Original title: Za milliard let do kontsa sveta
While his wife and son are on vacation astrophysicist Dmitry Malyanov is trying to work on his thesis "The Interaction of Stars with Diffused Galactic Matter", but everything seems to be against him - it is extremely hot summer, for few days he keeps getting wrong number calls, people keep him from concentrating on his work. But one day he gets three unusual events at the same time - package full of food and alcohol, already paid for, is delivered by mistake to his flat, later that evening woman shows up on his doorstep with note from his wife Irka, introducing her as Irka’s old schoolmate Lidka. While Dmitry entertains his guest another visitors shows up at his door - his next door neighbour and rather mysterious character, physicist Snegovoy, drops by and begins to ask strange questions about man named Gubar. The alcohol has put Malyanov in good mood, but when he woke up in the morning it turned out that Lidka has disappeared and there are law officers knocking on his door. It turns out that Snegovoy has killed himself that night or was shot and posed to suggest suicide. Malyanov becomes the prime suspect since he was the last person to see Lieutenant Snegovoy alive and Snegovoy worked for the government.
Novel by Strugatsky brothers starts like a thriller, but later moves into realm of science fiction exploring the typical Strugatsky themes on the verge of science and philosophy. Comparing to their other works this is definitely more chamber drama that takes place in one building, where few scientists try to figure out what exactly is going on around them. Unfortunately the book lacks the edgy approach to the theme that worked so well in their other works.
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|Inspired by real person|
One of the characters, Vecherovsky, was based on the Soviet mathematician Yuri Manin, who in his 1980 book suggested the concept of quantum computer. Manin and Arkady Strugatsky were friends.
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