Sergey Lukyanenko

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Sergey Lukyanenko (born in 1968) is one of the most famous modern Russian Science Fiction writers (if not the most famous one). A prolific writer, he has been publishing up to three novels yearly since his debut in 1990, although he has slowed down recently (new releases became annual since 2002). Unlike many other authors, Lukyanenko eschews writing long novel series in favor of duologies and trilogies, in which he develops a particular storyline or setting and then moves on to the next one. Although most of his works fall into "hard" Space Opera (as hard as it gets, in any case), he has also worked in such diverse genres as Urban Fantasy (the Night Watch tetralogy, probably the most famous of his books), Cyberspace (Labyrinth of Reflections trilogy, arguably the second most famous), and Steampunk Alternate History (Seekers of the Sky).

Works written by Sergey Lukyanenko include:
  • Knights of the Forty Islands (1990) was Lukyanenko's first published novel. The story goes as follows: A large number of children is kidnapped and put into an artificial environment, where they, armed with just swords, must fight each other in teams to take control over the forty eponymous islands scattered across an unnamed sea. Although the rules of engagement, enforced by the twisted laws of physics, prevent them from controlling even a few islands for long, their mysterious captors promise to send those who conquer all 40 back home.
    • Lukyanenko started writing a sequel, titled Wars of the Forty Islands, in 1993 but has never finished it (though the first chapters are still available on his website). It was to be set 200 years after the original's ending.
  • Nuclear Dream (1990). A Post Apocalyptic novel set in WW 3-ravaged US. Was re-released in 2001 along with a number of short stories in a bound collection under the same title.
  • Line of Delirium (1996). The second Space Opera trilogy, set in a Crapsack World heavily inspired by the Master of Orion series, where resurrection is a reliable (?) technology and Death Is Cheap. As a result, the whole universe is in the state of permanent brutal warfare.
    • In Line of Delirium, a professional bodyguard and mercenary Kay Dutch is hired by the head of the galactic Mega Corp that holds the patent on the resurrection technology to escort his son and heir to a backwater planet. A lot of factions in the galaxy would do anything to get their hands on the boy, but failure to protect him means a Fate Worse Than Death for Dutch, and he will even fight fate if that's what it takes.
      • Shadows of Dreams (1998) is a short prequel to the first novel, describing a previous (botched) attempt by another bodyguard to escort the boy to his destination.
    • In Emperors of Illusions, Dutch realizes that their Crapsack World is just an illusion created by the delirious mind of God-Emperor of Mankind and attempts to assassinate him. The attempt fails and he finds himself on the run from the whole of The Empire and a couple alien races.
  • The Stars Are Cold Toys (1996-97). The third Space Opera trilogy, inspired in many aspects by the Strugatsky Brothers' Noon Universe. About Next Sunday A.D., humanity has discovered FTL Travel and thus made contact with the galaxy-ruling Conclave of alien races. The conclave is reigned by the ancient Strong races, while Weak ones (humanity included) are either pidgeonholed into a particular service (humans are FTL taxi drivers) or exterminated.
    • The Stars Are Cold Toys. Pyotr Khrumov, an astronaut from Earth, is recruited by a conspiracy of Weak races that has discovered a new race, genetically identical to humans. This race, dubbed "Geometers", have made enormous scientific advancements (and appear to be a thorough Deconstruction of the Noon Universe), and Pyotr is chosen to be sent to their planet as a Manchurian Agent.
    • Star Shadow. Pyotr discovers the ancient enemies of the Geometers, the Star Shadow, a conglomeration of worlds where anyone can travel to wherever their deepest desires lie. He must then make a decision whether Earth should join the Shadow or not.
  • Autumn Visits (1997). Six completely unrelated individuals ("Prototypes") are visited by their body doubles ("Visitors"), who claim they now have to fight each other. The last surviving Visitor will determine the course of world history until their next fight. Each Visitor represents a primal force of nature (Creativity, Power, Evolution, Humanism, Strength, and Knowledge), but there is also a thirteenth player in this game...
  • Labyrinth of Reflections trilogy is set in an Alternate History where, in the early days of the Internet, a Russian hacker stumbled across a hypnotic pattern that made human brain perceive crude 3D-graphics on a computer display as a full-blown virtual reality. This Cyberspace, called "the Deep", has since become omnipresent. The first novel has been referred to as "Russian answer to Serial Experiments Lain and The Matrix", despite predating them by a year or two.
