Yellow Blue Tibia
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Yellow Blue Tibia

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  871 ratings  ·  166 reviews
Russia, 1946. With the Nazis recently defeated, Stalin gathers half a dozen of the top Soviet science fiction authors in a dacha in the countryside. Convinced that the defeat of America is only a few years away—and equally convinced that the Soviet Union needs a massive external threat to hold it together—Stalin orders the writers to compose a massively detailed and highly...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 22nd 2009 by Gollancz
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Either I loved this book, or I didn't love it, or it was some third thing.

But (really) I loved it, and you'll just have to read the book to understand the first sentence of this review.

In 1946, science fiction author Konstantin Andreiovich Skvorecky, along with a group of other writers, is given the task of inventing an alien invasion scenario by Josef Stalin. Stalin believes that America's defeat by the Soviet Union is imminent, and he wants to invent a new enemy that the Soviet people can be...more
David Hebblethwaite
This is Adam Roberts’s tenth novel, which of course means there were nine before it. Nine that I haven’t read. How on Earth have I allowed this to happen? If they’re all as enjoyable as Yellow Blue Tibia, I have been missing out.

Yellow Blue Tibia is presented as the memoir of one Konstantin Skvorecky, a science fiction writer who was gathered together, along with four others, by Stalin in the aftermath of (what I know as) the Second World War. Stalin charged the writers with the task of creating...more
Sep 01, 2013 Rob rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: sf
This is good, full-form Adam Roberts, which is to say it seems at first like a fairly conventional if unusually well-written high-concept SF/thriller story, only to take a whole bunch of unexpected turns and introduce a huge amount of ironic self-awareness and humor and general weirdness until you have absolutely no idea where Roberts is going to go next. Which is pretty exhilarating. There are points in this book that felt as truly open-ended as anything I've ever read. Roberts is positioned in...more
I have no idea what I just read. It probably doesn't help that I'm sleep deprived. Does it help if I say that I enjoyed it anyway? It was almost easier to read in this state: something in my sleep-deprived head clicked with the narrative quite well. I'm curious to read it again sometime when I'm not sleep deprived, as well, though. (And I'm sure you're all curious to see me review it when I'm not sleep deprived.)

I think it's really best read to understand what the experience is like. I can't pit...more
Ben Babcock
This is a very odd book. It’s the kind of love-child that might result from someone distilling Umberto Eco and Kurt Vonnegut. Adam Roberts takes on the spectre of Soviet Russia and, at the same time, explores how science fiction shapes and is shaped by the issues at work in the society of its time. Yellow Blue Tibia is not your typical work of alternative history.

At the end of World War II, Stalin gathers some of Russia’s greatest science fiction minds and asks them to create an alien menace tha...more
This book had some big issues, but I have to admit there was something about the tone and the language and the characters that kept me going. I loved Saltykov, even if his mysterious syndrome hadn't actually been a specific category of diagnosis at the time this novel is supposed to have taken place, and even if some of his symptoms seemed more like OCD than Asperger's. I loved the narrative voice. I loved the way the action sequences were written.
After that? There's pretty much just one woman...more
This was an interesting book. I randomly picked it up off the library shelf because the cover and premise intrigued me. Soviet Union: 1946. Stalin forces a group of science fiction writers to outline a realistic alien invasion scenario. Stalin wants to unite the Soviet people against this 'other' threat. Then, before their ideas can be enacted, the project is scrapped and disposed of. Then, 40 years later, the predictions these authors made appear to be coming true.

This book is a love letter to...more
If nothing else, Adam Roberts is not afraid to make enemies by speaking his mind. His 2006 academic The History of Science Fiction takes aim at some of the most popular academic theories of science fiction (Suvin's cognitive estrangement, Damien Broderick's megatext and object-focus, and Samuel R. Delaney's reading protocols); Roberts ditches these theories for an alternate theory that argues that science fiction really begins with Greek stories of fantastic travels; that sf takes a historical n...more
Science fiction writers have the leisure of their imaginations. They're not confined by the real world and when it comes to the science, they can always stretch the facts a little (or a lot in some cases), but in general they're not considered purveyors of serious scientific knowledge (hard SF being the relative exception in that it's based on current science). Certainly, governments don't take science fiction seriously. So when Stalin requests the presence of a number of Russian science fiction...more
A friend inquired about the reason for my rating of some books as 4 starrers instead of 5 starrers even though I have marked them as my favorites. So, here is the reason:

This started as a game for me, and it still is. What I actually do is rate a certain work on a scale of 0-5 in different categories that I have created. I take an average of all the categories to arrive at the final rating. And for Goodreads, I round off my overall ratings for a particular book for the site. Mind you, some categ...more

Excellent book; darkly funny, superb narrative and ending. It instantly became a top 5 sf for 09 and a co-Adam Roberts favorite alongside Stone.

