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The Doomed City

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  4,434 ratings  ·  299 reviews
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky are widely considered the greatest of Russian science fiction masters, and their most famous work, Roadside Picnic, has enjoyed great popularity worldwide. Yet the novel they worked hardest on, the novel that was their own favorite, the novel that readers worldwide have acclaimed as their magnum opus, has never before been published in English.
Paperback, 462 pages
Published July 1st 2016 by Chicago Review Press (first published 1989)
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Average rating 4.21  · 
Rating details
 ·  4,434 ratings  ·  299 reviews

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Richard Derus
Apr 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Somewhere along the line I had a major brain fart. I reviewed this book at my blog and never posted it here? What kinda noddycock am I anyway?

Five stars. Translation excellence. Publisher sent and I send thanks back.
Here is a fantastic, deep, and nuanced review of this work at the LA Review of books by a professor of Russian and Comparative literature. It delves into the background of the authors and the context they were writing in. I cannot hold a candle to it and highly recommend giving it a read.

With that being said I do have some thoughts on the experience of reading the book. This was my first foray into Soviet science fiction. It certainly had a different feel from its Western cousin. It was more ove
Oct 31, 2021 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Depressing surreal social criticism that pretends to be a sci-fi. The parody on communism and soviet propaganda is quite obvious, but the story also takes deeper study of human society and nature. One star for misogyny, disgusting realism and unnecessary cruelty. Moreover authors didn't give any explanation to the world-building nor uncover any plot's mysteries. ...more
Nov 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Asks some great questions about humanity and civilisation but overly slow and slim on plot. I guess back when it was written would have created more of a controversial publication, especially in Russia.
Mar 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I often complain that so-called dystopias aren’t anything of the sort. Now this is what I call a dystopia! I spotted it on the library new acquisitions shelf and was instantly hooked by the statement, ‘A BOOK SO POLITICALLY RISKY THAT ITS VERY EXISTENCE WAS KEPT SECRET FOR SIXTEEN YEARS’ on the cover. To my mind, the mark of a really good dystopian novel is that it tells you a lot about the time that it was written, while also offering new significances as the decades pass. Although ‘The Doomed ...more
Mar 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, sci-fi, dystopia, 2017
Many parts of this dense, philosophizing sci-fi magnum opus were amazing, near-comparable to a modern-day Tolstoy. The Doomed City is the bildungsroman of a very arrogant character named Andrei and his journey from Earth to a garbage collector in the Experiment (The Experiment is the Experiment -- is it a planet? a fish tank for aliens? another dimension/new galaxy? Who knows), to an investigator (whereat he loses his moral superiority in service to violence and The State), to an editor, to a st ...more
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Most people know the Strugatsky brothers from their work Roadside Picnic, which is no surprise: it’s a short, accessible work with a great premise that has inspired a famous film and a video game series as well. Before now it was my favorite of their works, but The Doomed City, with its even greater creativity and complexity, has surpassed it. Its setting, characters, and ideas are all first-rate, and I highly recommend it.

The setting is the first striking thing in the book. The Mentors, mysteri
Not their best science-fiction novel (How can one top Roadside Picnic?) but a masterpiece of taking down the absurdity of the Soviet system and showing it for how ridiculous it was. No wonder they had to hide the manuscript for 16 years after it was finished. This book covers the whole kit-and -kaboodle for Stalinist governance, from the idea of changing nature of the human race from greed to cooperation, racing from insane action to insane action for the sake of 'progress,' the forced unconditi ...more
The Doomed City consists of people plucked out of various time periods, Bolsheviks from before and after the civil war, Wehrmacht soldiers, Allied officers, Japanese, Koreans, Jews. The City is in a state of slow societal decay, on one side it is hemmed in by an endlessly tall wall and on the other by a bottomless pit, all of which is guided by the enigmatic Experiment. Our Russian and staunchly marxist-leninist narrator makes his way up from garbage collector to second-hand man of The City. Alo ...more
Apr 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
There are some very bitter, unpleasant lessons to be taken from The Doomed City - and that fucking Red House is just spooky and nightmarish as hell.

Yet the book manages to be so frequently humorous.

Excellent translation, and a fantastic read. Roadside Picnic remains my favorite Strugatsky novel, but The Doomed City has so much more political meat to it; how relevant it is to our current political climate is frightening.
Leo Robertson
Wow people really seem to love this one 🤣

I’m 3*-ing based on the experience of reading. Some parts I liked a lot, others I didn’t grasp at all.

I guess I also don’t know a lot about the history to which it pertains—which you wouldn’t need to if a book was any good but I doubt they’d planned on me reading it 🤣
I don't know how much I enjoyed reading this, but it was certainly interesting. Imagine if Dhalgren was written by Kafka, and maybe that gives an idea of what this book is like.

