Hard to Be a God
A group read with Elena and Sarah.
Strugatsky brothers have cult following on the territory of the former Soviet Union. How big is the cult? Let me just say that you could not call yourself an intelligent person (especially during your college studies) if you were not familiar with their works. Hard to Be a God is their first book among really great ones, of the type that made them an unofficial required reading.
The Publisher Says: Don Rumata has been sent from Earth to the medieval kingdom of Arkanar with instructions to observe and to save what he can. Masquerading as an arrogant nobleman, a dueler, and a brawler, he is never defeated, but yet he can never kill. With his doubt and compassion, and his deep love for a local girl named Kira, Rumata wants to save the kingdom from the machinations of Don Reba, the first minister to the king. But given his orders, what role can he play? ...more
Actual rating: 4.5 stars
So. Take some undercover operatives/historians from a future Shangri-La-type, advanced civilization. Send them to observe and study a planet that resembles Earth in the Super Fun Middle Ages (SFMA™). Strictly forbid them to interfere with the delightfully boorish puny locals puny affairs, regardless of how desperate/bad/fished up/morally reprehensible/choose all
In the depths of the forest, a mile away from the road, beneath an enormous tree that had dried up of old age, stood a lopsided hut made out of enormous logs, surrounded by a blackened picket fence. It had been here since the ...more
The story deals with a deep agent from an advanced civilization, who is supposed to observe and record the feudal society hes been planted in, without interfering. However, the society hes working in is on the verge of a shift ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
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 ...more
This is a book about history made even more interesting by the fact that its told through a Marxist lens. This is what I want when I read books from other cultures; books that give me an insight into other ideologies or ways of thinking. Im tired of Soviet writers idolised in the West because they secretly disparaged against the regime. I get it. Now give me a stiff glass of Soviet bardcore sci-fi!
I might as well add I came to this book by ...more
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
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 ...more
Somethings must have been lost in translation. Proper names and places evoked the wrong meanings for me so maybe it's my fault I didn't enjoy it more.
For example here's some of my poor rewrite: "Paul Anka won't drive his Tonka truck on the Forgotten Highway to Marshall Fields! Kia is a bookworm running away from Arkansas to Iraq," Red Skelton bellowed, as he passed the Ramada Inn."Don Imus never takes a bath and corporations are people too,"cursed Holy Moses. Welcome Wagon's people apologized to ...more
This is a classic science fiction question. It might be most famous from Star Trek's Prime Directive. Iain Banks explored it in at least one novel. It's present in many time travel narratives, when people explore the past.
In Hard to Be a God the Strugatsky brothers offer their take, and the result is a powerful novel.
It takes place on an Earthlike world peopled by ...more
Its the 22nd century and humanity has an advanced technology. The lead character, Anton, generally referred to in the book by his alter ego of Don Rumata is one of 250 humans sent as undercover observers to an alien world with a human population and a level of development similar to medieval Europe. Although their technology gives them ...more
I know the Strugatski's have a large following--this is the first opportunity I've had to read their work. Although I enjoyed it, I think I expected a bit more complexity. Earth scientist/historians are embedded in a feudal-type society on another planet to test their hypothesis about historical laws. While they have specific advantages with their advanced technology, they are not allowed to interfere in any major way with events they may be caught up in--even when they are ...more
Its fairly kitchen sink, some sci-fi tech, some medieval swashbuckling, bit of everything. The conflict arises when regime in Arkanar start killing ...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 ...more
"What's this?" Rumata said in surprise. "You want us all to become monks?"
Father Kin clasped his hands and leaned forward. "Allow me to explan, noble don" he said fervently, licking his lips. "It's not about that at all! It's about the basic tenets of the new state. The tenets are simple, and there are only three of them: blind
I've enjoyed what the main character feels and how he struggles to find a way to help the people around him but without trying to change the course of events in a world in which he's an alien, coming from a more socially and technologically advanced world.
It's indeed hard to be a god, in a world where most of the people enjoy drinking a lot and inflicting pain on others whose only fault is to be living in a kingdom that suppresses being ...more
- Too full of pondering instead of being in the action, and as a result, the main character didn't appear so much like a "god who doesn't know whether he should intervene or not", than like a passive observer.
- The political commentary laid it a bit too tick to my tastes. It called for something more subtle.
- The female characters. Only two, and basically one is a wallflower who's obviously only here to get kidnapped or whatever, ...more
Anton-Rumata follows a watered down version of the Prime Directive: do not kill, do not interfere in the course of history.
(Well, not too much.) The latter rule comes directly ...more
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 ...more