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Monday Starts on Saturday

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A brilliant and incisive satire of the Soviet pseudo-science research of the Cold War, with a new introduction by Adam Roberts.

When young programmer Aleksandr Ivanovich Privalov picks up two hitchhikers while driving in Karelia, he is drawn into the mysterious world of the Scientific Research Institute of Sorcery and Wizardry, where research into magic is serious business. Where science, sorcery and socialism meet, can chaos be far behind?

224 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1965

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About the author

Arkady Strugatsky

407 books1,536 followers
The brothers Arkady Strugatsky [Russian: Аркадий Стругацкий] and Boris Strugatsky [Russian: Борис Стругацкий] were Soviet-Russian science fiction authors who collaborated through most of their careers.

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. Arkady Strugatsky became a member of the Union of Soviet Writers in 1964. In addition to his own writing, he translated Japanese language short stories and novels, as well as some English works with his brother.

Source: Wikipedia

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 660 reviews
Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,356 reviews11.8k followers
July 26, 2022

Many people outside Russia are familiar with Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky's 1979 film loosely based on the novel Roadside Picnic by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky. But, let me tell you comrades, the brothers Strugatsky's Monday Starts on Saturday is one of the most imaginative, off-the-wall hilarious SF novels ever written, a work that should be better known than it is.

Science fiction held a special place within the Soviet Union back in 1964 when this novel was first published, with issues revolving around censorship and maintaining the party line. If writers wanted to express their personal creativity or share independent ideas rather than serve the cause of communism and the state, they stood a better chance of having their books published if they wrote about future, distant worlds and impossible happenings and events - in other words, if they wrote science fiction.

And we find just such a distant, impossible world in Monday Starts on Saturday. It all begins when young computer programmer Alexander Ivanovich Privalov from Leningrad headed north to meet up with some friends, picks up two hitchhikers who convince him to drive to their destination to spend the night. As Alexander Ivanovich quickly discovers upon arrival where there's a sign reading: "N I T W I T - The Log Hut on Chicken Legs," he has crossed over into a universe where magic, myth and mayhem intersect with science and technology, a universe where, among many other extraordinary occurrences, a talking pike pops out of the water and the mirror in his room refuses to reflect his image. Alexander Ivanovich must admit, all of what he encounters "seemed to me even more interesting than modelling a reflex arc." Thus our computer programmer stays on for much longer than one night.

Working within such a preposterous literary canvas, the Strugatsky brothers throw every conceivable objects and animal and plant, not to mention gentlemanly ghost, mad researcher and buffoonish bureaucrat at programmer Alexander and, indirectly, at the reader. Powerful images and ideas are all tangled together - I can imagine Soviet men and women pouring over this novel in private gatherings, relishing every glorious sentence, coming up with associations galore taken from history and current events as well as their own knowledge of fairy tales, myths and legions.

To share a taste of the treats a reader is in store for, I've included my own comments linked to a mere handful of the hundreds of bizarre happenings generously served up in the novel's 240 pages:

Modern Soviet State's Fairy Tale Grandma: Alexander is greeted by old Nina Kievna, the prototypical ancient granny from fairy tales and folk legions; she's well over 100-years-old and wears not only the predictable black shawl knotted under her chin but "her head was covered by a cheerful nylon scarf with brightly colored pictures of the Atomium and an inscription in several languages: 'Brussels International Exhibition'."

What a scream, comrades! The traditional forms of magic usually associated with the fairy tale grandma, such things as magic pebbles or golden apples, are replaced by a symbol of the "rational" magic of physics and chemistry -as tall as a 33-story building, the Atomium (pictured below) is built of stainless steel in the shape of a unit cell of an iron crystal magnified 165 billion times - and not only does each sphere contain an exhibition hall connected by escalators but there's a restaurant on the top sphere. Whoa! An undeniable feat of engineering and scientific know-how amounting to nothing less than the magic of the modern world.

The crossover between sorcery, wizardry and magic on the one hand and modern science, technology and engineering on the other is a key theme running throughout the entire tale. In many important ways, particularly in the general public's eye, scientists and technicians have taken the place of wizards.

Computer Programmer's Dreamscape: Alexander's very first night at N I T W I T proves memorable: he moves his pillow and sheets from the floor to a couch (a magical couch, as it turns out) and is woken out of his sleep in the middle of the night by voices. He tries to go back to sleep but realizes he's hungry not sleepy. The programmer gets up and picks up a book from the windowsill - Alexei Tolstoy's Overcast Morning. He flips to a random page and reads of a character opening cans of pineapple. Then a pungent smell of food fills the room - granny Nina Kievna enters and serves him a plateful of delicious hot potatoes smeared with butter.

Thereafter Alexander lies down once again and this time hears a quiet voice speak of an elephant in scientific terms then references to Carl Jung and the Upanishads. This is followed by Vasily the cat under the oak tree outside walking like university professor Dubino-Knyazhitsky giving a lecture, referencing, among other topics, a vile monster and a snow-white swan. Meanwhile, the book by Alexei Tolstoy transforms into other works by other authors. When Alexander peers out the window again he observes a wet, silver-green shark's tail hanging from the lowest branch of the oak tree. Equally astonishing (perhaps the influence of the couch?), our computer programmer takes it all in stride.

Law and Order: The following day Alexander is in the town square and is surprised to find the five kopecks in his pocket mysteriously reappearing after he hands over his coins to a merchant. According to a young lieutenant on duty at the time such behavior is completely unacceptable. The programmer is interrogated and the lieutenant informs him that he will have to draw up a report.

Alexander reflects: "What is the essential point here? The essential thing is whether or not a person thinks of himself as guilty." Readers back when Russia was the Soviet Union must have hooted when reading this brothers Straugatsky scene. During those Soviet years, millions of honest men and women were sent off to forced labor camps for trifles. To judge oneself as guilty was nothing short of laughable.

