who’d a thunk you could make a serious book containing the chernobyl disaster and alien invasion funny?
Adam Roberts, he’s got a way about him.
Our Hero, Konstantin Skvorecky, begins this tale as a science fiction writer in service to Josef Stalin and the post-WWII communist state. Stalin has commissioned Konsty and a bunch of other Russian sf writers to write a tale of alien invasion, to put some steel in those (!!!) flaccid Soviet spines. and then, precipitously, before the work is even finished, he orders them to forget they’d written it.
and so on… to Chernobyl.
Roberts says in the postscript to this novel that he was trying to account for an odd phenomenon: that millions of people claim to have been abducted by aliens (or otherwise seen UFOs, etc.), but that there is no general belief that aliens have actually been here. the explanation to this paradox that Roberts comes up with is a doozy. it will have you scanning the skies a little nervously, once you get over chuckling over Konsty’s almost superhuman ability not to get killed.
some readers have apparently objected to the lack of verisimilitude in this work–that the Russia he depicts is preposterously unrealistic. not having a dog in that fight, i personally did not find it an obstacle to enjoying this book. (sort of like looking at Rousseau’s tiger, knowing that Rousseau had never seen a tiger. it still works.) if you know something about Russian culture, you may find bothersome things in this book.
but if you’re curious how a major phenomenon can be both true and not true, plus you’d like a bunch of really good guffaws along the way, read it.