Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

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Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
1980s, in Arkady's Moscow flat
1980s, in Arkady's Moscow flat
BornArkady Natanovich Strugatsky:
(1925-08-28)28 August 1925
Batumi, Georgian SSR, Soviet Union
Boris Natanovich Strugatsky:
(1933-04-14)14 April 1933
Leningrad, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
12 October 1991(1991-10-12) (aged 66)
Moscow, Russia
19 November 2012(2012-11-19) (aged 79)
Saint Petersburg, Russia

The brothers Arkady Natanovich Strugatsky (Russian: Аркадий Натанович Стругацкий; 28 August 1925 – 12 October 1991) and Boris Natanovich Strugatsky (Russian: Борис Натанович Стругацкий; 14 April 1933 – 19 November 2012) were Soviet-Russian science-fiction authors who collaborated through most of their careers.

Life and work[edit]

A translated Strugatsky story appeared in Amazing Stories in 1959

The Strugatsky brothers (братья Стругацкие or simply Стругацкие) were born to Natan Strugatsky, an art critic, and his wife, a teacher. Their father was Jewish and their mother was Russian Orthodox.[citation needed] Their early work was influenced by Ivan Yefremov and Stanisław Lem. Later they went on to develop their own, unique style of science fiction writing that emerged from the period of Soviet rationalism in Soviet literature and evolved into novels interpreted as works of social criticism.[1]

Their best-known novel, Piknik na obochine, has been translated into English as Roadside Picnic. Andrei Tarkovsky adapted the novel for the screen as Stalker (1979).

Algis Budrys compared their "An Emergency Case" and Arkady's "Wanderers and Travellers" to the work of Eando Binder.[2] Several other of their fiction works were translated into English, German, French, and Italian, but did not receive the same magnitude of critical acclaim as that granted by their Russian audiences. The Strugatsky brothers, however, were and still are popular in many countries, including Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, the former republics of Yugoslavia, and Germany, where most of their works were available in both East and West Germany. They are well-known Russian science fiction writers with a well-developed fan base.[citation needed]

The Strugatsky brothers were Guests of Honour at Conspiracy '87, the 1987 World Science Fiction Convention, held in Brighton, England.

In 1991, Text Publishers brought out the collected works by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky.[citation needed]


Arkady Strugatsky was born 25 August 1925 in Batumi; the family later moved to Leningrad. In January 1942, Arkady and his father were evacuated from the Siege of Leningrad, but Arkady was the only survivor in his train car; his father died upon reaching Vologda. Arkady was drafted into the Soviet army in 1943. He trained first at the artillery school in Aktyubinsk and later at the Military Institute of Foreign Languages in Moscow, from which he graduated in 1949 as an interpreter of English and Japanese. He worked as a teacher and interpreter for the military until 1955. In 1955, he began working as an editor and writer. In 1958, he began collaborating with his brother Boris, a collaboration that lasted until Arkady's death on 12 October 1991.[3] Arkady Strugatsky became a member of the Union of Soviet Writers in 1964. In addition to his own writing, he translated Japanese short stories and novels, as well as some English works with his brother.


Boris Strugatsky in 2006

Born 14 April 1933, Boris Strugatsky remained in Leningrad with his mother during the siege of the city during World War II. He graduated from high school in 1950 and applied to the physics department at Leningrad State University, but studied astronomy instead. After graduating in 1955, he worked as an astronomer and computer engineer at the Pulkovo Observatory. In 1960 he participated in a geodetic and astronomical expedition in the Caucasus. Boris Strugatsky became a member of the writers' union of the USSR in 1964. In 1966, he became a full-time writer.[4] From 1972 he acted as the head of the Leningrad seminar of young speculative fiction writers, which subsequently became known as the "Boris Strugatsky Seminar". He established the "Bronze Snail" literary prize. He was an agnostic.[5] After the death of his brother, he published two more novels under a pseudonym. Boris Strugatsky died in Saint Petersburg on 19 November 2012.[6][7]

Noon Universe[edit]

Several of the Strugatsky brothers' books take place in the World of Noon, also known unofficially as the Wanderers Universe. The name is derived from the title of one of their texts, Noon: 22nd Century.

