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Yellow Blue Tibia: A Novel Paperback – 22 Jan 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (22 Jan. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575083573
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575083578
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,402,523 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


Part a droll comedy of manners parodying the fall of Soviet communism, part an intellectual inquiry into the idea of multiple quantum realities and part an attempt to discover why, despite the ubiquity of reported sightings, UFOs have never been proved to exist. As ever with Roberts, the writing is impeccable and the ideas riveting. (Eric Brown THE GUARDIAN)

Yellow Blue Tibia is a more rollicking book all round. Roberts is a very witty writer, and there are moments of superb slapstick here. Who said the literary novel was dead? (Stuart Kelly SCOTLAND ON SUNDAY)

Combining real events such as the Chernobyl disaster with bleak, Kafkaesque humour, Adam Robert's rich and strange novel is an attempt to reconcile the non-existence of UFOs with reports of sightings. A combination of the novel's sheer ambition and unexpected romance suggests Roberts is coming of age as a writer. (Jonathan Wright BBC FOCUS)

Gripping, captivating, wonderfully funny and magnificently written, completely mess-with-your-head weird. Fantastically evocative of what life was like in Soviet Russia, packed with telling details. Robert's style is beautifully crafted, his dialogue is superb, his charatcterisation perfect. This is a book you've got to read. (Tom Holt SFX)

Yellow Blue Tibia speaks of the fall of Communism, deals smartly with the bizarre status of the UFO in popular culture and mixes peculiar jokes with and almost Clouseau-like action with head-spinning revelations and even a sweet little love story. A cross between Robert Harris's Fatherland and Ian McDonald's Brasyl but reading nothing like either. (Matt Bielby DEATHRAY)

Yellow Blue Tibia is certainly a different SF book. It isn't strictly an alternate history, but plays around with its ideas and tropes. It isn't a comedy either, but I guarantee it will make you laugh out loud on at least several occasions. The combination of several farcical scenes with very polite and proper Russian grammar gives rise to some entertaining linguistic combinations even Jack Vance would be proud of. A clever, confounding and strikingly amusing book." (SFFWORLD.COM)

As always, Roberts has come up with an intriguing and original piece of SF. The story moves quickly and is driven by dialogue which combines humorous banter and philosophical discussions about UFOs and also the suggestive nature of science fiction. Yet another stimulating read from one of Britain's foremost SF writers. (Kevin Stone INTERZONE)

From the opening act in the dacha and the banter between the five sf writers, to the scenes in Moscow and the action & aftermath in Kiev and Chernobly, ¿Yellow Blue Tibia¿ is at times unbelievably funny, and is just a romp and very accessible. Superb and I can¿t recommend it enough. (FANTASY BOOK CRITIC)

Killings, kidnappings, interrogations and everything else you'd expect from the KGB, plus a trip to Chernobyl and a most surprising love story, all wrapped up in the blackest of dark comedy with a cast of disturbed and damaged characters. Recommended. (David V Barrett FORTEAN TIMES)

Book Description

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

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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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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