''Prisoners of Power'' (original Russian title: ''Обитаемый остров'', lit. ''Inhabited Island'') is the sixth novel by the Creator/StrugatskyBrothers to be set in the Franchise/NoonUniverse. First serialized in a magazine in 1969, published in book form in 1971.

The protagonist, Maxim Kammerer, is stranded on the AfterTheEnd CrapsackWorld of Saraksh where the atmosphere has such enormous refraction index that the ''horizon seems to bend upwards''. After a nuclear war, the planet is divided into several surviving rump empires. And all of them seem to be competing over who can be the most evil. The empire where he lands practices MindControl on the unwashed masses and FantasticRacism against those who can withstand their Mind Control methods. At first Maxim seems a bit of a FishOutOfTemporalWater, just trying to get back home and unable to comprehend the nature of what's happening around him, taking the propoganda at face value. He proceeds to uncover [[PoweredByAForsakenChild the truth]] and tries to improve the situation. How well he succeeds is debatable.

Various ActionAdventure tropes are played with and deconstructed, including but not limited to MightyWhitey (the locals are white, but certainly savage compared to the protagonist, who is tan due to sunburn), NoEndorHolocaust (averted), and WhatTheHellHero.

There are three versions of the novel - the original (all but impossible to find), the censored version (896 corrections) approved by the Soviet government (the basis for all official foreign translations) and the 'restored' version that reverts many -- but not all -- of the changes (the only version still in print). A movie adaptation premiered in Russia in December 2008.
!!Tropes found in the novel:

* AdaptationExplanationExtrication: The [[spoiler: "Dummkopf! Rotznase!"]] WhamLine doesn't have such an effect in the 2009 movie, since it's said with such a hard Russian accent that you won't at first realize it's in [[spoiler: German]].
* AfterTheEnd: The HumanAliens of Saraksh are the survivors of a nuclear war, and live in this kind of setting. Everything is radioactive, the countryside is filled with rusting, malfunctioning {{Killer Robot}}s, the world is divided between savage regimes squabbling over the remaining habitable scraps of land, and the best hope for preserving civilization may be a horribly oppressive dictatorial state that employs MindControl to keep its subjects in line. At one point in the story Maxim comes across old photos from before the war, showing a lush, beautiful planet filled with happy, prosperous people; he actually becomes ''angry'' thinking about how Saraksh's inhabitants ruined their world.
* AlienSky: Saraksh's skyline must look really bizzare to a Terran. The atmosphere's chemical composition results in TOTAL lack of clear skies (number of times when sun was clearly seen is counted in one-digit number), and somehow distorts optics to the point where the planet's surface appears concave instead of convex, making it seem as if the planet is actually the interior of a giant bubble. It's pretty bad when you consider it prevented the planet's inhabitants from developing any kind of cultural concept about the existence of a universe outside their world.
* AnAesop: [[spoiler: If you want to change the world for the better, a thorough plan is required - not just blowing things up.]]
* ApocalypseHow: Saraksh's nuclear war was a Planetary Scale / Societal Disruption variety. Industrial civilization survives, but not in a particularly pleasant form, and doesn't seem likely to recover any time soon.
* BadassGrandpa: The statesman [[OnlyKnownByTheirNickname known as]] "The Wild Boar".
* BulletTime: One of Kammerer's abilities.
* CoolPlane: The "Mountain Eagle" bomber.
** That's His Imperial Highness Prince Kirnu's Personal "Mountain Eagle" Bomber With Four Golden Banners to you, private!
** Based on giant planes of the time, mostly [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tupolev_ANT-20 ANT-20]].
** It's a Cool Plane to the natives, but Maxim, used to 22nd-century Earth technology, regards it as [[TheAllegedCar The Alleged Plane]].
* CrapsackWorld: The story is a {{Robinsonade}} -- but instead of being stranded on a desert island, the protagonist is stranded on a horrible, ruined planet full of radiation, killer robots, oppressive dictatorial regimes, mind control technology, and the threat of a ''second'' nuclear war. No-one here is having a good time -- even the despots at the top of the social hierarchy must suffer.