The main characteristics of the Noon Universe are: a very high level of social, scientific, and technological development; creativity of the general population; and the very significant level of societal maturity compared to the modern world. For instance, this world knows no monetary stimulation (indeed, money does not exist), and every person is engaged in a profession that interests him or her. The Earth of the Noon Universe is governed by a global meritocratic council composed of the world's leading scientists and philosophers.

The Noon Universe was described by the authors as the world in which they would like to live and work. It became highly influential for at least a generation of Soviet people, e.g., a person could quote the Strugatsky books and be sure of being understood. At first the authors thought the Noon Universe would become reality "by itself", but then they realized that the only way to achieve it was by inventing the High Theory of Upbringing, making the upbringing of each person a unique deed.

One of the important story arcs of those books addresses how the advanced human civilization covertly steers the development of those considered less advanced. Agents of humans are known as Progressors. At the same time, some humans suspect that a very advanced spacefaring race called Wanderers exists and is "progressing" humanity itself.



English title Russian title Published in Russian Published in English Type of work
From Beyond Извне 1958 1982 novella
The Land of Crimson Clouds Страна багровых туч 1959 N/A novel
The Way to Amalthea (also known as Destination: Amaltheia) Путь на Амальтею 1960 1963 novella
Noon: 22nd Century Полдень, XXII век 1962 1978 novel /
collection of linked stories
Space Apprentice (also known as Probationers, includes "The Gigantic Fluctuation" short story) Стажеры 1962 1981 novel
Escape Attempt Попытка к бегству 1962 1982 novella
Far Rainbow Далёкая Радуга 1963 1979 novella
Hard to Be a God Трудно быть богом 1964 1973; 2014 novel
Monday Begins on Saturday Понедельник начинается в субботу 1965 1977; 2017 novel
The Final Circle of Paradise Хищные вещи века 1965 1976 novel
Disquiet (initial variant of Snail on the Slope) Беспокойство 1990
(written 1965)
N/A novella
Snail on the Slope Улитка на склоне 1966–68
(written 1965)
1980; 2018 novel
Ugly Swans (re-translated in English in 2020 and published as a nested novel with Lame Fate) Гадкие лебеди (also known as Время дождя) 1972
(written 1966–67)
1972; 2020 novel; nested novel
The Second Invasion from Mars
(also known as The Second Martian Invasion)
Второе нашествие марсиан 1967 1970 novella
Tale of the Troika Сказка о Тройке 1968 1977 novella
Prisoners of Power (also known as The Inhabited Island) Обитаемый остров 1969 1977; 2020 novel
Dead Mountaineer's Hotel (also known as Inspector Glebsky's Puzzle) Отель «У Погибшего Альпиниста» 1970 1982, 2015 novel
Space Mowgli Малыш 1971 1982 novel
Roadside Picnic Пикник на обочине 1972 1977; 2012 novel
The Kid from Hell Парень из преисподней 1974 1982 novella
The Doomed City Град обреченный 1988–89
(written 1970–75)
2016 novel
One Billion Years to the End of the World (originally published in English under the title Definitely Maybe) За миллиард лет до конца света 1977 1978; 2014; 2020 novella
Tale of Friendship and Non-friendship Повесть о дружбе и недружбе 1980 1988 novelette
Beetle in the Anthill Жук в муравейнике 1980 1980 novel
Lame Fate (translated into English in 2020 and published as a nested novel with Ugly Swans) Хромая судьба 1986 2020 novel; nested novel
The Time Wanderers (also translated into English in 2023 and published under the title The Waves Extinguish The Wind) Волны гасят ветер 1986 1987 novel
Overburdened with Evil Отягощённые злом 1988 N/A novel

