, Chernovik) is a science fiction duology written by the popular Russian sci-fi and fantasy writer Sergey Lukyanenko
. The duology consists of novels Rough Draft
and Final Draft
, with the second novel picking up mere hours after the first. Kirill Maximov, the protagonist of the novel, is a college droupout living in Moscow and working as a computer salesman. One day he comes home and discovers that someone else is living in his apartment. Even his dog belongs to someone else and doesn't recognize him. He realizes that he's beeing slowly Erased From Existence
. People he knew, even his best friend, no longer recognize him. His parents claim they've never had a son. Even people on the street appear to have trouble noticing Kirill. All forms of identification (e.g. passport, birth certificate) turn to dust. A few days later, he gets a text message with an address. Arriving there, he finds a water tower with a door. Upon entering it, he finds out that the tower (possibly Bigger on the Inside
) is a multi-story apartment, which becomes his new home. Very soon he finds out that he is no longer a Muggle
but a "functional
", a highly-specialized
super-human individual with abilities that allow the functional to do a particular job much better than a normal human. Kirill's job/function is a Customs Officer. His tower is a Warp Zone
between parallel worlds with each Portal Door
on the ground floor leading to another reality. As part of his duties, he is to police and monitor the travels of other functionals and humans who know about them to other worlds, preventing forbidden items from being taken and charging tariffs, which is the source of his income. His abilities include instant knowledge of any illegal items on the persons of the travelers and the tariffs for them. He also has Super Strength
, Super Speed
, and a Healing Factor
(which also provides immortality). I Know Kung Fu
is in full effect. Like any other functional, inside his function (i.e. the tower) he's nigh-indestructible. There are, however, limitations to any functional. All functionals have a "leash" of sourts that connects them to their function. The farther they get from their function, the weaker their functional abilities become. If they go far enough, they become almost human. The "leash" is about 6-7 miles. He soon realizes that being a functional is not what it appears. A function is little more than a fancy cage. Anyone trying to change the status quo gets the attention of a policeman-functional and may be killed.
Kirill is approached by a Moscow politician (a Muggle
) and asked to try to open a door to the mythical world of Arkan (AKA Earth 1). According to him, Arkan is nearly identical to our world (Earth 2 or Demos) but historically ahead by 35 years. The politician wants to see how Russia turns out in this world and use it as an example (or warning) for our own world. However, when Kirill finally manages to open a door to Arkan, he finds out that it is, in fact, behind by roughly the same number of years. He finds out that Arkan is used as a home base for the functionals, who use other worlds as test beds, or "rough drafts
", for their own development. Despite being historically behind, Arkan is actually more advanced militarily. After barely escaping with his life, Kirill resolves to put a stop to the functionals. However, a high-ranking functional arrives and kills his Muggle Love Interest
, forcing Kirill to do battle with her. He succeeds in killing the functional, but, in the process, his own function is destroyed and he appears to have become a human again (one of the first things that happens is a call from his dad asking where he'd been). He also finds out that his best friend Konstantin Chagin is not only a functional but is, in fact, the Curator of Earth 2.Final Draft
picks up a few hours later, as Kirill is trying to avoid the functionals, who are hunting him. He travels to several worlds and winds up in Firmament (AKA Earth 8), a world deliberately kept in Medieval Stasis
by the functionals with the exception of its highly-advanced bio-engineering sciences. Firmament is entirely controlled by the Catholic Church, who support genetic engineering, as long as humans remain unchanged themselves (being created in the image of God). This is the source of their conflict with the functionals, who have changed themselves. In fact, Firmament is one of the few worlds who have managed to successfully resist functional influence thanks to their genetically-engineered creatures. The Church cardinals readily take in Kirill, as they respect those who voluntarily give up their functional status. However, a functional attack results in Kirill leaving Firmament. After many adventures, he ends up back in Earth 2 and has to fight his best friend to the death for the Curatorship of this world. After beating (but not killing) him, Kirill once again affirms that he is no longer a functional and leaves.
The duology contains examples of the following tropes:
- After the End: Earth 16 is a radioactive, volcanically-active wasteland. Less than 10% of the surface is habitable, and the people living there have no notion of their once-great history. It's heavily implied that this is the functional homeworld.