Wizards Go Bonkers: Turns out, N I T W I T stands for National Institute for the Technology of Witchcraft and Thaumaturgy. Alexander enters the main building and is put to work in a laboratory where he comes in contact with a string of remarkable departments and offices - to list several: Department of Linear Happiness, Department of the Meaning of Life, Department of Predictions and Prophecies, Children's Laughter Distillation Unit, Department of Defensive Magic, Department of Absolute Knowledge.

As I'm sure any reader will appreciate, with such a list the tale's social and cultural satire kicks into even higher gear. What are the consequences when technicians attempt to calculate society's highest happiness using mathematical formulas? How effective and efficient can such departments become? Are research projects and experiments being conducted here at all practical or useful?

Such questions fan out to even larger questions: What value is there in academic and scientific institutes around the world when subjects addressed have nearly zero relevance to the general population? What if researchers become so specialized they lose sight of what is beyond their specialty? In this way, the novel speaks to our modern world well beyond 1960s Soviet Russia.

There is even consideration at the institute of the ways to use vampires and magic carpets in modern warfare. And how will future research be done when such important components are added to the equation? I've just touched the surface here. Many more astonishing discoveries and ideas and memorable scenes await a reader opening the pages of Monday Starts on Saturday.

One can only wonder if old Nina Kievna has to travel to Moscow and stand in line on a mile-long queue to receive her Atomium scarf made from that modern synthetic fabric - nylon. Incidentally, the Soviet Union participated in the Brussels International Exhibition with its major contribution: a replica of Sputnik.

Authors Boris and Arkady Strugatsky

"I was woken by the flapping of wings and an unpleasant screeching. The room was filled with a strange, bluish half-light. The vulture on the stove was rustling its feathers, screaming repulsively and ganging its wings against the ceiling. I sat up and looked around. Floating in the air at the centre of the room was a big tough-looking bozo in tracksuit trousers and a striped Hawaiian shirt." - Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Monday Starts on Saturday
Profile Image for Vit Babenco.
1,422 reviews3,373 followers
May 31, 2022
Is such a thing as science fiction fairy tale possible? It is possible if a thing is Monday Begins on Saturday.
The sofa, I thought. What has the sofa to do with it? I had never heard any fairy tale about a sofa. There was a flying carpet; there was the magical tablecloth. There was the invisibility hat, the seven-league boots, the playing harp. There was the magic mirror. But there was no magic sofa. Sofas were for sitting or lying on; there was something respectable and ordinary about them… In fact, what fantasy could be inspired by a sofa?
Returning to my room, I was at once aware of The Small Man. He was sitting on top of the stove, up against the ceiling, twisted into an uncomfortable pose. He had a puckered unshaved face and hairy gray ears.

If you manage to get some job in The Scientific Research Institute for Thaumaturgy and Spellcraft then you’ll be the luckiest of humans… But then you’ll bump into the most strange things, meet the most weird creatures and be surrounded with the most bizarre phenomena…
But, in spite of all these petty interruptions, in spite of the fact that the animated Alden sometimes printed out, “I am thinking, please don’t interrupt,” in spite of the insufficiency of spare subassemblies, and the feeling of helplessness that took hold of me when it was required to conduct a logical analysis of the “incongruent transgression in the psi-field of incubal transformation,” in spite of all that, it was devilishly interesting to work here, and I was proud of being so obviously needed. I carried out all the calculation in Oira-Oira’s work on the heredity mechanisms of hi-polar homunculi. I constructed tables of the M-field potential around the sofa-translator in the ninth dimension.

But even in the locus of supernatural enigmas and mysterious arcana there is a special mystery which must be solved… And there is such a mystery of a little parrot and its master…
Janus saw the parrot and again said, “So.” He took the small bird in his hands, very gently and tenderly, stroked its bright red crest, and said softly, “What happened, little Photon?”
He wanted to say something more, but glanced at us and remained silent. We stood together and watched him, walking with an old man’s gait, slowly go to the far corner of the room, open the door of the electric furnace, and drop the little green corpse in.

Some realities are more magical than other realities.
Profile Image for Swrp.
662 reviews
January 15, 2022
Strugatsky brothers` Monday Begins on Saturday - a fairy-tale for research scientists!

[Illustration © Yevgeniy Migunov.]

A fun read that is a magical and imaginative ‘mix bag’ of a lot of people, characters and events. It does not seem to have a purpose or heading towards a 'destination'. The story felt like a detailed introduction to a research institute that you are supposed to know nothing about. We get to know the mission, people behind the ‘projects’, a few of the ongoing activities and also would get to ‘sample’ some of the upcoming launches!

The story is narrated by a computer programmer, Alex ‘Sasha’ Privalov, who is hired by an institution. Sasha soon realises that this is no normal institution but a scientific research institution that`s into sorcery and wizardry.

Originally written in Russian and in the year 1964, this science fiction and fantasy novel is set in a fictional place in the north of Russia. As one of the characters mentions this book is like… "the iron wall that separates the world of human imagination and the world of fear of future".

[Illustration © Yevgeniy Migunov.]
Where shall I jingle you!?
Profile Image for Dan.
151 reviews23 followers
December 6, 2015
This is one of the most fun and enjoyable books I've read in a very long time and it totally came of out of left field for me.

There is a great documentary on YouTube titled Pandora's Box : The Engineers' Plot about how the Soviet Union attempted to use mathematical and scientific principles to bring about the greatest amount of happiness and comfort to the Russian people. Through pure logic and reason the Soviet scientists hoped to control an illogical and irrational population. This was a real thing and it went on for decades. And it was a total failure.

This book was published in the late 1960's during the beginning of a period of Soviet economic downturn. The (relatively) prosperous days of the 1950's and early 1960's of the Soviet Union were coming to an end and the reality of grossly inefficient Soviet rule was apparent to everyone - though not many people said anything publicly. The authors, one of whom was actually an astronomer, would have had a front row seat to many of the societal events of their day from a very unique perspective.

And that's what this book is about.

But it's not just about making fun of the Soviet Union - it's about how all institutions are a bungled mess of competing egos and endless bureaucratic quicksands. But unlike Kafka, they take a much more lighthearted approach to the joke of all human society.

Years ago I was friends with a lady who, like Boris Natanovich Strugatsky, was a scientist. She was one of those wiz-kid PhD's by her mid twenties and had done so in the field of astrophysics. At the time I was working with a friend making hand built telescopes for the (rich) amateur enthusiasts and so she was always coming by our shop and hanging around.

What I quickly learned, however, was that a genius PhD in astrophysics is not nearly as interesting or romantic as it sounds. Her job was (if I remember this right) the study of the gravitational effect between two incredibly distant galaxies and just those two galaxies. She didn't study anything else about those galaxies or any other structures in the universe, she only studied how gravity worked on a pair of multi-billion year old galaxies in a constellation I had never even heard of.

And her knowledge of general astronomy was laughable in many regards. Current news and discoveries were things she was totally unaware of and was probably why she hung around us so that she wouldn't totally lose touch with the greater scope of the field she was working in.

This book deals with pretty much the same idea: scientists have become so hyper-specialized (and, honestly, everyone in higher academia suffers this fate) as to be nearly useless. Here, the scientists are all magus (magicians and wizards - even Merlin himself) who work at an institute devoted to discovering and perfecting human happiness. Their tools include a couch that interperts dreams, a sort of motorcycle that you can drive into the invented future realities of science fiction books. In town there is a mermaid in a tree and a wish fulfilling pike in a well. There are coins that always show back up in your pocket when you spend them and a man who is two men, one who at midnight instead of living into the next day like the rest of us time linear folks, reappears 24 hours earlier and lives that day instead.

It's a totally bonkers idea, but that's the whole point, too because in a way it mirrors not only what was going on in the Soviet Union at the time, but also what still goes on in the Ivory Towers of higher-learning around the world.

But there's a larger theme at work here, too, and that's of how the general public sees science. For many people the work of the scientists is not much different than that of a magician because it's nearly impossible to explain what scientists actually do. Academic papers might as well be fairy tales for all the good they do a regular person who has to go to work all day.

The authors then go on to make parallels to the media and the 'rock star' scientist who does no real science but the public loves them because they do a lot of neat tricks (like a magician).

Even economics is explored where they take their egotistical, rock star scientist, and task him with trying to create the perfect man but who only turns out to be so incredibly gluttonous because he has everything he wants and can be given everything he wants as to literally explode after gorging on nearly 3 tons of rotting fish heads.

Not bad that they could expose the failings of both Capitalism and Communism with only one metaphor!

And there is so much more here, too. That's what I love about this book - it's great fun and wildly imaginative, but it also gets you to really think about a great many concepts and ideas without hitting you over the head with them.

The book is outrageous, the characters are thinner than the pages, there is no dramatic tension at all, but none of that stuff matters because the ideas rule here. And there are also some wonderfully powerful images that will linger : the ride into the future where we meet the soldier near the Iron Curtain thousands of years into the future, or the bird, or my favorite: the giant, lazy mosquito the size of a dog that he shoos out the window into a driving blizzard in the middle of the night where it immediately disappears in the storm and cold.

Strange and brilliant.
May 16, 2019
🧙 Most Frolicsome Soviet Wizards R Us Buddy Read (MFSWRUBR™) with Evgeny (aka He Who Forces Me To Read All This Russian Stuff Against My Nefarious Will) 🧙

Actual rating: 8.568426 stars

⚠️ This crappy non-review is a disgraceful disgrace, and a revolting insult to the Greatness that is this book. Thou hast been warned and stuff.

There’s really just one thing you need to know about this Slightly Very Good Book (SVGB™): the characters in it work at a place called NITWITT. Don’t believe me? Check this out:

Ha! Now if that isn’t the best incentive to read a story ever, I don’t know what is. And for those of you who show spectacular lack of judgement think this frolicsome NITWITT business isn’t reason enough to pick this SVGB™ up, here are a few things that better might entice you to read it post haste:

① Evgeny might unleash his Villainously Villainous Minions (VVM™) on you if you don’t. (Given that I am one of said minions, expect a friendly visit from the murderous crustaceans pronto and stuff.) But hey, no pressure and stuff.

② NITWITT stands for National Institute for the Technology of Witchcraft and Thaumaturgy. I want to work there when I grow up. Because it is gloriously, colourfully and perfectly believably dysfunctional.” Meaning complete, utter, delicious wackiness abounds, and the place is packed with complete loonies (aka one of the mostest gloriousest cast of characters ever). In other words, the perfect work environment for my nefarious little self and stuff.

Yeah, more or less. Only that NITWIIT has magic tablecloths, flying-carpets, people who can spell ‘ghoul’ properly (don’t ask), mermaids that clamber around in trees, pseudo-monkeys in white coats, a Department of Linear Happiness, truckloads of herring heads, a Department of Militant Atheism, caps of darkness, working models of gravitational seven-league boots, breeches of darkness, and self-playing psalteries. But no magic divan, I’m afraid. Anyway, moving on and stuff.

③ There’s a slightly unbalanced cat who suffers from memory loss, a condition that drives him slightly a little nuts sometimes. Also, he sings and tells the most fascinating stories. Well the parts he remembers, anyway.
‘And in the field, the fiaowld,’ he sang, ‘the pliaow runs of itself, and mmm-eh … mmmiaow, and following that pliaow … mmiaow … Our Lord himself does walk … or stalk?’
Hahahahahahahaha. Hahahahahaha. Ha. Hahaha. HahahahahaI think this kinda sorta means this book made me laugh some. Not much though. Just a little bit and stuff.

Baba Yaga FTW! Okay, so my favorite grandma isn’t at her best here, what with her broomstick being in a museum and her flying mortar not getting repaired, but she’s still the coolest, most fun-loving gram ever, if you ask me.

See what I mean?

⑤ Evgeny read this book too many as many times as I’ve read Burn for Me. This should tell you something. Yes, it should.