Short stories[edit]

English title Russian title Published in Russian Published in English Comments
The White Cone of the Alaid Белый конус Алаида 1959 1968 included in the novel Noon: 22nd Century as "Defeat"
A Man from Pacifides Человек из Пасифиды 1962 N/A
The Gigantic Fluctuation Гигантская флуктуация 1962 1973 included in the novel Space Apprentice
Wanderers and Travelers О странствующих и путешествующих 1963 1966 included in the novel Noon: 22nd Century as Pilgrims and Wayfarers

Short story collections[edit]

Short stories originally published in Six Matches:

English title Russian title Published in Russian Published in English
Six Matches Шесть спичек 1958 1961
Spontaneous Reflex (also known as Initiative) Спонтанный рефлекс 1958 1959
Forgotten Experiment Забытый эксперимент 1959 N/A
The Examination of SCYBER Испытание СКИБР 1959 N/A
Special Assumptions Частные предположения 1959 N/A
An Emergency Case Чрезвычайное происшествие 1960 1966

Short stories originally published as part of the novel Noon: 22nd Century:

English title Russian title Published in Russian Published in English
Night on Mars Ночь в пустыне 1960 1978
Almost the Same Почти такие же 1960 1978
Old-timer Перестарок 1961 1978
The Conspirators (short story) Злоумышленники 1962 1978
Chronicle Хроника 1961 1978
Two from the Taimyr Двое с «Таймыра» 1961 1978
The Moving Roads Самодвижущиеся дороги 1961 1978
Cornucopia Скатерть-самобранка 1961 1978
Homecoming Возвращение (also known as Известные люди and Пациенты доктора Протоса) 1962 1978
Langour of the Spirit Томление духа 1962 1978
The Assaultmen Десантники 1961 1978
Deep Search Глубокий поиск 1960 1978
Pilgrims and Wayfarers (also known as
Wanderers and Travelers)
О странствующих и путешествующих 1963 1978
The Planet with all the Conveniences Благоустроенная планета 1961 1978
The Mystery of the Hind Leg Загадка задней ноги (a.k.a. Великий КРИ) 1961 1978
Natural Science in the Spirit World Естествознание в мире духов 1962 1978
Candles Before the Control Board Свечи перед пультом 1961 1978
The Meeting Свидание (a.k.a. Люди, люди...) 1961 1978
What You Will Be Like Какими вы будете 1961 1978


English title Russian title Published in Russian Published in English
Five Spoonfuls of Elixir: A Film Script Пять ложек эликсира 1983 1986
Without Weapons Без оружия 1989 N/A
Zhyds of St. Petersburg, or Melancholy Talks by Candlelight Жиды города Питера, или Невесёлые беседы при свечах 1990 N/A

Solo works[edit]

The following titles were published by Arkady Strugatsky under the pseudonym S. Yaroslavtsev (C. Ярославцев):

English title Russian title Published in Russian Published in English Type of work
The Expedition into Inferno Экспедиция в преисподнюю 1974 N/A novel
The Details of Nikita Vorontsov's Life Подробности жизни Никиты Воронцова 1984 1989 short story
Devil Amongst People Дьявол среди людей 1991 N/A novella

The following titles were published by Boris Strugatsky under the pseudonym S. Vititsky (С. Витицкий):

English title Russian title Published in Russian Published in English Type of work
Search for Destiny or the Twenty Seventh Theorem of Ethics Поиск предназначения, или Двадцать седьмая теорема этики 1994 N/A novel
The Powerless that be Бессильные мира сего 2003 N/A novel


The Strugatsky's books were often adapted for screen, stage, comics, and video games. Some of the adaptations are very loose, like Tarkovsky's Stalker, some are not adaptations but rather new scripts written by the Brothers themselves, like The Sorcerers.


