[[ Free Audiobooks ]] Понедельник начинается в субботуAuthor Arkady Strugatsky – Schematicwiringdiagram.co

Понедельник начинается в субботу Сказка для научных работников младшего возрастапод таким заголовком вгоду вышла книга, которой зачитывались и продолжают зачитываться все новые и новые поколения Герои ее, сотрудники НИИЧАВОНаучноисследовательского института Чародейства и Волшебства,маги и магистры, молодые энтузиасты, горящие желанием познать мир и преобразовать его наилучшим образом На этом пути их ждет множество удивительных приключений и поразительных открытий Машина времени и изба на курьих ножках, выращивание искусственного человека и усмирение выпущенного из бутылки джинначитатель не заскучает!

10 thoughts on “Понедельник начинается в субботу

  1. Glenn Russell Glenn Russell says:

    Many people outside Russia are familiar with Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 film loosely based on the novel Roadside Picnic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky. But, let me tell you comrades, the brothers Strugatsky's Monday Starts on Saturday is one of the most imaginative, off-the-wall hilarious novels ever written, a work that should be better known than it is.

    Science fiction held a special place within the Soviet Union back in 1964 when this novel was first published, with issues revolving around censorship and maintaining the party line. If writers wanted to express their personal creativity or share independent ideas rather than serve the cause of communism and the state, they stood a better chance of having their books see the light of day if they wrote about future, distant worlds and impossible happenings and events - in other words, if they wrote science fiction.

    And we find just such a distant, impossible world in Monday Starts on Saturday. It all begins when young computer programmer Alexander Ivanovich Privalov from Leningrad, headed north to meet up with some friends, picks up two hitchhikers who convince him to drive to their destination to spend the night. As Alexander Ivanovich quickly discovers upon arrival where there's a sign reading: N I T W I T - The Log Hut on Chicken Legs, he has crossed over into a universe where magic, myth and mayhem intersect with science and technology, a universe where, among many other extraordinary occurrences, a talking pike pops out of the water and the mirror in his room refuses to reflect his image. Alexander Ivanovich must admit, all of what he encounters seemed to me even more interesting than modelling a reflex arc. Thus our computer programmer stays on for much longer than one night.

    Working within such a preposterous literary canvas, the Strugatsky brothers throw every conceivable objects and animal and plant, not to mention gentlemanly ghost, mad researcher and buffoonish bureaucrat at programmer Alexander and, indirectly, at the reader. Powerful images and ideas are all tangled together - I can imagine Soviet men and women pouring over this novel in private gatherings, relishing every glorious sentence, coming up with associations galore taken from history and current events as well as their own knowledge of fairy tales, myths and legions.

    To share a taste of the treats a reader is in store for, I've included my own comments linked to a mere handful of the hundreds of bizarre happenings generously served up in the novel's 240 pages:

    Modern Soviet State's Fairy Tale Grandma: Alexander is greeted by old Nina Kievna, the prototypical ancient granny from fairy tales and folk legions; she's well over 100-years-old and wears not only the predictable black shawl knotted under her chin but her head was covered by a cheerful nylon scarf with brightly colored pictures of the Atomium and an inscription in several languages: 'Brussels International Exhibition.'

    What a scream, comrades! The traditional forms of magic usually associated with the fairy tale grandma, such things as magic pebbles or golden apples, are replaced by a symbol of the rational magic of physics and chemistry -as tall as a 33-story building, the Atomium (pictured below) is built of stainless steel in the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times - and not only does each sphere contain an exhibition hall connected by escalators but there's a restaurant on the top sphere. Whoa! An undeniable feat of engineering and scientific know-how amounting to nothing less than the magic of the modern world.

    The crossover between sorcery, wizardry and magic on the one hand and modern science, technology and engineering on the other is a key theme running throughout the entire tale. In many important ways, particularly in the general public's eye, scientists and technicians have taken the place of wizards.

