Prisoners of Power
(original Russian title: "Обитаемый остров", lit. "Inhabited Island") is the sixth novel by the Strugatsky Brothers
to be set in the Noon Universe
. First published in magazine form during 1969, published in book form during 1971.
The protagonist, Maxim Kammerer, is stranded on the After the End Crapsack World
of Saraksh, where the atmosphere has such enormous optical refraction, that the horizon seems to bend upwards
. After an atomic 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 Mind Control
on the unwashed masses and Fantastic Racism
against those who can withstand their Mind Control methods. At first Maxim seems a bit of a Fish out of Temporal Water
, 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 the truth
and tries to improve the situation. How well he succeeds is debatable.
Various Action Adventure
tropes are played with and deconstructed, including but not limited to Mighty Whitey
(the locals are white, but certainly savage compared to the protagonist, who is tan due to sunburn), No Endor Holocaust
(averted), and What the Hell, Hero?
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 returns lot of original ideas, but left some successful ones (the only version still in print). A movie adaptation premiered in Russia in December 2008. It has received rather poor reviews.
Tropes found in the novel: