The Cold War finds a common home: the intertwined worlds of Philip K Dick and the Strugatsky brothers

Jonathan Charley

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter continues my journey into the architectural and spatial history of estranged literary genres. It focuses on the work of two of the greatest proponents of science fiction literature, Philip K Dick and the Strugatsky brothers, Arkady and Boris. Living and writing as they did on either side of the ideological frontier that defined the Cold War, we might expect the novels of K Dick and the Strugatskys to reflect rival world-views. In fact, it transpires that they have much in common and both play with a series of set piece themes that have become tropes in science fiction literature. They satirise political authority, critique social order, and fret over what it means to be human. They represent our relationship to nature and technology as confused and dangerous and above all interrogate what we understand by reality. It is a similar story with regards to the particular space-time worlds the writers create. Far from the depiction of radically opposed urban situations, their built worlds merge and overlap in unexpected ways. In both cases we enter urban landscapes that are entropic, surreal, and enveloped in fear.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Research Companion on Architecture, Literature and the City
EditorsJonathan Charely
Place of PublicationAbingdon, Oxon
Publication statusPublished - 3 Sept 2018


  • Philip K Dick
  • Cold War
  • Strugatsky brothers


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