Yellow Blue Tibia

By Adam Roberts

Rating: 3 stars

Just after the Second World War, Konstantin Skvorecky was a science fiction author who was gathered by Stalin along with several of his fellow writers to concoct an invasion story that would unite the whole world against an (imaginary) alien threat after the inevitable fall of capitalism. Soon afterwards, the operation is abandoned and the writers all told to forget what they were doing, on pain of death. Many years later, in the Perestroika era, Skvorecky meets one of his fellow writers from that time who tells him that what they were working on at that time is starting to come true.

This was an odd book. Skvorecky has a great narrator’s voice. Ironic, deadpan and authentically Russian. Not many other characters get as much detail but that’s okay because Skvorecky is the one at the heart of it all. He’s a comedic, tragic figure straight who could have been written by one of the greats of Russian literature.

The plot is confusing, to say the least. I still don’t necessarily understand a lot of it, but there’s the involvement of an American Scientologist who gets killed, dragging Skvorecky into the Soviet Kafka-esque legal system. There’s the prediction that Chernobyl will be blown up, as will Challenger; there’s the other American Scientologist; there’s the constant attempts to kill our protagonist; and that’s just scratching the surface.

There’s some plot thrown in towards the end, mostly relating to Quantum, but if it’s plot you’re looking for, this book probably isn’t for you. It’s Skvorecky and the situations that he finds himself in that drive the book and everything in it. Amusing, probably quite deep, but somewhat bewildering as well.

Book details

ISBN: 9780575083585
Publisher: Gollancz
Year of publication: 2009

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