    Computer Programmer's Dreamscape: Alexander's very first night at N I T W I T proves memorable: he moves his pillow and sheets from the floor to a couch (a magical couch, as it turns out) and is woken out of his sleep in the middle of the night by voices. He tries to go back to sleep but realizes he's hungry not sleepy. The programmer gets up and picks up a book from the windowsill - Alexei Tolstoy's Overcast Morning. He flips to a random page and reads of a character opening cans of pineapple. Then a pungent smell of food fills the room - granny Nina Kievna enters and serves him a plateful of delicious hot potatoes smeared with butter.

    Thereafter Alexander lies down once again and this time hears a quiet voice speak of an elephant in scientific terms then references to Carl Jung and the Upanishads. This is followed by Vasily the cat under the oak tree outside walking like university professor Dubino-Knyazhitsky giving a lecture, referencing, among other topics, a vile monster and a snow-white swan. Meanwhile, the book by Alexei Tolstoy transforms into other works by other authors. When Alexander peers out the window again he observes a wet, silver-green shark's tail hanging from the lowest branch of the oak tree. Equally astonishing (perhaps the influence of the couch?), our computer programmer takes it all in stride.

    Law and Order: The following day Alexander is in the town square and is surprised to find the five kopecks in his pocket mysteriously reappearing after he hands over his coins to a merchant. According to a young lieutenant on duty at the time such behavior is completely unacceptable. The programmer is interrogated and the lieutenant informs him that he will have to draw up a report.

    Alexander reflects: What is the essential point here? The essential thing is whether or not a person thinks of himself as guilty. Readers back when Russia was the Soviet Union must have hooted when reading this brothers Straugatsky scene. During those Soviet years, millions of honest men and women were sent off to forced labor camps for trifles. To judge oneself as guilty was nothing short of laughable.

    Wizards Go Bonkers: Turns out, N I T W I T stands for National Institute for the Technology of Witchcraft and Thaumaturgy. Alexander enters the main building and is put to work in a laboratory where he comes in contact with a string of remarkable departments and offices - to list several: Department of Linear Happiness, Department of the Meaning of Life, Department of Predictions and Prophecies, Children's Laughter Distillation Unit, Department of Defensive Magic, Department of Absolute Knowledge.

    As I'm sure any reader will appreciate, with such a list the tale's social and cultural satire kicks into even higher gear. What are the consequences when technicians attempt to calculate society's highest happiness using mathematical formulas? How effective and efficient can such departments become? Are research projects and experiments being conducted here at all practical or useful?

    Such questions fan out to even larger questions: What value is there in academic and scientific institutes around the world when subjects addressed have nearly zero relevance to the general population? What if researchers become so specialized they lose sight of what is beyond their specialty? In this way, the novel speaks to our modern world well beyond 1960s Soviet Russia.

    There is even consideration at the institute of the ways to use vampires and magic carpets in modern warfare. And how will future research be done when such important components are added to the equation? I've just touched the surface here. Many more astonishing discoveries and ideas and memorable scenes await a reader opening the pages of Monday Starts on Saturday.

    One can only wonder if old Nina Kievna has to travel to Moscow and stand in line on a mile-long queue to receive her Atomium scarf made from that modern synthetic fabric - nylon. Incidentally, the Soviet Union participated in the Brussels International Exhibition with its major contribution: a replica of Sputnik.

    Authors Boris and Arkady Strugatsky

    I was woken by the flapping of wings and an unpleasant screeching. The room was filled with a strange, bluish half-light. The vulture on the stove was rustling its feathers, screaming repulsively and ganging its wings against the ceiling. I sat up and looked around. Floating in the air at the centre of the room was a big tough-looking bozo in tracksuit trousers and a striped Hawaiian shirt. - Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Monday Starts on Saturday

  2. Evgeny Evgeny says:

    A buddy read with my friend Sarah. I am not going to mention I tricked her into this.

