Snuff

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated -

Mod­ern Rus­sian satire

Re­lease Date: OUT NOW!

480 pages | Hard­back/ pa­per­back/ ebook Au­thor: Vic­tor Pelevin Pub­lisher: Gol­lancz

Dur­ing the time of the

Soviet Union, science fic­tion was a favoured genre for writ­ers to obliquely crit­i­cise the regime with­out cen­sure. Those days have not quite re­turned un­der Putin, but Snuff per­forms a sim­i­lar job, art­fully satiris­ing mod­ern Rus­sia’s di­vided so­ci­ety and its strange re­la­tion­ship with the truth.

Damilola Kar­pov is a pi­lot of a hy­brid media/ mil­i­tary drone who lives in the fly­ing city of Byzan­tion. “Big Byz” is an­chored for­ever over the cap­i­tal of Urkaina, a mis­er­able land in a cli­mate- changed Siberia. Kar­pov’s role is to si­mul­ta­ne­ously start rit­u­alised wars with the “Orks” of Urkaine and re­port on them. Be­tween times, he re­laxes with his sex ro­bot Kaya – a re­al­is­tic “rub­ber woman” whose per­son­al­ity set­tings he’s tin­kered with to make her act as re­al­is­ti­cally as pos­si­ble. These two strands are cen­tral to the novel’s dis­course on the na­ture of truth, and how we con our­selves as much as the state does as to what that ac­tu­ally means.

A sort of bril­liantly in­verted Brave New World, this is a quintessen­tially Rus­sian novel pop­u­lated by char­ac­ters who pos­sess re­deem­ing fea­tures, but who are mostly ter­ri­ble hu­man be­ings. There are wry ob­ser­va­tions on the hu­man con­di­tion in ev­ery para­graph, drenched in irony. It’s a lit­tle too dense at times, the bal­ance be­tween phi­los­o­phy and plot not quite per­fect, but oth­er­wise this is a great ex­am­ple of satir­i­cal SF, and ex­pertly trans­lated too. Guy Ha­ley

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