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Characters / Monday Begins on Saturday
aka: Tale Of The Troika

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Here is a list of characters appearing in Strugatsky Brothers' novel Monday Begins on Saturday and its sequel, Tale of the Troika.

Note: All character images on the page are the beloved "canon" illustrations by Evgeny Migunov, who illustrated the Soviet edition of the book in 1965 and reworked and updated some of the illustrations in 1979.

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Main Characters

    Aleksandr Ivanovich "Sasha" Privalov
1965 version
1979 version
The protagonist and narrator. A young, erudite and curious programmer from Leningrad, he went on vacation to the northern town of Solovets, unaware that this trip would change his life forever.
  • Jumped at the Call: He muses on the tendency of heroes in fiction (and his fellow scientists in real life) to shy away from the unexpected and wonderful; he himself prefers to embrace the rules of the peculiar setting he finds himself in.
  • Nerd Glasses: Sports these on Migunov's illustrations, giving him a strong resemblance to Soviet cinema's number one nerd, Shurik.
  • Unfazed Everyman: At one point he just gives up being astonished by the strange happenings around him, but remains fascinated and eager to learn more.

    Roman Petrovich Oira-Oira
With Sasha Privalov. (This is what transgression looks like, apparently.)
A young but already prominent mathemagician. Editor-in-chief of the wall newspaper.
  • Big Brother Mentor: To Sasha Privalov.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Has some caustic words to say about the state of the Soviet press, the stifling bureaucracy at the Institute and other things, and isn't afraid to speak up. He also directs some seriously Armor Piercing Questions at Vybegallo during his presentation of the gastrally unsatisfied cadaver.
  • The Nicknamer: Calls Vitka Korneev the "museum property squanderer" once, and calls Sasha "sorcerer's apprentice" while watching him fail at mundane magic.


Grandmasters of NITWiT

    Fyodor Simeonovich Kivrin
Head of the Department of Linear Happiness, famous for his turbulent past and optimistic outlook on life. Edik Amperian's boss.

    Cristobal Joseevich Junta
Head of the Department of the Meaning of Life and a remarkable individual indeed — transgression master, accomplished taxidermist, duelist and a simple ex- Grand Inquisitor.
  • Creepy Good: Even his own laborants and apprentices are afraid of him — but when their professional prestige and safety is threatened, he's got their back.
  • Dashing Hispanic
  • Deadpan Snarker
  • The Dreaded/invokedMemetic Badass: Legends are told about Junta's swashbuckling duelist tendencies, his exploits as the ruthless Grand Inquisitor and Charlemagne's headstrong military advisor, and suchlike.
  • Duel to the Death: Has a habit of challenging people whose comments or behaviour he finds insulting to this. It usually resolves peacefully anyway.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Calls Kivrin and Privalov by Spanish versions of their names (Teodoro and Alejandro, respectively). Also, at one point he mockingly calls himself pobrecitonote  at math, and wishes the main characters Buenaventuranote  at the start of Tale of the Troika.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold/Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Despite his fearsome reputation, he has his moments. He and Fyodor Simeonovich get along swimmingly, and he seems to harbor genuine respect for Sasha Privalov, too.
  • The Napoleon: The narration describes him as quite short, and he's most definitely not going to just stand there when his deepest principles get trodden on (or even looked at funny).
  • Odd Friendship: With Fyodor Simeonovich Kivrin.
  • Patronymic: Notably, he is one of Institute's only two "ex-foreigners of honor" with a Russified patronymic — as a sign of both great respect and acceptance by his colleagues.
  • Spanish Inquisition: He was the Grand Inquisitor of Spain once. Some of the old habits survive to this day.
  • Taxidermy Is Creepy/Taxidermy Terror: Played for Laughs with the rumors of a stuffed Nazi officer in his study.
  • Teleportation: Junta's skill at various types of transgression is unsurpassed at the Institute.
  • Tranquil Fury: Almost never raises his voice when he's mad — but watch out for that glove landing at your feet...

    Gian Giacomo 
The exquisitely urbane and elegant Head of the Department of Universal Transformations, and Vitka Korneev's boss.
  • Benevolent Boss: Is unfailingly supportive of his protégé Korneev's work, despite the latter's personal flaws.
  • Compelling Voice: Uses it on Sasha to make him feel sleepy, cutting short their conversation in the Hut on Chicken Legs.
  • Gratuitous Italian: "Why, this is fenomenale, Signori!" at the firing range.
  • Master of Illusion: The narration refers to him as "the great prestidigitator". He is seen conjuring himself up a quick illusion of an elegant suit after the all-consuming cadaver catastrophe.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: The way he talks to Privalov on their first meeting, being as ceremoniously courteous as possible. Privalov responds in kind, to their mutual delight.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Never a wrinkle on his suit, always an air of expensive cologne around him.

    Sabaoth Bhaalovich Odin 
Head of the Department of Technical Service. Yes, the name is not a coincidence.
  • Almighty Janitor: He is the actual God, working as head of maintenance at the Institute.
  • The Archmage: Can do anything. At all. Unfortunately, due to a tricky condition in the omnipotence equation, that means he can really do nothing.
  • Patronymic: Notably, he is one of Institute's only two "ex-foreigners of honor" with a Russified patronymic — as a sign of both great respect and acceptance by his colleagues.
  • Physical God: Himself.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Older Than Feudalism, at the very least.
  • Reality Warper: His mere presence is said to make clocks tick faster and straighten out the treks of elementary particles caught in a magnetic field.

Administration of NITWiT

    Janus Poluektovich Nevstruev (2 of.)
1965 version
1979 version
The Institute's ideal director — one person in two. The slightly younger-looking one (A-Janus) is a rather ordinary administrator, and the older-looking one (S-Janus) is an internationally renowned scientist.
  • Benevolent Boss/Reasonable Authority Figure: Extremely supportive of the younger staff, and even prepared to sidestep the regulations when the situation requires it. His S-instance is especially attentive and understanding.
  • Catchphrase: "Right." (Cue respectful silence from everyone present.)
  • Large and in Charge: Is described as very tall on his first appearance, dwarfing the group of humans around him; and is the director of NITWiT.
  • Merlin Sickness: S-Janus is A-Janus from the far future, who will have subjected himself to an experiment turning himself into a "contramotus" — a creature living backwards in time. Every midnight S-Janus leaps not into the morning of the next day, but into the morning of the day before. Thus, the far future has no Janus in it, but the past and present has two of them at once, living in opposite directions in time.
  • Multiple-Choice Future: Despite his situation, he hints at the possibility of this trope in his final conversation with Sasha in part 3 of Monday.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Was born in 1841, and will prosper for at least a century to come... and then the same amount of time in the opposite direction, if not longer.

Other Staff

    Naina Kievna Gorynych
A sly and cranky old witch, groundskeeper of NITWiT's Log Hut on Chicken Legs museum.
  • Baba Yaga: Quite possibly, herself.
  • Creepy Housekeeper
  • Greed: She's a complete miser when it comes to cash, and tries to get some out of everything and everyone she comes across while not spending a single kopeck.

    Vasily the cat
A moody talking cat, and Naina's familiar. Knows stories and songs from all over the world, but never more than partially.

    Ambrosi Ambroisovich Vybegallo
A cynic and a fool, he exploits the public's erroneous idea of fundamental science to promote his own insane, unscientific and dangerous experiments and ideas.
  • Bad Boss: Won't let Stella transfer to any other department, however disgusted and terrified she is of her workplace.
  • Con Man: A painfully recognizable caricature of a classic pseudoscience hack. Uses people's flashy expectations from science for his own gain, buzz-talks and grovels his way out of any trouble.
  • Fame Through Infamy: Despite Vybegallo's scandalous reputation, he's better known outside the Institute than any of the other, more reasonable and scrupulous scientists.
  • Feigning Intelligence: Talks exclusively in flowery, politicaly charged buzzwords, trying to convince his audience he at least has a point — and at most, is a misunderstood genius. Unfortunately, the general public and influential paper-pushers fall for it.
  • Gratuitous French: All taken from War and Peace and inserted into his speech, not always appropriately.
  • Know-Nothing Know-It-All
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo/Take That!: Of Trofim Lysenko, the infamous Soviet quack agriculturist and geneticist.
  • Mad Scientist: Downplayed. No, he's quite mad - in his own self-serving, calculating way. But a scientist he is not.
  • Verbal Tic: "er..." and "that is", marking him firmly as an illiterate fraud (especially in Russian).

A vain and unscrupulous old relic from the Department of Forecasts and Prophecies.

    Stella the witch
Flying around Sasha Privalov.
Vybegallo's reluctant lab assistant. Has a knack for (terrible, but that's all that's required) poetry.
  • Screaming Woman: In her very first appearance, observing Vybegallo's insatiable humanoid, her role boils down to basically this. (Not that most of the male scientists at the scene are much better, though.)
  • Smurfette Principle: The only female in Sasha's immediate friend circle.

    Aleksandr Ivanovich "Sanya" Drozd
A movie technician who somehow ended up at NITWiT. Artist and designer for the wall newspaper.
  • Never Lend to a Friend: He never has any money, so constantly asks his friends to borrow some. One time he even asked Janus Poluektovich. And then forgot how much Janus had given him. And had no idea what to do.
  • Ridiculous Procrastinator: Whines about his life and plays around with a tape recorder instead of doing work. Oira-Oira's presence is the only thing that finally gets him to start working on the masthead.

    Photon the parrot
A small green bird which the main characters meet in part 3, and whose fate is intricately linked to that of Janus Poluektovich.

The computer Sasha works on. Sentient and animate.
  • Benevolent A.I.: Aldan's obliging, industrious, playful personality is a joy to work with.
  • Butt-Monkey: Something always goes awry when people connect alien peripherals or their own minds to it.
  • Grow Beyond Their Programming: Became animate after Fyodor Simeonovich put someone's immortal soul into it.
  • Logic Bomb: Is subjected to one every other night when Cristobal Junta connects his mind to the poor machine to discuss yet another impossible problem.

Other Characters

    The Solovets militia (Lieutenant Sergienko and Sergeant Kovalyov) 
Two servants of the law Sasha Privalov runs into while experimenting with the unchangeable coin.
  • Hello Again, Officer: Sasha bumps into Kovalyov while exploring the town, and is then apprehended by him in the middle of experimenting with the unchangeable five-kopeck piece (which technically became an instrument of petty theft in his hands). Then, after the commotion over the sofa seems to be over, Kovalyov returns again to investigate how the coin came to escape the museum, and Sasha has to avoid the hypervigilant militiaman.
  • Meddlesome Patrolman: However petty the problem at hand is, Kovalyov will try to get to the bottom of it — just in case. He has his orders, you know. Unfortunately (for him, that is), Modest Matveevich is just as stubborn.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: They're not evil, they're just upholding the law and don't wish Sasha any real harm.

    G. Pronitsatelny & B. Pitomnik 
Two science journalists who make a name for themselves and Vybegallo by reporting his discoveries (and misreporting everybody else's).

Alternative Title(s): Tale Of The Troika


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