    Who is the greatest science fiction writer of US? Robert A. Heinlein? Roger Zelazny? Ray Bradbury? Issac Asimov? Hard to pick one. Who is the greatest science fiction writer of GB? Arthur C. Clarke? H.G. Wells? Neil Gaiman? Again hard to pick one. Who is the greatest science fiction writer of the former Soviet Union writing in Russian? This question is laughably easy. Ask anybody who was lucky to live in that country and the answer would be: Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. As science fiction writers the brothers were on their own level; some people came close, but nobody quite managed to reach it.

    The second title of the book is A Fairy Tale for Young Scientists - this is a good description of what the book is about. It consists of three interconnecting stories. In the first one the main character, Alexander Privalov came from Leningrad to a northern Russian city for a vacation and ended up in a mysterious research institute called NITWITT (National Institute for the Technology of Witchcraft and Thaumaturgy). In other words, an institute researching magic. Spending a night in a hut with chicken legs and talking to a learned talking cat clued Alexander in.
    If you think it had some Harry Potter vibes you are absolutely right, except that this book was written at the time J.K. Rowling was still wearing diapers.

    In the second story Alexander became the unlucky one to get a work shift during New Year celebration. He walks around the institute (first four floors only) and we learn about different kinds of research done and all kinds of creatures working as assistants, cleaning staff, research material, etc. Think of any creature from any world mythology: it is there. High-level researchers deserve to be mentioned. How is about a guy formerly known as The Grand Inquisitor? His behavior mellowed out somewhat, but his methods did not. It should be obvious Merlin is there as well. He is written after Merlin of Mark Twain and Strugatsky brothers managed to make him even more hilarious than the classic of American literature did.
    The second story is full of funny moments.
    “Strange department, this. Their motto was: The comprehension of Infinity requires infinite time. I did not argue with that, but then they derived an unexpected conclusion from it: Therefore work or not, it´s all the same.
    In the interests of not increasing the entropy of the universe, they did not work.”

    The last story is about routine life of the institute. Only routine cannot be applied to such a place. Here Alexander got to use a time machine and the authors use his trip to satirize all of well-known cliches and staples of science fiction. One of them in particular made me re-think the way the cloths are described not only in science fiction, but literature in general. The book ends with Alexander and a group of his friends cracking the mystery of the institute's director.

    I talked to quite a few people doing research at the time the book was published. Their common opinion was, Strugatsky nailed the atmosphere and people. Personally for me this book is a tribute to scientists of the Soviet Union who loved their work, lived it, and were enthusiastic about it. These are the people that opened the space for humanity.

    It also has satiric description of people that did not belong, strictly speaking. I am talking about bureaucrats, people that never produced anything useful - but were able to create a great PR around their so-called research. I already mentioned about satire related to poor writing in science fiction.

    On the top of this (actually first and foremost) the book is genuinely funny. Unless I lost count it was my tenth reread and I still find parts to laugh at, despite my ability to quote some of the passages from memory. In other words, if this is not a 5-star book, I do not know what is.

    P.S. The latest English translation (by Andrew Bromfield) is quite good. Knowledge of Russian folklore and culture in general is not necessary, but it will make some of the parts funnier. For example, knowledge of the beginning of Pushkin's Ruslan and Ludmila helps understand the strange situations Alexander stumbled in the first story.

    P.P.S. I keep my CV handy since the first time I read the book - in case NITWITT starts hiring.

  3. Dan Dan says:

    This is one of the most fun and enjoyable books I've read in a very long time and it totally came of out of left field for me.

    There is a great documentary on YouTube titled Pandora's Box : The Engineers' Plot about how the Soviet Union attempted to use mathematical and scientific principles to bring about the greatest amount of happiness and comfort to the Russian people. Through pure logic and reason the Soviet scientists hoped to control an illogical and irrational population. This was a real thing and it went on for decades. And it was a total failure.