- Amazon Brigade: On Earth 8 (AKA Firmament), the Conclave (the ruling body of the Church composed of six cardinals) is protected by an all-female equivalent of our world's Swiss Guards. When asked by the protagonist, a cardinal explains that, in their world, instead of 147 guards giving their lives for Pope Clement VII (there are no Popes in this world), Carmelite nuns saved the six cardinals of the Conclave. The female guards are armed with razor-sharp halberds, and each one is accompanied by genetically-engineered Yorkshire terriers who, while look cute in their bows, can leap 20 feet in the air and tear out the throat of an enemy in the blink of an eye when ordered.
- Bizarre Human Biology: The humans of Earth 5 have a mating season in spring like many animals. Their world is a much nicer place than Earth 2, although lagging behind by about 50 years, possibly indicating that the lack of constant obsession with sex results in humans being more harmonious with one another. Despite their level of development roughly equivalent to The Fifties, they are close to developing space travel.
- Brain Uploading: The humans on Earth 46 have their minds copied to robotic bodies after death.
- Burn the Witch!: After discovering the existence of the functionals, the Church on Firmament has demanded that all of them be routed out and eliminated. After all, modifying the human body is a grave sin.
- Differently Powered Individual: Functionals have superhuman abilities closely tied to their function (i.e. job). The function is usually related to what the person did as a Muggle.
- Erased From Existence: Anyone chosen to be a functional ends up being erased from his or her former life. No one remembers the person, and any evidence of his or her identity turns to dust.
- Fantastic Caste System: The world of Earth 4 (AKA Antik) is artificially stalled by the functionals at the Classical Age. The institution of slavery has reached new heights there. A slave may own property, which does not belong to the master. It's not uncommon for a poor master to have a wealthy slave with concubines and servants of his own. However, a slave may not own slaves. Twice a year, slaves are handed out weapons and allowed to rebel. If a slave succeeds, he trades places with his master.
- Fantastic Catholicism: The world of Earth 8 (AKA Firmament) is firmly in control of the Catholic Church. However, the Church's influence is so ubiquitous that they don't feel the need to oppress or force any unbeliever to convert, preferring instead to convince them with philosophical discussions. Many smaller religions or denominations are allowed to exist, as long as they don't cause trouble. Governments are still in control of their nations, while the Church manages all international interactions. The Cardinal Conclave controls all of the Church (there's no Pope). The Church fully endorses bio-engineering thanks to the works of St. Charles Darwin, as long as the commandment "thou shalt not alter the human body" is observed (violating this commandment is punishable by death).
- Fantastic Drug: The world of Nirvana (Earth 22) has a naturally-occuring fungus, whose airborn spores have a narcotic effect on humans. The spores die when transplanted to other worlds. Trying to leave this world results in severe withdrawal symptoms. A settlement exists not far from Kirill's tower, mostly consisting of humans whom the functionals have exiled here. Since the inhabitants are constantly stoned, not much has been accomplished.
- Genetic Engineering is the New Nuke: While stuck in Medieval Stasis in most respects, the world of Firmament has advanced genetic engineering, to the point where they have many modern conveniences in the form of bio-engineered creatures. For example, the cardinal wears the Firmament equivalent of contact lenses made from jellyfish, which can be altered to see in any visual spectrum (this allows them to detect functionals, as they have a slightly different energy signature). The Vatican is protected by all-female Swiss Guards with Yorkshire Terriers. These terriers are cute and cuddly when playing, but can jump 20 feet in the air and tear an man's throat out in seconds. The Church's air force is made up of gargoyles, which at first appear to be nothing more than parts of the gothic architecture. Other "devices" include songbirds that sing recorded songs (they don't sound like parrots, though) or act as alarm clocks.
- Healing Factor: All functionals can recover from devastating wounds, as long as they're near or inside their function. The farther they get from their function, the weaker their abilities get, including this one.
- I Know Kung Fu: Certain functionals have knowledge of advanced martial arts implanted into their minds and instinctively know how to fight. These functionals also usually have Super Speed and Super Strength to aid them. Two such functional types are customs officers and policemen, with the latter being the stronger.
- Kraken and Leviathan: The oceans of Earth 3 (AKA Veroz) are teeming with creatures, some of which resemble mythical creatures of lore. Kirill observes a kraken-like creature attacking a seaside city only to be fought off with a steam tank.
