Cèid Donn wrote:I probably won't be able to finish Metro 2033 early, as I hoped, but I should be done by the end of this month. I personally have been enjoying it a lot. Some questions/points of discussion I've been thinking about while I have been reading:
- How motifs/ideas/imagery that are intended to evoke and parallel Cold War/Soviet-era Russia, in particular "underground" culture in Moscow at that time as well as references to Soviet-era wars, contribute to the kind of post-apocalyptic, end-of-the-human-race atmosphere and environment the author is trying to create
- The different ideologies/worldviews/philosophies represented by Артём/Artyom/Artjom's companions throughout of the story, i.e. Hunter, Bourbon, Khan, etc. and how they are responses to the novel's universe
- If you have previously read Orson Scott Card's Ender Game, to what extent to you think Artjom's relationship with the Чёрные (the "black ones" -- die Schwarzen in the German edition) parallel and contrast Ender's relationship with the Buggers? (this might be hard to discuss here without spoilers, but I think it's worth thinking about if you have read both books)
- What do you think about how violence is shown to be everywhere in the novel's universe, and although Artjom witnesses it and seems prepared to engage in it (as shown by how he almost always is carrying a weapon), he largely does not engage in violence himself, and even seems to naturally avoid it, as seen from the very first paragraphs of the book?
SEVERAL SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!
Hello! Sorry for the delay!!! I voted for the book and I am still ~200 pages to the finish . I perhaps overestimated my Russian abilities and my time, to think I could finish it all in one month. I get tired after 30 minutes to an hour of reading in Russian, and I'm much slower as well, plus wanting to look up words and occasionally write them down, study/learn them... it all is making for quite slow progress. Because I voted for it and I said I would read it I read summaries of the last bit just to be able to discuss, and then I'll go back and finish the book in the next weeks at a slower leisurely pace.
I also am enjoying the book. I like sci-fi and fantesy novels, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys the genre. Though a unique and part of the biggest charm of the book is the setting of being in the Moscow metro. Artyem follows the classic "Hero's journey". Call to adventure: meets Hunter and gets a vague mission with little detail and departs his home of ВДНХ... He has a god-like protector (not physically, but throughout the novel there is a sense of a supernatural force keeping him alive through the encounters) that keeps him safe throughout his many side stops, almost like a modern Russian Odyssey, with instead of cyclops and harpies and multi headed monsters there are capitalists and religious zealots and communists and cannibals. My only qualm with them is each stop's/group's ideology feels to me a bit rushed/under developed in it's motivations and a bit flat (or even a bit cliché?).
I can definitely understand why it is so popular in Russia. Millions use the vast amazing (it truly is) Moscow metro daily, and the fact that this story is built around the metro with a lot of cultural references partially driving the adventure is compelling. I was in Moscow in 2011, and I had fun reminiscing, and would look up what stations look like to remind myself of the stations and lines myself (I forgot a lot! but it came back as I was reading so that was a lot of fun).
For your questions, before having read the summary of the end, I thought of the черные/die Schwarzen/Black Ones more as dementors from Harry Potter to be honest. Creatures that solely embody or personify fear, which also makes sense in the end that the author is saying that fear is what drives destruction (my interpretation at least). I'm interested as I continue to read how they reconcile this to making them want to contact humans to co-operate with them, or even why they would want to do so. The main difference I see with Orson Scott Card's Buggers superficially is that the Buggers initial attack was for war (if my memory serves me correctly), and they reached out to Ender in order to attempt to gain a mutual understanding to prevent genocide/their destruction. Here they only are attempting to make contact to work together with the humans in an altruistic manner??? A main difference for me is that I understand the Buggers' motive, I don't understand the motive of the black ones. Why do they want to cooperate? We'll see if I understand better once I finish.
I don't really know much about Soviet counter-culture movements, so can't comment.
For the other characters (Hunter, Khan, Bourbon) , they seem to me more of a reason to drive Artyem through the metro, I didn't tie any larger meaning to them. They seemed to give him reason to take one path over another... to further explore the metro and hit certain stations and routes. And I still don't understand SPOILER ALERT ************ why/how Bourbon died. I didn't feel like re reading around it to try to understand what or analyze it. For me, it was just so and I moved on.
As far as violence in the book: the author is making a pacifist stance. The world is ended by a terrible nuclear waste caused by human suspicion and mistrust. The few remaining survivors huddle in the formerly beautiful metro to scrape a living by literally harvesting the mushrooms grown off their own excretions and turn it to "tea" lol. They live a miserable existence due to human violence, then continue the partisanship and violence in the metro. Another life form comes to try to contact and work together with the humans in the metro, and humans hate the unknown, fear them, and in the end blow them to pieces. Artyem being our main hero, is not a violent character per-se by nature, as this would be against the main message of the author.
For female characters, I don't necessarily need a gun-slinging female character that shatters gender roles for me to enjoy a novel, but I was more bothered by the fact that women seem almost non-existent! They should make up half the population, but I can't think of a single female character's name, which just makes it feel like an older military novel, or (literal) man against nature novel, but it's supposed to show a whole society in the metro so I don't understand what all the women are doing! lol.
In any case I was excited to read the book and discuss here! Sorry I fell behind. For at least next month at least I'll have to sit it out until I've finished metro 2033. I may rejoin sometime in April or later, but I won't try to join again in Russian until I prove to myself I can actually finish the full novel in 1 month! If it is in English, French or Spanish, I can get it done (I promise) . When I was younger I would read 20-40 books a year, now with life I struggle to finish 5 book, and it makes me sad that I don't read as much as I used to.