    This book was published in the late 1960's during the beginning of a period of Soviet economic downturn. The (relatively) prosperous days of the 1950's and early 1960's of the Soviet Union were coming to an end and the reality of grossly inefficient Soviet rule was apparent to everyone - though not many people said anything publicly. The authors, one of whom was actually an astronomer, would have had a front row seat to many of the societal events of their day from a very unique perspective.

    And that's what this book is about.

    But it's not just about making fun of the Soviet Union - it's about how all institutions are a bungled mess of competing egos and endless bureaucratic quicksands. But unlike Kafka, they take a much more lighthearted approach to the joke of all human society.

    Years ago I was friends with a lady who, like Boris Natanovich Strugatsky, was a scientist. She was one of those wiz-kid PhD's by her mid twenties and had done so in the field of astrophysics. At the time I was working with a friend making hand built telescopes for the (rich) amateur enthusiasts and so she was always coming by our shop and hanging around.

    What I quickly learned, however, was that a genius PhD in astrophysics is not nearly as interesting or romantic as it sounds. Her job was (if I remember this right) the study of the gravitational effect between two incredibly distant galaxies and just those two galaxies. She didn't study anything else about those galaxies or any other structures in the universe, she only studied how gravity worked on a pair of multi-billion year old galaxies in a constellation I had never even heard of.

    And her knowledge of general astronomy was laughable in many regards. Current news and discoveries were things she was totally unaware of and was probably why she hung around us so that she wouldn't totally lose touch with the greater scope of the field she was working in.

    This book deals with pretty much the same idea: scientists have become so hyper-specialized (and, honestly, everyone in higher academia suffers this fate) as to be nearly useless. Here, the scientists are all magus (magicians and wizards - even Merlin himself) who work at an institute devoted to discovering and perfecting human happiness. Their tools include a couch that interperts dreams, a sort of motorcycle that you can drive into the invented future realities of science fiction books. In town there is a mermaid in a tree and a wish fulfilling pike in a well. There are coins that always show back up in your pocket when you spend them and a man who is two men, one who at midnight instead of living into the next day like the rest of us time linear folks, reappears 24 hours earlier and lives that day instead.

    It's a totally bonkers idea, but that's the whole point, too because in a way it mirrors not only what was going on in the Soviet Union at the time, but also what still goes on in the Ivory Towers of higher-learning around the world.

    But there's a larger theme at work here, too, and that's of how the general public sees science. For many people the work of the scientists is not much different than that of a magician because it's nearly impossible to explain what scientists actually do. Academic papers might as well be fairy tales for all the good they do a regular person who has to go to work all day.

    The authors then go on to make parallels to the media and the 'rock star' scientist who does no real science but the public loves them because they do a lot of neat tricks (like a magician).

    Even economics is explored where they take their egotistical, rock star scientist, and task him with trying to create the perfect man but who only turns out to be so incredibly gluttonous because he has everything he wants and can be given everything he wants as to literally explode after gorging on nearly 3 tons of rotting fish heads.

    Not bad that they could expose the failings of both Capitalism and Communism with only one metaphor!

    And there is so much more here, too. That's what I love about this book - it's great fun and wildly imaginative, but it also gets you to really think about a great many concepts and ideas without hitting you over the head with them.

    The book is outrageous, the characters are thinner than the pages, there is no dramatic tension at all, but none of that stuff matters because the ideas rule here. And there are also some wonderfully powerful images that will linger : the ride into the future where we meet the soldier near the Iron Curtain thousands of years into the future, or the bird, or my favorite: the giant, lazy mosquito the size of a dog that he shoos out the window into a driving blizzard in the middle of the night where it immediately disappears in the storm and cold.

    Strange and brilliant.

