Yellow Blue Tibia

Yellow Blue Tibia

[a Novel]

Book - 2009
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Russia, 1946, the Nazis recently defeated. Stalin gathers half a dozen of the top Soviet science fiction authors in a dacha in the countryside somewhere. Convinced that the defeat of America is only a few years away, and equally convinced that the Soviet Union needs a massive external threat to hold it together, to give it purpose and direction, he tells the writers: 'I want you to concoct a story about aliens poised to invade earth ... I want it to be massively detailed, and completely believable. If you need props and evidence to back it up, then we can create them. But when America is defeated, your story must be so convincing that the whole population of Soviet Russia believes in it--the population of the whole world!' The little group of writers gets down to the task and spends months working on it.

But then new orders come from Moscow: they are told to drop the project; Stalin has changed his mind; forget everything about it. So they do. They get on with their lives in their various ways; some of them survive the remainder of Stalin's rule, the changes of the 50s and 60s. And then, in the aftermath of Chernobyl, the survivors gather again, because something strange has started to happen. The story they invented in 1946 is starting to come true ...

A typically mind-blowing SF novel from one of the genre's literary stars.

Publisher: London : Gollancz, 2009.
ISBN: 9780575083578
Characteristics: 326 p. ; 25 cm.


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Aug 29, 2015

The story arc in Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts starts off conventionally enough and quickly evolves into something wholly unpredictable, with slapstick set pieces that would have been at home in Don Quijote or in a Vonnegut novel. It’s been a long time since I’ve laughed out loud reading a novel.

Reading the premise, you think Roberts is giving us a spy novel or SF thriller—and true enough there are several intense action sequences (most memorable is the one where our geriatric hero Konstantin manages to immobilize a KGB henchman). But the dominant narrative tone is that of absurdity along the lines of The Master and Margarita as Konstantin is flung from one ridiculous situation into another set against the backdrop of USSR Moscow on the verge of glasnost and perestroika reform.

Other reviewers have compared Roberts’s writing style here to Vonnegut and Bulgakov. With the heavy dose of satire, dry irony, and humor, that comparison is apt, I think.

Sep 09, 2011

Read this for a scifi book club. Here's link to Amazon info
Written as memoir of Konstantin Skvorecky , sci writer called upon the collaborate on a fictitious alien invasion story, then years later to apparantly witness it as a reality. Or one of several converging relaities. Starts off like a translation form a Russian text, choppy sentences, slow build. And those annoying multi-part names. But adds humour to poke fun at Russian insitutions and iron-clad beliefs. Not action packed, but entertaining, with enough twists to confound and coerce into turning the page.
This fiction is written as the autobiography of Russian sci-fi writer Konstantin Skvorecky. He and his fellow writers are summoned in 1946 to a Russian dacha, where Stalin orders them to invent an extraterrestrial menace as the next enemy for Communism to defeat. They barely get started when the project is cancelled and the group disbanded. Then, in the 1980's, in the beginnings of perestroika, past events and people re-enter Konstantin's life, reminiscent of their earlier story, with hints of conspiracies and cover-ups, and a link to the Chernobyl disaster. Konstantin is old and frail, not a heroic image, but a quick mind and a sharp tongue serve him well, His close friend, whose phobias include a fear of touching that would make Howie Mandel look like a cuddly Care Bear, is another unlikeable character, so quirky in fact that we end up being drawn to him also. Both show strong loyalty to each other, and a clear sense of right and wrong, in spite of the chaos and uncertainty around them. There are many digs at Soviet life, with it's paranoia, government controls, and economic failures. The story is hard to follow though, with seemingly conflicting events and time-lines. In addition, we have a hero that seems a little too lucky in his escapes. All this is eventually explained, somewhat satisfactorily, in terms of parallel universes, and we do have a happy ending. In several of them. The book finishes with a copy of the Wiki entry for Konstantin. More fiction, of course.

Mar 08, 2010

This book may become fantastic at some point after page 275. But I didn't get that far.

The story promises to be interesting, but fails on execution. The writing is good, as is the dialog, but the story is lacking. There's no story arc. There's no tension between the possibility of alien attack and reality that the main character is experiencing.

As much as I wanted to like this book, I was bored into submission and opted to stop reading.

If you're looking for Cold War sci fi, check out Charlie Stross's "Atrocity Archives" or something by Tim Powers.


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