9

In the foundational novel of their Noon universe, "Noon, XXII century" ("Полдень, XXII век"), published in 1961, Strugatsky brothers "predicted" the notorious Kasparov-Karpov World Chess rivalry and championship:

Задача получила название «Буриданов баран». С молодого мериноса был снят биологический код по методу Каспаро-Карпова в тот момент, когда этот меринос находился между двумя кормушками с комбикормом. Этот код в сочетании с некоторыми дополнительными данными о баранах вообще был введен в КРИ. От машины требовалось: а) предсказать, какую кормушку меринос выберет, и б) дать психофизиологическое обоснование этого выбора. (Google Books link)
(Стругацкий А.Н., Стругацкий Б.Н., "Полдень. ХХII век", "ЧАСТЬ ЧЕТВЕРТАЯ. БЛАГОУСТРОЕННАЯ ПЛАНЕТА" - "3. ЗАГАДКА ЗАДНЕЙ НОГИ)

The task was called "Buridan's sheep." A young male sheep had his biological code taken using Kasparo-Karpov method at the moment when the Merino was between the two feeders. This code, combined with some additional generic data on the rams, was fed to KRI system. The task was: a) to predict which the feeder Merino would choose, and b) give a psycho-physiological rationale for this choice.
(A.N. Strugatsky, B.N. Strugatsky, "Noon, XXII Century." "Part Four - comfortable planet." - "3. The mystery of the hind legs". Translated by myself)

Did the authors ever comment on that "prediction"? Did they take credit for it, Nostradamus-style?

  • 1
    Irrelevant Mystery: Why'd Google Translate translate A.N.S. with initials, but automagically converted B.N.S. from initials to first name spelled out? – DVK Jan 21 '17 at 14:34
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    I don't see a prediction of the match or rivalry here. To me, they simply took the names of two grandmasters, and applied the rule of cool. – Gallifreyan Jan 22 '17 at 10:40
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    Damn... Not only was I wrong (to some extent), but this seems to be bugging a lot of people on the runet. Never gave it much thought when reading. Nice question, by the way. – Gallifreyan Jan 22 '17 at 10:57
13

Apparently, this was a coincidence

Googling took me to LiveJournal, where someone was wondering about the same thing. According to the guy over there, Karpov was only 11 when the book was originally written, and Kasparov wasn't even born - not to mention that his surname when born was Weinstein.

Finally, some Word of God from an interview with Комсомольская Правда (Komsomol Truth):

Борис Стругатский: Что касается предсказаний-пророчеств вообще, то отношусь я ко всему этому весьма скептически. Доступный мне опыт позволяет предположить, что сколько-нибудь серьезные и конкретные подробности будущего предсказать можно только чисто случайно. Как мы сами «предсказали» какой-нибудь «метод Каспаро-Карпова».

[. . .]

А вообще вы, конечно, правы: фантасты (в том числе и мы) - никудышные предсказатели-прорицатели. Да этого от них и не требуется. Они не сеют, они в лучшем случае разрыхляют почву под посев.

Translation mine:

Boris Strugatsky: Regarding prophecies and predictions, I'm generally very skeptical about them. My experience allows me to suggest that any specific and serious predictions of the future are purely coincidental. Like we "predicted" some "Kasparo-Karpov method".

[. . .]

Overall, you are, of course right: science fiction writers (including us) aren't good at predictions and prophecies. They don't have to be. They don't sow; the best they do is to hoe the land for further sowing.

Or another bit from the off-line interview about The Doomed City (see question 85, second from the end): the question asks whether the brothers knew the fall of the Berlin wall and the unification of Germany were called "die Wende", "the turn", same as Fritz Geiger's revolution in the book (in Russian, of course). Boris Strugatsky answers:

Нет, это, разумеется, чисто случайное совпадение. Впрочем, наверное, все «пророчества» суть не что иное, как случайные совпадения.

In English (translation mine):

No, of course it is just a coincidence. Although, probably all "prophecies" are nothing more than accidental coincidences.

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