Literature: Autumn Visits
(Осенние визиты, Osenniye vizity) is a Science Fiction
novel written by the popular Russian author Sergey Lukyanenko
in 1997. The novel takes place in modern times. Six completely unrelated individuals suddenly find themselves face-to-face with their body doubles, who reveal themselves to be so-called Visitors. The Visitors represent six primal forces of human nature (Creativity, Power, Evolution/Development, Humanism/Goodness, Strength, and Knowledge). The Visitors reveal to their Prototypes that they're, essentially, exact copies of them with the same memories but with additional knowledge. Throughout human history, the Visitors reappear and try to establish their primal force as supreme by eliminating the others
(oftentimes, the Prototypes are killed alongside their Visitors), thus setting humanity's course until the next cycle. It's not, however, unheard of for two or more Visitors to cooperate if another Visitor represents a much greater threat. There is, however a thirteenth player in the "game". Unlike the others, Darkness (which represents unrestrained freedom and chaos) does not create a Visitor. Instead, it empowers a contract killer (and pedophile) to hunt down all the Visitors and their Prototypes. Light is also mentioned to be a primal force, but has not appeared since Jesus Christ
, as humanity no longer has any light in them.
- Creativity - Slava is a Visitor of a famous science fiction author named Yaroslav Zarov, known for such novels as The Sunny Kitten. Among his previous Prototypes are Giotto and Adolf Hitler. The Visitor has a What Have I Done moment and commits suicide. Yaroslav makes it to the end of the novel but is arrested.
- Power - Vizier is a Visitor of an Uzbek-Russian politician named Rashid Guliamovich Hairetdinov who dreams of becoming President of Russia. Vizier kills Rashid shortly after arriving and takes his place, as "power is not shared", having Rashid's own bodyguard bury the body of an "intruder". Among his previous Prototypes were Josef Stalin, Napoleon Bonaparte, Genghis Khan, and Alexander the Great. Vizier is killed by Ilya.
- Evolution/Development - Vis is a Visitor of a thirteen-year-old boy named Kirill Korsakov, famous for being a child poet. He tries to cover up the fact that, after hitting puberty, he lost his gift. Vis tries to pass himself off as Kirill in order to trick Yaroslav, but the latter sees through the trick and shoots Vis. Kirill, whose mother was killed by Ilya, is arrested along with Yaroslav.
- Humanism/Goodness - Mary is a Visitor to Dr. Anna Kornilova. Personifies Good Is Not Nice and Utopia Justifies the Means. Mary is willing to kill anyone who stands in her way. At first, Anna thinks that Mary is is the Messianic Archetype (Mary specifically chooses her name for that effect), but eventually realizes that Mary is evil and may, in fact, be the Devil. Mary kills Anna after the latter becomes disillusioned. Yaroslav throws Mary off a building onto a metal pole, and Ilya follows up with a headshot.
- Strength - an unnamed Visitor to Colonel Nikolai Shedchenko of the Ukrainian Army. One of his previous Prototypes was a close ally of Stalin. In fact, Strength often allies with Power, taking the role of a sidekick.The Visitor is killed by Anna. Nikolai allies himself with Vizier but is killed by Ilya.
- Knowledge - Wizard is a Visitor to an elderly professor of philosophy named Arkady Zaltsman. Both Arkady and Wizard have cancer with only six months to live. Wizard's previous Prototype was Albert Einstein. Both are killed by Ilya.
- Darkness - chooses contract killer Ilya "the Corrector" Karamazov as its emissary without a Visitor. It's mentioned by Visitors that Darkness never creates a body double, preferring to possess a Prototype instead. Allies himself with Mary and impregnates her. Killed by Kirill.
The novel contains examples of the following tropes:
- Author Avatar: Science fiction writer Yaroslav Zarov is clearly based on Lukyanenko himself. One of Zarov's novels, The Sunny Kitten is Lukyanenko's own novel The Boy and the Darkness. Also, while Zarov's novel Shadows of Dreams matches a short story from Lukyanenko's Line of Delirium series, the latter was written after Autumn Visits, and Lukyanenko merely borrowed the name from it. Additionally, Yaroslav is one of the two characters who survive to the end.
