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Literature / A Million Adventures

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A Million Adventures is a four-part novel by Kir Bulychev from his Alice, Girl from the Future series. Its second part was first published in 1976 and the entire novel in 1982. This is the first book in the series to feature Pashka Geraskin and Alice's other friends from the biological research station.

The first part, The New Labors of Heracles, is a Random Events Plot about the goings-on at the research station, the second, A Foreign Princess, describes Alice and Pashka's adventures in what may or may not be a Medieval Stasis parallel world, the third, The Holidays on Penelope, is about the children's adventures in the jungles of the planet Penelope, and in the fourth, The Jewelry Box of the Pirate's Mother, Alice and Pashka have to save a planet that's been taken over by Space Pirates.

The novel provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Pashka is astonished that the obviously adult Rat has a gorgeous young mother. Then her young face is revealed to be a mask.
  • Accidental Truth: The pirate queen makes a joke about her paranoia to her new Pilageyan friend, saying, among other things, "Maybe you're not a Pilageyan girl at all, but a guy and my enemy". She has no idea she's right.
  • Alien Catnip: When posing as a rich Pilageyan girl and offered a drink by the pirate queen, Pashka figures a way out of it by saying that alcohol is like water for the Pilageyans, however, water is like alcohol.
  • Aliens Love Human Food: When Pashka (dressed up as an alien) states he liked some human food, someone remarks his species would have had real digestion problems with that. The guy hurries to state that his stomach is prosthetic.
  • Ancient Astronauts: Alice finds a crashed starship underwater, and, apparently, another from four million years ago was found in a desert.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: As per usual in the series. In this novel, we learn that, for example:
    • The Pilageyans are egg-laying humanoids.
    • The Brastaks' eye color depends on their morals, so Innocent Blue Eyes and Red Eyes, Take Warning are not metaphors.
    • Penelope is a sapient planet, with all its flora and fauna being its brain's manifestations.
  • Bluff the Impostor: Subverted twice.
    • In the second part, Alice is in a (maybe) medieval world and poses as the niece of Queen Stepmother Isabella. It takes Isabella, though, a few simple questions to find out that Alice doesn't have the foggiest idea about her alleged homeland. And then Isabella reveals she has immediately realized Alice is an impostor, even before the questions – due to the simple fact that her real niece has dark hair and Alice is a blonde.
    • In the fourth part, Alice does the bluffing. When Rrrr appears, healthy and cheerful, after having been badly wounded and bandaged all over just the day before, she thinks up all sorts of absurdities to test whether he is the real Rrrr (he isn't). However, she gets so carried away with it that Rat realizes she has figured him out (especially since he has already suspected her of finding out the truth, as it's the third book he appears in and he is instantly aware Alice is a danger to his plans).
  • The Captain: The captain of the Aristotle is a courageous and responsible man, so much that the laziness elixir doesn't have any effect on him because he always needs to do his job and knows it.
  • Death by De-aging: There is a time screen, under which time goes backwards. When it's accidentally left unattended, a rooster comes under the screen, turns into a chicken, then into an egg, then vanishes completely. Heracles crawls under the screen to eat that egg and barely escapes the same fate.
  • Deathbringer the Adorable: A very friendly and very dumb giraffe at the research station is called Villain.
  • The Dung Ages: Pashka Geraskin requests a trip into the Middle Ages, hoping for Ye Goode Olde Days. He enjoys it thoroughly despite the constant fights, the lack of hygiene, and nearly getting executed.
  • Elective Broken Language: Pashka in his Pilageyan disguise speaks Cosmolingua terribly. It's not actually necessary for the disguise, since many Pilageyans know it perfectly, but he thinks it good fun.
    Pashka: Hey! We are will die of hunger, and you guilty!
  • Eternal English: The interstellar language appears to be completely unchanged after over two thousand years.
