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Hard to Be a God (The Noon Universe #5)

4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  3,421 ratings  ·  124 reviews
The novel follows Anton, an undercover operative from the future planet Earth, in his mission on an alien planet, that is populated by human beings, whose society has not advanced beyond the Middle Ages. The novel's core idea is that human progress throughout the centuries is often cruel and bloody, and that religion and blind faith can be an effective tool of oppression, ...more
Paperback, 126
Published by Daw Books (first published 1964)
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Mar 01, 2011 Becky rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fantasy, sci-fi, sociology, & history buffs
This is one of the best books ever! It's such a unique & nuanced look at the past human and social condition, yet so relevant to the present time for both. It tells the story of a human society on another planet that is circa the middle ages in development. A group of earthlings are monitoring this society covertly and it is through the eyes of one of the earth born humans that resides amongst this society that we get a good look into the mirror of the past and into the magnifying glass of t ...more
Althea Ann
Fascinating and important work. Published in 1964, I feel that it may have been an influence on, or at least a precursor to, many of my favorite books. I saw thematic similarities with some of Iain Banks’ Culture novels, especially Inversions, and Kage Baker’s Company series.
The story deals with a ‘deep’ agent from an advanced civilization, who is supposed to observe and record the feudal society he’s been planted in, without interfering. However, the society he’s working in is on the verge of a
I have been delaying this review for a while now. I wanted to do the Strugatsky's justice but I just haven't been able to come up with anything intelligent or witty to relate to you in honor of their work. All I can say is read the book, you won't regret it.

The Story

It starts off very symbolically with some kids playing on a one way street; this mirrors evolution and history. All these things flow in one direction and travel along with their own unalterable velocities. Now lets suppose that evol
To those who read *that crappy SCI-FI jazz* in quest to run away
From grim reality of life - I must, in truth, to say
This piece is not, my friends, at all your regular fantastic tale
It is much deeper, it was written to unveil
How cruel, ignorant, barbaric we still are - at large, as Human Race
How progress strides its winding roads in slow, painful pace

1. Memorable 5
2. Social Relevance 5
3. Informative 3
4. Originality 5
5. Thought Provoking 5
6. Expressiveness 4
7. Entertaining 5
8. Visualization 2
9. S
It is unfortunate this book is so hard to get a hold of, as I found it an excellent (albeit confusing) read. It tackles huge, universal themes - the nature of man kind, the course of history, the role of man in society, and many other things. I think it should be considered a classic.
....The Strugatsky brothers approach science fiction in a very different way than western authors would and that alone makes it a shame that many of their books are out of print. They make a case for more attention to translations if my opinion. There are many more ways to look at science fiction that what the English-speaking world has to offer. Hard To Be a God is, a book that hides a lot under the fast paced surface of the story. Roadside Picnic remains their best known work but I don't think ...more

"Hard to Be a Good" of the Strugatsky brothers is a very interesting book and quite unusual to the reader who is used to the American-British science fiction.
This is due to the style in which it is written, the philosophical discussions, the irony and sophisticated sociopolitical criticism expounded in the book.
More surprising is the fact that this book was published in 1964 in the USSR.

This is first book of the Strugatsky brothers that I read.
A couple of years ago I read an English translatio
I've waited a long time to read this book, due to its rarity and price, but it was thankfully recently republished and I had to get my hands on it, being such a fan of Soviet science-fiction and the Strugatsky brothers in particular (Roadside Picnic... So good).

This novel imagines that Earth achieved perfect Communism, and the Moscow Historical Society sends agents out to other worlds to guide the development of the human condition with a subtle invisible hand. The protagonist, Don Rumata, is on
It's intelligent, and philosophical, and it makes you angry, and it makes you think, and it makes you hope.

It involves a planet which is in a Medieval stage of development, so Earth sends in "on the ground" observers for study purposes, who are trained to blend in. The thing is, what to a researcher on Earth "interesting development, 200 people got killed in a routine feudal coup," to the person on the ground are his friends dying. Yet, they cannot interfere, shortcircuit the curse of history a
En este afán de lecturas de ciencia ficción, Que difícil es ser dios me ha sorprendido gratamente. Pues en realidad esta ambientada en un planeta feudal, al estilo de la edad media, y en este sentido ha refrescado el panorama de tantas naves espaciales y tecnologías de avanzada.
Del libro puedo decir que detrás de esa fachada de aventuras (con algo de drama) esconde todo un tratado sobre la conducta social, el poder del conocimiento, el decidir que es moralmente correcto.
P.D.: Un final algo más
Sep 20, 2012 Sandra rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sandra by: Lena Maluh
Shelves: reviewed

- Сущность человека, - неторопливо жуя, говорил Будах, - в удивительной способности привыкать ко всему. Нет в природе ничего такого, к чему бы человек не притерпелся. Ни лошадь, ни собака, ни мышь не обладают таким свойством. Вероятно, бог, создавая человека, догадывался, на какие муки его обрекает, и дал ему огромный запас сил и терпения. Затруднительно сказать, хорошо это или плохо. Не будь у человека такого терпения и выносливости, все добрые люди давно бы уже погибли, и на свете остались
Reread it recently, after some fifteen years, and my verdict is this book is truly a masterpiece
Stephanie Griffin
Please read my full review here:
Written by two Russian brothers in the mid-20th century in response to political pressure on art and artistic works under Khrushchev, Hard to be a God is about one man's struggle with the questions of how far to go to save others and live by his moral code, and if he can observe without interfering.

