"Irreducible to any single literary genre, the Volodinian cosmos is skillfully crafted, fusing elements of science fiction with magical realism and political commentary."— Music & Literature
The most patently sci-fi work of Antoine Volodine's to be translated into English, Radiant Terminus takes place in a Tarkovskian landscape after the fall of the Second Soviet Union. Most of humanity has been destroyed thanks to a number of nuclear meltdowns, but a few communes remain, including one run by Solovyei, a psychotic father with the ability to invade people's dreams—including those of his daughters—and torment them for thousands of years.
When a group of damaged individuals seek safety from this nuclear winter in Solovyei's commune, a plot develops to overthrow him, end his reign of mental abuse, and restore humanity.
Fantastical, unsettling, and occasionally funny, Radiant Terminus is a key entry in Volodine's epic literary project that—with its broad landscape, ambitious vision, and interlocking characters and ideas—calls to mind the best of David Mitchell.
Antoine Volodine (a.k.a. Lutz Bassmann, a.k.a. Manuela Draeger) is the primary pseudonym of a French writer who has published more than forty books, over twenty under this name. Seven of his titles are currently available in English translation, including Minor Angels, Bardo or Not Bardo, and Post-Exoticism in Ten Lessons, Lesson Eleven.
Jeffrey Zuckerman is digital editor of Music & Literature. His writing and translations have appeared in Best European Fiction, 3:AM Magazine, the Rumpus, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.
Volodine rips readers away from the solid natural laws of our world and makes them confuse centuries for days in this strange postapocalyptic novel. After the fall of the Second Soviet Union and the meltdowns of multiple nuclear power plants, Kronauer and his two comrades leave the loyalist resistance army to wander the steppes. He treks into a forest to find help for one of his companions and encounters a community run by Solovyei, a man made immortal by the radiation. Kronauer soon learns Solovyei likes to creep into the minds of his three daughters. They hate their father's intrusions but are susceptible to his influence, which has caused them to scorn men, including Kronauer. It's not at all clear whether each character is dead or alive or merely part of Solovyei's dream. The characters, though equipped with backstories, are little more than fodder for the novel's intellectual musings. This tale lures readers into believing they're on solid narrative ground, only to dissolve into a vortex of uncertainty.