- Bittersweet Ending: Yaroslav and Kirill are alive, but they're about to be arrested. Also, Kirill's mom is dead, and none of the forces is the victor, making the future of humanity uncertain.
- Alternatively, Darkness could be considered the victor, as its goal was the death of all the Visitors.
- Clap Your Hands If You Believe: After Ilya kills Kirill's mom, Vis convinces Kirill to avoid watching the news or reading newspapers. If Vis wins, then the world will adopt his views, which means that Kirill's mom will be alive with Only a Flesh Wound. Ilya then Kicks the Dog by revealing the truth, removing that possibility.
- Covers Always Lie: A mild case. One of the covers shows two identical women in white coats: the woman in front is holding a bloody scalpel and has green eyes and a crazed expression. The woman behind her is horrified. Her eyes also don't appear to be green. This implies that the woman in front is Mary, and Anna is horrified with something that Mary has done. In the novel, Mary is an identical double of Anna, so their eyes should be the same. Also, Anna is the one with the bloody scalpel after stabbing the Strength Visitor In the Back.
- Crapsack World: Hinted at, since there has been no Light in humanity since the days of Jesus. Also, "Goodness" allies with Darkness.
- Fake Balance: The six Visitors choose their Prototypes based on their personality and other related qualities. However, this means that some have an unfair advantage over the others. For example, an influential politician like Rashid is chosen by Power, and an army officer is chosen by Strength, while a dying old man is chosen by Knowledge and a teenager is chosen by Development.
- This is claimed to be intentional, though, as these forces represent these qualities in humanity at large. As such, Strength and Power are valued by most humans over Knowledge and Development.
- Fetus Terrible: Mary impregnates herself with the child of Darkness in order to bear the future ruler of the world.
- Good Is Not Nice: Definitely true for Mary who claims to represent Goodness and Humanism but has no qualms about killing anyone in her way (including children) or allying with Darkness itself to achieve world domination.
- Yaroslav decides the relatively better visitors Vis and Slava should die in the ending.
- He-Man Woman Hater: Ilya has a deep hatred for all women thanks to a bad experience in school and has no problems killing them. He likes underage girls, though, and often masturbates to old photos with girls. Because of that, he is still a virgin.
- The Loins Sleep Tonight: Ilya had a "bad experience" in school, resulting in the girl making fun of him. Since then, he is a He-Man Woman Hater who masterbates to pictures of little girls (he believes they're still innocent). He's also a virgin, until Mary seduces him.
- A Man Is Not a Virgin: Averted with Ilya, a contract killer, whose hatred for all women means he never had sex.
- Psychic Link: The Visitors (and Darkness) all share their memories during sleep. This means that each Visitor knows where the other ones are each night.
- Replicant Snatching: Vizier does this to Rashid, reasoning that Power isn't meant to be shared. It's assumed he does this with all his Prototypes, including Stalin, Napoleon, Genghis Khan, and Alexander. It helps that a Visitor has the memories (and personality) of his or her Prototype.
- Spot the Imposter: Yaroslav is presented with this when he decides to kill Vis but isn't sure which of the boys is the Visitor. He ends up shooting Kirill in the shoulder before realizing that he's not Vis. He shoots Vis and plants the gun on Ilya's body right before the cops arrive.
- Twin Threesome Fantasy: Slava and Yaroslav pretend to be twins to a woman they meet on a train. They end up getting drunk and having a threesome with her. Yaroslav is initially hesitant (especially since she's married), but Slava convinces him that it's ok.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: Mary is the epitome of this trope, but all Visitors share elements of it.
- Villain Team-Up: Mary ends up allying herself with Ilya. Nikolai also throws in with Vizier after Anna kills his Visitor for a non-villain example.
- World War II: Vizier reveals to Nikolai that the war was partly a power struggle between his previous incarnation as Josef Stalin and Creativity's previous incarnation Adolf Hitler (who was a painter before going into politics).
- Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Nikolai's Visitor hesitates before delivering the killing blow to Mary. This allows Anna to stab him In the Back with a scalpel.
- Completely averted with Ilya, who is a He-Man Woman Hater and has absolutely no problem killing women. He kills Kirill's mom, who tries to protect her son.