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Literature / One Hundred Years Ahead

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One Hundred Years Ahead (Russian: Сто лет тому вперёд) is a 1978 novel by Kir Bulychev. After Guest from the Future got released and Adaptation Displacement ensued, it has also been published under the name Guest from the Future. It's one of the best-known, iconic books about Alice, Girl from the Future.

The first part, Guest from the Past, is about a boy called Kolya who discovers a time machine in his neighbor's apartment. He goes one hundred and six years ahead and decides to explore the futuristic Moscow, as the Institute of Time is closed for a holiday and nobody stops him. He eventually comes to Cosmozo, the zoo for extraterrestrial flora and fauna, and finds out that: a) the director's daughter Alice has a mielophone, a machine for reading minds; b) two bandits are going to steal it, as in, right now. He manages to distract the bandits and snatch the mielophone from them, and, as they chase him across the city, just barely manages to return to his own time.

In the second part, Three K, it's revealed that Alice has also followed Kolya and has ended up in 1976, with a concussion after a traffic accident during the chase. She befriends Yulia Gribkova who is her roommate in the hospital, and finds out that Yulia is in the same class as Kolya (he has written his name on a bench in Cosmozo). The problem is that there are three Kolyas in the class, and Alice doesn't know the last name of the Kolya she needs. On top of it all, the Space Pirates don't want the mielophone to slip through their fingers, either.

The book was adapted loosely to the screen in 1984 as the above-mentioned Guest from the Future series. A new film adaptation is scheduled to be released in April 2024.

The novel features examples of:

  • Academic Alpha Bitch: Mila Rutkevich has shades of it from the beginning, and her unpleasantness skyrockets when Alice starts to outshine her at classes.
  • Accidental Truth: Among the many, many fantastic tales conjured in Kolya Sadovsky's mind, there is a story about Alice coming from the future using a time machine.
  • Anger Born of Worry: The main reason for Yulia often being mad at Alice, as she is worried how Alice stands out at school with her 21st-century knowledge.
  • Appeal to Flattery: When Jolly U convinces Mila to help the pirates infiltrate the school, he excessively flatters her kindness and intelligence. Mila, who is frustrated after getting repeatedly overshadowed by Alice, is quick to fall for the trick.
  • Appetite Equals Health: Fima Korolyov's grandmother is always afraid he is sick because he doesn't particularly want to eat. That's because by the time he arrives for his regular meals, he's usually had a lot of snacks with his friends.
  • The B Grade: The last time Mila Rutkevich cried before the novel's events was when an assistant teacher gave her essay a B-equivalent.
  • Battleaxe Nurse: Head nurse Maria Pavlovna isn't anyone's favorite at the hospital, thanks to her being extremely strict and harsh.
  • Berserk Button: For Maria Pavlovna, anything that breaks the hospital rules.
  • Big Eater: Larisa Troepolskaya. Surprisingly, it's not reflected on her gorgeous looks.
  • Bizarre Sexual Dimorphism: The Valapas grass snake. The male looks like a barely visible thirty-meter-long wire with claws on one end, which it uses to grab pieces of fur or feathers. These are used as a bed for the female, which is a fat, anaconda-sized snake. Rat uses a tamed male for petty theft.
  • Brainless Beauty: Larisa, with beautiful blue eyes and long eyelashes, the worst student of the class.
  • But Now I Must Go: In the end, Alice has to leave for the 21st century. Among the novels involving her time travels, this is the only one to play the trope's bittersweet nature to full extent.
  • Changed My Jumper: In 2082, Kolya simply tells the people he's dressed up for a masquerade ball. Most people buy it.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • The plot kicks off due an entire pack of coincidences. Nikolay Nikolayevich has a heart attack, accidentally leaving his door to the time machine unattended, enabling Kolya to travel to the future. On the very same day when Kolya lands in 2082, the pirates attempt to go to Pluto via Earth, and by sheer coincidence end up in the same ship on which Kolya sneaks to go to space, enabling Kolya to remember them. They decide to hide in Cosmozo, and by sheer coincidence, when Kolya falls asleep in his flip, his elbow presses the button labeled Cosmozo. By the final sheer coincidence, all of them overhear Alice talking to her father about the mielophone.
    • Alice just happens to end up in the same hospital ward and the same room as Yulia. As many have pointed out, in real life they would at least be in different wards (surgery and traumatology respectively), as Yulia is in post-operative care after appendicitis treatment and Alice has a head trauma and a concussion. However, almost everyone is in agreement it is an Acceptable Break from Reality: Alice would have never found Kolya in time otherwise.
  • Cornered Rattlesnake: Kolya Sulima is usually the quiet scholarly guy, but he is the one to start a surprise attack when the children are held at gunpoint by Rat.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: In the 20th century, Rat works as a "universal actor double", filling in for any unavailable actors in Nitkin's film. He enjoys it so much that he even thinks of leaving crime behind and becoming an actor for good.
  • Enthusiastic Newbie Teacher: The maths teacher Nelya is The Fashionista, very young, friendly and easy-going, and at the same time she really loves her subject and is extremely well-liked among her pupils. However, her lack of experience shows: when she discovers that Alice, a new student at the school, knows advanced mathematics, she forgets about the lesson and spends the remainder of it discussing a difficult equation with her.
  • Faking Amnesia: Alice pretends to have lost most of her memory to avoid uncomfortable questions from the doctors and authorities.
  • Forgot About His Powers: Jolly U hears the children screaming threats outside of the room, thinks he is now caught and doomed, panics and runs. Apparently, he has forgotten that he has a blaster. As in, a ray gun that can melt glass. The adaptation, for all that it makes him a lot dumber, corrects this particular episode.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: Yulia's Battle Cry when she attacks the pirates at the hospital is so loud and piercing it breaks the window.
  • Handicapped Badass: Downplayed, but still impressive. In her first fight against the pirates, Yulia is recovering after getting her appendix removed, and in the second one, she has a barely-healed twisted ankle. Despite all that, she kicks ass both times.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: When Rat and Jolly U search for a hiding place, Rat decides on Cosmozo. After all, nobody would think that they would hide right under the nose of their own Arch-Enemy.
  • Insufferable Genius: Played with. Alice seems to be one to many of her 20th-century classmates, but that's mostly due to their Culture Clash – in Alice's time, for example, an academic argument with the teacher is considered fairly normal.
  • Instant Sedation: The pirates' soporific gas works like that – it simply sends one off into a deep sleep immediately.
  • Internal Reveal: As it is a light sci-fi adventure book for children rather than a mystery/suspense story, readers are sometimes one step ahead of the characters.
    • The narration states in the first part that Rat and Jolly U have returned as the main villains (readers familiar with the previously published Alice books probably figure it out even earlier), and Kolya knows they are after the mielophone even if he doesn't know much about them. Alice, however, is unaware they are involved at all, so their sudden appearance at the hospital in the 20th century shocks her.
    • After Alice talks to Ishutin for the first time, the narrator immediately notes that Ishutin is lying. Alice doesn't find it out until later.
  • Karmic Butt-Monkey: Ishutin is scared senseless by Rat's threats and later terrified even by the sheer sight of Alice and her friends, but as Ishutin himself is a despicable Dirty Coward, no one feels particularly sympathetic.