* DieselPunk: Saraksh's [[TheAestheticsOfTechnology aesthetic]] [[PlanetOfHats hat]], with some UsedFuture mixed in.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: [[spoiler: The Center for MindControl is located at The TV Central Studio. Additionall redistribution of the signals by Towers is exactly how TV translation worked in USSR. And of course, the Towers are useless without regular propaganda.]]
* TheDreaded: The White Submarines.
* TheEmpire: All four of them, both in the literal and tropey sense. One of them seems to be more democratic, but...
* FascistButInefficient: Securing their own power is the only thing which Unknown Fathers can do well. In everything other their government isn't very competent.
* FromBadToWorse: Your CrapsackWorld isn't bad enough? Let's start a ''second'' nuclear war!
* GermanRussians: Maxim Kammerer himself. He's ethnically German but lived in Leningrad (Moscow in the movie).
* GoMadFromTheRevelation: [[spoiler: What happens to the less stable of the mind-controlled population if they don't receive dose of tower's radiation.]]
** [[spoiler: Also, to some degree, to Maxim: when he discovered that Wanderer is German.]]
* HumanAliens: two races are native to Saraksh. One is this (and in this book, we only see them). The other is the Headies (Golovans), who are {{Intelligent Gerbil}}s in appearance but quite StarfishAliens in mindset.
* KillerRobot: Of a UsedFuture, DieselPunk variety (but also relatively [[MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness realistic]] in that they are neither humanoid nor particularly intelligent). Saraksh is mostly at a 20th-century level of development, but has [[SchizoTech unusually advanced]] computer and nuclear technology -- so autonomous nuclear-powered robots were used during the War that turned it into a CrapsackWorld. When Maxim arrives, the planet's wilderness is filled with rusting, malfunctioning machines that are still attempting to follow their original instructions, attacking anything they perceive as an enemy while leaking poisonous radiation wherever they go. Maxim is originally stranded when his starship is shot down by an autonomous AA platform. He later comes across a rusting, highly radioactive robot tank rumbling through the landscape; fortunately it is too stupid and broken down to react to Maxim's presence. The evil government routinely sends political prisoners into the wilderness to try and disarm all the dangerous machinery, which generally amounts to a death sentence.
* LaResistance: A certain percentage of people have innate PsychicBlockDefense against the mind towers' rays. Said rays, however, cause them horrible headaches. On this account, they are officially declared sub-human and ruthlessly persecuted, the true reason for which being, of course, that they are the only ones who have enough free will to topple the government. Even they, however, have fallen prey to apathy, lack of planning and extremism. [[spoiler: The heads of state are actually this exact kind of people, who just managed to grab viable power in time. Even they suffer from their own mind rays and have scientists relentlessly working on protection - to little effect. Some of resistance members are even recruited by leaders when they need replacement.]]
* LeftForDead: [[spoiler: Granted, he's been shot several times to vital organs and a headshot barely missed.]]
-->[[spoiler: ''"Massaraksh, just the bullet to the liver should have been more than enough!"'']]
* LiteraryAllusionTitle: The original Russian title -- ''Inhabited Island'' -- is a reference to ''Literature/RobinsonCrusoe'' and other {{Robinsonade}} stories. Crusoe was stranded on a DesertedIsland -- a trope usually rendered in Russian as "an ''uninhabited island''." Maxim is stranded on a "desert island" as well, but this island is anything but "uninhabited" -- which turns out to be his main problem.
* SchizoTech: Sarakshians have roughly World War II level tech and science, but their astronomical knowledge and worldview are practically at a prehistoric level due to the above mentioned atmospheric phenomenon (i.e. they believe they live on the ''inner surface'' of a sphere, and have no concept of "space" or even "celestial bodies"). This made it impossible for them to work out ballistic flight physics and their aviation technology is very primitive. However, they have achieved remarkable progress in nuclear physics, computers, and the neurological sciences. Hence an otherwise 20th-century-type civilization with ''mind control'' technology -- and surrounded by scrap piles filled with autonomous, nuclear-powered {{Killer Robot}}s left over from their last war.
