Letterboxes and postboxes in various colours and available personalised in the UK Buy BBC products from the BBC Shop.com 
Home
Contact
About Us
 

Slightly Better Books

Author Focus:

Arkady & Boris Strugatsky

Science Fiction & Fantasy

1st for Toys, Click here!

 
AbeBooks.co.uk

Search Slightly Better Books
powered by FreeFind
 
 
 
Arkady & Boris Strugatsky

In Pictures:

 

****Hyperlinked titles will take you to our copy on sale or prebuilt searches of copies on sale****

Useful Links:
Books on Ebay-see our specially prebuilt search below
Books on Amazon-see our specially prebuilt banner below

Titles to Look Out For:
1975. Hard to Be A God
1977. Roadside Picnic
1977. Prisoners of Power

About the Authors:
Arkady Strugatsky (1925-1991) and Boris Strugatsky (1931-) were the leading SF writers in Russia-a country where SF is more popular than in the West. They began to collaborate in the early 1950s after Arkady had studied English and Japanese and worked as a technical translator and editor and Boris had worked as a computer mathematician. Their work includes 'Hard to Be a God', 'Definitely Maybe', and 'The Snail on the Slope'. Andrei Tarkovsky's much-admired film 'Stalker' was based on Roadside Picnic

The Author at Amazon:

Strugatsky, Arkady & Boris. 'Hard to Be A God', published by Eyre Methuen Ltd in 1975  from the Russian original text published in 1964, 219pp, ISBN 0413452603. Sorry, sold out, but click image to access prebuilt search for this title on Amazon
Sorry, sold out, but click image to access prebuilt search for this title on Amazon

Alternative online retailers to try:
Click here to access our prebuilt search for this title on Abebooks

Or click here to access our prebuilt search for this title on Ebay

Or click here to access our prebuilt search for this title on Alibris

Or try Biblio

Alibris UK: books, movies & music

AbeBooks.co.ukFind this book at Biblio.com!

 

 

  • Hard to Be A God [top]
    First published in 1964 in Russia entitled Trudno Byt Bogom, published by Vsesojuznoje Objedinenije, "Mezhdunarodnaja Kniga", Moscow
    First published in 1975 in Great Britain by Eyre Methuen in hardback with dustjacket, 219pp, ISBN 0413452603. Original UK retail price: £3.55 net
    Translated by Wendayne Ackerman, by arrangement with Forrest J. Ackerman
  • Rating out of 5: 4/5. Excellent story, if slow moving at first. Sometimes odd...

Storyline: Blending science fiction with social criticism, this imaginative work has been acclaimed by Russian critics as the best utopian novel of Russian literature. 250 Earthmen are sent to an alien world to infiltrate and monitor the humanisation of an alien society, but they find it in a state of brutal feudalism, rule by armed terror and convulsed by sinister power struggles. The story follows one particular "monitor", Anton, who goes under the name of Don Rumata on the alien planet; Anton's mission to Arkanar becomes a series of bizarre adventures and, in circumstances frighteningly reminiscent of an earlier stage of human development, his tolerance and ingenuity are severely tested; his mandate and ability to remain merely an "observer" crumbles. Anton's childhood friend Pashka is on the alien planet as well, under the name of "Don Hug".

Whilst the story starts off slowly and the translation from the Russian is clearly not perfect at times, it improves considerably as it goes along; and some of this improvement is to do with the reader mentally adjusting to the storyline and reaching the point where he or she accepts they're just not going to be able to understand or explain everything going on. A good example of this is the fact that the prologue seemingly bears absolutely no relation to the main story. There's no clear link between the two because not all the characters from the prologue are in the main narrative, nor are their names the same. The Epilogue helps draw the pieces together, but really at this point you need to go back and reread the whole book bearing in mind the new information! Also the central message that the epilogues are supposed to convey is a little lost in the translation with the result that the message is therefore confused and its edge is blunted.

There's no question that this is a classic work - there are heavy overtones of Russian history (and world history) in this book, with kings and ministers conspiring and intriguing against each other, killing each other's and their own supporters and anyone else who might get in the way. Fear and oppression being the name of the game and the threat of where the sword would fall next. The Russian influences in this work are very attractive and familiar to the audience. For example the "bad guy" gray troops in the story who spend their time hunting down learned men and disposing of them, are called Sturmoviks; and the fact they are called the "grays" is reminiscent of the red and white forces of the Soviet revolution facing off against each other. These boorish, ignorant, undisciplined and brutal gray forces could easily have been given more of a part in the book to help emphasise the threat these troops represented, a threat which did not come through clearly enough.

One large quibble lies with the showdown scene that eventually occurs between the "bad guy" running the show, Don Reba (security minister of Arkanar) and Don Rumata (Anton). The reader senses that this showdown will occur at some point. It's just a question of when and where. But when it comes, it's nowhere near powerful enough and it could have been a lot more brutal and a lot more angry and passionate. If the character of Don Reba had been developed to a much uglier version of the "bad guy" figure that he comes across as, this would have helped bring about a powerful confrontation. But, essentially the showdown scene is odd - essentially because Don Reba just backs down from destroying Rumata far too easily. "Caving in" is an expression that comes to mind. It just doesn't fit with who Don Reba is supposed to be.

Another grievance is that the authors also didn't quite explain why the gray troops would hunt down bookworms and academics, but leave the nobility alone (the noble dons). This aspect of the story just didn't sit comfortably, although one can see that the impunity of the nobility was a convenient basis for explaining how the Earth "observer" Rumata was able to get around Arkanar and watch what was going on, broadcasting the events to the control centre back on Earth where historians there would record the proceedings for posterity.

Looking at Rumata's observer role on the alien planet, the reader can't help but wonder what they would have done in a similar situation; would they have tried to change things for the better like Rumata? Was he just making things worse by giving the subjects of his observation unrealistic expectations? If you relate what you read to the world today, Rumata's role is not far from being the same kind of role that United Nations troops must frequently find themselves in- watching havoc and chaos unfolding around them, without the mandate to intervene. Would Rumata have suffered in quite the way he did, if he had remained impassive and uninvolved...?

It's a great book - it asks great questions which are not all that easily asked...and when it comes down to it, nor are they that easily answered.

 

Strugatsky, Boris & Arkady. 'Roadside Picnic', published in 2007 by Gollancz (Orion), pbk, 152pp, ISBN 9780575079786. Very good condition, read once. Price: £2.50, not including p&p, which is Amazon's standard price (currently £2.75 for UK buyers, more for overseas buyers)
2007, Gollancz
Click to buy for £2.50! (not including p&p)

Alternative online retailers to try:
Click here to access our prebuilt search for this title on Abebooks

Or click here to access our prebuilt search for this title on Ebay

Or click here to access our prebuilt search for this title on Alibris

Or try Biblio

 

 

  • Roadside Picnic [top]
    Reprinted in 1978 by The Science Fiction Book Club (Readers Union), hardcover with dustjacket, 148pp
    Reprinted in 2007 by Gollancz (Orion) in Great Britain in paperback, No. 68 in the SF Masterworks Series, 152pp, ISBN 9780575079786 . Retail price when originally sold: £6.99
    Illustration by Dominic Harman/Arena

Story: Roadside Picnic is set in the Zone, part of Canada which has been the scene of a mysterious alien visit. The debris left behind by the aliens-the equivalent, it is theorised, of the litter we might scatter around at a picnic-is as incomprehensible as they are. Much of it is highly dangerous, but there are some artifacts-such as self-reproducing everlasting batteries-which revolutionise man's technology. The possible rewards of such a discovery are sufficient to persuade some people to risk entering the Zone, either in official scientific explorations, or as clandestine 'stalkers', feeding a flourishing black market. The novel follows the career of one such stalker, Redrick Schuhart, one of those misfits who are compelled, in spite of the extreme danger, to venture illegally into the Zone to collect the mysterious artefacts that the alien visitors left scattered around. His life is dominated by the place and the thriving black market in the alien products.

Main Characters:
Redrick Schuhart (stalker, and at the start of the book, lab assistant at the Harmont Branch of the International Institute for Extraterrestrial Cultures)
Guta (Redrick's girlfriend)
Monkey-Redrick's daughter
Richard Herbert Noonan ("Dick")
Kirill Panov (Lab Researcher at the Harmont Branch of the International Institute for Extraterrestrial Cultures)
Arthur Burbridge (son of Buzzard Burbridge)

Non-main characters:
Captain Willy Herzog ("The Hog"): Chief of Security at the Harmont Branch of the International Institute for Extraterrestrial Cultures
Dr Valentine Pillman
Dina Burbridge (Buzzard's wife)

Gollancz SF, 2007, pbk

Gollancz SF, 2000, pbk

Strugatsky, Arkady & Boris. 'Prisoners of Power', published in 1978 by Victor Gollancz in hardback, 286pp, 057502545x. Sorry, sold out, but click image to access prebuilt search for this title on Amazon UK. Price: £24.95, not including p&p, which is Amazon's standard charge (currently £2.75 for UK buyers, more for overseas customers)
1978. Victor Gollancz
In stock, click to buy for £24.95 (not including p&p)

Strugatsky, Arkady & Boris. 'Prisoners of Power' published in 1978 by Collier Books, a division of Collier Macmillan, pbk, 286pp, ISBN 0020255802. Sorry, sold out, but click image to access prebuilt search for this title on Amazon!
1978, Collier Books
Sorry, sold out

Alternative online retailers to try:
Click here to access our prebuilt search for this title on Abebooks

Or click here to access our prebuilt search for this title on Ebay

Or click here to access our prebuilt search for this title on Alibris

Or try Biblio

  • Prisoners of Power [top]
    First published in 1978 in Great Britain by Victor Gollancz in hardback, 286pp, ISBN 057502545X
    Published in 1978 in the US by Collier Books, a division of Collier Macmillan Publishers, paperback, 286pp, ISBN 0020255802

Story: Maxim, a space scout exploring alien worlds, is marooned on an Earthlike planet which is recovering from a devastating nuclear holocaust that has reduced much of its civilisation to rubble without resolving any of the conflicts which caused it. The twin super powers-the Khonti empire and the country in which Maxim arrives, ruled by the all-powerful Creators-are still at each others' throats. Maxim is inducted into the Legion, where a part of his duties is the tracking down and extermination of 'degens', antisocial elements who are also deemed to be Khonti spies. Degens can be identified because they are the only people partially immune to a form of thought-control exercised by the Creators in their search for absolute power, and, siding with the degens, he becomes involved in the fight to overthrow them.

Prisoners of Power is described as an angry and passionate novel about lust for power, and the corrupting influence it wields

 



Arkady & Boris Strugatsky Books/Magazines on Ebay:

[top]
 
Arkady & Boris Strugatsky Books on Amazon:
[please note that lack of pricing for a book does not mean book is out of stock, but that there are only secondhand copies available]

[top]