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 seeks safety from this nuclear winter in Solovyei’s commune, a plot develops to overthrow him, end his reign of mental abuse, and restore humanity.
Fantastic, unsettling, and occasionally funny, Radiant Terminus is a key entry in Volodines’ epic literary project that – with its broad landscape, ambitious vision, and interlocking characters and ideas – calls to mind the best of David Mitchell.
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Since the middle of the 1980s, Antoine Volodine has been single-handedly leading his own literary movement, post-exotism. Using his own name or under aliases, he has published about 50 novels and essays defining this original genre settled in a totalitarian post-apocalyptic world and conceived as a revolutionary outcry infused with shamanism. Radiant Terminus, translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman, encapsulates most of the distinctive features of post-exoticism and tells a tale of survival after a nuclear catastrophe through a bunch of ghost-like characters wandering in a world where the boundaries between life and death are constantly blurred. From the depths of this unsettling universe in which time and space are elastic, Volodine works his black magic and occasionally, lets an unexpected burst of laughter light up the way.