- Lost World: Dinosaurs are still around in Africa on the world of Veroz (Earth 3).
- The Masquerade: All functionals are required to keep their existence secret. Only a few select Muggles (usually politicians and celebrities) know about them and use their services. Failure to keep up the masquerade can be... unpleasant.
- Medieval Stasis: Since most worlds are little more than experiments by the functionals, they are artificially stalled at one technological level or another in order to study a specific effect or development. For example, Earth 4 (Antik) is stuck at the level of Ancient Greece in order to study the development of slavery. Earth 3 (Veroz) has no petrolium and is, thus, a good example of a Steam Punk world. Earth 8 (Firmament) is stuck in the Late Medieval period with only the biological sciences allowed to progress. Our world (Earth 2 or Demos) is one of the most advanced known worlds in The Multiverse.
- The Multiverse: Most lower-level functionals think that there are only a few dozen alternate worlds linked by towers. Later, Kirill finds out that this number is much higher, likely infinite.
- Nuke 'em: The fate of the last tower that joined our world's Moscow with Arkan's Moscow thanks to our world's Joseph Stalin coming to a bitter disagreement with that tower's functional and choosing to end the disagreement by blowing it up with an H-bomb. The only problem with that is Stalin died a few months before the test of the first Soviet H-bomb. Most of the force of the explosion went to a world populated by Big Creepy-Crawlies, although a tiny fraction ended up forming a giant hill in Arkan's Moscow which was blamed on a meteorite.
- Portal Door: Each door in the tower opens to an alternate world.
- Proud Merchant Race: While traveling through worlds, Kirill ends up on Veroz (Earth 3) in Orysaltan, a predominantly Muslim city-state located where Moscow would be in our worlds. He meets a local merchant who reveals that he knows about our worlds (Earth 2) and explains that it's jokingly called "Demos" because of democracy being the most popular form of government there. In fact, Orysaltanians find democracy a primitive system, as it gives equal vote to every citizen regardless of his or her contributions to the society. They prefer an "evolution" of democracy that marries it with capitalism. A citizen's vote is directly dependent on how much money he or she stores in the city bank, effectively rewarding those who are more financially successful and are willing to keep their money with everyone else's. Those who make a lot of money but choose to spend or keep it all are not given a lot of votes. To be sure, the money in the city bank still belongs to the citizen who put it there, but the city can use it for its own needs, and the amount will eventually be reimbursed. Naturally, Orysaltanians are very proud of their "enlightened" system and try to be the best merchants they can be.
- Quantum Mechanics Can Do Anything: This is implied to be the key to the functionals' abilities. For example, why do functionals have a Healing Factor? Because on one of the myriad worlds in The Multiverse, everyone has it. Thus, this ability/quality can be "copied" using quantum mechanics to a functional.
- One other world has an understanding of quantum mechanics approaching that of the functionals, and it has used this knowledge to permanently seal off their world from the others.
- Really 700 Years Old: Since the functionals don't age, many of them are quite old and don't look it (although some do look old, as they were taken at that age). Kirill's best friend was born in Byzantium, for example.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: The cardinal Kirill meets and talks to on Firmament. In fact, the man performs a Heroic Sacrifice to save Kirill and stop the functionals.
- Steam Punk: Due to the interference of the functionals, the world of Veroz (Earth 3) lacks petrolium, causing technological development to stall, resulting in this trope.
- Super Speed: At least two types of functionals are able to move inhumanly fast: customs officers, and policemen. This is a part of their function. However, Arkan's military has developed a pill of some sort that temporarily grants this ability to Muggle soldiers.
- Technology Marches On: An in-universe example. When Kirill meets a functional who owns a hotel in Veroz, she explains that she was notified of her new function by a telegram brought by a postman-functional. Since Kirill was notified of the same thing by a text message, the functionals use whatever technology is available at the time to notify a new functional of his or her function.
- Warp Zone: Kirill's tower exists in several worlds simultaneously. Each door on the ground floor opens to another world. Only Kirill can open the doors. The tower itself is nigh-indestructible. The only thing capable of harming it is a thermonuclear device.
- Winged Humanoid: The museum guardian on Earth 16 looks like a typical angel.
- You Kill It, You Bought It: Konstantin became the Curator of Earth 2 by killing the previous one over a woman. He's afraid Kirill will do the same to him.