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34 Reviews
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Then they scarred my face, now I'm a believer, or, what happens if you wear radioactive underpants?*
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...
Published 21 months ago by Runmentionable

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3 of 3 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Bored_Silly_by_this_Book, 14 Sep 2013
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I bought this book under the influence of the recommendations from Amazon and the positive reviews posted about it. What a disappointing read. I should have put it to one side as soon as it failed to capture my imagination within the first fifty pages. The prose is turgid, making it a difficult read. The story is hardly compelling and presents as many unique writing occasions that were never intended to be linked together in a single novel. In other words, the complete novel presents as an artificial construct. The explanation in the final chapter of the book's logic and "science" is ample evidence that the previous 300 pages had been disjointed. As for the novel's "humour", don't get me started on that...
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From Russia, with love..., 25 Sep 2011
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I'd not come across Roberts' work before, but it didn't take long to realise that this chap can write. Narrated in Skvorecky's first person viewpoint, the character is beautifully realised - right down to the odd Russian contradictions such as his (completely understandable) world-weary cynicism, along with the touching belief in love. The book recounts Skvorecky's adventures leading up to the Chernobyl disaster and how an encounter with a couple of American Scientologists changed his life.

Roberts deftly portrays a Russia suffering a crisis of confidence with everyone scrabbling to cope with Gorbachev's cataclysmic changes involving perrestoika against a backdrop of crumbling Communism. It isn't a pretty picture - especially filtered through the viewpoint of an aging, burnt out ex-alcoholic. By rights it should be unremittingly grim enough to make the likes of Dan Simmons and Roger Levy look pink n'fluffy in comparison. However Roberts leavens the underlying awfulness of his subject matter and backdrop by dollops of humour, to the extent there are laugh-aloud moments in this book. I found myself chuckling during Skvorecky's interrogation when the official questioning him gets in a muddle as to when the tape is turned off and on.

The book veers from moments of acute danger, high farce and reflections on the dreadful circumstances within a couple of pages without jolting the reader out of the story. It takes a writer at the height of his powers to pull this off. And Roberts really does flex his `show off' muscle in this book - the narrative voice denoting English as a second language, complete with amusing puns and odd confusions; Skvorecky's entirely believable transformation from a miserably cynical has-been to someone a lot more hopeful and proactive; the swooping changes of mood from moments of high drama to farce... But then, if I could write like this, I'd probably be performing the literary equivalent of dizzying pirouettes, too.

Interestingly, science fiction as a genre and belief system comes under close examination in the book, right from when Stalin decides that aliens should make the next unifying threat to keep Mother Russia together. Skvorecky maintains his belief throughout that alien abductions and spaceships do not exist - that even when he was a respected science fiction author, he did not believe in such things. Science fiction becomes a metaphor for a population's credulous belief in things without any proper foundation. Or does it? Roberts plays the sorts of games with the reader that we are more used to seeing from the literary end of the spectrum, such as providing us with an unreliable narrator. Generally I have limited patience with such gimmicks - but then they are often employed by authors who don't possess Roberts' skill and humour.

Any niggles? Nope. Not a single one. I've read reviews that have grumbled that some of the interesting issues raised in the book are not fully developed - but that's FINE with me. This is a piece of fiction designed to entertain. In addition, Roberts has also chosen to give us food for thought along the way - what he didn't do was to hold up the narrative pace to extend those reflections beyond their use in the story. A writer that - despite his stylist flourishes - puts the needs of the reader above his own hubris. Hallelujah! In short (in case it's already escaped your attention) I think that this is a superb, funny, sharp read by a clever author who knows exactly where he's going... Go on - track it down, you be thanking me if you do.

And if you're scratching your head about the odd title - apparently the Russian phrase Ya lyublyU tebyA, meaning I love you, sounds roughly like yellow, blue tibia.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars enjoyable, but not earth shattering, 11 Jan 2011
By 
P. Vandevenne -. Datarescue (Belgium) - See all my reviews
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Style: it is so mind blowingly well written that I stopped reading to pause in awe on several occasions.

Plot: weak by istelf, it is rescued by its outlandish crazyness, clever - if a bit overdone - structure and, of course, style. You wouldn't think a plot could simultaneously survive a heavy use of foreshadowing, several extremely dumb serial fumbling killers, flat characters involved in multiple cliche situations that seem to come straight of 19th popular theatrical comedies... but it does: the reader is so busy marveling at the style, well at least I was, that he doesn't care.

Fun: worth a A, but hard to describe without spoiling it. Did I tell you about the style?

Problems: the cardinal sin of this book is the lack of fact checking. I have worked with Russians and couldn't help but notice several imprecisions and mistakes. While they probably won't break the suspension of disbelief of a reader who doesn't know anything about Russian behaviour or the Russian language, it broke my flow.

But the real killer was the title thing. As a polite reader, respectful of literary conventions, I was of course patiently waiting for the book's title to be explained in one the last chapters of the book. In truth, given my basic Russian knowledge, I knew what our heading was. I was just wondering _how_ the author would bring it on the table.

"The wound to the arm is a little more serious" <snip> "The tip of the blade had scratched the tibia"

Ouch, it does indeed hurt! But a wound to the arm it ain't.

To summarize: the book started as a wild ride but its wave function collapsed suddenly, kicking me out of its alternate reality.

Read it anyway: at the risk of repeating myself, click clack, click clack, the style is amazing.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A joy to read, 25 Feb 2009
By 
A. Donaldson (Tyneside, England) - See all my reviews
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This is the first novel by Adam Roberts I have read, although I have enjoyed a couple of his short stories. Yellow Blue Tibia is a witty, intelligent piece of science fiction and the most enjoyable book I've read in a while. It is written as a memoir of a Russian science fiction writer who emerges as a classic unreliable narrator (due to addiction, injury and the interference of others), but also provides a wonderfully acerbic wit. The tale itself is a sort of cold-war noir (as our protagonist never seems exactly to know what he is being unwillingly dragged into) and gallops along at a fine pace. It has action, suspense, laugh-out-loud humour, a love story and perfectly pitched dialogue which draws the reader into an imagined Russia. Yellow Blue Tibia is a fantastic exploration of the UFO phenomenon, the social engineering of the 20th century and our collective utopian dreams wrapped up in 21st century quantum theory. Highly recommended.
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4 of 5 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So thats why its named "Yellow Blue Tibia", 25 Aug 2010
By 
S. Smith "meesterboom" (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
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I liked this book. It wheehks you around all over the place. Equally amusing and fascinating.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A novel that stays with you, 5 July 2010
By 
E. J. Barrett (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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Yellow Blue Tibia is one of those wonderful books that transcends genre and yet leaves you knowing a lot more about the genre that it leaves behind. It's a science fiction, yes. But it's also not really. It's a philosophical thriller. But also a love story. It's a mockery of Bond and Bourne. And it's about the power and manipulation of thoughts and belief.

At the centre is a curmudgeonly yet beguiling narrator, Konstantin, who is a perplexed OAP stumbling through a new mystery around the existence of UFOs - based on a novel he concocted with peers on Stalin's behalf several decades before. It takes him into the presence of an obese American believer and her escort, a possible KGB agent, another dimension and Chernobyl.

The plot is linear, the atmosphere and setting isn't, and that's what makes the novel so fun. You understand on what level what is going on while being completely confused and awaiting the next reveal on another level. Konstantin's voice is dry, witty, real and sarcastic, and he begins to make you chuckle and then belly laugh at some of his thoughts and observations. You start off almost indifferent to him - by the end, you're terribly fond of the old bugger!

I found myself liking the book while I read it, enjoying the 'meta' plot, and since finishing it, have thought about the book often, which has elevated it even more in my opinion. It's a book I have recommended to friends who like sci-fi and friends who like Cold War spy novels, and those who like 'literature'. It makes a great gift! I recommend giving it a whirl as I think most readers will be pleasantly surprised.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Light and Comic Look at Existence, 1 July 2010
By 
Quicksilver (UK) - See all my reviews
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In the last six weeks, I have read two novels with brilliant titles. By coincidence, the Chernobyl disaster played a pivotal role in both. Where The Sun and Moon Corrupted was more hard science, extrapolating solid physics, 'Yellow Blue Tibia' is more metaphysical, exploring multiple universes and extra-terrestrial life. 'YBT' is also similar to another recent read The Manual of Detection. All three novels are worth investigating, but this one is the most accomplished and entertaining.