Some quotes from the first pages that take place in 1945 in a dacha near Moscow where Stalin himself commissions some Russian sf writers to concoct an alien invasion scenario will give you the flavor; the rest of the novel takes place in Moscow and Kiev of 1986 and it's just brilliant darkly funny modern sf

" 'A fine story', said Asterinov ....
Adam Roberts is firmly establishing himself as one of my new favourites. This is the second of his that I've read, and while I didn't adore it as fervently as I did Jack Glass , but still, I did like it a lot. He seems to be extremely good at concept, and with concepts this good, it's difficult to make them pay off, but he is a veteran novelist and a sci-fi historian, and they damned well do. (Incidentally, I see that he's got a new one out this month about the ethics of eating meat. I am SALIVA...more
Yellow Blue Tibia, subtitled Konstantin Skvorecky’s memoir of the alien invasion of 1986, is Adam Roberts’ 10th novel, it was shortlisted for the BSFA Award and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for best novel.

It’s 1946, Nazi Germany has just been defeated and Stalin believes that victory over America is just a few years away. He perceives that the U.S.S.R. needs an external threat to give it unity and purpose. He therefore assembles in a dacha in the Russian countryside a group of Soviet science ficti...more
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Это даже не клюква, а какая-то морошка. Не знаю, что я имею в виду. Но и Робертс тоже накатал роман, абсолютно не зная об СССР ни черта. Все реалии, которые ему не были известны, он осторожно (не смело!) додумал. Получилась книга, которую бы мог написать теперешний старательный восьмиклассник. Знания о Сталине и Советском Союзе середины восьмидесятых у Робертса примерно на таком же уровне. Впрочем, наш школьник не стал бы приукрашивать действительность, сообщая читателям, будто в русском языке н...more
May 25, 2009 Jo rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people in need of a fun read
What pleasant surprise ! '86 was one of those years in my life that saw major changes and Chernobyl in some odd ways became one of those turning-point moments which assumed more and more convoluted and throuroughly over-determined significance as life went on. To come across a novel which does not shy away from playing with exaclty those issues is almost redeeming in a way. Not of course that I ever suspected mysterious radiation aliens to plot an attack on planet earth following a script provid...more
I picked this book off the library shelf (something I won’t get to do much longer, if the Government and local councils have their way...) because I thought the cover intriguingly different.
Konstantin Andreiovich Skvorecky was one of a group of Russion SF writers called together by Josef Stalin in 1946. Stalin, convinced that the defeat of America was only a few years away, needed a new enemy for Communism to unite against. Skvorecky and the others were tasked with creating a convincing alien t...more
This is a very difficult book to describe (without, at least, revealing much too much of how the story unfolds). The bare details of the plot revealed on the covers are that that this is "Konstantin Skvorecky's memoir of the alien invasion of 1986", and that in the immediate aftermath of the Great Patriotic War Stalin gathered together a group of Soviet SF writers and instructed them to concoct the story of an alien invasion threat, a foe against which the Soviet people could unite once the next...more
Daniel Roy
Yellow Blue Tibia is a strange, delightful beast. At times it can be a farce, a satire of Soviet-era Russia, a reflection of the role of SF in society, a thought experiment on the cultural phenomenon of UFO sightings, and a conspiracy novel. The tale truly shines when it combines all of these elements at once.

Roberts' tale manages something truly rare in SF: it instills a sense of skepticism in the reader, which lasts throughout the book. It's never truly clear if we're reading a SF tale, or the...more
Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts is about Konstantin Andreiovich Skvorecky, a Russian SF writer who is called by Stalin to be part of a group who are to create a new threat for Communism to unite against, after the end of World War II. Soon after coming up with the concept of radiation aliens, and writing about their destruction of the Ukraine, the SF writers are disbanded and told, on pain of death, to forget everything that they have done. 40 years later the story picks up and follows Skvorec...more
who'd a thunk you could make a serious book containing the chernobyl disaster and alien invasion funny?

Adam Roberts, he's got a way about him.

