science fiction writer Stanisław Lem, in his first SF novel The Astronauts (1951) (film adaptation 1960 as First Spaceship on Venus), explains the Tunguska event as the crash of an interplanetary reconnaissance vessel from a Venus civilization.
- The novel Blood Rites of The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher indicates that the incident was caused by Ebenezar 'Blackstaff' McCoy, the White Council's wetwork man.
- The Tunguska event (and the Jackson-Ryan hypothesis that it was caused by a primordial black hole) forms part of the back story for the 1975 Larry Niven novelette The Borderland of Sol.
- Alexander Kazantsev's novel Burning Island makes mention of the event as the crash site of an alien spaceship, resulting in the discovery of radium-delta, the proposed fuel of the ship.
- The book Callahan's Key by Spider Robinson posits a connection between Tesla (made immortal in this fiction) and the Tunguska event. In the book, Tesla constructed a so-called "death ray", and the result of the initial test firing was that "some trees decided to lay down for a while" in Siberia.
- Czech science-fiction author Ludvík Souček mentions the Tunguska Event in his novel Cesta slepých ptáků (The Path of Blind Birds, Czech 1964) and asserts it was a result of a nuclear blast, which caused major damage to the taiga but created no crater,.
- Chekhov's Journey by Ian Watson (1983), posits that the famous playwright Anton Chekhov knew of the 1908 Tunguska explosion back in 1890 which turned out to be caused by an out-of-control Soviet time-ship.
- Alistair MacLean's novel Circus mentions the Tunguska Event as the result of an impact by a particle of anti-matter weighing "one one-hundredth of a millionth" of a gram (this is approximately a factor of a hundred billion times less than the real energy of the explosion).
- F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack novel Conspiracies included a mention of the Tunguska event as being related to an experiment that Nikola Tesla had been working on.
- The novel Earth by David Brin explores the Jackson-Ryan hypothesis — i.e., the possibility that the Tunguska Event was caused by a submicroscopic black hole, since trapped beneath the Earth's surface.
- The novel, Ghost Dancer by John Case explains the Tunguska event as the accidental result of an energy experiment by Nikola Tesla, the Serbian inventor. Tesla was apparently trying to demonstrate the potential of the Earth's energy being beamed without wires into the skies above an Arctic explorer.
- The novel Intervention, by Julian May, depicts a commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the impact, which was caused by the destruction of an out-of-control alien craft. Apparently, if the crew had not activated the self-destruct program, the ship would have crashed into Moscow.
- Author Isaac Asimov had a character in his story "The Mad Scientist" attempt to explain the Tunguska event. The character told the plight of a physicist who may have rediscovered the event's cause: production of energy via creation of a "particle-antiparticle pair, well separated, in a vacuum — without any energy input, of course, since in the forward motion they produce energy". The story also notes that although such a great number of trees were knocked down, there was no crater at the site. This story was published in Magic: The Final Fantasy Collection (HarperPrism, 1996).
- A semi-serious version of the event is offered in Monday Begins on Saturday (1964) by the Strugatsky brothers. In it, the explosion is caused by a spaceship of aliens from a different universe who move backwards in time relative to us. Consequently, it is of no use to search for the remains of the spaceship now, after the event, because these remains have only existed at the site before 1908.
- The Star Trek novel Prime Directive depicts the Tunguska incident as the result of benevolent Vulcan interference in human history, in which an anthropological survey ship deflected a meteor (that would otherwise have struck Western Europe and destroyed much of civilization) into a largely uninhabited part of the planet.
- The book Operación Hagen (Spanish, not translated to English) by Felipe Botaya, claims the explosion was the result of the WWII Nazi nuclear weapons program (purportedly, the Nazis blasted Tunguska in a desperate attempt to stop the war by showing Soviets the power of their nuclear bombs. The explosion was covered up with a small meteorite impact that happened in 1908 in the same location).
- Arthur C. Clarke's introduction to his novel Rendezvous with Rama includes a very brief mention of the Tunguska event without explicitly naming it.
- The novel Sandstorm, by James Rollins (2004), uses the circumstances of the Tunguska event — which he supposes was a meteor composed of anti-matter — as evidence to suggest the cause of the explosion in the book's opening pages, and the set-up for the cataclysmic events of the book's climax.
- The novel Singularity by Bill DeSmedt also features the Jackson-Ryan hypothesis (Black Hole) as explanation for the lack of an impact crater. The story line is about a remnant of the KGB that plots to capture the black hole and then use it to change the path of 20th century Soviet history.
- The story Storming the Cosmos, by Bruce Sterling and Rudy Rucker (1985), depicts a Soviet reconnaissance mission to the site of the explosion, led by scientists responsible for rocket technology in 1959. They find a device which is referred to as the "rocket-drive". It is then used too hastily in late 1960 in a rocket prototype, leading to the Nedelin disaster. The hypothesis that a UFO crash-landed or deliberately buried vital gadgets for the human race to find is thus linked to the space race of the 1950s and 1960s.