    • In the original novel, Labyrinth of Reflections (1997), a Diver (a rare human who can escape the hypnosis of the Deep without a "counter-hypnosis") named Leonid is hired to help a certain Jinx, who has been stuck in a Doom-inspired MMORPG for days. Leonid is an expert at bailing people who get stuck out of the Deep, but this time, the virtual reality itself seems to conspire against him.
    • False Mirrors (1999) reveals that the Divers disappeared from the Deep because they were no longer needed. However, when a friend of Leonid is killed in Real Life after getting hit by a virtual reality weapon, he reassembles his old crew to find out just what exactly is going on in the Deep.
    • Transparent Stained-Glass Windows (2002) is a short story set some time after False Mirrors. It follows a policewoman investigating a virtual reality prison that turns out to be a secret research project to create new Divers.
  • Night Watch. Likely the most well-known works by Lukyanenko (especially outside Russia) and his only series to have more than three entries. The tetralogy is set in our familiar reality with a few key differences: supernatural exists but is hidden from the Normal People by the supernatural beings (dubbed "Others"). The Others are split between the humanist faction of Light and the individualistic Darkness. To avoid both Mutual Extermination and worldwide Witch Hunts, neither side can be allowed to prevail, and so the system of the Watches has been put into place for the counterparts to monitor each other.
    • Night Watch (1998). The first novel mainly follows Anton Gorodetsky, a Light Other serving the Moscow Night Watch (called so because they patrol the night, when the Dark Others are active), who gets entangled in three interconnected supernatural cases. As it turns out, all of them are part of a grander scheme to rewrite destiny... concocted by Anton's own superiors. The first novel is the most philosophical of the series, exploring the nature of good, evil, idealism, cynicism, and free will,--something that has been declining as the series progressed.
    • Day Watch (2000), co-written with Vladimir Vasilyev, who went on to write a Spin-Off novel The Face of Black Palmira. In contrast to the first novel, which explored the Light Others philosophy, the second one centers on the Dark Others. The events of Night Watch left them at a disadvantage and the Day Watch sets out to correct that. In fact, even nature itself seems to be on their side this time...
    • Twilight Watch (2003). The third novel reveals the existence of a powerful artifact that can turn Muggles into Others. Since its use can upset the scales and lead to a worldwide Witch Hunt, the Night Watch (represented by Gorodetsky), the Day Watch, and even the Inquisition join forces to find the artifact before it's too late.
    • Last Watch (2006). Gorodetsky, involuntarily propelled to the top magic power rung in the last novel, is sent to England to discover traces of a renegade group of Others calling themselves "the Final Watch". They seek an ancient artifact of Merlin, which can allegedly resurrect the dead, and will stop at nothing to obtain it.
    • New Watch (2011). Details to follow.
  • "H" Stands For "Human" (1999). A short story collection named after one of the stories in it. Some notable entries in it include:
    • The Beautiful Faraway[1] cycle is set in a Utopian world where humanity has learned to live (relatively) at peace, mastered deceases and natural disasters, but this very peacefulness and lack of pain and struggle leads young people to rebel. At the same time, the adults are confronted by the legacy of our civilization's crappy past.
    • Train to the Warm Land is by far the most depressive of Lukyanenko's works. A global catastrophe makes temperature fall all over the planet but only a select few get the coveted tickets to the Train to the Warm Land, where they will be safe. The rest have to resort to cannibalism (especially of children) to survive.
    • Duralumin Sky is a Stylistic Self Parody of Lukyanenko's own works, notable for playing straight every trope he used more than once in just 10 pages. For those familiar with his works, it is side-splitting.
  • Genome. Yet another (fourth, to be precise) Space Opera series. While not exactly a Crapsack World, it is one of Lukyanenko's more cynical works, a fact he admitted himself in the first novel's dedication. In this world, all humans undergo specialization in a certain profession (be it a starship navigator, a soldier, or a High-Class Call Girl) on a genetic level. Needless to say, these specialists love their jobs and don't care much about anything else.