⑥ There’s a pike that has rheumatism and speaks in a strong northern Russian accent. (Which I am told is a teensy little bit unusual for a pike.) So QED and stuff.

Merlin (yes, that Merlin) is head of the Department of Predictions and Prophecies. And has lots of interesting stuff to say about his fight against Yankee imperialism back in the Middle Ages *waves at Mark Twain* Also, he has a miracle cure for radiculitis. I kid you not.

Scrumptiously Scrumptious Stuff (S³) galore: service personnel imps + flying-broom squadrons and the Hundred Years’ War + ifrits trained as flame-throwing anti-elephant pursuit battalions by King Solomon Himself and In The Flesh + printers that, um, you know, print stuff like I’m thinking. Please do not disturb + macrodemons called Entrance and Exit who play roulette + parrots that were cremated tomorrow and no longer exist but come back asking for sugar + cadavers whose total scientific value is “quite clearly zero” + cumbersome copper aquavitometers =

Get it? Good.

Nefarious Last Words (NLW™): this book in a nutshell? Alice's in Wonderland meets Doorways in the Sand meets the Marx Brothers’ cabin. I rest in my case and stuff.

P.S. I have to say that my Evil Russian Translator of a Nemesis Andrew Bromfield managed not to mess the translation up this time did a pretty good job with this translation. Color me slightly discombobulated and stuff. So kudos to him and stuff.

[Pre-review nonsense]

So much original originality, so much hilarious hilarity.

So much delicious nonsense, so much scrumptious absurdity.

So much brilliant wit, so much scintillating cleverness.

How dare some puny humans compare this Slightly Very Wondrous Book (SVWB™) to Harry Potter and Discworld?! (I have nothing against Little Harry, but DISCWORLD?! *starts convulsing a little*) This is most outrageously outrageous indeed, and calls for immediate, ruthless retaliation, if you ask me.

Full review to come. Someday. When pigs have wings, chickens have teeth, and crayfish whistle on the mountain. Maybe.
Profile Image for carol..
1,532 reviews7,856 followers
November 9, 2019
First published in 1965, Monday Starts on Sunday has an unusual feel. Written by a pair of Russian brothers, it applies elements of folklore and fantasy to social commentary on institutions and politics, with a solid dollop of humor on top. I was drawn to it for the above reasons, along with the comparison to Zelazny, and found it enjoyable, as long as I was in the exact right reading mood.

This is not one of those books that can cajole me into enjoying regardless of attention and mood. No doubt, some of this is due to cultural and temporal barriers--here I am, a female American, reading this almost 55 years later--but much is owed to the actual whole of the stories themselves. There's the barest of characterizations--though I think we are likely to sympathize with the 'straight' man narrator who is recruited into the craziness--but that's really beside the point, because some of the people exist to present ridiculous situations. This can work--think of oft-compared work, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy--

--boy, am I ever interrupting myself today. Excuse me while I drink more coffee--but what ended up killing it for me was that the situations were interrupted by somewhat didactic narrative about what was happening. Essentially, tone down the absurdity of Hitchhikers, fail to apply even its loosest semblance of plotting, and then interpret said absurd situations for the reader.

All this is to explain why it took me a ridiculous amount of time (by my own standard) to read it, having started and re-started in fits. All that said, once I found my reading groove, it was amusing in spots, and Strugatsky's commentary does seem on point.

Structurally, it's really three novellas, loosely linked. The first includes a number of folklore references, so if you have read fairly-standard Russian folklore, it's particularly fun. The second is more research institution commentary, and while it is occasionally biting, it's also a bit fond as well. The whole reason Monday starts on Saturday, you see, is because these people love what they do.

I can appreciate that, and I can also appreciate some of the institutional and political commentary, if only there wasn't so much of it. The man from the first story is now a member of the Institute, and is charged with maintaining order on the eve of the new year, when everyone should be out celebrating. Only as he makes his rounds, people keep trickling back in. They end up watching the research of the Happiness Department as his latest project is decanted: the Happiest Man, who is non-coincidentally, a literal consumer. It's obvious to everyone that the researcher is a bit of an ass and the experiment will be a disaster, but like a Saturday Night Live skit gone on for ten minutes instead of three, it turns into variations on a theme.

I never got past this story because I kept falling asleep. I felt like I had to restart to get the rhythm of the text and the story, but then would get sleepier and sleepier. It didn't help that there were a number of extremely chaotic happenings in my personal life during the time I had the book checked out. I kept hoping for a more opportune time, but instead Life kept throwing up challenges. I finally surrendered, and paid my library fine.

Honestly, I don't know that I can recommend it to most readers. Because it is so much about the subtext, the actual plotting didn't seem to be enough to drive the story. It would help a great deal if one was familiar with socioeconomic theories as well as the general political state of the major world powers prior to 1965 to appreciate the subtext. And clearly, knowledge of Russian culture and history would be particularly helpful. None of these are needed, persay, but I think all of these are probably what makes it a more standout text, much in the same way Doorways in the Sand pulls in so many references beyond the simple (but bananas!) plot.
Profile Image for George Kaslov.
99 reviews132 followers
July 23, 2022
What a fun read. Now How the hell am I going to get my hands on the rest of the books from this series in English... Younger Me You Fool, Why didn't you pay attention in Russian classes back in high school!?

Anyway, regrets aside, to the review. The book comprises three humorous short stories featuring Soviet Scientists/Wizards working at NITWITT (National Institute for the Technology of Witchcraft and Thaumaturgy) and their daily troubles. By the style it's like the wizards from The Unseen University but written almost 20 years before Pratchett's Discworld series and dealing with typical Soviet (and basically any variation of a socialist regime) bureaucracy, inept administration, a dishonest, show-horse professor, and equipment failures. Not to mention fairy tales gone wrong: Baba Yagas property belonging to the state and waiting for compensation, the wish granting Gold Fish died from a depth charge in WWII, the wish granting trout exhausted from giving televisions and radios to the people, the all knowing cat suffering from dementia and many many more.

The characters are almost all scientists working at the institute trying to figure out happiness, meaning of life and solve mathematically proven unsolvable problems, while arguing, debating and trying to survive their other colleagues. And who knew that Merlin was a staunch Communist before Karl Marx.

And finally the brilliant title Monday Starts on a Saturday that reflects the authors ideal of a proper scientist.
Profile Image for Knjigoholičarka.
150 reviews8 followers
January 18, 2021
Verujem da mi je dosta referenci promaklo, ali čak i da zanemarim sve motive i pakosne (in a good way), standardno ruski teatralne satirične detalje (kao što je kralj Artur koji iz jezera ne dobija Ekskalibur nego srp i čekić, ili sklerotični mačak koji je od svega zapamtio samo Lenjinovu maksimu rad, rad i samo rad), u trenutku kada sam došla do sovjetskih reklamnih parola u stihu ("u institutu dvesta duša, svaka ište vrelog tuša") već sam morala da ostavim knjigu i naglas se ismejem kao magarčina.

Ne sećam kada me je poslednji put neka knjiga ovako dobro zabavila. Večnaja ljubov za braću Strugacki. <3
Profile Image for Tijana.
732 reviews191 followers
December 20, 2021
Dela braće Strugacki su po pravilu duhovita, ali retko i vesela. "Ponedeljak počinje u subotu" u tom pogledu predstavlja izuzetak: možda zbog izleta u folklorom inspirisanu fantastiku, a možda zato što je ovo relativno rano delo u kome ih nije još sasvim napustio optimizam u pogledu ljudskog roda - dovoljno je uporediti viđenje naučnika i naučnog rada kakvo je dato ovde sa onim u "Milijardu godina do kraja sveta". Da, ima satire uperene protiv birokrata i badavadžija, ima kritike ovog i onog, ima i urnebesne parodije tadašnje naučne fantastike kako utopijskog tako i distopijskog tipa, ali pre svega je u pitanju vedra zavrzlama o programeru koji zaluta na naučni institut posvećen čarobnjaštvu i magiji i tamo nađe srodne duše. Ali i mačka koji govori, Baba Jagu, Merlina (u Tvenovom izvođenju) i jednu od verzija Kaljostra (s pravim a ne šarlatanskim moćima). Takođe sadrži možda najudarničkiji radni doček Nove godine u vasceloj SF književnosti, s epskom posvetom svim naučnim radnicima koji više vole da rade, istražuju i unapređuju ljudski rod nego leba da jedu (eto još jednog fantastičnog elementa).
PS a u lokalnom bioskopu se daje film "Kozara" pri čemu junak prigovara da ju je već dvaput gledao, i mene nije mrzelo da iskopam original i uporedim, jeste stvarno "Kozara".
Profile Image for Sinem A..
449 reviews248 followers
January 4, 2019
Bu önemli yazarlara bu kitapla giriş yapmak bence güzel oldu.
Hem bilimkurgu hem fantastiğin farklı bir yöntemle birleştirildiği bu tarz bir kitap sanırım daha önce okumamıştım.
Bilim nedir büyü nedir aralarında nasıl bir ilişki olabilir üzerine eğlenceli bir serüvendi. kitap aynı zamanda Rus yaşam tarzına da tebessüm ettirici nüktelerle bezeliydi.

"...herkes için tek bir gelecek yoktur Bir sürüdür bunlar ve her bir davranışınız onlardan birini yaratır... Mutlaka anlayacaksınız bunu."
Profile Image for Mevsim Yenice.
Author 4 books972 followers
January 7, 2019
Bilim kurgu ve fantastik edebiyata uzak biri olarak, her ikisinin harmanlandığı bu kitap beni oldukça aştı sanırım. Uzun zamandır bir kitabın içine bu kadar giremediğim olmamıştı. Çok hacimli bir kitap olmamasına, içindeki çizimlerle eğlenceli bir yapıya dönüşmesine rağmen zorlukla takip ettim ben. Yoruldum. Bazen "ne okuyorum? ne anlatılıyor bana?" hissiyle doldum.

Bu deneyimin olumsuz her yönünü kendime, bilim kurgu ve fantastik tarzlarına uzak duruşuma yükleyecektim ancak sonra aklıma "Lanark" geldi. O da fantastik edebiyat olmasına rağmen okurken keyif aldığım bir kitaptı.

Yılın ilk okuması olması da beklentiyi yükselttiğinden bu kadar hayal kırıklığına uğramış da olabilirim diyerek, sözü kitabı severlere bırakıyorum :)
Profile Image for Ivana Books Are Magic.
523 reviews190 followers
November 16, 2020
I don't know where to start with this extraordinary novel. It even read it twice because I wanted to make sure I understood everything there was to understand. I'm not entirely sure I did, but I definitely took the the time to read it carefully and enjoyed it thoroughly. Monday Beings on Saturday is an unique and original science fiction novel. It is a novel in which one fantastic episode replaces another in a manner that reminded me of Alice in Wonderland. These fantastical episodes are contrasted with more realistic ones that seem to a direct reference to Soviet times. In addition, there are so many surreal and fantastic characters- that at times it even seems overwhelming.

The story itself is narrated by a young programmer Sasha who picks up two hitchhikers who convince him to stay and work with them in a Scientific Institute of some kind. Once Sasha arrives there, he realizes this place is as far from ordinary as possible, but at the same time plagued by some ordinary problems such as bureaucracy. Sasha meets all kind of fantastic characters: the talking cat, the time- travelling parrot with an astronauts' vocabulary, its particular owner Janus that is a one man in two personas, the strange old granny, the pseudoscientists and even magicians. There is also a curious case of a disappearing divan. The reader is brought back to reality with clever use of humour, especially satire as well as with the realistic and rational commentary of its programmer protagonist- Sasha.

Upon my first reading, I was amazed and entertained by the lovely humour of this book, the reverse logic, the abundant satire, the amusing literary references, the fabulous talking animals and the clever world play. However, on the second reading I payed more attention to the social critique that was present in the novel. At times this novel seems a pretty serious critique of pseudoscience and research as well as the communist belief in the perfectly satisfied man. So, I'd say that I was more amused on my first read but more impressed on my second reading. I love how this novel manages to be both amusing and serious at the same time. The ending was very satisfying as well. All in all, it is a definitely a novel I would recommend.
Profile Image for Caro the Helmet Lady.
762 reviews345 followers
July 21, 2019
I just finished listening to a magnificent audio version and I already know I'm ready to do it again. Says me, who rarely does audio-books, because audio-books put me to sleep. Well, with this one I couldn't doze off because I laughed too often.
I had soooooo much fun! Both on the intellectual level as well as shits and giggles level, because this book has it all. On one hand it's a pity I haven't read this one as a teen, but on the other I'm pretty sure I would miss most of political allusions together with all the tongue-in-cheek-ness Strugatskys put into this book. Anyway, it can never be too late for a great timeless classic. Even if it is in fact a tad dated - of course it's full of komsomolskiy optimism and enthusiasm for science and future - I still think it aged rather well, much better in fact than some of the western sci-fi books written in 60'ies. And much better than other soviet sci-fi for sure.
A sudden thought - if I first read this and then later Zelazny and Pratchett, they wouldn't probably seem so fresh and original to me... But no worries - I still love them.
Anyway, gotta get myself more Strugatskys this year, definitely got to reread Roadside Picnic soon... 5 stars for this one!
Profile Image for Kaya.
2 reviews
January 23, 2012
Одна из лучших книг братьев Стругацких. Лучшая из цикла НИИЧАВО. Прочла ее впервые лет в 19, и потом, как в детстве, долго не отпускало ощущение, что этот подорванный НИИ Чародейства и Волшебства и правда где-то существует.)
Profile Image for Paul Ataua.
1,340 reviews123 followers
July 26, 2021
Having read and enjoyed ‘Roadside Picnic’, I was looking forward to this. Unfortunately, despite being glad I read it, I really didn’t enjoy it that much. There’s a lot in it, but is an ‘off-the-wall hilarious SF romp’ as one reviewer put it ,and that description is like garlic to a vampire for me. Pity I didn’t read the reviews before starting to read..
Profile Image for Vlad Rusu.
272 reviews49 followers
February 17, 2017
Maybe I'm too dumb for some books. Or maybe some books are too dumb for me. I've no idea which was the case here.

Fun though. An extra star for that. Even though it wasn't the fun kind of fun.
Profile Image for Gabrielle.
996 reviews1,129 followers
March 24, 2023
My buddy Laurent, who enthusiastically recommended I read the Strugatsky brothers, describes “Monday Begins on Saturday” as ‘Soviet “Harry Potter”’ – while that is not entirely accurate, it is the general vibe, except it’s far funnier and far cleverer than anything Rowling ever wrote.

A young programmer from Leningrad is driving to a small northern town for a few days of vacation and picks up two hitchhikers who turn out to be employees of the Scientific Research Institute of Sorcery and Wizardry – a place where folklore and magic is studied with very serious scientific methods, but with the level of absurdity one can certainly expect from a story set in the USSR in the 60s…

There is certainly a lot of socio-political and economic subtext weaved through this story of an everyman suddenly stuck in a surreal situation. Some of that subtext might have been lost on me, because while I have a decent familiarity with Russian folklore and history, it is by no means an expertise; I caught quite a few references, but I am sure I must have missed a bunch as well. Luckily, I think the story’s zaniness is strong enough on its own. The convoluted structure of the Institute our hero, Alexander, finds himself employed by has a clear Kafkaesque nature, but balanced with a lot of that weird Russian humor I am quite fond of. Folkloric creatures collide with modern technology and rigid committee and inventory structures, and that all goes about as well as you might imagine!

The novel is made up of 3 loosely tied stories, and that format is interesting, but doesn’t really allow for a lot of character development, it goes more like a series of vignettes, and I think I would have liked a deeper immersion into the world dreamt up by the Strugatsky brothers. But considering the intent behind writing such a book, I am in awe at how entertaining they made it, even if it left me just a little bit wanting. Very recommended!
Profile Image for Genia Lukin.
228 reviews175 followers
February 17, 2012
One of the best books I've ever read. I keep rereading it from time to time when I need a chuckle at the foolishness of life, or when I am too stressed with exams and research papers for my own good.

The Brothers Strugatsky managed to satirise everything under the sun: Academic research, communist optimism, science-fiction (and especially science-fiction authors), academia, and on and on.

The book might prove a touch impenetrable for the foreign language (English or otherwise) reader, due to its reliance, especially in the first part, on Russian folk tales. But this is hardly a problem that cannot be overcome with a measure of footnotes and creative extrapolation.
Profile Image for Велислав Върбанов.
380 reviews29 followers
May 27, 2023
„Потребни ли сме на себе си?“

„Понеделник започва в събота“ е много приятна и забавна книга, както и поредната отлична сатира на реалността в СССР! Братя Стругацки по блестящ начин осмиват съветската наука и начина на живот в тамошен научен институт... Книгата съдържа 3 отделни новели, в които действието се развива в магическия, но и затънал в безсмислена бюрокрация НИИЧАВО... Според мен, те не достигат чак нивото на „Трудно е да бъдеш бог“ и други велики творби на авторите, н�� все пак са изпълнени с неповторимото им чувство за хумор и като цяло много ми харесаха!

