31 July 2013
The year is 2033. The world has been reduced to rubble. Humanity is nearly extinct. The half-destroyed cities have become uninhabitable through radiation. Beyond their boundaries, they say, lie endless burned-out deserts and the remains of splintered forests. Survivors still remember the past greatness of humankind. But the last remains of civilisation have already become a distant memory, the stuff of myth and legend.
More than 20 years have passed since the last plane took off from the earth. Rusted railways lead into emptiness. The ether is void and the airwaves echo to a soulless howling where previously the frequencies were full of news from Tokyo, New York, Buenos Aires. Man has handed over stewardship of the earth to new life-forms. Mutated by radiation, they are better adapted to the new world. Man's time is over.
A few score thousand survivors live on, not knowing whether they are the only ones left on earth. They live in the Moscow Metro - the biggest air-raid shelter ever built. It is humanity's last refuge. Stations have become mini-statelets, their people uniting around ideas, religions, water-filters - or the simple need to repulse an enemy incursion. It is a world without a tomorrow, with no room for dreams, plans, hopes. Feelings have given way to instinct - the most important of which is survival. Survival at any price.
|Graham MacDonald (3 August 2013 09:35)|
This was actually more fun to discuss than to read in a way. So many odd little semi-stories that went absolutely nowhere; a subway system of 40,000 people, none of whom where women; a rushed ending and possibly the clunkiest translation I've ever read combined to actually make this quite good fun to read. Not sure I'll be bothering with the sequels though. The moment where Artyom shows his adoptive father the photo he has assumed to be his mother all this time and his father just shrugs it off saying something like "It was a long time ago and I barely saw her" is pure comedy gold!
|Marc Reynolds (1 August 2013 13:14)|
A very "bitty" book. It lacks any real coherent sense of plot - you wonder if the writer had any real plan when he set out to write this, or if he just had a series of "cool" ideas and decided to string them together. It feels more like a travelogue where the reader doesn't everget beneath the surface veneer of what is going on in any one place. It definitely suffers from the poor translation too.
There are enough good ideas scattered throughout, that I don't regret reading this, but it was a bit of a chore in places.
|Sinclair Manson (1 August 2013 12:25)|
I can't help feeling that there's a great book of short stories waiting to be hacked out of this novel. As it is, the many, many unrelated episodes muddle the main plot almost fatally. Plots start, stop and go nowhere, creating an impression of unfocussed hyperactivity. It was easy enough to read, despite the terrible mistakes that one assumes to have been made in the translation. It was quite good fun in a lot of places. However, all things considered, this seems like a book that needs some drastic editing or restructuring to really work.