Definitely Maybe

definitelymaybeArkady and Boris Strugatsky
Translated by Antonina W. Bouis
Melville House ($15)

Available in English for the first time in its uncensored entirety, Definitely Maybe tells the story of a group of Russian scientists. These thinkers are subtly but menacingly intimidated by an unknown, possibly supernatural force into halting their work and therefore maintaining the status quo. While this is clearly a parable for the stifling intellectual climate of the Soviet Union, the book is also entertaining enough to stand on its own for the casual science fiction fan unfamiliar with the historical context. Some readers may be frustrated with the lack of action—the bulk of the story consists of the characters indecisively squabbling over the exact nature of the duress—and the ambivalent ending. However, anyone that has struggled creatively (whether by censorship or the less dramatic writer’s block) may see themselves reflected in these scientists as they contemplate the “crooked, roundabout, godforsaken paths” of the frustrated intellectual.

2015 Really Short Review. Return to Really Short Reviews