  4. ✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans) ✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans) says:

    🧙 Most Frolicsome Soviet Wizards R Us Buddy Read (MFSWRUBR™) with Evgeny (aka He Who Forces Me To Read All This Russian Stuff Against My Nefarious Will) 🧙

    Actual rating: 8.568426 stars

    ⚠️ This crappy non-review is a disgraceful disgrace, and a revolting insult to the Greatness that is this book. Thou hast been warned and stuff.

    There’s really just one thing you need to know about this Slightly Very Good Book (SVGB™): the characters in it work at a place called NITWITT. Don’t believe me? Check this out:

    Ha! Now if that isn’t the best incentive to read a story ever, I don’t know what is. And for those of you who show spectacular lack of judgement think this frolicsome NITWITT business isn’t reason enough to pick this SVGB™ up, here are a few things that better might entice you to read it post haste:

    ① Evgeny might unleash his Villainously Villainous Minions (VVM™) on you if you don’t. (Given that I am one of said minions, expect a friendly visit from the murderous crustaceans pronto and stuff.) But hey, no pressure and stuff.

    ② NITWITT stands for National Institute for the Technology of Witchcraft and Thaumaturgy. I want to work there when I grow up. Because it is “gloriously, colourfully and perfectly believably dysfunctional.” Meaning complete, utter, delicious wackiness abounds, and the place is packed with complete loonies (aka one of the mostest gloriousest cast of characters ever). In other words, the perfect work environment for my nefarious little self and stuff.

    Yeah, more or less. Only that NITWIIT has magic tablecloths, flying-carpets, people who can spell ‘ghoul’ properly (don’t ask), mermaids that clamber around in trees, pseudo-monkeys in white coats, a Department of Linear Happiness, truckloads of herring heads, a Department of Militant Atheism, caps of darkness, working models of gravitational seven-league boots, breeches of darkness, and self-playing psalteries. But no magic divan, I’m afraid. Anyway, moving on and stuff.

    ③ There’s a slightly unbalanced cat who suffers from memory loss, a condition that drives him slightly a little nuts sometimes. Also, he sings and tells the most fascinating stories. Well the parts he remembers, anyway.

    ‘And in the field, the fiaowld,’ he sang, ‘the pliaow runs of itself, and mmm-eh … mmmiaow, and following that pliaow … mmiaow … Our Lord himself does walk … or stalk?’
    ④ Hahahahahahahaha. Hahahahahaha. Ha. Hahaha. Hahahahaha ← I think this kinda sorta means this book made me laugh some. Not much though. Just a little bit and stuff.

    ④ Baba Yaga FTW! Okay, so my favorite grandma isn’t at her best here, what with her broomstick being in a museum and her flying mortar not getting repaired, but she’s still the coolest, most fun-loving gram ever, if you ask me.

    See what I mean?

    ⑤ Evgeny read this book too many as many times as I’ve read Burn for Me. This should tell you something. Yes, it should.

    ⑥ There’s a pike that has rheumatism and speaks in a strong northern Russian accent. (Which I am told is a teensy little bit unusual for a pike.) So QED and stuff.

    ⑦ Merlin (yes, that Merlin) is head of the Department of Predictions and Prophecies. And has lots of interesting stuff to say about his fight against Yankee imperialism back in the Middle Ages *waves at Mark Twain* Also, he has a miracle cure for radiculitis. I kid you not.

    ⑦ Scrumptiously Scrumptious Stuff (S³) galore: service personnel imps + flying-broom squadrons and the Hundred Years’ War + ifrits trained as flame-throwing anti-elephant pursuit battalions by King Solomon Himself and In The Flesh + printers that, um, you know, print stuff like “I’m thinking. Please do not disturb” + macrodemons called Entrance and Exit who play roulette + parrots that were cremated tomorrow and no longer exist but come back asking for sugar + cadavers whose total scientific value is “quite clearly zero” + cumbersome copper aquavitometers =

    Get it? Good.

    ➽ Nefarious Last Words (NLW™): this book in a nutshell? Alice's in Wonderland meets Doorways in the Sand meets the Marx Brothers’ cabin. I rest in my case and stuff.