„Тези страхливи хора, мислех си аз, приличат на някои учени експериментатори, твърде упорити, твърде трудолюбиви, но без никакво въображение и затова твърде предпазливи. Когато получат резултат, който не е тривиален, те се уплашват от него, набързо го обясняват с това, че експериментът не е излязъл чист, и фактически се отказват от новото, защото прекалено са свикнали със старото, което удобно се побира в рамките на авторитетната теория…“
Profile Image for Rıdvan.
528 reviews78 followers
January 23, 2019
Valla kitabın adı her ne kadar “kişisel gelişimmiş” gibi geliyorsa da kulağa değil. Hatta tam tersine bilim-kurgu fantastik gibi bişey bu kitap. Çokta başarılı bulmadım ben. Notu oldukça yüksek ana beni çok sarmadı ne yapayım.
Bilim-kurgu ve fantastik deyince akla ne geliyorsa bu kitapta bulabilirsiniz. Ama roman deyince akla gelen ilk şeyi bu kitapta bulamazsınız. “Olay örgüsü”
Nerde başlıyor, nasıl başlıyor ve bitiyor belli değil. İlerleyip giden bir konu yok ortada.
Ortalık cinden periden hayaletten büyücüden vampirden geçilmiyor. E bilim de almış yürümüş. İnsanoğlu tüm bu tiplerin efendisi olmuş. Peki.
Ama konu??
Profile Image for Liviu Szoke.
Author 28 books362 followers
March 15, 2017
Prea meta-psiho-abramburită ca să zic oau! La fel ca toate cărțile fraților Strugațki, cu excepția Picnicului la marginea drumului. Critică deghizată la adresa sistemului și a monștrilor pe care-i naște, termeni inventați sau împrumutați din limbi de circulație internațională sau chiar moarte, călătorii în viitor, inchizitori, motani, papagali înviați și o explicație chiar „logică” a meteoritului Tungus. Și să nu-i uităm pe Kafka sau pe Gogol. Mai multe, pe FanSF: http://wp.me/pz4D9-2BS.
Profile Image for Radioread.
115 reviews106 followers
February 11, 2019
İyi fantezi. Bilimsel gerçeklikle masal gerçekliğinin kıvılcımlar çıkaran dansı. Bu kıvılcımlar insanla insan, toplum, iktidar arasında şekillenen ilişkilere, demir perdenin altına süpürülenlere, var oluşa yok oluşa, hatta bilimkurgunun kendisine yönelen dahiyane taşlamalar. Dönemine göre ve dünyanın hayal gücüne kattıklarıyla düşününce, benden biraderlere beş yıldız gücünde dört kızıl yldız.
Profile Image for Veronika Sebechlebská.
381 reviews128 followers
November 3, 2020
Niekde na začiatku druhej kapitoly som pojala podozrenie, že VÚČAKO je vysunuté pracovisko Neviditeľnej Univerzity a až do konca knihy som sa ho nezbavila.

(Pozn: Na prvý, druhý aj tretí pokus v starom slovenskom preklade mi to prišlo absolútne nečitateľné, roky som nechápala, čo na tomto kto môže vidieť, ale v češtine to bola nakoniec fakt sranda)
Profile Image for Goran.
75 reviews2 followers
January 28, 2020
‚‚Bajka za mlade naučne radnike''
Na trenutke varljivo jednostavan a u suštini složen konglomerat fantastike, mitologije, humora, satire, ismevanja birokratije... likovi bi mogli da budu bolje razrađeni a tok priče je povremeno nejasan (možda je u pitanju prevod) ali knjiga je vredna truda.
Profile Image for Kayıp Rıhtım.
362 reviews257 followers
October 22, 2016
Pazartesi Cumartesiden Başlar, büyü kisvesi altında merkezine aldığı bilim gibi ele avuca sığmaz, dağınık, sürprizlerle dolu. Evrenin kavraması zor, ne çıkacağı bilinmez mucizeler ve musibetler barındıran varlığının ve onun bilinmezliklerini deşifre etmeye çalışan bilim insanlarının maceraları var burada. Onlara uzaktan bakanların yaftalayabileceği gibi, büyü ve büyücü oldukları bir masala hoş geldiniz.

Masalı ve mizahı, harika birer hizmetkara dönüştüren Strugatski Kardeşler, hikaye temelli sürükleyicilik anlayışını da reddetmekte. Sürükleyicilik, her sayfada karşılaşılan yeni yeni durum ve fikirlerin kendi tuhaflıklarından doğan merak unsuruyla sağlanıyor aslında. Bunca tuhaflık bir anda boca edilip, pek çoğunun açıklığa kavuşturulmamasına rağmen, hikayenin akmaya devam etmesi – inanılmaz gelse de- sağlanıyor. Anlattığı bilimin çıkmaz sokaklar ve bilinmezliklerle dolu yapısıyla insanın merak duygusunu kaybetmemesini öğütleyen ve anlatımsal manada okuru kitaptan uzaklaştırma risk taşıyan bir seçim bu. Tutulan bu riskli yolun başarıya ulaşmasında görece ana karakterimiz diyebileceğimiz A.İ.Privalov ve onun vekaletinde tanık olduğumuz curcunanın değişen yoğunluğu da yardımcı oluyor.

Kendisiyle birlikte bu sihirli dünyaya adım attığımızda A.İ.Privalov’un yardıma koşan yönü rehberliği. Klasik masalların ideal ama hikayenin sonuna kadar tam bir dönüşüm geçirmeyen kahramanlarından farklı olarak, kitabın en başından beri ideal insan tipi olarak sunuluyor kendisi. Birinci bölümde, yaşanan tuhaflıklara bizimle birlikte o da şaşırmakta. Tuhaflıklar karşısında biz ne yapacağımızı bilemezken, kendisinin takındığı bilimsel bakış açısı yardımımıza koşuyor. Bilinmeze karşı ne yapacağımızı bize anlatan bu dosta ve aktardığı bilgilere güvenimiz pekişiyor.

Biricik masalımız içerisinde akademik çevreye uzak olan biz okurlar için yabancı gelebilecek mevzular ayrıntılandırılmaya çalışılınca anlatım büyüsünde biraz bozulma yaşanıyor aslında. Kitabın sıkıcılaşmaya başladığı bu kısımlar, yazarlarımızın bilim çevresinden edindikleri görüş ve tecrübelerini damıtıp genel hatlarıyla anlatmaya ara verdiğinde oluşuyor. O ana kadarki olguları pekiştirmek ya da akademik ortamda karşılaşılabilecekleri örneklemeye çalışınca masal temaları kullanılmaya devam ederken masal anlatmaya ara verilmesi kısadevreye yol açıyor. Tunguska Olayı açıklaması, gazetede şiir yazma telaşı, Hopgeldio’nun, yeterince kısa olsa da, sinir bozan boş felsefi tartışmaları ilk aklıma gelenler arasında.

Görünürde alelade dağınıklıkta, ama düşünsel anlamda bütüncül bir kitap Pazartesi Cumartesiden Başlar. Anlattığı masala kendini vererek içeriğine adapte olunabilindiğinde okuruna katkı sağlayan türden bir eser. Tıpkı iyi bir masalın olması gerektiği gibi.

- Cemalettin SİPAHİOĞLU

İncelemenin tamamı için:
Profile Image for Lauren .
1,713 reviews2,308 followers
November 19, 2020
MONDAY STARTS ON SATURDAY by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, tr. from the Russian by Andrew Bromfield, 1964 / 2016.

Last year for #RedOctoberRussianReads, several of us read the Strugatsky Brothers' most popular novel, ROADSIDE PICNIC, published in 1971. This scifi is dark in tone, looking at a world post-alien invasion... Basically humans cleaning up the mess that was made when the aliens arrived and promptly left earth. Big concepts and philosophical in tone.

After reading that one, I sought out a few of their other books available in English translation. I wanted some Soviet-era sci-fi in the mix this month for #ReadtheWorld21, and little did I know how *different* this one would be from my earlier experience with their work!

Monday Starts on Saturday is best described as a science fantasy, and a delightful romp at that. It's a satirical and absurd look at scientific research, Soviet bureaucracy and institutions, and "magic" through the eyes of an unsuspecting everyman, Alexander "Sasha" Privalov.

Traveling in north Russia (near the current border with Finland), young Sasha picks up 2 hitchhikers who recruit him to come work for their research institute... Wizards and vampires become his co-workers, and there are some hilarious situations, especially as Sasha has a late-night shift.

Broken into 3 parts, the stories overlap in time, and the 3rd and final piece was my favorite. There are many absurd situations and wordplays, which are likely even more humourous in the original Russian.

This edition includes a glossary of fantastical creatures, and a great essay by Boris about the process that he and Arkady took when writing this novel.

The Strugatskys have several works available in English, and I have Snail on the Slope, The Doomed City, and Hard to be a God still to look forward to. Each one seems to take on a different tone and feel, so I'm looking forward to reading more of their work.
Profile Image for Radoslav.
28 reviews
August 9, 2020
Konfuzno u početku, ali postaje sve bolje kako knjiga odmiče. Sve do pomalo razočaravajućeg završetka. Delo je podeljeno na tri dela, tj. tri priče koje ne dele zajednički zaplet. Posle prve priče, koja opisuje dolazak i prvi susret Privalova sa Naučnoistraživačkim institutom čarobnjaštva, vračanja i okultizma (NIČAVO), sledi niz dogodovština koje ga prate kada i sam prihvati zaposlenje na institutu.

Svaka celina pred kraj zagolica maštu nagoveštajem nekakvog otkrovenja i potom se završava rečima: “Ali to je već neka sasvim druga priča”. I to je, u suštini, struktura knjige. Zasebne epizode bez nekog sveobuhvatnog narativa. Moglo se ubaciti još priča, još avantura, u bilo kakvom redosledu. “Kraj” knjige je zapravo samo kraj treće pripovesti.*

Same priče su zabavne i na momente urnebesne.

”...Vibegalo je izneo tri eksperimentalna modela: model Čoveka, u potpunosti nezadovoljenog, model Čoveka, želudačno nezadovoljenog, i model Čoveka, potpuno zadovoljenog. Potpuno nezadovoljeni antropoid je stigao prvi - ispilio se pre dve nedelje. To žalosno stvorenje, prekriveno ranama, kao Jov, poluraspadnuto, koje su mučile sve poznate i nepoznate bolesti, neverovatno gladno, koje je patilo od hladnoće i vrućine istovremeno, izletelo je u hodnik, uputilo institutu niz nerazgovetnih žalbi i izdahnulo. Vibegalo je likovao. Sad se moglo smatrati dokazanim da, ukoliko čoveka ne hranimo, ne pojimo, ne lečimo, onda će on, ovaj, dakle, biti nesrećan i može čak i da umre.”

Ako vas, između ostalog, zanima kako su protekla preostala dva eksperimenta modela Čoveka, pročitajte ovo delo.

*Tehnički, “Pogovor i komentari” Privalova slede nakon poslednje priče.
Profile Image for Anna Nesterovich.
569 reviews23 followers
January 4, 2018
This is one of my all-times favorites that I read and re-read (I can remember at least ten occasions). This particular session was special, because my husband was reading it aloud. And as soon as we reached the end, we started again. And then read again, selected parts.

The mix of surrealism and straightforward realism, irony and self-irony, fondness and disillusionment is amazing and breathtaking. This book shows the atmosphere among Soviet Union -> Russian scientists so accurately, as if it's a mirror. And it makes me feel both nostalgic and apprehensive, because it of course shows both good and bad sides, and also that they are the same. The things we love are pretty horrible, if we think about them long enough, but in most cases they are what they are. It's just the paradigm, the universe we live in. And the mirror to look in.
Profile Image for Özgür Atmaca.
Author 2 books53 followers
January 11, 2019

Ütopik bir kuzey masalında, Alice'in deliğinden bir bilim adamı düşer.
Gerisi Harry, gerisi mistisizm, gerisi kozmonot kabalası..
Kuzey anânesinin Mezopotompayayı zorlayacağı da hiç aklıma gelmezdi.

Profile Image for Noah.
450 reviews46 followers
December 8, 2019
This novel starts out as great Soviet Metaliterature, touching the obscure from Gogol to Bulgakov. However it quickliy turns into a siviet Harry Potter. Not badly written, sometimes funny, but not my cup of tea.
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