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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars witty and complex
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...
Published on 19 April 2009 by Sarah A. Brown

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't quite live up to the cleverness of it's premise
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...
Published on 20 Jun 2011 by Crookedmouth


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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but flawed, 20 Oct 2010
By 
This really could have done with the benefit of being read by a Russian speaker before publication. It's 20 years since I did Russian A level, but I found the very basic mistakes in grammar, pronunciation, transliteration and Russian/Cyrillic spelling quite jarring.
Although this is nitpicking, it is important if you're the kind of reader that finds these things distracting. The characterisation of the protagonist and the ideas about the construction of reality are interesting and engaging enough, even if the secondary characters and plotting can be a bit hamfisted. However, because of the mistakes in the use of Russian language, I found myself being distracted by things the editor should have caught- like 'suppose to do' and 'headscarfs' as well as noticing the joins in the writing like the bidimensionality of secondary characters and over-obvious plotting- like importance of Dora's size, which we discover in the last few pages.
Unfortunately by that time the dialogue was showing a rather shoogly grasp of physics which distracted me even further, and I found myself skimming the last few pages just to get it finished.
I think your enjoyment of this book would be heavily influenced by how bothersome and distracting you find these things- the story itself bounces along well enough and is fun enough to fill in an evening.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Science fiction becomes science fact?, 15 July 2012
By 
Dick Johnson (Texas USA) - See all my reviews
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Stalin's Russia is needing a cause to continue its control over its citizens in the post-WWII years. What better way than by waging a new war? Perhaps that war that will need to require a total commitment, and, of course, total sacrifice by the people. So, let science fiction writers invent a new enemy - from outer space.

What happens next, and after that, and even later is a series of events that are totally unbelievable, unless you have bought into the Soviet system of defining believability. Then, well ... anything might have actually happened. Even if it didn't really happen, did that mean that the country couldn't operate as if it had? What difference would it make?

This book is filled with thought provoking what-ifs. As ridiculous as "X" sounds, if enough people believe it, what does that affect? If it could be real, would it be possible for that to make it real.

This was quite enjoyable and I continue to be entertained by Roberts' books. Each bends the world and its people just enough to make me wonder whether he is onto something (as opposed to "on" something).
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4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting, ambitious, face-paced novel that (just about) comes together at the end, 30 Jun 2012
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The concept is clever, the characters are interesting, and the plot is exciting. Add to that some quality prose - the author especially has a great way of describing the sky in all its guises - and some genuinely funny scenes, and you have a very good novel. Ok, sure, there are a few holes in the logic, and a few James Bond moments (let me just explain all my evil plans to you, Mr. Bond, before I kill you...), but you get the feeling the author had his tongue lodged in various cheeks while writing, so... Overall, recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars sf & politics, 17 Jun 2012
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I hugely enjoyed this - it is one of the few SF books to really address politics and a venture where instead of looking into the future, this book looks back into the past to come up with an alternative explanation for real events. It's well written and funny, and a little bit like The Hitchhiker's Guide in its light-hearted tone. Highly recommended.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Sci Fi but not as we know it..., 24 Aug 2011
By 
Hilary "Commuter listener, usually down the m... (Stainland, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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I haven't read any Sci fi since I was a teenager but decided to take the plunge with this one because it sounded a bit different. All in all I really enjoyed it and it did have me hooting with laughter at several points. The characters are varied and complex and my favourite was the taxi driver. However, and it may be only a small point, if a book is titled Yellow Blue Tibia the author really ought to know where the tibia is. Or is that a bit nitpicky?
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4.0 out of 5 stars A funny SF novel set in Soviet Russia..., 5 July 2010
By 
A. J. Poulter "AP" (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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This novel is a rare beast indeed, a genuinely funny science fiction novel. Science fiction has an innate need to be serious, in order to deliver a 'sense of wonder' and most 'funny' science fiction, like Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, unfortunately gets its humour from mocking this sense of wonder. There is a lot of mockery in this novel but none is directed at staple sf elements. Rather we get the hero of the novel, one Konstantin Skvorecky, an ex-soldier, now a Russian to English translator, engaging in banter with a range of friends and enemies, and using it to come out on top, especially when his life is being threatened by a variety of KGB operatives. The use of language is extremely sophisticated, with humour being extracted from Skvorecky's English translations (signalled by square brackets in the text) and playful word games such as the Russian sound-alike meaning of the novel's title.

Skvorecky was one of of group of Russian science fiction writers recruited by Stalin at the end of the Second World War, as he wanted them to create an 'alien menace' to fill the void left by the Nazis, and soon the Americans once Communism defeats its current enemies. This plan seems to come to nothing but after the War Skvorecky is contacted by another member of this group who appears to want to re-activate Stalin's plan, thid time linked to UFO sightings. This sets off another spree of absurdist humour, revolving around confrontations, escapes, perilous journeys and a bizzare cast of supporting characters exploited for their physical quirks and behavourial ticks. Skvorecky himself is old and infirm from his war injuries, but still manages to pull off some physical hi-jinks: his intervention at Chernobyl is particularly funny as he plays a geriatric James Bond in a scene that could come from Dr. No.

