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Literature / The Powerless of This World

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The Powerless of this World (Russian: "Бессильные мира сего") is a 2003 Russian novel by one S. Vititsky — A.K.A. Boris Strugatsky, one of the Strugatsky Brothers; you know, the one that didn't die first. This might explain why it's so bleak.

Anyway, in brief it could be described as some of the later Strugatsky Brothers novels meet Watchmen, both in the sense of it being a deconstruction of the former and because of the apparent "retired, bitter, disillusioned superheroes" vibe. The novel focuses on the Differently Powered disciples of one Stan Arkadyevich Agre, AKA Sensei, a slowly-aging old man whose primary gift is finding and bringing out a person's one true talent. The main plotline involves Vadim Danilovich Khristoforov "Resulting Force" (originally in English transcribed into Cyrillic), one of those disciples, who has the power to predict - or is that change? - the future, possibly in connection with Rousseau's "general will". He is being hounded by a powerful businessman, "the Ayatollah", who apparently prefers the "change" version and wants to make him influence the results of a local election, going so far as to threaten him effectively with bodily harm. Vadim must figure out what to do, and how to do it, and in the process visits a lot of his old acquaintances from the Sensei's circle, most of whom don't seem very helpful at first. There are however lots of other smaller sub-plots that tie in with the main plot, including some parts of the Sensei's backstory and vignettes showcasing the other characters and their powers. Some of those are separated as "Lyrical Digressions", others are apparently just parts of the novel proper.


As already mentioned, it's a rather depressing novel overall, but the premise and the characters are still rather neat, and the depressiveness makes the various crowning moments stand out more.

Tropes found in the novel: