I am fortunate enough to know Russian to enjoy a lot of untranslated pre-21st century Russian literature. Strugatskys are some of my all-time favorite authors, on par with Dostoevsky and Bulgakov. Besides the evident humor, there are many references to the USSR and Russian culture (mostly satiric). Understanding them is also a must to get the most total experience of the book.
I'm glad I've finally read "Monday Begins on Saturday" and finished it now after re-reading "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." Both are light enough not to bother with topics that are too deep. However, after finishing them, both still made me think deeply about some sci-fi concepts.
Overall, the story goes as follows:
- The main character gets to NIICHAVO and gets hired.
- New Year's celebration (general chaos and havoc; this is almost a "Christmas movie").
- The all-desiring human gets born (and annihilated).
- Time traveling to the (fictional, lmao so meta) future.
- Time loops and quantum shenanigans.
- Endnotes (fictional review and glossary).
The book reads as a set of short stories with the same characters and within the same setting. The book's ending makes you think of the possibilities of time loops and reversal — watch Tenet before or after the book; you'll love it. One of the authors' ideas is that matter and anti-matter can be the same, just traveling backward and forward in time. Hence, when they "collide," they disappear (but they don't disappear; they "flip" into reverse). It made me think of the scene where the antagonist disappears (see around 1:58)!
Anyway, "Monday Begins on Saturday" is a classic. If you know Russian or are familiar with the USSR's history, reading and laughing is a must. It has zero politics; it is simply a satirical representation of how stuff worked during that era.