I was brought up on classical literature, there wasn’t much else in my parent’s library, save for some detective stories that never appealed to me since I considered Crime and Punishment was the way to write a detective story. When I moved to Moscow to study at the university I discovered sci-fi and fantasy genres. Within several years I went through multiple authors yet only some of them stuck in my memory.
One of them is Sergei Lukyanenko who is probably today’s the most successful contemporary Russian sci-fi author. The novels of his The Night Watch series, dark urban fantasy about good and evil vampires set in Moscow in the 1990s, were adapted to screen, and the films set box office records in Russia. Ever since the book series was translated into several languages and has been continuously growing its fandon outside Russia.
Lukyanenko has a gift for interesting plots, he also incorporates some philosophical ideas into his books, but not too complex that it would distract the less educated reader. His writing style is no match to other literary writers, it’s rather plain and conversational, yet with a good vocabulary. Russian sci-fi has always been more intellectual rather than purely plot-driven, so Lukyanenko, in my opinion, is a Russian equivalent to Azimov.
Apart from the Night Watch 5-book series, I’m particularly fond of his existentialist Spectrum novel, which, I hope, will be eventually translated from Russian.
Overall, if you are a devoted sci-fi fan, pick any of Lukyanenko’s books (well only The Night Watch series is available in English so far), and I guarantee you’ll be entertained.
Lukyanenko took the baton of a philosophising world-builder from the sci-fi giants of the previous generation, the Strugatsky brothers. I wonder who will become his successor?