Saturday, 11 September 2010

Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts

It's 1946. Stalin summons a group of fiction writers to create an alien threat which communism will save us from. They imagine that a US spaceship will be blown up; that the aliens will attack the Ukraine. They're then told to forget everything, and never mention it again. Forty years later, everything they invented starts to come true.

Dot dot dot.

This is so up my street, if almost feels like a trap. Spaceships, SF, Stalin, Soviet paranoia, Scientology.

But it wasn't what I was expecting at all. Although it certainly is science fiction, it doesn't read like it. Philip K Dick here would be closest in the genre, but it reminds me more of Murakami and Ishiguro (The Unconsoled especially.) Absurd conversations with desperate strangers in an atmosphere of insecurity. Dark, then, but also very funny. Bits I laughed at "OL" as the internet would say. I particularly enjoyed the police interrogator with a testicle fixation and an inability to work a tape recorder.

Ingenious, too, and it makes a pretty good stab at tying it all together at the end. Not an easy job by that point.

It won't be everyone's cup of tea I'm sure, but I'm giving it a big old thumbs up.

Something a bit different for me next - serial killer porn!


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good 'un. I'm glad to learn that you like (?) "The Unconsoled"; I read it a couple of years ago and am still hideously in love with the whole thing - an ass, an ass, an ass! So much fun, I must read that again.

Have you read any Victor Pelevin or Ivan Sorokin? Two great post-Soviet (or in the case of Sorokin, Soviet+) writers, lots of jokes about bulldozer drivers, 16-bit computing, serial killers and women called Vera who clean bogs and create universes. I think you'd like those two; I recommend Pelevin's short stories (esp. the collection "The Blue Lantern") and Sorokin's early "The Queue" and recent "Ice".

Joe said...

Oooh, they look very good, although the Sorikon may be a little avant garde for my tastes - I found this in a review:

"The story, as with many of Sorokin’s texts, ends in phonetically sophisticated gibberish."


Still, I'm going to hunt out stuff from both of them. Blue Fat definitely looks worth a read - a moon colony being fuelled by clones of Tolstoy and Dostoefsksy, and a gay affair between Stalin and Krushchev.

I'm a big fan of The Unconsoled, but I haven't read it in years. I remember it being more dream-like than any other book I've read, and very funny.