'YBT' is light science fiction, and is laugh-out-loud funny in places. It had me in fits of giggles at one stage, such is the dry wit of main character, Konstantin Skvorecky. The novel's premise is simple. In 1946, in order to unite the world under the banner of Communism, Stalin gathers together the Soviet Union's pre-eminent science fiction writers. Having secluded them in an isolated dacha, he tasks the writers with planning a convincing alien invasion. The writers complete their task, only to be told to forget all about it; to return to their lives and forget that ever met General Secretary Stalin. Skvorecky was one of these writers.

The narrative then jumps forward forty years. Skvorecky encounters one of the other writers, who tells him that their invented tale of alien attack has commenced in the real world. Skvorecky is understandably sceptical, but he finds himself drawn into a plot that involves, assassins, the KGB and Scientologists.

As much as it is a science fiction novel, 'YBT' also examines the act of writing. It analyses the relationship an author has with their work, and how their work is viewed changes over time. There is also unexpected and sweet love story running through much of the novel, something not often seen in science fiction. It is a comical affair, yet somehow a real one.

The novel's conclusion is slightly baffling, and oddly forgettable (I'm struggling to recall, a week on, how the book finished). This is not particularly a problem, there is plenty of subtle food-for-thought about existence, and the possibilities of the many-worlds theory. Discovering why the book is called 'Yellow Blue Tibia' is worth the cover price alone. This is a light and comic read. Diverting and entertaining, reading 'YBT' is a fine way to pass a hot summer's afternoon.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, non-disappoining Sci-Fi - Fantastic!, 10 Sep 2010
By 
Adi Shtamberger "AdiTurbo" (Tel Aviv, Israel) - See all my reviews
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It's been about twenty years since I last picked up a sci-fi book. How lucky I was that when I finally decided to do that again, it happened to be Adam Robert's book "Yellow, Blue, Tibia". The name might not sound coherent, but is actually an English rendering of three Russian words I have no intention of revealing to you now - there will be no spoilers here.

The book starts in the days of Stalin's rule in Russia, and moves on step by step to the Glasnost days of the late 80s. It is the first-hand account of a Russian science fiction novelist, who tells an incredible story.

The story opens with him being ordered into Stalin's offices, along with other sci-fi writers. They are asked to invent a story for him. For what purpose, I cannot tell you for fear of spoiling your pleasure. Of course, things take a wrong, or shall I say, strange, turn, and the poor novelist's life start falling apart.

The book reads like a thriller - you keep turning the pages to try and find out what is really going on. Every time you think you've got it, Roberts makes a u-turn and brings you right back to the beginning. You simply can't figure it out, and so go through the same discovery journey the main character goes through. You keep fearing Roberts himself is about to lose the plot, but that never happens - he knows exactly where he's going. It's you who doesn't know. Right to the ending, Roberts never slips into unreasonability or unplausable explanations. What a ride!

The writing is so fabulous, that Kim Stanley Robinson has said this should have won the Booker prize. I cannot help but agree. The protagonist is fantastically done, with his "ironist" (read the book to understand) sense of humor and defiance of all attempts to control his freedom of thought. The other characters are not less successfully crafted.

I wish this book would've gotten more hype when it first came out, so more people could've enjoyed it. It's just too wonderful to miss.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking, exciting, tense, and darkly witty, 1 Oct 2014
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This is a thought-provoking and darkly witty tale, although the humour reveals itself rather more in hindsight than in the moment. Like many Adam Roberts' books, it revolves around a central conceit, which is revealed late in the day - but the ride is exciting, fast-paced, and tense. Most especially it is tense - the backdrop of Soviet Russia helps to accentuate this tension, and Roberts brilliantly evokes an atmosphere of political claustrophobia and fear. Readers of Roberts' work will recognize the slightly chaotic behaviour of his characters, which is something I relish - they always feel very human to me. This book does feel to have more direction than some of the author's other works, though; the chaos is nicely paced with a steadily mounting tension. All in all, one of my favourites - a book to read, enjoy, and muse upon.
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Yellow Blue Tibia: A Novel
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