The main character in this novel, known mostly as Don Rumata, is a 'historian' who has been placed on a more primitive world to live in and observe the feudal culture that exists there. In kind of a T
Writing 5/5
Imagination 5/5
Plot 3.5/5
Setting 4/5
Characters 3/5

My Overall Enjoyment 3.5/5

Reviewed for http://grimdark-fantasy-reader.blogsp...

This is primarily a science fiction book although it isn't "heavy" science fiction; it is fantasy too. The last half is filled with lots of action, violence, torture, and bleak scenes. As far as the writing, it's beautiful. It's an achievement in literature and translation as this was originally written in Russian. Just for that alone it it was fun to read.
This is not the edition I read. I read the paperback from DAW, published in 1974.
This book is one of the most amazing stories I have ever read. A rather simple sci-fi adventure tale on the surface, has so many layers it is absolutely mesmerizing. The story is about a planet whose social evolution is carefully monitored and guided by people from Earth, that have to keep their real identities secret, so to just gently direct, but not pressure the locals to a more "advanced" stage.
But history has
Ufff ... So it's a parable. One that does not even try to hide what it is. An old parable from 1963 with all the shortcomings of that age. But, fuck... is it strong. Does it hurt. Is it still and again true.

[There is a German translation currently - in the 4th Volume of the full collection of the work of Strugatskys. The book seem to have never caught in English - I guess I know why and it makes me very, very sad - but if you try googling for "Hard to be a god" you may stumble over the one or ot
Charles Dee Mitchell
In an unspecified future, Earth has begun placing human observers on planets whose evolutionary and social development is much like its own. The observers find a place in the society and operate under the directive to kill no one and not to attempt to alter the course of the planet’s history. They wear a headband that broadcasts a continuous visual signal back to earth. They are also able to make an unlimited amount of gold tender and they keep on hand medicines that treat everything from fevers ...more
Vira Motorko
Nov 21, 2014 Vira Motorko rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Vira by: Juri
Сподобалося. Попри те, що мала дурний настрій і книга з таким проблемним наповненням аж ніяк його не покращила.
Цікава, глибока тема. Про спостерігача в епосі середньовіччя, який не має права втручатись. Я взагалі не знаю, як людина може на таке погодитися, і протриматись 5 років, 10 чи 15. Я б не погодилась. Або скочила з вежі.
Гарною мовою написано. Себто десь, напр., трапляється речення "в углу трактира мрачно веселились двое нищих донов" і ти розумієш, що то ж по факту оксюморон -- але можеш л
Mark Sacha
That this book began its life as a light, Alexandre Dumas-inspired adventure story is even funnier now that Alexei German's 2013 film adaptation will necessarily be associated with the brothers Strugatsky's Hard to Be a God. The novel, freshly translated into English, is significantly less repulsive than the movie (which, if you dig weird art house you should definitely see), which is to say it still depicts a world of moral and physical filth and inescapable despair. An enlightened civilization ...more
This book is a beautiful work of art. It is a deeply moving work, that causes you to ask yourself questions and consider the consequences of actions you would take if you were in the lead character's shoes. Although this was a very beautifully told story I had a difficult time connecting with the characters myself. This is one story I am glad I encountered, and feel that I will appreciate it more when I return to it later down the road.
On my dad's birthday in 1963, Arkady Strugatsky wrote to his brother Boris:
...the entire program which you outlined can be completed in five days. But first I'd like to tell you, my pale, flabby brother, that I'm for a light kind of thing--I'm talking about Seventh Heaven. So women would cry, walls would laugh, and five hundred villains would shout, "Get him! Get him!" -- and they wouldn't be able to do a thing with one communist.

Not one thing. And isn't Arkady dreamy?

Seventh Heaven, would later
Denuncia camuflada de novela de género.-

Género. Ciencia-Ficción.