  • Killed Offscreen: It's hinted that Rat makes good his promise to kill Ishutin, should the latter reveal the pirates' location. Since Ishutin is a complete bastard (see above) and Rat's absence allows the children to break into the abandoned house, frighten off Jolly U and find Kolya, it's never discussed further.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Mila is devastated when she realizes that thanks to her envy of Alice, she has assisted the pirates.
  • One Dose Fits All: Zigzagged (with possible New Rules as the Plot Demands) with the pirates' soporific gas gun. The dose that hits and immediately sedates Jolly U (an adult Fat Bastard weighing 150 kg) was intended for Alice (a slim eleven-year-old), but it is clearly shown the pirates were planning to kidnap rather than kill her; in a later chapter, however, Rat says that one shot from his gun is enough to put three eleven/twelve-year-old children to sleep.
  • One-Steve Limit: Deliberately averted with three boys named Kolya.
  • Opposites Attract: Larisa, a ditzy airhead, has a crush on the serious and studious Kolya Sulima.
  • Out of Character Is Serious Business:
    • Kolya Sadovsky, for once, becomes very serious when he tells Ishutin how much of a scum the latter is.
    • Fima Korolyov and Larisa Troepolskaya can't be trusted with any secrets. However, the ending states even they have never spoken a word about the events described in the book.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Even the efforts of the 6B's best students pale in comparison to Alice's achievements. Kolya Sulima and Katya Mikhaylova appreciate Alice's talent, but Mila grows jealous and embittered.
  • Passionate Sports Girl: Katya Mikhaylova loves sports and intends to become pro. She plans to play tennis (and according to Alice, she will do so and she will win at Wimbledon), but she is excellent at volleyball as well.
  • Poor Communication Kills: At least, nearly kills. If Kolya had mustered the courage to talk to Alice earlier, things could have turned out differently. However, he believes that she will kill him because of the mielophone, so he keeps silent until the last day.
  • The Prima Donna:
    • The actor playing Napoleon in Nitkin's film withdraws from shooting at the last moment, claiming headache. He is a Merited Actor, which is a very high honorary title in the Soviet Union and its descendants. In the book's actual plot, he's got a Small Role, Big Impact, since his departure from set allows Rat to fill in.
    • Later, Rat himself is this when he and Jolly U steal video equipment but get inevitably forgiven for Rat's shape-shifting abilities. Nitkin also gives them all of his own wages because they both demand to be paid like "the previous Napoleon".
  • Properly Paranoid: After Alice learns the pirates are after her, she becomes highly suspicious of strangers or strangely-behaving people she knows. Except for a single time when she and Yulia mistake their gym teacher for Jolly U, her suspicions end up entirely justified.
  • Random Events Plot: The first part is pretty much that, at least until Kolya's encounter with the pirates in Cosmozo. Kolya just randomly walks or flies around Moscow.
  • Redheads Are Uncool: Downplayed, but the very red-haired Kolya Sadovsky is very absent-minded, gets terrible marks and is immediately singled out by Yulia as the least reliable of the Kolyas.
  • Rooting for the Empire: In-Universe. In 2082, Kolya is so tired of everyone's Character Shilling on how awesome and talented Alice is that for some time he really wants the pirates to steal the mielophone from her.
  • Sleepyhead: Larisa is so prone to falling asleep that everyone assumes she might fall asleep while the class is trying to rescue Kolya and find the mielophone.
  • Smart People Play Chess: During a chess grandmaster's visit to the school, about thirty students play with him. Mila yields when no more than ten games are still active, Kolya Sulima reaches a draw with the grandmaster (and the grandmaster says it could have been a victory, had Kolya paid less attention to his supporters), and Alice wins.
  • Snakes Are Sinister: Rat keeps with him an alien creature called a Valapas grass snake (unlike the grass snakes of Earth, it's blue, extremely thin and about 30 meters long). He uses it (or him; the level of the snake's sapience is left ambiguous) for petty theft and eavesdropping.
  • Technician Versus Performer: An academic variation, implied in the case with the 6B class's two best students, Mila Rutkevich and Kolya Sulima. Mila is described as a "principled A-student", to the point that the teachers feel awkward giving her anything less than an A. She is The Perfectionist who devotes all her time to studies and is furious when Alice becomes a better student. Kolya is also a hard-working student, but he isn't mentioned to get straight As like Mila, concentrating only on the fields that personally interest him. Unlike her, he is involved in extracurricular activities (chess and a scientific society at the planetarium) and is much more sociable and friendly. Their futures (at least, according to Alice) reflect it: Mila is to become a very strict school headmistress and Kolya is to become World Chess Champion and invent the time machine.
  • Time-Traveling Jerkass: Discussed when Yulia imagines a criminal travelling to the near future to commit their crimes and then creating the perfect and completely genuine alibi for themselves by going to a different city for the time when their past self is at the crime scene.
    • Downplayed with the book's actual plot: Rat and Jolly U do commit a lot of petty crimes and try to execute their Evil Plan while being in the past. However, the time travel itself was a spontaneous decision for them rather than a part of said plan: they were chasing after Alice and simply went after her when she rushed to the past.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Electron, a technician from Cosmozo, adores ice cream. Even more so than Kolya.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • Rat reveals his shape-shifting abilities in front of an entire camera crew. Everyone is happy that now they can continue the shooting, and apparently nobody shows any particular surprise about the actual shape-shifting.
    • Larisa's grandmother, apparently, doesn't bat an eyelid when she hears her granddaughter has met a girl from the future. Of course, it can be justified as her just playing along with what she thinks to be Larisa's imagination. As we only learn about the episode when Larisa briefly recalls it, we can never be sure.
  • Will Not Tell a Lie: Alice tries to lie as little as possible, and Yulia is furious that she can't properly uphold her mask.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: In 2082, Grandpa Pavel tells Kolya that Kolya's 20th-century masquerade costume is all wrong.