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Yellow Blue Tibia: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

Adam Roberts
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Russia, 1946, the Nazis recently defeated. Stalin gathers half a dozen of the top Soviet science fiction authors in a dacha in the countryside somewhere. Convinced that the defeat of America is only a few years away, and equally convinced that the Soviet Union needs a massive external threat to hold it together, to give it purpose and direction, he tells the writers: 'I want you to concoct a story about aliens poised to invade earth ... I want it to be massively detailed, and completely believable. If you need props and evidence to back it up, then we can create them. But when America is defeated, your story must be so convincing that the whole population of Soviet Russia believes in it - the population of the whole world!' The little group of writers gets down to the task and spends months working on it.

But then new orders come from Moscow: they are told to drop the project; Stalin has changed his mind; forget everything about it. So they do. They get on with their lives in their various ways; some of them survive the remainder of Stalin's rule, the changes of the 50s and 60s. And then, in the aftermath of Chernobyl, the survivors gather again, because something strange has started to happen. The story they invented in 1946 is starting to come true ...

A typically mind-blowing SF novel from one of the genre's literary stars.

Product Description


"An endlessly inventive writer . . . one of our most intelligent and versatile authors." --SFRevue

Book Description

A PhilDickian epic of twisted realities and alien invasion set in the dog days of the Soviet Empire.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 582 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (22 Jan. 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002UP1SZO
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #164,362 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Adam Roberts is a writer of science fiction novels and stories, as well as Professor of Nineteenth-century Literature in English at Royal Holloway, University of London. Three of his novels, "Salt", "Gradisil" and "Yellow Blue Tibia" were nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award; and his most recent novel "By Light Alone" has been shortlisted for the 2012 BSFA Award. He has published over a dozen novels, a number of academic works on both 19th century poetry and SF, stories, parodies, bits, pieces, this and that.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Yellow Blue Tibia is, among other things, a serious novel about the nature and consequences of belief, but don't let that put you off; you could get through the whole thing and have a great old time without noticing the serious subtext, let alone have it ruin your evening.

That's because it's an extremely accessible, fast-paced, exciting and, above all, very funny book. The humour is embedded in the telling of the tale, in first-person narrator Konstantin Skvorecky's droll, deadpan account of the preposterous events he endures, but it also comes from the vividly-drawn set of characters he encounters. As a Proper Reviewer notes in a blurb on the back cover of the paperback edition, "Skvorecky is a great creation, comic and moving", and while that's absolutely true, it fails to highlight the big yoks which come from the likes of Saltykov (an Asperger's-afflicted nuclear physicist turned taxi driver, and if you're thinking Travis Bickle crossed with Sheldon Cooper, you're getting warm, though Sheldon dominates), Frenkel (the KGB commander whose attempts to hide his rage beneath an urbane, rational exterior are only partially successful) and Trofim (Frenkel's assistant, and a lovely spin on the usual "dumb henchman" trope).

Yellow Blue Tibia is also that rarest of creatures, an SF novel with a totally original concept and plot. There's been nothing like it before, and there won't - can't - be anything like it again, as it's completely non-replicable. In brief, it starts just after the Great Patriotic War, with Stalin ordering a group of Russian SF writers (including Skvorecky and Frenkel) to come up with an alien invasion concept to be used as propaganda to maintain patriotism among the Russian people.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bozhye moy! 22 Mar. 2011
In the last 12 months I've tried to challenge myself with my reading, attacking all those books and authors I was too scared of in the past. So far, I've ploughed through the 850 page behemoth that is 'Vanity Fair', the intellectual rollercoaster of Saul Bellow's 'Ravelstein', a whole pile of Tolstoy, and way more Booker Prize winners than is strictly healthy (top tip: some of them are rubbish).

When I picked up 'Yellow Blue Tibia' I thought, 'Great... A bit of sci-fi. Something a bit lighter than everything else I've been reading lately. Should make for a nice break.'

Ha. What a moron I truly am. 'Yellow Blue Tibia' actually proved to be one of the most challenging, thought-provoking books I've read all year. The metaphysical aspects of its climax left my brain feeling like I had been smacked about the head with a piece of two-by-four - a sensation I last experienced while reading Philip K. Dick, and if anything Dick is the author whose work this most reminds me of, particularly in its skillful stitching together of historical fact and mind-bending fiction. The recreation of Stalin's Terror in particular was stunning, so much so that I may have preferred it if the book were focused more on that era, but this is a very minor complaint.