2016 reading challenge: a book originally written in another language
Reda Tomingas
I abandoned this book right in the middle. I understand it’s an allegory of Soviet Union, but it only makes matters worse. We all know how that experiment turned out...
I guess reading it when it was written or published the first time would have made the journey very different.
Dec 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, favorites
I think I can say it is one of the best Strugatsky brothers books.
Stephen Rowland
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Without a doubt one of the best science fiction novels I've ever read. ...more
Maxim Shekhtman
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a very thought-provoking book about mysterious experiments that has no beginning and no end. It seems that it is almost meaningless. People come to this experiment from different times and different countries and never leave. A possible theme of this book is how social structure brings about change in human behavior. In the course of the narration, the experiment goes through various stages. At first, it seems to be a chaotic social structure where people live, they experience the invasi ...more
Paul Spence
Oct 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
The Doomed City is a late 1980’s work by, according to my jacket liner, the two “greatest Russian science fiction masters”: Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. Having never read their other works, or much at all by any other Russian sci-fi authors, I can’t speak to the validity of that statement. But certainly The Doomed City, translated here by Andrew Bromfield, is a fascinating and thoughtful work, one that I thoroughly enjoyed even as I sensed I was probably missing some of the layers/allusions more ...more
Andrew Steel
** I'll try to write this review without any spoilers **

THE DOOMED CITY marks the first book in a very long time that I've struggled to finish. I'll stop short of condemning it as terrible but I will say that it was a very difficult read, both in terms of motivation and to follow.

In fairness this can and should be at least partially attributed to the unavoidable disconnect inherent with any translated foreign work published generations prior, though certainly not in whole.

Strugatsky provided pre
Sean Wilson
The Strugatsky brothers' The Doomed City is quite simply a brilliant literary achievement. Along with Solzhenitsyn's Cancer Ward, this novel ranks as one of the great Russian allegorical masterpieces of the twentieth century, an analysis, a meditation, a satire and sometimes a downright farcical look at Soviet Russia.

The Doomed City reads like one big hallucinogenic mix of Kafka, Pynchon, Dostoevsky, Platonov and Gogol. There is a lot going on in this novel. Each page brims with complexity, sub
Greg Gbur
Dec 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first indication that something is seriously wrong in the city is the arrival of the baboons. They appear without warning at the garbage dump by the hundreds, rapidly fanning out through the rest of the city and wreaking havoc wherever they go.

Where did they come from? Nobody knows. Why are they here? Nobody knows. What can be done about them? Very little, apparently: after attempts to kill or capture them fails, the government institutes a policy of “adopting” a baboon and caring for it.

Aug 09, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
Written and then shelved due to the great subversive potential danger it implied during the Soviet era-this novel took decades to be published and then further time to be translated into English. An artificial city is the setting of an international group of volunteers who labor away for a never defined 'experiment' and as the protagonist gets promoted in society he is exposed to more and more bizarre events.

Honestly, it reads as well today during the breakdown of neoliberalism as it did when f
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
My rating: ★★★★
Jun 17, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A strange, compelling book. It follows characters inside an experimental city on another planet where random events occur, like the sun will go out for days or a troop of baboons will invade. Each character is given a random job in the city and it is unrelated to his skills or aptitude. The jobs changes in each part of the novel. The characters realize that they are part of an experiment and the narrative arc consists of attempting to figure out the purpose of their life.

The book was difficult f
Jan 14, 2021 rated it did not like it
Abandoned. This is a boring and depressing book, with bogus, mannered dialogue and no real conflict. It is very typical of literature carefully written to avoid offending the Soviet communist government agenda.

Audiobook - I didn’t care for the narration.
It started out OK, but when nothing interesting happens in the first third, well...I know it’s not going to improve.

Given the recent takeover of major western governments by left wing dictators, academic post-modernist mouthpieces and de-construc
Joakim Bairamoglou
Sep 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a strange case of a book for me. It has amazing setup, really weird and cool ideas but for most of the first half i found it a bit tiresome. From chapter 3 and beyond it really takes off though, and it goes on until the end. Now, you don't have to necessarily agree with Strugatski bros ideas, but keep in mind that they knew first hand what they criticize throughout the book. All in all, i understand why this is advertised as a masterpiece, but i cannot rate it 5 stars, since the first ha ...more
Adrian Coombe
Apr 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a particularly easy read. A David Lynch nightmare in places with switches in perspective and time that completely lost me. But some beautiful passages and a brilliant final few pages means whilst I can't necessary recommend it to all, for those reasons, if the storyline resonates with you or you like their other work, you'll find plenty to enjoy with this. ...more
Jimmy Utterström
May 10, 2021 rated it really liked it
Yet another amazing work by the Strugatsky brothers, who are further securing their position among my favorite authors. It is difficult to imagine this book being released even in the 80s considering how densely packed it is with political scrutiny.
This was exactly the book I needed--a pair of Russians satirizing their government. Granted, the government in question was the Soviet Union, but there's enough here to make clear why Boris was an anti-Putinist (and to make me believe that Arkady would have been too if he lived long enough). At once incredibly dated but also still timely. Written in the late 60s and early 70s, it then sat on a shelf for fear of reprisals until being publish in 89.

Also, a work of semi-autobiographical science fic
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TW Book Club: Doomed City - SPOILERS 8 7 Jun 19, 2022 11:06AM  

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The brothers Arkady Strugatsky [Russian: Аркадий Стругацкий] and Boris Strugatsky [Russian: Борис Стругацкий] were Soviet-Russian science fiction authors who collaborated through most of their careers.

Arkady Strugatsky was born 25 August 1925 in Batumi; the family later moved to Leningrad. In January 1942, Arkady and his father were evacuated from the Siege of Leningrad, but Arkady was the only s

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