''Beetle in the Anthill'' (Russian: "Жук в муравейнике") is the ninth and penultimate novel by the Creator/StrugatskyBrothers to be set in the Franchise/NoonUniverse.

More or less a direct sequel to ''Literature/InhabitedIsland''. Maxim, now older and more cynical, is assigned to track down a progressor named Leo Abalkin who may be [[ManchurianAgent an instrument]] of the [[{{Precursors}} Wanderers']] plot. While his boss views the progressor as a threat, our hero becomes increasingly ambivalent.
!!Tropes found in the novel:

* BreakTheCutie: Leo Abalkin's past.
* BrokenAesop: According to WordOfGod, the moral was meant to be somewhat along the lines of "even the best intentioned of Secret Service type agencies will naturally commit horrible acts purely due to the paranoia that is InherentInTheSystem" (comparable to how risk of crippling injury is inherent to most sports).
* ChameleonCamouflage: Deconstructed when Abalkin explores a deserted planet, equipped with a suit that is supposed to give him whole-body ChameleonCamouflage. However, it malfunctions and doesn't actually do anything, so Abalkin takes off his helm for better vision. Then, just as he encounters the local HumanAliens, the suit suddenly powers up and presents him as a floating head, scaring the shit out of the locals (to the point where they open fire).
* {{Chickification}}: Maya Glumova, who was fairly confident, outgoing, assertive and fiercely independent in ''Little One'' is basically reduced to Abalkin's DesignatedLoveInterest in this novel.
* CrapsackWorld / RuinsOfTheModernAge / ScavengerWorld : The ironically codenamed planet "Hope", home to a HumanAliens civilization that turned the enviromental pollution of their homeworld UpToEleven
* CreepyChild - Abalkin, though it's not his fault - see BreakTheCutie).
* DeadpanSnarker : Many of the characters, including Kammerer and Abalkin.
* FirstPersonSmartass : Maxim Kammerer. A bit justified, since he's the narrator of this installment
* {{Foreshadowing}} - the last entry in Abalkin's journal ends with [[spoiler: his cloak system suddenly starting to work, and then "The nerves of the locals snap and they start shooting...". Guess what happens then in the actual story]].
* HomeworldEvacuation: The scientists suspect (with good reasons) that this is what the Wanderers did to the natives of Hope, although their motivations are entirely unclear. As is par for the course whenever the Wanderers are supposed to be involved in something in the Noon Universe, quite a few of the scientists and virtually all of the COMCON-2 (the agency Maxim is a member of) representatives believe that the truth about the evacuation is much darker - although there is no hard evidence for that. On the other hand, the section describing the mission to Hope is written in a mildly horroresque style: the whole planet seems to be a rather weird place with things that should not have occured like that or even be there. This is possibly due to the Wanderers' involvement.
* IDidWhatIHadToDo
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane - the Detonators (they DO have strange properties, but how much is a unclear - and the Morality of story depends on that).
* MonsterClown : The enigmatic human-looking child snatchers on Hope. They are believed to be agents of the Wanderers, working to catch the children of Hope's small remaining population.
* NeglectfulPrecursors : The possible motives of the Wanderers start becoming somewhat clearer in this installment of the series.
* NoodleIncident: The "Massachusetts Nightmare" they mention. There are some hints on its nature dropped throughout the story though. [[spoiler:Namely the creation of a "new, non-human civilization on earth".]]
** Also, there's mention of a "Captain Nemo" who seems to use bioreactors for something.
* ScrewThisImOuttaHere: The Tagorans' (insectoid allies of humanity) reaction [[spoiler:to the fact that the humans, unlike them, decided to let the embryos in their sarcophagus mature]]. They evacuate all their personnel from Earth and ''every'' planet with humans on it, expel all humans from their homeworld, and break off contact for 25 years.
* ShowWithinAShow: Abalkin's old notes about his reconnaissance mission with Shchekn in a hauntingly desolate city on Hope
* SitcomArchNemesis: Isaac Bromberg to Rudolf Sikorsky.
* SnarkyNonHumanSidekick : Shchekn Itrch, the [[IntelligentGerbil Golovan]] co-worker of Abalkin
* TheUnreveal: ''Beetle in an Anthill'' is full of Unreveals. The biggest one is Abalkin's true nature.
* TykeBomb: Leo Abalkin. Or is he?
* VitriolicBestBuds : Shchekn and Abalkin
* WhatTheHellHero: Schekn's renouncement of Abalkin, from Kammerer's perspective.