The Russian/Soviet state went through so many political and cultural convulsions in the second half of the 20th Century, an outside observer might think the whole country was suffering from a prolonged psychotic episode. Appropriately enough, Adam Roberts pretty much makes that the subject matter of this timely, and often very entertaining novel.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars witty and complex 19 April 2009
By Sarah A. Brown VINE VOICE
Although technically it could be classed as sf, `Yellow Blue Tibia' isn't perhaps a characteristically science fictional novel. Set in Soviet Russia, its narrator hero is Skrovecky, one of a group of Russian sf writers who are given a strange task by Stalin: to write a compelling piece of science fiction describing an alien invasion of Earth. Decades later it seems that the group's `story' is coming true and Skrovecky is caught up in a series of increasingly surreal and complex events as he tries to work out what is really going on, and becomes aware of an array of multiplying realities. A few things puzzled me - for example, in a novel whose linguistic self-consciousness is ever present (most obviously in its title), why did two characters discuss the double meanings of `bluff' (p.190) as though these ambiguities were present in the Russian, as well as the English, language? The novel's many shifts and tricks perhaps prevent the reader getting fully involved in the story, but `Yellow Blue Tibia' is certainly a remarkably impressive, clever, playful book which recalls, by turns, Kurt Vonnegut, Samuel Beckett and Philip K Dick.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Yellow Blue Tibia

Well, I was sucked in by several aspects of this book. A couple of people had recommended it or had suggested that it was well worth the read. The premise was sufficiently quirky and engaging that I felt it worthy of my time and the paperback cover was seriously eyecatching ("A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian" played the same trick on me. Shallow? Me?).

The story is well covered in the blurb and other reviews, so I won't waste space on recounting that for you. The setting is (mostly) in mid '80's Russia (Moscow & Kiev) which adds some novelty to the affair and the plot follows a Russian science fiction writer as he uncovers a UFO conspiracy that he was in part responsible for starting. The cause of the Challenger shuttle and Chernobyl disasters are laid at the feet of his fictional (or are they non-fictional?) aliens and interestingly the Church of Scientology gets a look in as well.

Yes, it's a diverting story. Yes, the characters are interesting (I can only agree with a fellow reviewer that Saltykov, with his "syndrome", deserved a novel all to himself). Yes the plot is engaging and intriguing. Yes it's really well written (I can't agree with another reviewer about the authenticity of the Russian language - I have no expertise in the matter, but the majority of readers will share my handicap and are unlikely to be disturbed by the linguistic nuances). so on. This is a book that really should have worked.

Unfortunately, for me, it didn't. I found the plot horribly confusing (and confused) and by the time I reached the last page, the only aspect of the story that really got resolved was the title. Questions remained (for me) unanswered... Were the aliens real? If so, what did they want and why?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Baffling, but entertaining
Just after the Second World War, Konstantin Skvorecky was a science fiction author who was gathered by Stalin along with several of his fellow writers to concoct an invasion story... Read more
Published 21 days ago by Mr. R. Bhaskar
1.0 out of 5 stars Impossible to follow
Impossible to follow the ever-changing and ever-less-plausible plot. First Stalin's an alien, then he's not, then someone's dead, then they're not... a bit like a satire of scifi
Published 6 months ago by Chalfont
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, exciting, tense, and darkly witty
This is a thought-provoking and darkly witty tale, although the humour reveals itself rather more in hindsight than in the moment. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Moom
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Published 7 months ago by bjørn borre
4.0 out of 5 stars The best Adam Roberts I have read so far
The best Adam Roberts I have read so far, and worth 4.5 stars. A strange mixture of SF, comedy, and thriller in one book. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Richard
2.0 out of 5 stars In Russia, You Do the Confusing
I sometimes wonder what would happen if the skies were to open and an alien threat descended onto Earth. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Sam Tyler
2.0 out of 5 stars Bored_Silly_by_this_Book
I bought this book under the influence of the recommendations from Amazon and the positive reviews posted about it. What a disappointing read. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Jaguar_God
5.0 out of 5 stars "Science fiction is the Olympic Games of the imaginatively fit..."
Set mostly in Moscow with a diversion to Kiev this intriguing and extremely well set up novel involves a group of young Science Fiction writers invited to attend a meeting with... Read more
Published on 31 Jan. 2013 by Eileen Shaw
3.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining and irritating in equal measure
An interesting and original plot, developed with gusto by a writer of obvious talent, intelligence and wit. Read more
Published on 23 Jan. 2013 by Ged Dixon
5.0 out of 5 stars Yellow Blue Tibia
There's a scene in Adam Roberts' Yellow Blue Tibia in which the narrator, Konstantin Skvorecky, is interrogated by a (presumably junior) member of the KGB. Read more
Published on 30 Aug. 2012 by TomCat
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