    • Genome (2000). The first novel follows a specialist starship captain, who gets hired to bring a pair of aliens from point A to point B. He doesn't like how that sounds, but accepts, gets a ship, puts together a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits for a crew... and then one of his passengers is murdered, and it falls to a genetically engineered pilot to play the detective, lest an interplanetary war breaks out.
    • Dances on the Snow (2001). Prequel to Genome, set in the same universe but before the genetic specialization was invented. A young orphan runs into a Jedi Knight Phage, just as the whole planet is mass-brainwashed into joining an expansionist planet union.
    • Cripples (2004). Sequel to Genome, set twenty years later. Alex Romanov is a starship captain in charge of a small team that specializes in "taming" ships that go out of control. The team receives an unusual task, involving a new ship commissioned for the Halflings. The shipbuilding company finds a loophole in their contract and programs the ship's computer to require each crew to pass a deadly test before accepting their commands. This test is specifically designed to be an Unwinnable Training Simulation.
  • Seekers of the Sky (2001). An Alternate History Steampunk duology, which, unlike Lukyanenko's other duologies, is actually a single novel split in two for publishing reasons. In this setting, Jesus Christ was killed by Herod's troops, but God took pity on humanity and saved another boy who became known as the Redeemer, the Step-Son of God. Two millenia later, the Roman Empire has never collapsed, almost all iron in the world is gone, and limited magic, based off the Redeemer's miracles, is possible. Saying more would spoil a lot, since the Backstory is revealed slowly over the course of the novels. They are also an impressive study of religion and faith, wrapped into a thriller narrative. It can be also noted that the author decided to receive baptism after finishing them.
    • Cold Shores. A convicted thief Ilmar escapes from iron mines with the help of a young boy named Marcus. It turns out Marcus is a runaway prince, who is being chased by pretty much every authority in Europe (including Arnold Schwarzenegger). In order to obtain pardon, Ilmar sets out to find Marcus and hand him over, but that plan turns out to be too optimistic.
    • Morning Nears. Ilmar, Marcus, and their precious few Nakama try to flee from the State first to the Ottoman Empire, then to Judea. As Marcus' powers grow, however, Ilmar is overcome with doubt: just who exactly is he following, the second coming of the Redeemer or the Tempter? The second novel features Antoine De Saint Exupery, Gérard Depardieu, and Satan.
  • Spectrum (2002). A Private Detective from Earth is hired by a rich magnate to track down his runaway daughter. Locating the girl on an uninhabited planet, the detective must witness her die in a freak accident. Before long, however, his informants spot her (or her body double) on another remote planet, and a wild goose chase begins.
  • Rough Draft. In this duology, Earth (as well as a number of other parallel worlds) is home not only to Muggles but also "functionals", formerly humans who have been Erased From Existence and turned into as super-powered individuals maintaining The Masquerade. Each functional is specialized in a particular area of expertise, which usually correlates with their former job as a Muggle and wherein they know no rivals (except other functionals).
    • Rough Draft (2005). In the first novel, an aspiring writer Kirill gets turned into a functional of Customs Official type. For a time, he is at peace with his new function as a guardian of portals to other worlds, but the more he learns about the secret society of the functionals and the universe organization, the more he feels inclined to rebel against it.
    • Final Draft (2007). Disillusioned Kirill continues his search for the truth behind the functionals and their creators who have turned his native Earth into a "rough draft" for their own civilization.
  • Competitors (2008). A Moscow freelance journalist finds an ad for an agency recruiting people to pilot a Star Fighter. Believing it to be just an ad for a computer game, he decides to see if there's a story here. At the agency, an attractive woman explains that everything is real and that by stepping through the back door, his double will be created on a faraway space station. She also points him to the website, explaining that it allows him to track his alter-ego's progress. The story then splits, with the chapters alternating between the original journalist and his double in space, as they both try to figure out what is going on and how any of this is possible.
  • Trix series. This is a Medieval European Fantasy series about the adventures of young Trix Solier, the son and heir of Co-Duke Raht Solier.
    • Simpleton (2009). After a coup by Co-Duke Sanator Griz, Trix is looking for a way to return his rightful title.
    • Gadabout (2010). Trix travels East in search of new adventures.
  1. "Prekrasnoye dalyoko" is actually a quote from a Soviet movie Guest From the Future. It is virtually untranslatable from Russian and refers to something beautiful far ahead (in the future).