A Manuscript Discovered Under Strange Circumstances
Melville House Publishing, Paperback, 9781612192819, 149pp.
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Boris and Arkady Strugatsky were the greatest science fiction writers of the Soviet era: their books were intellectually provocative and riotously funny, full of boldly imagined scenarios and veiled--but clear--social criticism. Which may be why "Definitely Maybe" has never before been available in an uncensored edition, let alone in English.
It tells the story of astrophysicist Dmitri Malianov, who has sent his wife and son off to her mother's house in Odessa so that he can work, free from distractions, on the project he's sure will win him the Nobel Prize.
But he'd have an easier time making progress if he wasn't being interrupted all the time: First, it's the unexpected delivery of a crate of vodka and caviar. Then a beautiful young woman in an unnervingly short skirt shows up at his door. Then several of his friends--also scientists--drop by, saying they all felt they were on the verge of a major discovery when they got . . . distracted . . .
Is there an ominous force that doesn't want knowledge to progress? Or could it be something more . . . natural?
In this nail-bitingly suspenseful book, the Strugatsky brothers bravely and brilliantly question authority: an authority that starts with crates of vodka, but has lightning bolts in store for humans who refuse to be cowed.
Solomon Volkov is the award-winning author of several notable books about Russian culture, including "St. Petersburg: A Cultural History" and "Shostakovich and Stalin," published worldwide. After moving to the United States from the Soviet Union, he became a cultural commentator for Voice of America and later for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, broadcasting to the USSR (and later, Russia), where he discussed contemporary artistic developments in his former homeland. He lives in New York City with his wife, Marianna.
The prizewinning translator Antonina W. Bouis is known for her work with contemporary Russian literature.
“A great truth is this: Some discoveries, like the sting of a painful memory, do a number on your psyche. Definitely Maybe accomplishes just that… You’ll laugh, you’ll look around suspiciously, you’ll throw the text across the room. You’ll pick it back up and go on, gladly welcoming the distraction.” —NPR
“One of the Strugatsky brothers is descended from Gogol and the other from Chekhov, but nobody is sure which is which. Together they have now proved quite definitely that a visit from a gorgeous blonde, from a disappearing midget, from your mother-in-law, and from the secret police, are all manifestations of a cosmic principle of homeostasis, maybe. This is definitely, not maybe, a beautiful book.”
—Ursula K. Le Guin
“Surely one of the best and most provocative novels I have ever read, in or out of sci-fi.”
“Provocative, delicately paced and set against a rich physical and psychological background, this is one of the best novels of the year.”
Praise for Roadside Picnic
“It’s a book with an extraordinary atmosphere—and a demonstration of how science fiction, by using a single bold central metaphor, can open up the possibilities of the novel.”
—Hari Kunzru, The Guardian
“Gritty and realistic but also fantastical, this is a novel you won’t easily put down—or forget.” —io9
“It has survived triumphantly as a classic.”
Praise for the Strugatsky brothers
“The Strugatsky brothers demonstrate that they are realists of the fantastic inasmuch as realism in fantasy betokens a respect for logical consequence, an honesty in deducing all conclusions entirely from the assumed premises.”
“[In writing Gun, with Occasional Music], I fused the Chandler/Ross MacDonald voice with those rote dystopia moves that I knew backwards and forwards from my study of Ballard, Dick, Orwell, Huxley, and the Brothers Strugatsky.”
“Successive generations of Russian intellectuals were raised on the Strugatskys. Their books can be read with a certain pair of spectacles on as political commentaries on Soviet society or indeed any repressive society.”
—Muireann Maguire, The Guardian
“Their protagonists are often caught up in adventures not unlike those of pulp-fiction heroes, but the story line typically veers off in unpredictable directions, and the intellectual puzzles that animate the plots are rarely resolved. Their writing has an untidiness that is finally provocative; they open windows in the mind and then fail to close them all, so that, putting down one of their books, you feel a cold breeze still lifting the hairs on the back of your neck.”
—The New York Times