- The novel Timeline mentions the disaster as a possibility of "accidentally" sending someone to a time just before the event happens, in order to silence people that know of the research if they start to tell others about it.
- Matthew Reilly's short story Complex 13 suggests that a Soviet base, the equivalent of Area 51, was constructed in Tunguska upon discovering that the Tunguska Event was the site of a UFO crash-landing.
- The Doctor Who novel Birthright involves the villain Jared Khan attempting to possess the TARDIS after its exterior has temporarily been split into two shells. The Doctor's companions, Ace and Bernice Summerfield, manage to drive Khan's mind out of the interior of the TARDIS and into the empty shell, which is then expelled from the Time Vortex and explodes in mid-air over Tunguska, opening a temporary dimensional rift. The explosion was also mentioned as an historical detail in another Doctor Who novel, The Wages of Sin.
- The Stargate SG-1 novel Roswell suggests that the Tunguska crash was caused by a crashing Goa'uld vessel that was impacted by the team's Puddle Jumper materializing too close to it during time-travel.
- In the novel Ice by Jacek Dukaj, following the Tunguska event, the Ice, a mysterious form of matter, has covered the whole Russia. The appearance of Ice results in extreme decrease of temperature, putting the whole continent under constant winter, and is accompanied by Lute, angels of Frost, a strange form of being which seems to be a native inhabitant of Ice. Under the influence of the Ice, iron turns into zimnazo (ice iron), a material with extraordinary physical properties, which results in the creation of a new branch of industry, zimnazo mining and processing, giving birth to large fortunes and an industrial empire. Moreover, the Ice freezes History and Philosophy, preserving the old political regime, affecting human psychology and changing the laws of logic from many-valued logic of "Summer" to two-valued logic of "Winter" with no intermediate steps between True and False.
- In a Donald Duck comics called Gigant it was mentioned like an experiment of a mad scientist, who was trying to create gold, but the experiment has got out of his control.
- In a Doctor Druid mini-series, the event is related to a group of mystics and their plan to maintain a "world illusion".
- In a Marvel Comics trilogy of publications entitled Ultimate Nightmare (2004-2005), Ultimate Secret (2005), and Ultimate Extinction (2005), the Ultimate universe characters confront the mystery of the event, linking it to an alien encounter with the Ultimate version of Galactus. The explosion was caused by the arrival of Vision who came to Earth planning to warn humanity of the arrival of Galactus. Ultimate Nightmare #1 has moved the year of the Event as 1904 (four years off), and depicting it as leaving a rather large impact crater (it left none). According the book's author, Warren Ellis, "The Tunguska Event was in 1908-I moved it forward on Ultimate Earth-as was essentially depicted in Ultimate Nightmare; an explosion over the Tunguska river area in Siberia of nuclear proportions..."
- In another Marvel Comics series, Shang-Chi - Master of Kung Fu v2, a MAX series, it was explained that Nikola Tesla was experimenting with ionizing the Earth's atmosphere and realized that his "scalar technology" could produce giant bolts of lightning around the globe. It was explained that Tesla was responsible for the Tunguska Event in 1908, as a test run for his new weapon.
- Rick Veitch's Maximortal explains the Tunguska event as a side-effect of a Temporal paradox that is responsible for both the origin and death of the title character.
- In the late Predator comics, it is revealed that the Tunguska event was due to a Predator or Predator ship's self-destruct technology. It was either triggered by the Predators themselves, to conceal their sophisticated technology from humanity, or by either Russian or American officials to keep the technology from the others.
- 2000 AD had a short story where a ship went back in time to view the Tunguska event. When it arrived in 1908, the ship went out of control, entered the atmosphere and became the cause of the event.
- In the computer/video game Area 51, the player can find references that the KGB found a partially destroyed craft, as well as evidence the spacecraft had been in that position for 10,000 years and that the Tunguska event was caused by another craft firing upon the buried craft.
- In the 2007 video game Assassin's Creed, the Tunguska Incident is said to be the result of an attack by Assassins. The area had a research station and an artifact, both of which were said to be destroyed in the attack by Jacob Murray.
- In Destroy All Humans! 2, it is suggested the crash was caused by an alien battleship; the alien species within being the Furon enemy the Blisk. Following their arrival, the Blisk manipulated every significant event in Russian history until 1969 (when the entire species was destroyed by Crypto). In the world of DAH 2, a small community and military base has been built up around the crash site. The sightings of "Yeti" in the area are revealed to be caused by locals seeing the Blisk.
- The Call of Cthulhu RPG explains this and similar phenomena as the result of Outer Gods like Azathoth entering the Earth's reality.
- The 1995 Forgotten Futures RPG adventure " The Fist of God" by Marcus Rowland, set in the word of Conan Doyle's Professor Challenger stories, assumes a human cause for the disaster.
