Arkady and Boris Strugatsky are widely considered the greatest of Russian science fiction masters, and their most famous work, Roadside Picnic, has enjoyed great popularity worldwide. Yet the novel they worked hardest on, the one that was their own favorite and that readers worldwide have acclaimed as their magnum opus, has never before been published in English. The Doomed City was so politically risky that the Strugatsky brothers kept its existence a complete secret even from their closest friends for sixteen years after its completion in 1972. It was only published in Russia during perestroika in the late 1980s, the last of their works to see publication. Having been translated into a host of European languages, it now appears in English for the first time in a major new effort by acclaimed translator Andrew Bromfield.
The Doomed City is set in an experimental city whose sun gets switched on in the morning and switched off at night, a city bordered by an abyss on one side and an impossibly high wall on the other. Its inhabitants are people who were plucked from twentieth-century history at various times and places and left to govern themselves under conditions established by Mentors whose purpose seems inscrutable.
Andrei Voronin, a young astronomer taken from Leningrad in the 1950s, is a die-hard believer in the Experiment, even though his first job in the city is as a garbage collector. As increasingly nightmarish scenarios begin to affect the city, Voronin rises through the political hierarchy, with devastating effect.