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In the far future, in a world dominated by an elite caste of omnipotent experts, Kammerer stalks his elusive quarry, Lev Abalkin--a maverick, the "beetle in the anthill," whose very presence on the planet threatens the precarious social order. Unaware of the full meaning of his mission, Kammerer plunges into a bizarre, terrifying rite of passage. Gradually he discovers the true scope of the dark mystery before him, as he learns that the secret of Abalkin's identity is interwoven with the fate of many other lives--lives that must remain maddeningly impenetrable.
A chilling tale about bizarre and terrifying things suddenly disrupting the lives of the world's leading scientists. Amid all the mysterious events, only one thing is clear--they cannot work any longer. Something or someone is preventing scientific knowledge from advancing. The tension mounts as more and more frightening and inexplicable events take place. Are they being attacked by something supernatural, a supercivilization, or just an innate character of the universe that won't allow more than some level of organization? The scientists struggle on, until one by one they begin to drop out, leaving astrophysicist Dmitri Malianov to decide for himself the ultimate question--what price truth?
Someday, far in the future of our planet, "if you are twenty years old, can't do anything well, haven't the vaguest notion of what you want to do ... and are still naive enough to imagine yourself making fabulous discoveries in unexplored space ..." then the IRU--Independent Reconnaissance Unit--will provide you with an alien world for exploration. Just pick up the catalog, open it at random, stab blindly, and set off into the wild blue yonder. If you are lucky circumstances will not leave you stranded. Set on one of these alien worlds, Prisoners of Power paints the grim picture of a civilization that has survived a nuclear holocaust. Everything is dusty, flat, and gray, and the rivers run with radioactivity. Into this bleak, depressing world comes young Maxim, an earthling who--by our standards--possesses highly developed physical, intellectual, emotional, and moral qualities. Stranded, but resourceful, and able to withstand the conditions and treatment that the inhabitants of this randomly chosen island cannot, he gradually learns that this strange world--more like ours than his--needs to be changed. But to change it he must become involved. He must discover the meaning of hatred, ignorance, and cruelty. He must understand the drive for power in both himself and others, and form new bonds of friendship, loyalty, love. Slowly, first as a Robinson Crusoe, then as Legionnaire, Terrorist, Prisoner and finally Earthling, he comes to know the workings of the island, its puppets and its people: the mutants who inhabit the outlying regions, the evil Strannik, his friends Guy, Rada, Zef, Ordi--and eventually even the mystery of the All-Powerful Creators.
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