Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Inhabited Island

The Inhabited Island by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
Andrew Bromfield (Translator)
Chicago Review Press: 2/4/20 (rerelease)
eBook review copy; 416 pages
ISBN-13: 9781613735978 

The Inhabited Island by Arkady and Boris Strugatskyis a very highly recommended classic grim science fiction dystopian story set on a post-apocalyptic planet.

"When Maxim Kammerer, a young space explorer from twenty-second-century Earth, crash-lands on an uncharted world, he thinks of himself as a latter-day Robinson Crusoe. Eager to establish first contact with the planet’s humanlike inhabitants, he finds himself increasingly entangled in their primitive way of life. After his experiences in their nightmarish military, criminal justice, and mental health systems, Maxim begins to realize that his sojourn on this radioactive and war-scarred world will not be a walk in the park."

It is a pleasure to read the 2020 edition, which is a new translation of the original Strugatsky brother's novel released by Chicago Review Press. The original novel was published in the magazine Neva in 1969. The first published book form of the novel was in 1971, but that edition had many changes that were demanded by the state censor in the Soviet Union. The English translation, Prisoners of Power, was released in 1977, but this edition was based on the censored version of the novel. There was also a film based on the novel called Dark Planet. Once you have read The Inhabited Island you will know why the original novel was censored - assuming that you know and understand world political history. This is a fine example of social allegory disguised as a science fiction novel so the Strugatsky's criticism against the Soviet Union would be disguised as literature. The bonus to the new translation is that it better captures the richness of the original novel.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Chicago Review Press.

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