Several writers have to a varying degree paid their tribute to the works of Strugatsky brothers:

  • Sergey Lukyanenko in his duology The Stars Are Cold Toys has the main character visit a world that is in many aspects strikingly similar to Earth from the Noon Universe but in truth is revealed to be fundamentally different and oppressive. On his website, Lukyanenko commented that he disagreed with the Strugatskys' views on education and upbringing and conceived his duology partly as a polemic criticism of it.[9]
  • The plot of Kir Bulychov's novella from the Alisa Selezneva series, Vacations in Space, or the Planet Five-Four, is based on finding a secret base of mysterious "Wanderers" (Странники), an extinct highly advanced civilization. He also depicted his own Zone in the story Save Galya!
  • In the late 1990s, a three-volume collection of fiction by notable contemporary Russian science fiction authors, titled The Time of the Apprentices (Время учеников), was published with the endorsement of Boris Strugatsky. Each piece in the collection was a sequel to one of the Strugatskys' books.
  • The asteroid 3054 Strugatskia, discovered by Nikolai Stepanovich Chernykh in 1977, was named after the Strugatsky brothers.
  • The fictional moon Pandora depicted in the movie Avatar by James Cameron contains some similarities with the Noon Universe series, where a planet is also called Pandora. Both are filled with jungle, where weird animals and a humanoid race live. Also, the girlfriend of the biologist Sidorov in the Strugatskys' novel is called "Nava" (as compared with "Na'vi" as the name of the humanoid race in the film). However, Boris Strugatsky rejected the idea that his works had been plagiarized, despite the similarities.[10]
  • In 2014 a square in Saint Petersburg was named after the Strugatsky brothers. A memorial museum is being opened in the same city.[11]
  • The brothers are credited with saving humanity from mysterious "visitors" through technology retrieved from a "visitation zone" in the 2016 game The Final Station.
  • The Polish video game developer Acid Wizard Studio cited the Strugatskys as an influence on their 2017 game Darkwood.[12]
  • The designers of the 2019 video game Disco Elysium cited the Strugatskys' writing as an influence on the game's design and writing.[13]
  • The video game series S.T.A.L.K.E.R. owes much of its background to the mix of the Strugatsky's writing and the Chernobyl disasters' zone of exclusion.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ von Geldern, James (2014). "1968: Strugatsky Brothers". Seventeen Moments in Soviet history. Macalester College. Retrieved 28 May 2014.
  2. ^ Budrys, Algis (September 1968). "Galaxy Bookshelf". Galaxy Science Fiction. pp. 187–193.
  3. ^ Alexandr Usov, Strugatsky Brothers bio
  4. ^ Arkadii and Boris Strugatsky, Escape Attempt Archived 9 April 2009 at the Wayback Machine,
  5. ^ Boris Strugatsky. "Boris Strugatsky: "The seeds of culture do not die even in the soil, which seems to be frozen to the bottom,"". Cobepwehho Cekpetho. Retrieved 14 December 2012. I was an atheist, or as it is now for some reason, say, an agnostic. I (unfortunately or fortunately) I can not bring myself to believe in the existence of a conscious self Omnipotence that controls my life and the life of humanity.
  6. ^ (20 November 2012), Умер Борис Стругацкий. (in Russian)
  7. ^ Locus Online (19 November 2012), Boris Strugatsky (1933–2012)
  8. ^ IMDb record of TV movie Nesmluvená setkání
  9. ^ Sergei Lukyanenko. "Works. F.A.Q. Full list of questions and answers" (in Russian). Retrieved 14 February 2008.
  10. ^ OFF-LINE интервью с Борисом Стругацким Январь 2010, 18 January 2010. (in Russian)
  11. ^ В Петербурге отложили открытие музея Стругацких с донецким архивом Archived 22 August 2016 at the Wayback Machine. (17 April 2016)
  12. ^ "Darkwood FAQ". Darkwood. Acid Wizard Studio. Retrieved 20 July 2016.
  13. ^ "Steam :: Disco Elysium :: Disco Elysium - FAQ - Inspiration & Recommendations". 17 January 2020.

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