Dungeon Bookshelf vol.3: Prisoners of Power (The Inhabited Island)

Ayyy, we back from degen life, or maybe surfaced for a moment and gonna sink again, you never know, but I hope not. Back to our 5Head reviews of quality soviet sci-fi that I’m still reading and enjoying.

More Strugatsky brothers, still catching up with my vacation books, this time The Inhabited Island (that’s direct translation from Russian, other name sounds kinda weird). Another bit of setting mixture, but this time not future-medieval, like in Hard to Be a God, but future-industrial, with some dystopian vibes. This book actually even got a movie not long ago in Russia, it was shit unfortunately, but quite popular. But we are going to discuss a book rn though, let’s go…

We have another case of glorious socialistic future guest to another planet with a humanoid civilization that stuck in industrial era this time, very brutal industrial era with wars, nuclear bombs etc. This time guest has no particular goal, just scouting planets (and scouts described as kinda job for those Tanners from high-school that can’t find anything decent to do with their life after school so they just go there) and ending up with no way out, no contact with home, alone on another planet with different civilization.

Nothing super original yet? To be honest there’s nothing crazy original in general, main plot is built around (kinda a bit of a spoiler after, not a huge one, but still) special frequency broadcasting towers that affect people of country where our space traveler ends up. Effect is making people very patriotic and susceptible to any political propaganda, but it doesn’t work on so called degens (yes, there are degens in the book) that are mostly being hunted down and blamed in all sins because they aren’t very happy about the situation in aforementioned country, since propaganda doesn’t reach them that well.

Guest from advanced civilization ends up in many different roles on this planet, learning nuances about their culture and tradition, seeing political situation, suffering of people, cruelty of war that he never seen on beautiful perfect future Earth. We obviously experience it with him and this is where you can see why censorship in Soviet Union wasn’t very happy about Strugatsky brothers and their books, because some parallels are quite obvious. Another line going through the book is how “superior” more advanced man tries to change things in his idealistic views without thinking it all through and without seeing whole picture, which causes quite an interesting turn of events in the end, that I won’t spoil, but it sure was really nice turn.

Book is also a part of Noon Universe and main hero of the book is in a few other books, making a little series about him, that I haven’t read yet, but I’m starting with Noon Universe now from main title book. Can recommend this book, even though it’s maybe a bit less of a 5Head deep message kind, but it’s still nice, can totally see why they picked this one for the movie, final twist was also really nice, gets a bit expected when you approach it I guess, but still good.

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