Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Tale of the Troika

Go To

The sequel to Monday Begins on Saturday by the Strugatsky Brothers. In this novel, the enthusiastic mage-scientists from Monday have to tackle the impenetrable Soviet bureaucracy, represented by a group of rogue administrators who lord it over a Secret Government Warehouse. The Brothers created two complementary versions of the novel, one more idealistic, and the other more cynical. This is reflected throughout both works, and their endings. The settings, characters, and the overall plot in each story are all very similar in some ways, and very different in others.

Tropes found in the novel:

  • Artifact of Doom: Vunyukov's Great Round Seal, which is capable of fulfilling any bureaucratic order. It's also slowly corrupting its possessor and even the people around.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Angry Fyodor Simeonovich is just as scary as Cristobal Junta.
  • Cool Old Guy: The Great Ancient Squid Spyridon serves as such.
  • Fantastic Racism: Gabby is a Bedbug supremacist, who sees humans as an inferior species.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Not the protagonists, but the members of the Troika: Vunyukov is phlegmatic, Farfurkis is melancholic, Khlebovvodov is choleric, Vybegallo is sanguine.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: In one of the versions of the novel, Lavr Vunyukov originally was a petty inspector who was inspecting the Extranormal Institute. He was lost in a Pocket Universe and took it over, becoming one big father of all Obstructive Bureaucrats.
  • Grave Humor: Everything Panurge says in the first edition of the novel.
  • Last-Name Basis: Lampshaded with Farfurkis. No one knows his first name. No one ever wants to know.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: The Troika of Rationalization and Utilization of Unexplained Phenomena, all three (or four) of them.
  • Public Domain Character: Panurge in the first edition is a character from Gargantua and Pantagruel by François Rabelais.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The first version read like another section of Monday. The same four young scientists/mages went to a nearby city of Kitezhgrad (frequently mentioned through Monday) to retrieve several inconsequential artifacts from storage, ended up battling the bureaucracy and eventually won by fighting the system from within. Unfortunately by the time the book was finished the censorship became tougher (as part of Brezhnev's removal of The Thaw legacy). The second version featured only Privalov and Amperyan (the younger and weaker guys) sent to the pocket universe to investigate the Troika situation. They tried to confront and subvert Troika in various ways, but ended up joining them and were only saved by Deus ex Machina. In this version sending them was a Secret Test of Character set up by older wizards, and the question was not if they succeed, but how long will they last before succumbing to conformity.
    • The whole story was a turning point changing the tone of Strugatskys' works to pessimistic.
  • We Will Meet Again: At the end of the second edition, Vunyukov makes classical villain's "We will meet again!" speech, delivered in his usual bureaucratic manner.
  • Secret Government Warehouse: And very poorly organized at that...
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Gabby the talking bedbug takes this trope up to eleven.