Our Hero, Konstantin Skvorecky, begins this tale as a science fiction writer in service to Josef Stalin and the post-WWII communist state. Stalin has commissioned Konsty and a bunch of other Russian sf writers to write a tale of alien invasion, to put some steel in those (!!!) flaccid Soviet spines. and then, precipitously, before the work is even finished...more
Despite finding Adam Robert's style a little frustrating at times, I greatly enjoyed this book. I found all the characters interesting and sympathetic, and I thought the story was clever and involving, though as I say the style annoyed me occasionally.

I've read Cat Valente's rather over the top review of it, and will take her at her word that much of Robert's Russian references are off, but I must say that much of what Cat Valente objects to in this book, I saw as humour (the main character for...more
Tim Pendry
This is not so much a science fiction book (the sci fi is crammed into the last thirty or so pages but I refuse to do a spoiler here) as a book about science fiction - the old Soviet science fiction tradition.

This Soviet tradition followed a different trajectory from that of the West with Zamyatin, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells as its masters. Its most well known writers outside the 'East; are probably Mikhail Bulgakov and the Strugatsky Brothers ('Roadside Picnic') to whom might be added the Polis...more
It is disturbing that this book is so good, and that Adam Roberts has written around ten other books, and the first time I heard of and about him is like one month ago. So: the book is written as a memoir. The person recalling their past, several decades worth, is among the great droll, ironic voices of (my recently read) literature. He is living in the Soviet Union. He is unintentionally sucked into the Soviet law and order bureaucracy, which is as inept as it is serious, and is a nice target f...more
This one is a keeper. Extremely funny, with a biting tone, and a satisfying resolution. Certainly one of the best finds of the year so far.

People have compared Adams to Vonnegut, but it's more. It has traces of Bulgakov's "Master and Margarita". There's "Golden Calf" by Ilf and Petrov. There's "Adventures of Soldier Svejk" by Hasek.

I suppose it will resonate differently to you if you do come from an Eastern European culture. Triply so if you grew up under Communism. Read it and enjoy it. Let me...more
Alternative history and meta-science fiction. Takes PKD paranoia to humorous ends: what if you wrote a science fiction story and it all came true? What if our brains were so good at confabulating sensory phenomena to "explain" the extraordinary ... that the extraordinary simply became invisible? What if the alien invasion was happening and the most difficult part wasn't stopping it, but even knowing about it? Incredibly funny, smart without being pedantic or "clever," well written enough to tran...more
Shortly after World War II, Konstantin Skvorecky along with a group of other Russian sci-fi writers, is forced to write an alien invasion story for Stalin. Forty years later, it appears as if it's about to come true, right at certain power plant in Kiev. Yellow Blue Tibia is a fantastic book. But before you think I'm praising it, I mean fantastic in the sense that Tzvetan Todorov meant it--as a story that is constantly wavering between the supernatural and the world as we know it. Constantly pur...more
Feb 26, 2010 Steve marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
Read Cat Valente's review:

This book starts off quite well with an interesting initial premise (Stalin gathers together a load of Russian SF writers to come up with fake alien invasion plan) and then jumps ahead a couple of decades to the mid-1980s perestroika-glasnost period, when it seems as though the fake alien invasion is starting to come true (OMG WTF Bolzhe Moi!). There is some nice detail on the late-socialist period, engaging characterisation (particularly the main character), but the book as a whole seems to tra...more
This novel is billed as an autobiography, "Konstantin Skvorecky's memoir of the alien invasion of 1986." Skvorecky had an established reputation as a science fiction writer in the USSR in the mid-1940s, when he and a number of other SF authors were called together by Stalin to write the story of a new enemy for the USSR, on the assumption that the defeat of capitalist America was nigh. Their task was to invent an alien nemesis that Stalin and the Communist Party could use as a focus for the hatr...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Adam Roberts (born 1965) is an academic, critic and novelist. He also writes parodies under the pseudonyms of A.R.R.R. Roberts, A3R Roberts and Don Brine. He also blogs at The Valve, a group blog devoted to literature and cultural studies.

He has a degree in English from the...more
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“A realist writer might break his protagonist's leg, or kill his fiancee; but a science fiction writer will immolate whole planets, and whilst doing so he will be more concerned with the placement of commas than the screams of the dying.” 20 likes
“Let us say that science fiction is a kind of conceptual disorientation of the familiar.” 2 likes
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