For all its humour there is a very serious core to this novel, exploring why people believe (or not) 'scientific' explanations for things, in particular UFOs. Thoughout the novel, the reader, like Skvorecky, is kept continuously unsure about what is really going on. The resulting effect is very clever: hiding a serious exploration of sf within a comic sf novel. However, the humour does work against what should be in a science fiction novel. Theending is not the expected 'sense of wonder' revelation but rather more wacky obfuscation. Perhaps humour really is incompatible with good science fiction?
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining and effortlessly informative, 19 Mar 2010
By 
Ransen Owen (Italy) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Yellow Blue Tibia: A Novel (Paperback)
"Fantastic" books like this don't normally manage to create characters realistic enough to hold my attention, but this one did. It was a page turner of a book and has a novel approach to Soviet Union history as well as UFOs!

Entertaining and effortlessly informative, in an odd way.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Humorous but a little shallow, 16 Jun 2010
By 
A. L. Rutter "Floor to Ceiling Books" (Portsmouth, UK) - See all my reviews
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Yellow Blue Tibia by Adam Roberts is about Konstantin Andreiovich Skvorecky, a Russian SF writer who is called by Stalin to be part of a group who are to create a new threat for Communism to unite against, after the end of World War II. Soon after coming up with the concept of radiation aliens, and writing about their destruction of the Ukraine, the SF writers are disbanded and told, on pain of death, to forget everything that they have done. 40 years later the story picks up and follows Skvorecky as a number of strange occurrences cause him to believe that the alien invasion is actually coming true as it was written so many years ago.

Just writing that synopsis makes me marvel at the imagination required to arrive at a plot which is, at once, breathtaking in its scope and farcical in its telling. Adam Roberts has written a novel which makes you laugh in delighted shock on a number of occasions, but, above all, makes you wonder.

The writing is well-crafted at an extremely high intellectual level - I say this with a certain amount of pride, but it is a rare book these days that has me reaching for the dictionary to find out the meaning behind a word I have never encountered before, and Yellow Blue Tibia did this on a couple of occasions. The philosophical musings, the authentic settings that brought to life Communist Russia, the rampant humour - all of these factors made me delight in reading the book.

However, the humour is probably the one element of the book that had me scratching my head. I adored the cynical irony, the slapstick chases, the quirky characters - but it meant that the novel was more of a comedy and therefore the impact of some of the high concept sci-fi components was lost.

I also didn't manage to connect with the characters on any level at all - I laughed at their antics, but I ended up caring very little as to the resolution of their story. This particular quote, I believe, sums up the novel perfectly:

" '...One thing I hate in this world and you are f*****g it. You are an ironist.'

'An ironist?'

'Fundamentally, you take nothing seriously. You believe it is all a game. It was the same in your novels; they were never serious. They had no heart...' "

Having said that, the love story at the heart of Yellow Blue Tibia - and the reason for the title - were sweetly unexpected. I liked Dora, especially the fact that Skvorecky saw beyond her physical appearance to realise the beauty in her soul.

I liked Yellow Blue Tibia well enough, but felt it was not the unbelievable novel it had the potential to be, because the humour confused the issues being presented. I have not read any other Adam Roberts novels, and so I am left wondering whether every novel he has written has the same ironic bent (which, actually, sounds very like the author's rather snarky blog as well!) What, I guess, is promising is the fact that I would like to seek out other novels by Adam Roberts! Yellow Blue Tibia is a highly imaginative novel with a lot of soul but little heart - humorous but a little shallow.

Arthur Clarke thoughts: There is no doubt that Yellow Blue Tibia deserves its place on the short list - it is, again, a very different type of science fiction novel. I think what I have truly admired so far about the Arthur Clarke reads is that they are so very different, but united in some fantastic writing and stunning science fiction concepts. I certainly don't envy the judges, having now read five of the six! In my opinion, Yellow Blue Tibia is a very strong novel, but I think it is possibly too light-hearted for the award - especially when considering the impact of novels such as The City & The City and Far North.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Strange title, strange book!, 27 Jun 2009
By 
Mike Fazey (Perth, Western Australia) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Yellow Blue Tibia: A Novel (Paperback)
As other reviewers have noted, Yellow Blue Tibia, with its quirky humour and uncertain realities, calls to mind Kurt Vonnegut and Philip K Dick. It also reminded me a bit of Stanislaw Lem, in particular, his absurdist novel Memoirs Found in a Bathtub.

Roberts has created some memorable characters here. The protagonist Svorecky has a kind of dry acerbic wit that permeates almost every conversation he has, and the nuclear physicist cum taxi driver with Asperger's Syndrome, Saltykov, is absolutely hilarious. There are some very funny scenes too - Svorecky's impromptu address to a group of Muscovite UFO enthusiasts and his interrogation at the hands of the militia are both eminently chucklesome.

But behind the humour, there's an interesting sociological theme about the UFO phenomenon and why it's so culturally prevalent. The idea that the KGB devoted so many resources to investigating it is both silly and oddly plausible - the Soviet X-Files. I don't think Roberts intended the novel to be a serious exploration of the sociology and psychology of UFO culture - it's more an intellectual entertainment. As such, I think it works pretty well.

So if you enjoy weird ideas and witty narrative, you'll probably enjoy this.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic premise, shaky execution, 14 Feb 2012
By 
K. P. Curtis (Bath, UK) - See all my reviews
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Great premise but I got bogged down in the middle of the book. The climax is interesting more than satisfying. I felt the book promised much with the setup but really failed to deliver. Still worth a read though!
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Yellow Blue Tibia: A Novel
Yellow Blue Tibia: A Novel by Adam Roberts (Paperback - 22 Jan 2009)
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