Dystopian masterpieces: The Strugatski brothers' "Snail On The Slope"

An appropriate book for this time, Soviet-era dystopian fiction grandmasters Boris and Arkady Strugatski considered Snail On The Slope "the most perfect and the most valuable of their works."

Snail on The Slope is comprised of two separate storylines, taking place in and on the edge of The Forest. Together they paint a vivid picture of how modern society is not prepared for the future it is driving towards.

The Bureaucracy has established The Administration on the edge of The Forest. Peretz, a visiting philosopher enthralled with the idea of The Forest but unable to gain clearance to actually see it just wants to leave. Every day he is promised a ride back to civilization, but it never comes. Evicted from the hotel and with his visa revoked, Peretz is suddenly outside a system that doesn't even work when you are ensconced within.

Candide is a survivor of a crashed Administration helicopter in The Forest. Initially, he encounters villagers who appear to be current-ish era humans losing their technology, science, and civilization in a future where physics and biology are evolving faster than they are. Exploring The Forest even slightly more introduces him to new cultures he and the remnants of his humanity could not have predicted or prepared for.

I highly recommend Snail on the Slope.

The Snail on the Slope (Rediscovered Classics) Kindle Editionby Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Olena Bormashenko (Author, Translator) via Amazon Read the rest

'Monday Starts on Saturday' is an absurdist romp thru a dystopian Bell Labs

Monday Starts on Saturday is the Strugatsky brothers' uniquely Soviet take on the future of research and the institutions that perform it. This gem from 1964 is not to be missed.

Sasha, a young computer programmer, is recruited by some hitchhikers to join them at their off-the-rails think-tank: the National Institute for the Technology of Witchcraft and Thaumaturgy. Imagine Harry Potter's Ministry of Magic, set in the Soviet Union and given the noble task of researching true happiness for all people, regardless the cost.

Better known as NITWiT, the institute is home to a dizzying array of sideways experiments, baffling discoveries and talking animals. The Strugatsky's viciously parody dysfunctional element of a bureaucratic, government-run research facility, lambasting the politics, laziness and narcissism while also sharing some wonderful characters and mind bending experiments. NITWiT's director doesn't exist in linear time, Baba Yaga's hut is running around in the back ground and Maxwell's "macrodemons" make a fantastic appearance.

I have only read this translation, but others are available online, at least in-part free.

Monday Starts on Saturday by Boris and Arkday Strugatsky, translated by Andrew Bromfield via Amazon Read the rest

The best dystopian fiction you'll ever read

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. Read the rest

The Dead Mountaineer's Inn by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky

From Russia's masters of science fiction comes a manorhouse murder mystery parody that puts Clue to shame. The Dead Mountaineer's Inn is every bit as clever, and queer, a novel as I've come to expect from the brothers Strugatsky.

Visiting a remote ski chalet, Inspector Glebsky just wants to relax and unwind. In the manner of an Agatha Christie novel, the Strugatsky's characters are introduced and shortly events unfurl. Everyone is trapped at the chalet and there is a dead body. Well, it is probably a dead body, and it is probably human, but the more Glebsky investigates the less he really knows.

Roadside Picnic is one of my favorite science fiction novels. It is absolutely wonderful on so many levels, I'd wondered if other works by the Strugatsky's could possibly impress me as much. While The Dead Mountaineer's Inn may not leave you pondering the crushing irrelevance of humanity, is fantastic and will not disappoint.

The Dead Mountaineer's Inn: One More Last Rite for the Detective Genre (Neversink) Read the rest