    P.S. I have to say that my Evil Russian Translator of a Nemesis Andrew Bromfield managed not to mess the translation up this time did a pretty good job with this translation. Color me slightly discombobulated and stuff. So kudos to him and stuff.

    [Pre-review nonsense]

    So much original originality, so much hilarious hilarity.

    So much delicious nonsense, so much scrumptious absurdity.

    So much brilliant wit, so much scintillating cleverness.

    How dare some puny humans compare this Slightly Very Wondrous Book (SVWB™) to Harry Potter and Discworld?! (I have nothing against Little Harry, but DISCWORLD?! *starts convulsing a little*) This is most outrageously outrageous indeed, and calls for immediate, ruthless retaliation, if you ask me.

    ➽ Full review to come. Someday. When pigs have wings, chickens have teeth, and crayfish whistle on the mountain. Maybe.

  5. carol. carol. says:

    First published in 1965, Monday Starts on Sunday has an unusual feel. Written by a pair of Russian brothers, it applies elements of folklore and fantasy to social commentary on institutions and politics, with a solid dollop of humor on top. I was drawn to it for the above reasons, along with the comparison to Zelazny, and found it enjoyable, as long as I was in the exact right reading mood.

    This is not one of those books that can cajole me into enjoying regardless of attention and mood. No doubt, some of this is due to cultural and temporal barriers--here I am, a female American, reading this almost 55 years later--but much is owed to the actual whole of the stories themselves. There's the barest of characterizations--though I think we are likely to sympathize with the 'straight' man narrator who is recruited into the craziness--but that's really beside the point, because some of the people exist to present ridiculous situations. This can work--think of oft-compared work, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy--

    --boy, am I ever interrupting myself today. Excuse me while I drink more coffee--but what ended up killing it for me was that the situations were interrupted by somewhat didactic narrative about what was happening. Essentially, tone down the absurdity of Hitchhikers, fail to apply even its loosest semblance of plotting, and then interpret said absurd situations for the reader.

    All this is to explain why it took me a ridiculous amount of time (by my own standard) to read it, having started and re-started in fits. All that said, once I found my reading groove, it was amusing in spots, and Strugatsky's commentary does seem on point.

    Structurally, it's really three novellas, loosely linked. The first includes a number of folklore references, so if you have read fairly-standard Russian folklore, it's particularly fun. The second is more research institution commentary, and while it is occasionally biting, it's also a bit fond as well. The whole reason Monday starts on Saturday, you see, is because these people love what they do.

    I can appreciate that, and I can also appreciate some of the institutional and political commentary, if only there wasn't so much of it. The man from the first story is now a member of the Institute, and is charged with maintaining order on the eve of the new year, when everyone should be out celebrating. Only as he makes his rounds, people keep trickling back in. They end up watching the research of the Happiness Department as his latest project is decanted: the Happiest Man, who is non-coincidentally, a literal consumer. It's obvious to everyone that the researcher is a bit of an ass and the experiment will be a disaster, but like a Saturday Night Live skit gone on for ten minutes instead of three, it turns into variations on a theme.

    I never got past this story because I kept falling asleep. I felt like I had to restart to get the rhythm of the text and the story, but then would get sleepier and sleepier. It didn't help that there were a number of extremely chaotic happenings in my personal life during the time I had the book checked out. I kept hoping for a more opportune time, but instead Life kept throwing up challenges. I finally surrendered, and paid my library fine.

    Honestly, I don't know that I can recommend it to most readers. Because it is so much about the subtext, the actual plotting didn't seem to be enough to drive the story. It would help a great deal if one was familiar with socioeconomic theories as well as the general political state of the major world powers prior to 1965 to appreciate the subtext. And clearly, knowledge of Russian culture and history would be particularly helpful. None of these are needed, persay, but I think all of these are probably what makes it a more standout text, much in the same way Doorways in the Sand pulls in so many references beyond the simple (but bananas!) plot.