- In the game Impossible Creatures, it is said that the Tunguska event is caused by a test of a "Death-Ray" developed by Nikola Tesla and Erik Chanikov, killing Dr. Chanikov's wife and driving him into exile. At the start of the 15-missions campaign, a newspaper clipping is shown on a desk with the headline: "Dr. Chanikov's appearance linked to Tunguska Event." There is also a map called Tunguska in the game, which is a wasteland scattered with coal (which can be gathered and used as fuel). Like all other maps, this map is an island in the South Pacific.
- The 2006 adventure game Secret Files: Tunguska, published by Deep Silver, is based on the Tunguska event.
- In the fighting video game SNK vs Capcom: Chaos, one alien-like character called the Mars People has an ultimate attack which is named "Tungus Incident", where he (it?) sends UFOs crashing down on the enemy.
- In the White Wolf Werewolf: The Apocalypse supplement "Rage Across Russia", the Tunguska blast is explained as the result as of a battle between a dragon and powerful Mage.
- In the 2003 game, Empires: Dawn of the Modern World, the Russian civilization has a unique classified project called Tunguska Meteor which, when activated, creates similar damage to the atomic bomb dropped by the United States civilization.
- In the late 2006 game, Resistance: Fall of Man, the Chimera, a fictional race that are the main enemies in the game, first appear in Siberia shortly after the Tunguska event in the game's alternate history.
- In the pen and paper RPG Champions the Tunguska Event results from a villainous group of mages casting a spell to destroy Earth's primary magical defender, the Archmage.
- In the beginning of The X-Files: Resist or Serve video game it shows the Tunguska event and shows Black Oil coming into infect a child.
- In the 1960 movie First Spaceship on Venus, based on Stanisław Lem's novel, an expedition discovered a magnetic recording device at Tunguska, determined its origin as the planet Venus, and a newly-completed spacecraft was sent to Venus instead of Mars as originally planned. The expedition determined, from translation of the recording, that the aliens planned to occupy Earth, but they discovered that the people of Venus were abruptly rendered extinct by their incomprehensible machinery.
- In the 1984 movie Ghostbusters, Dr. Raymond Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) refers to the Tunguska Event in the line: "You have been a participant in the biggest interdimensional cross-rip since the Tunguska blast of 1909!" — which is off by one year.
- In the director's cut of the 2004 film Hellboy, Grigori Rasputin purchases a stone key monolith which the Russians had hidden since it landed in Tunguska. Rasputin states that the Ogdru Jahad sent it as a way to assist him in bringing them to Earth.
- In the 2008 film Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett) shows Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) the remains of the presumed alien she had earlier forced him to aid her in stealing from Area 51 in New Mexico. Though it is never directly stated, it is clearly implied and understood by all the film's characters that the remains are that of a space alien. Exposing the specimen's crystal skull and skeleton in order to convince Indiana Jones of this, she mentions that she had done dissections in Russia on two other specimens collected from crash sites similar to the one at Roswell, New Mexico, though the Russian specimens didn't have crystal skeletons. She reminds him of the Tunguska explosion, but is not clear if both specimens were from Tunguska or if one was from Tunguska while another was from another unidentified crash site in Russia. Spalko notes that the Roswell specimen's skull is smaller than the crystal skull that is referenced in the movie's title and hypothesizes that the smaller specimens were possibly a rescue party for the larger specimens she was seeking. By the end of the movie, it is established that the presumed space aliens were instead interdimensional travelers, thirteen of which were based in Akatar or El Dorado in Peru. No further speculations regarding the differences and relationships of the Tunguska specimen(s) to the interdimensional beings were made. This information is also in the book adaptation of the movie, by James Rollins.
- "Listening to Fear", a fifth-season episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, involves a meteor impact, thought to be the newest in a series dating back to the twelfth century. Willow Rosenberg notes that "the most recent meteoritic anomaly was the Tunguska blast in Russia in 1917", getting the date wrong by nine years and ascribing it to the year of the Bolshevik Revolution. She also appears to mispronounce the place name as "Tungusta."
- In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "That Which Survives", after the landing party experiences an unusually large seismic event, Sulu begins to recount the Tunguska event as a possible cause for the quake they experienced.
- In a two-episode story arc of The X-Files ("Tunguska" and "Terma"), the Tunguska incident was purported to be caused by an asteroid impact. Fox Mulder traveled with Alex Krycek to the site of the impact, where they discovered a military installation mining the rock and experimenting with the black oil found inside, which contained a microbial form of alien life capable of possessing a human body.
- Alan Parsons' 2004 release entitled A Valid Path features a nine-minute epic entitled "Return to Tunguska" that plays with some of the more other-worldly notions surrounding the event.
- The Red Sparowes' 2006 Split EP with Gregor Samsa contained a song named "I Saw The Sky In The North Open To The Ground And Fire Poured Out", and the record sleeve features other quotations from eyewitnesses to the Tunguska event.
- Darkest Hour's 2007 release, "Deliver Us" features a song entitled 'Tunguska'.
- Suns of the Tundra's April 2006 release is entitled 'Tunguska'.