The cold war finds a common home

The intertwined worlds of Philip K. Dick and the Strugatsky Brothers

Authored by: Jonathan Charley

The Routledge Companion on Architecture, Literature and The City

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781472482730
eBook ISBN: 9781315613154
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter continues my journey into the architectural and spatial history of estranged literary genres. It focuses on the work of two of the greatest proponents of science fiction literature, Philip K Dick and the Strugatsky brothers, Arkady and Boris. Living and writing as they did on either side of the ideological frontier that defined the Cold War, we might expect the novels of Dick and the Strugatskys to reflect rival world-views. In fact, it transpires that they have much in common and both play with a series of set piece themes that have become tropes in science fiction literature. They satirise political authority, critique social order, and fret over what it means to be human. They represent our relationship to nature and technology as confused and dangerous and above all interrogate what we understand by reality. It is a similar story with regards to the particular space-time worlds the writers create. Far from the depiction of radically opposed urban situations, their built worlds merge and overlap in unexpected ways. In both cases we enter urban landscapes that are entropic, surreal, and enveloped in fear.

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