  6. George George says:

    What a fun read. Now How the hell am I going to get my hands on the rest of the books from this series in English... Younger Me You Fool, Why didn't you pay attention in Russian classes back in high school!?

    Anyway, regrets aside, to the review. The book comprises three humorous short stories featuring Soviet Scientists/Wizards working at NITWITT (National Institute for the Technology of Witchcraft and Thaumaturgy) and their daily troubles. By the style it's like the wizards from The Unseen University but written almost 20 years before Pratchett's Discworld series and dealing with typical Soviet (and basically any variation of a socialist regime) bureaucracy, inept administration, a dishonest, show-horse professor, and equipment failures. Not to mention fairy tales gone wrong: Baba Yagas property belonging to the state and waiting for compensation, the wish granting Gold Fish died from a depth charge in WWII, the wish granting trout exhausted from giving televisions and radios to the people, the all knowing cat suffering from dementia and many many more.

    The characters are almost all scientists working at the institute trying to figure out happiness, meaning of life and solve mathematically proven unsolvable problems, while arguing, debating and trying to survive their other colleagues. And who knew that Merlin was a staunch Communist before Karl Marx.

    And finally the brilliant title Monday Starts on a Saturday that reflects the authors ideal of a proper scientist.

  7. Caro the Helmet Lady Caro the Helmet Lady says:

    I just finished listening to a magnificent audio version and I already know I'm ready to do it again. Says me, who rarely does audio-books, because audio-books put me to sleep. Well, with this one I couldn't doze off because I laughed too often.
    I had soooooo much fun! Both on the intellectual level as well as shits and giggles level, because this book has it all. On one hand it's a pity I haven't read this one as a teen, but on the other I'm pretty sure I would miss most of political allusions together with all the tongue-in-cheek-ness Strugatskys put into this book. Anyway, it can never be too late for a great timeless classic. Even if it is in fact a tad dated - of course it's full of komsomolskiy optimism and enthusiasm for science and future - I still think it aged rather well, much better in fact than some of the western sci-fi books written in 60'ies. And much better than other soviet sci-fi for sure.
    A sudden thought - if I first read this and then later Zelazny and Pratchett, they wouldn't probably seem so fresh and original to me... But no worries - I still love them.
    Anyway, gotta get myself more Strugatskys this year, definitely got to reread Roadside Picnic soon... 5 stars for this one!

  8. Vlad Vlad says:

    Maybe I'm too dumb for some books. Or maybe some books are too dumb for me. I've no idea which was the case here.

    Fun though. An extra star for that. Even though it wasn't the fun kind of fun.

  9. Genia Lukin Genia Lukin says:

    One of the best books I've ever read. I keep rereading it from time to time when I need a chuckle at the foolishness of life, or when I am too stressed with exams and research papers for my own good.

    The Brothers Strugatsky managed to satirise everything under the sun: Academic research, communist optimism, science-fiction (and especially science-fiction authors), academia, and on and on.

    The book might prove a touch impenetrable for the foreign language (English or otherwise) reader, due to its reliance, especially in the first part, on Russian folk tales. But this is hardly a problem that cannot be overcome with a measure of footnotes and creative extrapolation.

  10. Victor Sonkin Victor Sonkin says:

    I started rereading it almost by accident because I wanted to find the time-travelers' contramotic Tunguska reference (which is tucked away at the very end), and the book was nice and pleasing in some chunks and rather irritating in others. It's very obvious how it has aged (something that is ridiculed by the authors themselves in the scene where Privalov is witnessing the worlds depicted by science fiction authors; and, for example, in these same scenes the sexual division of labor is glaringly obvious, but it's not something Privalov is commenting on). The second part is the most boring; there's no plot to speak of; but as an illustration of the frame of mind of a certain chunk of Soviet intelligentsia it's certainly very interesting.