  • Even Nerds Have Standards: Arkasha's fanatical love for nature stands out even among an entire group of biology enthusiasts.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Alice finds an alien in a crashed ship underwater. He attempts to steal her body to take over the Earth. However, he dismissed her two dolphin companions as slaves rather than friends (a concept the alien considered to be a pathetic illusion for slaves), and was caught completely off-guard when they brought help.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Heracles is a pithecanthropus living on the research station. He doesn't seem to mind it, especially since in his own time he got nearly devoured by a sabertooth tiger.
  • Friendly, Playful Dolphin: The station's dolphins, Grishka and Medea, are friends with every kid on the station (which becomes crucial in The Genie in a Ship, the first part's last chapter), love games and enjoy saving drowning people (though they rarely need to do that in the station's pool).
  • Humans Through Alien Eyes: Penelope is upset when one person causes a mess with her biosphere and has problems understanding that other people may disagree with what he does.
  • Hybridization Plot: One of the chapters in the Random Events Plot first part focuses on Pashka trying to create a mosquito/goose hybrid so that mosquitoes would become migratory. His attempt results in a ferocious goose-sized mosquito which tries to attack the children and animals at the research station and is killed by Heracles before anyone can learn if it inherited the migratory instinct from geese.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: If you try to hunt or mine while on Penelope... prepare for storms and earthquakes coming your way.
  • Genius Loci: Penelope turns out to be one. No predators, no storms, no mosquitoes... as it (revealed to be a she) says, "I'm organised the way it’s convenient for me".
  • Grand Theft Me: Alice finds an Ancient Astronaut in a crashed starship underwater. He attempts to steal her body for himself and take over the Earth. Fortunately, Evil Cannot Comprehend Good, so he is stopped before he can start.
  • Human Popsicle: Alice finds an alien one in a crashed spaceship. As it turns out when he is revived, he came to Earth to take it over.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: Aboard the Aristotle, Rat fakes a tearful surrender and tells the crew to lock him up. Then he turns into a cockroach, escapes from the cabin where he is kept, and releases the rest of the pirates from the shrinking box in plain view of everyone around.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: When the prisoners' escape is discovered, the pirate chasing them manages to shoot at Alice (who is stunned and reacts with delay, and is completely in the open since she towers over the houses) and miss.
  • It Can Think: Penelopian animals start addressing people. As it turns out, all of them are manifestations of the planet's brain.
  • Kidnapped Doctor: The pirates plan to take the doctor of the Aristotle along with them so that he would treat the Pirate Queen's radiculitis.
  • La Résistance: Rrrr and his compatriots start guerrilla warfare on pirate-occupied Brastak.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Heracles, the research station's walking and slightly talking comic relief, becomes the one to bludgeon the mosquito/goose hybrid to death.
  • Living Mood Ring: Brastaks' eyes reflect their temper. Blue seem to be the best, orange-eyed ones are the worst.
  • Loophole Abuse: Doctors swear to do no harm to anyone's health, so aboard the Aristotle, the ship's doctor sprays the pirates with laziness-inducing elixir. It has no side effects and doesn't work on any really responsible, determined person. After all, it's not the doctor's fault that there are no such people among the pirates.
  • Made of Indestructium: Civilian tech in the fourth part is invulnerable to pirate weapons.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: At one point Pashka wants to make mosquitoes migratory, so that they would leave for the polar regions in summer. His solution is to make a mosquito/goose hybrid, which looks like a goose-sized, feathered and very bloodthirsty mosquito. It gets killed by Heracles several minutes later, so we never learn whether it inherited the migratory instinct from geese.
  • My Beloved Smother: It's mentioned that the voyage to Penelope is Pashka's first space trip, since his mother hasn't let him leave Earth before. Alice believes this partly accounts for Pashka constantly rushing headfirst into adventures.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Pashka does it brilliantly in the fourth part, posing as a ditzy Spoiled Brat who doesn't understand that the planet is taken over by pirates.