* TheLostWoods: One of the major locations of the book is a huge forest that was once a battlefield for two of the states. By the time of the story, it is filled with minefields, camouflaged sentry guns, autonomous tanks and ballistic missile launchers, most still running on nuclear power and carrying out their patrols. The state, where most of the books story takes place, sends convicts into the forest to disarm the machinery, essentially making the convict camps throughout the woods death camps.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: [[spoiler: Destroying the Centre, ruining the plan to save the country, not following safety instructions when making planet sweep to begin with.]] This has consequences in the larger 'verse, with Maxim's blunder being the final nail in the coffin of the program that allowed private citizens to explore the galaxy on their own. The program is shut down, and exploration is left to the professionals.
* OnlyKnownByTheirNickname: The Unknown Fathers and the whole government in their country.
* PuttingOnTheReich: The remaining empires, especially the one that becomes the main antagonist of the novel.
** Island Empire is obviously based on UsefulNotes/ImperialJapan.
* TwistEnding: "Dummkopf! Rotznase!" [[spoiler:It turns out, the Terrans were present on Saraksh the whole time and secretly steered it towards recovery--and Maxim has just ruined their entire plan.]]
* UnusualEuphemism: "Massaraksh", literally "the world inside out" - referring to a heretical theory, according to which life as they know it exists on the outer surface of the world sphere, rather than the inner surface.
* UsedFuture: The planet Saraksh has some of this aesthetic, especially when we see the machinery left over from the War that turned it into a CrapsackWorld -- much of it still functioning, but very much worse for the wear. Provides a contrast to the 22nd-century Earth that is Maxim's homeworld -- which is more at a CrystalSpiresAndTogas level of development by this point.
* WarIsHell: In the process of invading another state, the protagonist, his friend, and several other convicts are forced to steer outdated tanks towards the border so the nuclear mines along it are set off, making it safe for the professional army to roll through.
* WeAreStrugglingTogether: The mind-controlling totalitarian oligarchy is opposed by what may initially seem to be an unified rebel "Underground". However, to quote the novel itself, "the Underground wasn't a political party. What's more, it wasn't even a front of political parties". Its members couldn't even agree as to whether or not the mind control has to go. Factions range from blatant fascists (who want to overthrow the government and keep the mind control towers) to "biologists" (who just want to destroy the towers, but don't mind keeping the government - so they can't even agree about that), and there are factions within factions as well. It is explicitly pointed out that many prominent Underground leaders are either agents or secret allies of the government. The protagonist ultimately doesn't even bother trying to rally them, instead striking a deal with one of the less secure government leaders for inside information, recruiting a few of the more sensible Underground members and blowing up the mind control center without consulting anybody else. It is implied in later Noonverse novels that he and his allies then had to put down rebellions by some of the other groups, even though the country was already a terrible mess by then due to mind control withdrawal and such.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: Deconstructed. [[spoiler: The Stranger, TheManBehindTheMan who stands at the top of the government food chain, has been trying to pull Saraksh out of the chaos. However, he only managed to achieve any semblance of order and stability by supporting and blending in with the corrupt dictatorship, which all goes down the drain once Maxim helms the resistance formed by all the malcontents and possibly causes a FullCircleRevolution]].
* WhamLine: "Dummkopf! Rotznase!" [[spoiler:This line is uttered by the Stranger, the supposed mastermind behind TheGovernment's tyranny on Saraksh, in ''German''--a Terran language, revealing himself as a fellow (very pissed-off) Earthling to Maxim.]]
* WhatTheHellHero: [[spoiler:An unusual version in which Maxim and Rudolf (The Stranger who was one of the figures in charge) end up hurling that at each other - The Stranger for Maxim's [[DidNotThinkThisThrough hasty and hotheaded way of waging a revolution]], and Maxim back at him for [[TheEndJustifiesTheMeans cooperating with a tyrannical, genocidal, mind-controlling government]] to prevent anarchy.]]
* ZeroPercentApprovalRating: Averted. The government is oppressive, highly corrupt and very incompetent, but still totally approved by the citizens - thank to MindControl.