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Definitely Maybe

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  623 ratings  ·  54 reviews
Someone or something threatens the lives of leading scientists who are on the verge of major breakthroughs a bizarre and terrifying tale of the supernatural - or is it?
[Taken from the back cover]
Hardcover, 143 pages
Published 1978 by MacMillan Publishing Co. (first published 1974)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,207)
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Tara
Easy to read, hard to follow.
While I really enjoyed the book, I confess that I spent most of the time wondering whether I truly understood what was happening, and whether or not any of it was real.
An astrophysicist trying to finish work on his theory is repeatedly thwarted by: unexplained alcohol, a random woman in a short skirt, strange men, and the potential visitation of (for want of a better word) aliens.

"I can't say that I didn't understand his theory, but I can't say that I fully grasped i
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Ekaterina Kiseki
One of my favorite books. I have no idea why but best memories of my life are connected with abnormal heat, that's one of the reasons I loved the atmosphere of the book. The technique the authors used here makes a book captivating. Messy diary pages describing messy lives of the characters.
I can draw a parallel between the idea of the story and things that are happening in the world right now. Several decades ago people eagerly wanted to explore outer space with the help of new technologies, now
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World Literature Today
"Definitely Maybe offers a serious probe of ethical issues related to the responsibilities of scholars. But what makes it irresistibly engrossing are the richness of the characters, the weirdness and politically metaphorical resonance of their predicament, and the complexity of the philosophical issues each must ultimately confront." - Michael A. Morrison, University of Oklahoma

This book was reviewed in the September 2014 issue of World Literature Today. Read the full review by visiting our webs
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Charles Dee Mitchell
This novel was written in the 1970's and the setting appears to be contemporary to that period. Leningrad is recording the hottest weather on record for the past two hundred years. In his sweltering apartment, the astrophysicist Dmitri Malianov is doing important work, Nobel Prize important work. He has sent his wife and the bobchik to the coast for some privacy. Privacy will allude him.

A bag of gorceries, filled with unimaginable delicacies, arrives. A lovely young woman, a friend of Malianov;s
...more
Zack Zildjan
Man vs Man? Man vs Nature? Man vs the Universe? Man vs Aliens?...I suppose it doesn't matter.

A mysterious book about a series of mysterious happenings intent on stifling all forms of progress and knowledge. Clearly a very personal work of art, having had to deal with the oppressive Soviet censors for most of their career, it's no wonder this book seems so chillingly real, in spite of it's more fantastical (sometimes hilariously so) elements.

While limitations can have a cripplingly negative effec
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Gerhardt Himmelmann
Definitely Maybe is short, but very dense: not an easy read at all. This is a piece of fiction in which idea is central: not character, or story. It tells the story of four Soviet scientists, each working in separate disciplines, who are being distracted from their work by a series of bizarre events. They quickly decide that the distractions are quite deliberate: an attempt to keep them from their work.

Probably the most divisive thing about this book is (view spoiler)
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Allyson
I rarely read something and think to myself "I need to read everything they've ever written" but that's how I felt after reading Definitely Maybe by the Strugatskys.

The book is a funny and often frightening look at the powers of distraction and the lengths some will go to stop progress. The narrative moves at a very quick place and drops off at integral points only to pick up a bit later leaving the reader almost disoriented. It's as if you become a part of the chaos of the plot. I don't want t
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Julia
weirdly, although this is science fiction, i did not pick it up in conjunction with my recent simultaneous meditations on formative science fiction and my duty to read it. which is actually not so weird, because it's a completely different animal from the classic american formative sci-fi that i've been thinking about. the strugatsky brothers get that what's creepiest is what's not just completely unknown but beyond your comprehension. i haven't read enough sci-fi to figure out if bradbury & ...more
Williwaw
This was definitely maybe okay. A minimalistic, Russian sort of book, which never leaves a multi-storey apartment house. The characters struck me as interesting and convincing. Lots of alcoholic indulgences, followed by hot tea and candy. Strange things happen, which are in some cases barely described.