  • Obsolete Occupation: Alice meets a chimney sweeper who complains he had to spend the last eighteen years training mountain climbers — not a single working chimney is left on Earth.
  • Paradise Planet: Penelope is one, unless you make it angry. There are no predators, the climate is wonderful and the landscapes are breathtaking.
  • Pink Means Feminine: When Rat takes Alice's shape, it's complete with a pink dress and a wreath on the head. Pashka notes to himself it would have been a wonderful disguise, save for the fact that Action Girl Alice has never, ever owned, let alone worn, a pink dress.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: The serious and studious Masha Belaya and the carefree Natasha who loves dancing more than science.
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: Invoked by Fuuks, who gives Alice a piece of pink paper as an "identification document" of a princess.
  • Shoehorned Acronym: It's mentioned that the first name suggested for Penelope's capital city was an acronym combined of the names of the planets that took part in building it: ZPPPKRSTFKUG. Of course, it was immediately rejected.
  • Shot at Dawn: Alice, along with Rrrr and other members of La Résistance on pirate-occupied Brastak, is captured and ordered to be shot at dawn. However, they escape during the night.
  • Shrink Ray: The fourth part features a container that shrinks anyone who gets inside it, stolen from a Precursors' base. The pirates use it to conquer Brastak and later to hijack the Aristotle.
  • Slipping a Mickey: The prisoners on Brastak manage to slip a drug into Duch's drink, enabling them and Alice to escape.
  • Theme Park Version: The medieval planet where the second part is set is implied to be one. Alternately, hints are dropped that it is all a game as long as you remember it is a game.
  • Til Murder Do Us Part: Rat casually mentions that his mother accidentally killed his father and didn't bat an eyelid when she realized it.
  • Ugly All Along: The Pirate Queen seems to be a gorgeous young woman with a lovely smile and a silvery voice, an Absurdly Youthful Mother to an adult son. Pashka, who knows firsthand she is a pirate leader and can't be trusted, develops a huge crush on her. In the very last chapter she removes her mask and is revealed to be so ugly that the sight shocks Alice out of her drug-induced stupor.
  • The Un-Reveal: We never learn for certain what the medieval world from the second part actually was (see Theme Park Version above).
  • Villainesses Want Heroes: Inverted – Pashka admits to briefly having a crush on the pirate queen.
  • Widow Mistreatment: In The Foreign Princess, Queen Stepmother Isabella is the young widow of the current king's father. Since she is technically a relation, she has to live in the royal palace and the king has to allow it. However, due to her kind and generous nature, she is The Friend Nobody Likes in the eyes of the Decadent Court and Token Good Teammate in the eyes of the commons. She has many enemies at court and has to constantly use diplomacy and extreme caution to avoid getting killed off.
  • World of Snark: Possibly one of the snarkiest books in the franchise.
    • Masha Belaya catches Pashka reading Myths of Ancient Greece – after Pashka has left a complete mess in the lab.
      Masha: Look there. This young man wants to know how to clean the Augean stables.
    • Arkasha claims that mushrooms are sensitive to pain and therefore picking them is barbarous. To which Natasha Belaya replies:
      Natasha: We have politely heard you out. And on the day when you stop eating bread, which is made from sensitive wheat, and wolfing down tomatoes and pineapples, we shall stop picking mushrooms.
    • When everyone is packed to leave the Penelope camp but Arkasha is late.
      Pashka: He left six most precious herbarium files in the lab.
      Alice: No wonder, he has eight hundred and twenty of them, he counted them yesterday till night.
      Javad: And all of them are most precious.
    • When Pashka sneaks onto the spaceship to Brastak, dressed up as a Pilageyan girl.
      Pashka: They need to put up a monument to me for my inventiveness.
      Alice: On the planet of frauds.
      Pashka: On the planet of great frauds.
    • Even the villains have their moments. When it's discovered Mmmm has stolen a sapphire:
      Mmmm: It was an accident!
      Rat: Right, nobody ever steals on purpose.