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Monday Starts on Saturday Paperback – October 1, 2017
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"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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About the Author
Andrew Bromfield has translated into English works by Victor Pelevin, Boris Akunin, Sergei Lukyanenko, Mikhail Bulgakov, Daniil Kharms, Leo Tolstoy, and the Strugatsky brothers. Adam Roberts is the author of I Am Scrooge, Twenty Trillion Leagues Under the Sea, Jack Glass, Yellow Blue Tibia, and other novels.
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But as a whole I think there's plenty here to interest someone with little to no background. Even if you don't know much about Russian folklore or Soviet science, I think many readers will be able to get a sense of those things as they go. If you're the kind of person who has heard of the Strugatskys and is considering one of their books, you will probably enjoy the vampires playing cards, the pretentious wanking of lead scientist Vybegallo, and the hilarious image of Koshchei the Deathless sitting in his cell with a photo of "either Goldwater or McCarthy". The scene where Privalov tries to make himself breakfast made me laugh out loud, and when I read it to my husband, so did he. So I'm betting you will, too. If you're really concerned, pick up a book of Russian fairy tales and find out what the deal is with the hut on chicken legs and that storytelling cat, but then by all means give "Monday Starts on Saturday" a try.
A young computer programmer (Sasha, of course) on his way to a vacation picks up a couple of hitchhikers and they convince him to take a job in their odd, dysfunctional institute. Part Gogol, part Kafka, part Douglas Adams, this 1964 work remains one of Russians’ most favorite science fiction works, and it is laced with the veiled critiques of the Soviet system that the genre was famous for, most specifically spoofing the idea that one could scientifically pursue or perfect human happiness.
For a taste, here is a fairly typical, randomly selected paragraph:
"Alfred came running up, cracking a whip, and the vampires withdrew into a dark corner, where they immediately started swearing obscenely and slapping down homemade cards on the floor in a frenzied game."
As reviewed in Russian Life
My concern is how well it aged and how easily its context can be related to by a reader coming from a different culture. It might be quite a challenge for an American reader to relate to the characters and situations in the book. And the lighthearted nature of the story doesn't allow for explaining any bewildering parts of the text as a satire on the totalitarian Soviet regime as seems to be the case with some reviewers of other Strugatsky's books.
I hope that I am wrong and the book will relate easily to the reader. After all if you think about it the setting is not that different from a modern corporate life. The career ladder climbers, do-it-by-the-book managers, brilliant researchers with somewhat lacking social skills, cultural conflicts and office politics are still the same.