In one of the first 21st century Russian novels to probe the legacy of the Soviet prison camp system, a young man travels to the vast wastelands of the Far North to uncover the truth about a shadowy neighbor who saved his life, and whom he knows only as Grandfather II. What he finds, among the forgotten mines and decrepit barracks of former gulags, is a world relegated to oblivion, where it is easier to ignore both the victims and the executioners than to come to terms with a terrible past.
This disturbing tale evokes the great and ruined beauty of a land where man and machine worked in tandem with nature to destroy millions of lives during the Soviet century. The sun had filled the lake at the foot of the mountains with light; convex, like a drop on glass, its contour struck me in the eye.
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The lake with its thick, almost pastry-like icing of sunny light seemed like a monstrous monument, monstrous because the natural forms easily and willingly took on the features of something man-made, and this acceptance, without coercion, clearly evinced the meaningless, memory-less existence of nature, which we had anthropomorphized much too frequently. Seeing this betrayal of matter—betrayal of the men who climbed up to the heaps every day from the barracks, looking at the profile of the dead leader in whose name they were forced to labor—I rejected the feeling of closeness with these mountains, from the line of imagination that had anthropomorphized them.
A different, older feeling arose: the possible humanity of nature was just a mockery, a devilish joke; man can count on no one in nature except himself. Soon after—the expedition was continuing work in the area of the abandoned camp—I went out on a solitary hike. Two days into the trip rain clouds settled over the mountains and it rained, the wind blowing the drops horizontally, parallel to the ground; I was wearing good weatherproof gear but still I felt chilled. The bad weather was here to stay, the mountain tundra was soaked, and everything that was good for the campfire—old logs, reindeer moss, and switches of polar birch—was damp; a heavy front was coming from the west, and it was clear that by nightfall the rain would change over to snow, a northern summer blizzard, and the rocks in the mountain passes would be icy.
I was about to turn back when I noticed an awning of boards and tar paper over an old test tunnel, one of many such holes made all over the slopes for several kilometers around the camp; the prisoners opened up the ground and rubble to reach the indigenous rock for testing.
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The canopy had been made recently, otherwise the wind and snow would have destroyed it; someone without a tent was sheltering from the weather. I knew what he would have done to me if he had found me asleep in my tent; the fugitive was very skinny, his face was overgrown with hair with bits of moss, leaves, wood chips, and dirt in it: he had been wandering in the taiga for a month or more, having decided to run not toward the railroad but over the mountains to a different region where they would not be looking for him.
He huddled in the hole, bent over, holding a three-sided shiv made from a file, no longer human or even humanoid; he was a wood spirit crawled up from underground. If I had had a rifle, I would have shot him and covered him with stones—out of fear, out of the sensation that this really was an underground creature that had killed an escaped prisoner.
The fugitive pushed the shiv aside; he was too weak to kill me with any benefit to him.
I realized that I was probably saving a murderer, maybe a rapist, robber, cannibal; he had been in the taiga too long to have had enough food in his pockets for that period, he was giving me too wild a look—as if he saw me gutted, freshly butchered. It could be that the death awaiting the fugitive was just retribution, and that most likely he deserved it; but the idea of retribution was coming from my mind, wondering how to get out of this hole clean, without getting involved or taking anything on.
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Publisher: Bethesda Softworks. Share Embed. Read Critic Reviews. Add to Cart. Add all DLC to Cart. With a powerful combination of freeform gameplay and unprecedented graphics, you can unravel the main quest at your own pace or explore the vast world and find your own challenges. Also included in the Game of the Year edition are Knights of the Nine and the Shivering Isles expansion, adding new and unique quests and content to the already massive world of Oblivion.
See why critics called Oblivion the Best Game of Key features: Live Another Life in Another World Create and play any character you can imagine, from the noble warrior to the sinister assassin to the wizened sorcerer. First Person Melee and Magic An all-new combat and magic system brings first person role-playing to a new level of intensity where you feel every blow.
Non-player characters eat, sleep, and complete goals all on their own.