Lo que nos cuenta. Don Rumata es un popular noble de Arkanar que levanta pasiones, envidias y admiración a partes iguales. Pero en realidad se llama Antón y forma parte del grupo de 250 sociólogos pertenecientes al Instituto de Historia Experimental de la Tierra que actúan como simples observadores del devenir de las diferentes culturas y sociedades de un planeta habitado por humanos y que se encuentra en un estado de desarrollo med
B. Rule
This book is a really interesting, layered piece that includes elements of SF, fantasy, social commentary, theodicy, adventure, romance, and heartbreak. It takes a really nuanced view of communism, casting victorious, far-future communists as its heroes, but showing how easily the pure of heart slip into oppression, cruelty, and totalitarianism despite, and because of, their ideals. It's a quick read and still has hints of the swashbuckling tale that was the germ of the novel, but it contains a ...more
Simon Hollway
Oh dear. Roadside Picnic is an astonishing novel - Hard to be a God is a shocking misfire. Maybe it was the new translation only just released - 2014 Bormashenko translation published by Chicago Review Press. As soon as I smacked up against the word 'ballyhooed', I knew I was in for a rocky ride. Actually, come to think of it, even the newly commissioned 'Foreword' to the book by Hari Kunzru read like a C-grade student essay...and I quote, 'this is no reactionary celebration of aristocratic derr ...more
Поначалу роман не пошёл, что неудивительно. Со Стругацкими у меня довольно сложные отношения – если «Понедельник начинается в субботу» я перечитываю раз в пару лет точно, то, например, в «Улитке на склоне» не удалось продраться дальше первого десятка страниц, хотя попыток было предпринято немерено. Не знаю, в чём тут дело, наверное, это тот случай, когда для каждого романа должно прийти своё время. Время «Трудно быть богом» всё же пришло, стоило только потерпеть первые, не слишком занимательные ...more
Boris Matev
I like the Strugatsky brothers, in fact Roadside Picnic is one of my all time favorites.

This is the third book of theirs that I've read, along with Roadside Picnic and Inhabited Island. It is interesting to me that in all three they used a very clever way at critisizing the power structure in the Soviet Union through their made-up worlds. Of, course, for many writers in that country using the fantastic was the only way to avoid cenzorship in expressing their ideas (and it not always worked - th
Warning Anthropologists at work! The story reminds me that Marxists used Henry Lewis Morgan's work in their historical trend analysis. While most of the 1960s-era science fiction that I've read is badly dated, this story is timeless. It is equal parts "The Left Hand of Darkness" and "The Cross Time Engineer." Just hope your society doesn't end up like the "dead fascist chained to a machine gun."
Covadonga Mendoza
Le pongo las cuatro estrellas más por las ideas y los planteamientos que por la resolución literaria. El inicio es una mera presentación de hechos. Luego hay una breve trama, y un final en elipsis bastante brusco. Lo más interesante son las ideas sobre la violencia y la historia. Hay dos películas sobre el libro.
This is one of the best Soviet science fiction books. Imagine you are sent to undeveloped planet where people still live during what looks like Earth's middle ages as a mere observer (think Prime Directive from Star Trek). You are so good at being undercover that you make real friends as well as real enemies. What happens if your enemies start killing your friends and drag the society back to dark ages in the process? You have god-like powers to stop bad guys, would you use them?

The book combine
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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...

Other Books in the Series

The Noon Universe (10 books)
  • Noon, 22nd Century
  • Беспокойство (Миры братьев Стругацких)
  • Далекая радуга
  • Escape Attempt
  • Обитаемый остров
  • Малыш
  • Beetle in the Anthill
  • Парень из преисподней
  • The Time Wanderers
Roadside Picnic Понедельник начинается в субботу Обитаемый остров Град обреченный The Snail on the Slope

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“Борьба со злом! Но что есть
зло? Всякому вольно понимать это по-своему. Для нас, ученых, зло в
невежестве, но церковь учит, что невежество - благо, а все зло от знания.
Для землепашца зло - налоги и засухи, а для хлеботорговца засухи - добро.
Для рабов зло - это пьяный и жестокий хозяин, для ремесленника - алчный
ростовщик. Так что же есть зло, против которого надо бороться, дон Румата?
- Он грустно оглядел слушателей. - Зло неистребимо. Никакой человек не
способен уменьшить его количество в мире. Он может несколько улучшить свою
собственную судьбу, но всегда за счет ухудшения судьбы других. И всегда
будут короли, более или менее жестокие, бароны, более или менее дикие, и
всегда будет невежественный народ, питающий восхищение к своим угнетателям
и ненависть к своему освободителю. И все потому, что раб гораздо лучше
понимает своего господина, пусть даже самого жестокого, чем своего
освободителя, ибо каждый раб отлично представляет себя на месте господина,
но мало кто представляет себя на месте бескорыстного освободителя. Таковы
люди, дон Румата, и таков наш мир.”
“И всегда будут короли, более или менее жестокие, бароны, более или менее дикие, и всегда будет невежественный народ, питающий восхищение к своим угнетателям и ненависть к своему освободителю. И все потому, что раб гораздо лучше понимает своего господина, пусть даже самого жестокого, чем своего освободителя, ибо каждый раб отлично представляет себя на месте господина, но мало кто представляет себя на месте бескорыстного освободителя.” 3 likes
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