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Literature / Those Who Survive

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Those Who Survive, also The Village (Посёлок, Posyolok) is a two-part novel by Kir Bulychev, first published in serialized form between 1980 and 1984. It is a part of his Doctor Pavlysh cycle, but the doctor only makes an appearance in the second part.

The titular village is a settlement of survivors from a spaceship on a distant and unfriendly Hungry Jungle planet. Twenty years before the beginning, the Pole, carrying a scientific expedition, crashed in the mountains, and the few who lived through it were forced to leave the ship due to the terrible frost and the radiation. The book starts just before an expedition from the village to the ship sets off to bring supplies.


The second part involves Pavlysh's expedition landing on the planet, and the humans desperately trying to contact them.

The novel provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Action Survivor: An entire village of them.
  • Affectionate Nickname: Kazik is called Mowgli (mostly by Dick).
  • Alternative Calendar: The planet's year is the (rough) equivalent of three Earth years, its day is two hours longer than the day on Earth, and the seasons are entirely different (it's mention that winter alone lasts around four hundred days, and there's hardly any summer). The elder generation still keeps the calendar of Earth, the younger one, hardly.
  • Awful Wedded Life: Sergeyev had it with his first wife. She would have left him, if it hadn't been for the daughter and the fact there's nowhere to go in the village.
  • Beard of Barbarism: Since there are no razors in the village, all grown men have beards, and Dick believes it a sign of manliness (notably, Oleg, though he's about the same age as Dick, doesn't have one).
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  • Big Brother Mentor: Dick acts as one to Kazik.
  • Big Damn Kiss: Oleg and Maryana share one during a flight in Oleg's hot-air balloon.
  • Brawn Hilda: Big Luisa, who is extremely fat and extremely strong.
  • Broken Bird: Christina and Irina most of all. They have stopped hoping long ago.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": The bizarre plants and beasts on the planet get names of the flora and fauna of Earth based on some trait they share with the species familiar to the villagers.
    • Jackals are cowardly and hunt in packs (never mind that they are lizards).
    • Ditto wolves, another species of pack hunter lizards.
    • Bears are bigger lizards often covered in parasitic moss.
    • Mushrooms are either mobile plants or sessile animals (the line is blurry on the planet) that can be steeped and then roasted.
    • Goats are bleating herbivores.
    • At one point people have trouble finding a name for a new arthropod, since "spider" and "crab" are already taken.
  • Delirious Misidentification: When Claudia is bitten by a snow flea and has a fit of raving madness, she mistakes the already-wounded Kazik for an animal attacking the station and shoots him.
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  • Emotions vs. Stoicism: The sweet, cheerful and impulsive Sally, the electronicist from Claudia's crew, and the harsh, commanding and level-headed Claudia herself.
  • Flea Episode: A very horrid version, since the snow fleas on the planet are extremely venomous, the venom causing an hour-long fit of uncontrollable madness.
  • Happily Adopted: Due to the crash orphaning several children and many people dying in the village afterwards, it led to multiple cases of the trope in the village.
    • The Durov twins by Old.
    • Kazik and Fumiko by Luisa.
    • Liz by Christina.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Christina used to be very beautiful. She's implied to be still relatively young, but the hardships after the crash have taken their toll.
  • Just Friends: After bits of Ship Tease throughout the book, Dick and Maryana are in the end content to stay friends.
  • Love Hungry: For the better part of the novel, Liz is set on getting Oleg, going so far as to steal Maryana's mirror and later try to seduce Oleg while Maryana is away on a dangerous mission.
  • Mandatory Motherhood: Played with. Eglė has imposed it on herself: she goes on having children (by the start of the novel, six of them have survived infancy, there has been at least one stillbirth, and it's implied she's pregnant again) to make sure the village lives on.
  • Meaningful Name: In Russian, "dikiy" means "wild". Dick is the Proud Warrior Race Guy who embraces life in the wilderness.
  • Multinational Team: The Pole carried scientists from several countries.
  • My Beloved Smother: Irina has shades of it towards Oleg. She is aware of it and apologizes whenever she goes too far.
  • No Antagonist: The main part of the conflict comes from the Wilderness Survival Plot. Liz and Christina are the most unpleasant characters, and Liz is too lazy and Christina too depressed to be actively antagonistic. The worst Liz does is steal Maryana's mirror, and even that she returns after Christina finds her out.
  • Pet the Dog: Liz is selfish, vain, lazy and cowardly, and at one point doesn't shy away from theft. However, she won't move to a better house because she won't leave her blind mother.
  • Plain Jane: Maryana is sure she is incredibly ugly, and many of the villagers (Oleg and Dick not included) share the view, although unlike her, they realize it's mostly due to undernourishment.
  • Prematurely Grey-Haired: Linda's hair goes grey after she learns of her husband's death.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: When he thinks Pavlysh, Claudia and Sally have killed Kazik, Dick decides to shoot them all. Thankfully, he only shoots the robots before he calms down.
  • Science Is Useless: Played with. For the survivors from the Pole, some knowledge is definitely useful (such as Sergeyev's skills in mechanics); however, as they are completely unprepared for living in the wilds, many of them go into depression because of feeling useless and helpless. An especially heartbreaking case is Christina, formerly a well-known astronomer: not only is the cloud layer of the planet so thick that one can't see stars, but Christina ends up going blind.
  • Second Love: Linda Hind marries Sergeyev after her first husband's death in the mountains. Played for Drama when her second husband also goes to the mountains, and she nearly breaks down as she's frightened of losing him, too.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: The quiet, thoughtful Oleg, reader and inventor, and the hot-blooded hunter Dick.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: A surprising case, which Oleg muses on early in the book. Christina and Liz look so alike (blond, big, wide-faced, green-eyed and pale) that one wouldn't believe Liz is adopted.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Maryana is tough, resourceful and brave, and Liz is a girly, easily-frightened Dumb Blonde.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: Maryana owns the only mirror in the village and often broods because she thinks herself ugly.
  • Uptight Loves Wild: Claudia falls head over heels for Pavlysh. He doesn't reciprocate and prefers Sally, so she keeps quiet about it.
  • Warrior Poet: Kazik is a badass to rival Dick and a dreamer to rival Oleg. Upon his return to Earth, he wants to spend an entire year visiting museums.
  • Wilderness Survival Plot: The whole premise.
  • Younger than They Look: Thomas Hind looks and behaves like an elderly man. He's barely forty. Justified due to the conditions he has lived in.