1 a feeling of mild anxiety about possible developments [syn: anxiousness]
2 the trait of seeming ill at ease [syn: unease, uneasiness] v : disturb in mind or make uneasy or cause to be worried or alarmed; "She was rather perturbed by the news that her father was seriously ill" [syn: perturb, unhinge, trouble, cark, distract, disorder]
- Rhymes: -aɪət
Disquiet (Беспокойство) is a 1965 sci-fi novel by Boris and Arkady Strugatsky set in the Noon Universe. It is the initial variant of the novel Snail on the Slope (Улитка на склоне) which has a different set of characters and is not set in the Noon Universe. After completing the first draft, the authors felt a need to take a novel in a different direction, which resulted in the creation of Snail on the Slope. However, twenty-five years later, they examined the initial draft and concluded that it was a decent novel in its own right. In 1990, it was published in Dimension F magazine. In 1995, feeling the need to expose it to the wider readership, Boris Strugastky published it online.
Plot SummaryThe novel is set in the planet Pandora which is famous for its animated biosphere. Humans have built a base on it that serves as a biological laboratory and a hunting resort. The base is located at about 2 km in height crag, and all the rest of the continent is occupied by forest. Biologists do not understand most of the processes that happen in the forest, although hunting there is apparently entertaining albeit dangerous for some people.
The novel is divided into two parts: life in the base and life in the forest. The director of the base is Paul Gnedykh. He is responsible for overall safety, supply, communication with Earth. He substituted the previous director after several cases of people's death. One of the lost people was the biologist Mikhail "Athos" Sidorov, Gnedykh's childhood friend. Some biologists claimed they saw people in the forest, but nobody took them seriously (partially because such visions were seen when the bioblocade of the observer was weakened or expired). The forest is rapidly changing, in time making two year old maps completely obsolete. Some trees are jumping from place to place, some trees feel the pain of the others. Leonid Gorbovsky stays on Pandora since he believes that the forest is dangerous. He wants to be nearby when the forest will "start acting" to be able to control or influence the process. Gorbovsky is very upset because the people are being negligent about the forest, not taking the forest seriously enough.
One day a female hunter and a gamekeeper get stuck in the forest and call Paul Gnedykh for help. They call from the same forest sector from where Athos sent his last bearing signal. When Gnedykh and Gorbovsky arrived at the sight they see a strange biological organism that caused the helicopter crash. The organism is attracting trees or animals and "eating" them. It gives birth to several "children" each 87 minutes. The children are amorphous white things moving by means of pseudopods. They are confidently moving from the parent all in one direction at first, and people follow them. At the end, the children approach a lake and drown themselves. While observing the lake, Paul thinks he sees a human in the water, so he films the scene.
In the forest part, Mikhail "Athos" Sidorov tries to return to the base. He lives in a village in the middle of the forest. He was brought there, seriously ill, by Hurt-Martyr and Broken Leg, two village natives. There he was given a wife named Nava. Athos has only nebulous memories about the past. He encourages the two villagers, Fist and Broken Leg, to make a trip to the "city", a mysterious place, where Athos hopes to get the information how to return back (Hurt-Martyr went to the "city" before, but never returned). Slightly before the planned trip he goes for reconnaissance, and Nava follows him. They are attacked by a group of bandits, and after a brief fight they run away. They end up in another unfamiliar village where Athos meets people he recognizes as Karl and Valentine, another biologists from the base. He is unable to talk to them, as some uncontrolled fear forces him and Nava run away from the village, that is now in violet fog.
When Nava wakes up at the morning she finds a scalpel in her hand. She is afraid of it, and Athos hides it in his clothing. Athos wants to return to that unfamiliar village, but they find it middle in the process of sinking in the water (the process called "overcoming"). After that they meet three women, one of which is Nava's mother who was captured by the dead before. Athos and Nava realize that the "dead" who capture women from the villages are actually droids and serve women who live in the "city". These women (calling themselves "glorious helpmates") consider men (and many other biological species) a mistake as useless. They have some control over violet fog, that probably consists of certain bacteria that can be used for murder, communication, and probably other purposes. They are participating in mysterious battle with unspecified enemy (if enemy even exists) whose front separates Athos from the base. The front is allegedly so biologically active that any living creature (even the glorious helpmates, who are "defended") will probably die there. The women take Nava from Athos. During the conversation he understands and recalls several things.
Being attacked by a "dead" droid, Athos kills it with his scalpel and flees. He returns to his village, where he again encourages Fist and Broken Leg to make a trip, now to "devils crag", where the base is. He also understands that the villages will disappear because of "overcoming" (the process most probably led by the "glorious helpmates") and wants to prevent this. Broken Leg does not want Athos to go since he believes Athos will die. In the whole part, there is almost not a single object in the forest that is not a living thing. One can grow clothing from its parts, one can eat ground as a meal in some places, and so on.
The origin of people in the forest is unknown.
TriviaThe forest part of "Disquiet" is almost identical to the one of Snail on the Slope, but their "base" parts are very different. Athos and Gorbovsky are substitutes of Kandid and Perez from Snail on the Slope.
Mikhail "Athos" Sidorov also appears in the chapters "The Conspirators" and "The Assaultmen" of Noon: 22nd Century as a schoolkid and a biologist; in Space Mowgli as the Ark Project head; in the chapter "Defeat" of Noon: 22nd Century (that appears not in all variants of the text) as a head of small mechanical embryo testing group; in The Time Wanderers as a president of "Ural-North" sector of COMCON-2. The last two listed appearances certainly happen after his life in the forest at Pandora.
There is also a point of view that Disquiet does not tell about events happened in the Noon Universe but is itself a prose written there (see Infinitude of simple solutions (in Russian)).
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