15 votes
Accepted

Did the Strugatsky brothers ever comment on "predicting" the Kasparov-Karpov World Chess rivalry?

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 ...
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  • 8,017
10 votes
Accepted

Should this word in Hard to Be a God be translated as "arbalest" or "crossbow"?

We don't know whether it was an arbalest or a crossbow. To quote (for the lack of a better source) Wikipedia: A large weapon, the arbalest had a steel prod ("bow"). Emphasis mine Taking ...
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  • 8,017
10 votes
Accepted

What word was used for "anisotropic" in the original Russian text of "Hard to Be a God"?

The original Russian version does not use any made-up or composite word for "anisotropic". "Anisotropic" is a real world present in English language; it is used in science, as well as technology. ...
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  • 8,017
9 votes
Accepted

How do they decide who to save/bring to Earth in Hard to Be a God?

They don't bring anyone to Earth. The persons of interest - scientists, astronomers, medics, artisans, poets, you name it - are not sent to Earth. They are re-routed to kingdoms that value their ...
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  • 8,017
9 votes
Accepted

Are any of the countries in Hard to Be a God based specifically on particular real-life countries?

Original Authorial Intent: "Three Musketeers"-ish pre-Age-of-Discovery kinda-Spain-cum-Russia-or-France (sans muskets). Based on Boris Strugatsky's "Commentaries to the past" (...
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  • 4,176
9 votes
Accepted

Does the text support the theory that Arata the Hunchback killed this character?

Not really, unless you're willing to allow a lot of stretches and assumptions. We could scrape a motivation for Arata to have ordered the abduction. Firstly, it could be argued he had the motive: he ...
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  • 8,017
8 votes
Accepted

What does Father Gur mean by "And then you'll be given back!"?

The subsequent text pretty clearly provides the context; and it's the one you suggested ("after they kill me for possessing it") — Напугал... Вам приходилось когда-нибудь жечь собственных детей? ...
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  • 4,176
8 votes
Accepted

What parallels can be drawn between Don Reba and Beria?

SPOILERS AHEAD! This answer may contain spoilers including hints to the major plot points of the book; sprinkled all over. References: all Beria facts below are basically from Russian Beria Wiki page ...
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  • 4,176
8 votes
Accepted

Why doesn't Anka like to be called Anetchka?

All three of them are trying to seem more grown up than they really are. Running from their boarding school? With crossbows blazing? That doesn't sound like trying to be more grown up than they ...
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  • 8,017
8 votes
Accepted

What details does the "Without Weapons" / "A Man from a Distant Star" stage play add to the lore of "Hard to be a God"?

First of all, as is usual with user-generated content, Wikipedia has glaring errors here. Here's what English Wikipedia page that caused you to ask the question says: Without Weapons (Без оружия, ...
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  • 4,176
7 votes
Accepted

In "Hard to Be a God", are "Sergei Kozhin", "George Lenny", "Sabine Kruger" real historical references?

I think, in the context of the novel, those are the names of the operatives who were previously named "sprinters", i.e. people who could not simply stand and watch the barbarian actions of ...
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  • 8,017
7 votes
Accepted

What is the significance of the anisotropic highway and the skeleton of a fascist chained to a machine gun?

I interpreted the scene with the highway and the skeleton as a subtle bit of foreshadowing. It'll take some inference to get there, so bear with me if you will. The highway is the progress of history ...
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  • 1,843
6 votes

What is the significance of the anisotropic highway and the skeleton of a fascist chained to a machine gun?

In the context of the Soviet Union, which is where the book was written and where the framing story is presumably taking place, a “fascist” is someone from the Axis, an enemy in a war that had an ...
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4 votes

What is the significance of the anisotropic highway and the skeleton of a fascist chained to a machine gun?

While it is hard to say what they wanted to say (even my commented edition does not have any special remarks on it), I would interpret it as a contraception part of the character in “The Experiment”, ...
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  • 263
4 votes
Accepted

How did the Strugatsky Brothers' experience with Soviet literary publishing censorship reflect on their books?

This subject is covered in most detail in the book "Limping Fate". Unfortunately, there is no English translation yet. This book is written in a form of two interleaved novels (not unlike ...
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  • 565
4 votes
Accepted

How does Earth manage to get so many highly placed agents?

I would say this depends on the particular agent we're talking about. For some, I admit, being placed might be very difficult (see Don Condor), but for others solutions may be trivial. Bribery ...
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  • 8,017
3 votes

Should this word in Hard to Be a God be translated as "arbalest" or "crossbow"?

Arbalest IS a type of crossbow with steel "bow". Wiki article for "арбалет" in English it is translated as "crossbow" - it seems that Russian language uses the name of specific type of crossbow as a ...
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  • 1,850
3 votes

What does Father Gur mean by "And then you'll be given back!"?

In Russian text the word used is "вернуть" (to return) which in this context I have always understood to be intentional wordplay to the Russian ввернуть - which means among other things "to screw in" ...
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  • 472
3 votes
Accepted

Given Anton's attitudes expressed to Budakh, why did Earth start Progressors?

I've found a fragment of interview with Boris Strugatsky (in Polish) The relevant fragment: Our shallow look at the progressors and their ideas have been replaced with something deeper [...]....
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  • 1,850
3 votes

What ticked off Soviet bosses about "Inhabited Island"?

I don't think anybody can have a definite answer here. My understanding is that the same Mak Sim portrayed by someone else (say Adamov of the previous generation, or Kazantzev, or even Efremov) would ...
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3 votes

What was the Red Building, the chess game, and who was the chess genius?

Disclaimer: such questions are practically impossible to answer. Anyway, What is the Red Building? What does it represent? As Katzman put it, the Red Building is a delirium of an agitated shame. I ...
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3 votes
Accepted

Who came to Rumata's house at the end, and why?

They were Reba's men. Spoilers will follow. This is the authorial intent, and this is what is implied in the novel. Boris Strugatsky acknowledged this explanation in an off-line interview: ...
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  • 8,017
2 votes

What was the point of the job-switching lottery?

Yes, I'd say this is a part of the Experiment. No, I can't say it's directly related to the real situation in the USSR*; but there was a general attitude then (not only in the USSR) that things will/...
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  • 326
1 vote

What ticked off Soviet bosses about "Inhabited Island"?

If I recall correctly, Erik Simon wrote in the afterword of his german translation that the novel was deemed too political, especially the criticism of nationalism and mass media. The publishing house ...
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  • 129
1 vote

Should this word in Hard to Be a God be translated as "arbalest" or "crossbow"?

As a native English speaker I find the word arbalest archaic, at best. Crossbow, or huge battle crossbow, conveys to me the original meaning of the phrase огромный боевой арбалет clearly and ...
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  • 468

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