Russian science fiction authors Boris and Arkady Strugatsky created worlds and shared stories so fantastic, so well imagined, and so terrifyingly believable their work may create an existential crisis in even the most solidly confident individual. It has long been a challenge to find their work in English but a translation of The Doomed City, long considered their magnum opus, is finally available.
What would your science fiction look like if you already live in what the West considers to be a dystopian society? So many of the acclaimed, well-loved dystopian futures of Western science fiction are just knock offs of the Soviet Union or some weak twist on Orwell. Russian science fiction was being written in a society already experiencing the worst Westerners could imagine, and the stories they told were masterful. I frequently recommend Roadside Picnic to folks who believe humanity is impressive.
The Strugatsky brothers were held in special regard by Russian science fiction fans, their stories imbued with a deep despondency that arises from living in a world that does not even attempt to disguise ugly inequalities. These stories were politically risky in the Soviet Union, and their most ambitious work was The Doomed City.
Started in the late 1960s and finished in the early 70s, The Doomed City is a work so blatantly critical of the direction the Soviet Union was headed they were afraid to publish it until after glasnost and perestroika changed their world. An entire city is mysteriously populated by brilliant men and women drawn from all over the Earth and from various 20th century decades. The inhabitants are left to organize, and fend for themselves under the observation of a group of little-understood alien Mentors. The Mentors are looking for something, but they refuse to explain their Experiment. Even though the displaced humans are amongst the best and brightest humanity has to offer, they organize into an oppressive and overly bureaucratic state. Greed, stupidity and laziness leave them unprepared to deal with the smallest hardship. What they need is a real leader...
The Doomed City (Rediscovered Classics) via Amazon