The narrative fades in and out. It's supposedly a discontinuous manuscript. From where or by whom is unclear. The main character is faced with a dilemma: should he choose his family over his work
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Stanley Trice
Written in the mid 1970s, Definitely Maybe is an example of how Russian writers had to use subtle writing and their wit to defend their work against censorship by the Soviet Union government. In many ways, this subtle writing also strengthened the work by these Russian authors and brothers Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.

The authors hid their social criticism of the Soviet Union inside absurd situations, a freewheeling style of writing, and a plot with many twists and turns. The brothers wrote in a
...more
Mike McDevitt
If you're finding the weather too hot, the wine too tempting, strangers offering themselves sexually, or trees appearing and disappearing- fear not! It's just the indifferent but powerful cosmos trying to stop you from thinking too hard. It will do this by any means necessary, so have a gun handy to off yourself if being a smarty-smart-pants becomes TOO unbearable.

It's not paranoia if the universe is really trying to kill you.
Eric
‘Definitely Maybe’ is another in a long line of ‘everyone is in on the joke but the protagonist’. It has the beginnings of a good story but lacks one element, why should I care about the characters? It is brief, the mystery interesting, and the reader is left at the end with several possible outcomes. The problem stems from the fact that there are multiple clueless protagonists and none of them are particularly heartwarming. A good example of what Definitely Maybe could have been was written by ...more
Mkfs
Something is keeping leading scientists from getting any work done, threatening the future of scientific progress.

Is it a meddling alien civilization, intent on keeping the human race from ascendancy?

Is it an unyielding law of conservation, preserving order in an uncaring universe?

Is it an Era of Stagnation in a poorly-planned socialist economy?


This is an enjoyable little book, intent more on the human reaction to the ongoing interference than on its actual cause. One can even glimpse the novel'
...more
John Xero
An even four stars. Not a partial celestial body in sight.

I really enjoyed this. It begins in the realms of the ridiculous, edging into farcical, very much reminding me of G.K. Chesterton, and then it transitions into a kind of high-concept paranoia, à la Philip K. Dick.

There's a bit in the middle where it's making the crossover that gets a little bogged down in its own twists and turns, but that's my only complaint.

