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Hard to be a God (A Continuum book) by…

Hard to be a God (A Continuum book) (original 1964; edition 1973)

by Arkady Strugatsky

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3281133,702 (3.7)15
Title:Hard to be a God (A Continuum book)
Authors:Arkady Strugatsky
Info:Seabury Press (1973), Unknown Binding
Collections:Your library
Tags:russian, eastern_bloc, sf, read, own, magyarul

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Hard to be a god by Arkady Strugatsky (1964)

Recently added byprivate library, richardderus, Havran, chilperic, orkunnnn, Alex_Maybe, Pearoth, rouzejp, addamour, cartref
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    Use of Weapons by Iain M. Banks (prezzey)
    prezzey: Banks seems to have been inspired by the Strugatskys' concept of Progressors. Similar theme, different perspective (Western vs Eastern bloc) - if you liked one, you will probably be interested in the other.

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Rating: 4* of five

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? This long overdue translation will reintroduce one of the most profound Soviet-era novels to an eager audience.

My Review: It's hard to review a world-famous classic. I have to think the translation is faithful because it captures a voice that lesser translators more often than not miss entirely. The standard adventure plot is fun. In common with a lot of SF written in that era, we don't get a lot of well-drawn characters; in this case only one, Don Rumata himself.

What makes this a classic, then? It would raise few eyebrows today, if it was a new publication. That it is 52 years old makes all the difference; that it is an excellent example of its niche solidifies the place History has given it.

But anyone not already caught in the tentacles of the SF Cthulhu monster might want to pass by without slowing down too much.
  richardderus | Oct 7, 2015 |
....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 there is much between that book and Hard To Be a God to be honest. It is a work of science fiction that certainly deserves its place in the Masterworks list.

Full Random Comments review ( )
  Valashain | May 3, 2015 |
Just read it! ( )
  otikhonova | Dec 8, 2014 |
A matter of morals

Hard to Be a God by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, translated by Olena Bormashenko, with a foreward by Hari Kunzru (Chicago Review Press, $16.95).

Arkady and Boris Strugatsky were Russian brothers, collaborators on what was widely considered the greatest science fiction to come from the former Soviet Union. In fact, they were fantastic literary novelists who wrote speculative fiction as a way to address topics that would have gotten them sent to a gulag had they not been writing science fiction.

This new translation by Olena Bormashenko makes Hard to Be a God widely available and follows her outstanding translation of Roadside Picnic.

The protagonist, Anton, is from Earth but undercover on a planet only as developed as our medieval period. As Don Rumata, his alias, he is so far advanced as to be god-like, but he is bound not to interfere with their natural progression—easily understandable to American readers as a variation of Star Trek’s “prime directive.”

But when one of the natives decides to persecute scientists, poets and artists, Don Rumata’s personal ethics demand he attempt to help the intellectual and cultural capital of the culture escape; instead of being rewarded by his superiors, he’s chastised for interfering.

The parallels with Soviet oppression are clear, and the story makes fantastic science fiction.

Reviewed on Lit/Rant: www.litrant.tumblr.com ( )
  KelMunger | Jul 24, 2014 |
What an amazing book. I think you'd need to go back to Orwell and H.G. Wells to find anything even close to having the depth and sharp, critical focus of HARD TO BE A GOD.

HARD TO BE A GOD was written in the 1960's by Russian authors, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. It began as a happy adventure story. But as the brothers worked on it their heritage showed itself. They began to imbue the tale with politics and their experience as Soviet citizens. But in adding all of these other layers, the scifi nature of the book was never completely stifled.

What you should know before you begin this book is that HARD TO BE A GOD reads like a play. There is very little description of place and character. Helicopter and transmitter, armor and sword are mentioned, but almost as an after thought. This story is told almost entirely through dialog.

[This left me a little confused at points. I didn't, for example, entirely understand the first chapter, but this may have been due to the fact that I was reading an ebook review copy where the formatting wasn't entirely finished.]

The story itself is about agents sent from our advanced, thoroughly civilized earth to an alien planet of humans living in the middle ages. Anton, Don Rumata as he is called on the target planet, and his friends are to observe and to save what good things they can in the tumultuous times in which they live in. And this task generates terrible dilemmas for them as they try to walk that fine 'Star Trek/Captain Kirk' non-interference line.

As the violence and brutality escalates, Anton/Don Rumata becomes outraged. He pushes and nudges here and there, trying to save the academics and the little bit of good that that has managed to evolve out of this retched feudal system. But mostly he fails. His colleagues argue that he is loosing his objectivity but this only brings up the question of whether inaction is truly the civilized thing to do. What is the 'right' of allowing hundreds, if not thousands, if not entire populations to be tortured and starved when it might be otherwise.

HARD TO BE A GOD is a nuanced story. There is a scifi element, but it plays second fiddle to the philosophical questions that are discussed. I very much enjoyed this book. And I can tell you that I must read it again, because there is no way that I 'got' everything that Arkady and Boris meant for me to get out of this book.

Chicago Review Press will be making this book available June 1st, 2014.

Before you begin Don Rumata's adventure, do read the preface by Hari Kunzru. I thought it was brilliant. I don't know about you, but I had never considered Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings in terms of the rural literary tradition. And the conflict within Hogwarts as the conflict between Anglo-Saxon Potters and Weasleys versus the effete Normal-French Malfoys. I may never be the same. ( )
1 vote PamFamilyLibrary | Feb 22, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (53 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Arkady Strugatskyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Strugatski, Borismain authorall editionsconfirmed
Aksionov, S.Cover photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Bormashenko, OlenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Freas, KellyCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kunzru, HariForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Olson, SarahCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Specht, ArnoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Strugatsky, BorisAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The sorrow that tortured me, the shame that overwhelmed me, the desperation that wracked my mind, all these I could then feel, but even now I can find no words to express them.

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Now one thing I have to tell you. In this particular show you have to be armed to enforce your authority. But you're not to use your weapon under any circumstances. Under any circumstances. Is that quite clear?

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