Definitely Maybe is an extremely pleasant diversion. It has a good blend of humo
...more
Mark
Highly recommended. A wonderfully crafted novel that uses 1984-ish (in how overt it is) sci-fi to deliver a strong political message that's /somewhere in there/ but like the authors state in the afterword, cannot be pointed to directly. In that sense, I actually like in more than 1984. As an aside, one of the beauties of Soviet-era literature (published via regular, censored channels or samizdat) is that the constraints imposed upon the writers result in intricate coded messages that greatly ele ...more
Bradley Skaught
What an extraordinary book. At the most immediate level of discourse, its Soviet-era paranoia is razor sharp and fraught with delicious tension. But it operates on a number of levels, asking complicated moral questions with great humor and gritty suspense. The science-fiction touches are so lightly applied, it could almost be a straightforward portrayal of noir-ish intrigue, but the fantasy elements elevate everything with just the right amount of absurdity to bring a powerful weight to the char ...more
Matthew Snope
I am really digging the Strugatsky Bros. after first reading & loving Roadside Picnic. D.M. is a very strange and riveting novel, almost in the format of a play since it basically takes place in one room for most of its duration. I love the way the Bros. mix the human, all too human -- sweat, drunkenness, bodily functions, emotions, interpersonal psychology -- with very abstract and highbrow concepts about philosophy of science. I'm not sure I understood D.M. as clearly as Roadside Picnic, b ...more
Brandon
A short but captivating tale of confusion on a cosmic scale, all taking place inside a few units of some undescribed soviet era apartment building. Vonnegut-esque with a Russian twist. This still feels very modern today here in America, possibly due to so much talk about government control and all of the paranoia that accompanies such talk. A novel from a time and place where there was actually that sort of government influence in everyday lives rings true in the cultural climate of America circ ...more
Jos
It's a hot summer and strange things are happening in Leningrad. A handful of scientists are confronted with threats to stop their research. Every threat is individually targetted. The father is threatened with getting jailed and the loss of his wife and son, the womanizer is threatened by his joint former affairs, the egomaniac is threatened with the representation of a "super-civilization". People are disappearing without a trace. All scientists somehow are related to another seemingly superio ...more
Matus
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aaron
A brilliant critique of Soviet censorship through weird opposition. I would elaborate, but my ignorance of the novel’s plot added to the enjoyment and heightened the mysterious happenings taking place early on. My only critique is one the brothers had no control over. There are multiple themes and ideas that had to be approached in a very round about manner due to censorship, and while I don’t want authors to hit me over the head with obviousness it would have been nice if they could have been a ...more
Lauren Hu
The book was certainly interesting- especially when you consider it as a parody of writers under the censor's board in Russia. The book could have been better developed with either more humor or more tension. The female characters were also a weak point in this novel- falling into the categories of temptress, perfect wife or banshee (loud troublemaker). To it's credit it was unlike anything I had ever read- but I would not pick it as a favorite.
Ugh
At £11 this was definitely not "reasonably" priced, as the publisher's website states is part of their aim with their Neversink Library series, but the imperial purple cover and the blurb made it impossible to resist. And it's a very fun, well-written novella based around a clever idea. I'd like to read a novel by the Strugatsky brothers.
Michael
I guess these co-authors were thought of as the Philip K. Dick of the USSR. That description fits for me. I would say that their prose is a little less clunky, though more likely that's just due to a friendly translator. For some reason the narration switched from third- to first-person half-way through. Normally that would make me quit, but the high concept (and easy pace) kept me going. This is sci-fi without guns or spaceships or aliens. It's a thought experiment about the nature of serious a ...more
Paul
This book takes place within the confines of a Moscow apartment building and within the space of a handful of days. After a mysterious death, a box of cognac, cheese and crackers appears at the door. Scientists at the head of their fields are being stalked and killed by some super-normal force. They drink themselves into a stupor trying to twist their analytic minds to explain the unexplainable. The pacing and dialogue are fantastic and with only the most bare essentials the Strugatsky brothers ...more
Laurène Poret
This book felt exactly like a dream feels like. I'm not too sure what happened, how and why but it was incredibly enjoyable.
Will definitely read more of their books!
Joe
There's some thrilling satisfaction in picking up a book you've never heard of from the bookstore, and then reading something so strange, vivid, and captivating.
Jeroen Nijs
Interesting read. Knowing that it was written in Soviet-era Russia, my mind started racing to find hidden meanings between the lines. The afterword is tantalizing in that respect, mentioning words that had to be scrapped for seemingly random reasons. Footnotes would definitely have helped here.
Mari
Scientific, intellectual, psychological and sometimes a little humorous. I really enjoyed it but I am a fan of weird, hard to follow books.
Derek
"...a sci-fi landmark that's a comic and suspenseful tour-de-force, and puts distraction in a whole new light: It's not you, it's the universe!​"
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The brothers Arkady (Russian: Аркадий; August 28, 1925 – October 12, 1991) and Boris (Russian: Борис; April 14, 1933 – November 19, 2012) Strugatsky (Russian: Стругацкий; alternate spellings: Strugatskiy, Strugatski, Strugatskii) were Soviet-Russian science fiction authors who collaborated on their fiction.
More about Arkady Strugatsky...
Roadside Picnic Понедельник начинается в субботу Hard to Be a God Обитаемый остров Град обреченный

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“...It's like trying to fit an octopus into a pair of tuxedo pants. And not a plain octopus at that, but an octopus that doesn't even exist.” 4 likes
“I was told that this road would take me to the ocean of death, and turned back halfway. Since then crooked, round-about, godforsaken paths stretch out before me.” 1 likes
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