2585 Kroków is a collection of short stories that neatly encapsulates Pilipiuk’s writing; specific humor, adoration of Polish East, fascination with Russia and Russian influence, love for countryside and a talent to dig up interesting facts from the past.
The stories are not are rarely connected (with a couple exceptions) and span many genres from fantasy and sci-fi to pure comedy and historical fiction. Despite the diversity there are some reoccurring themes in all of them. Hunger for knowledge, human vanity and cruelty, inability to let go of the past ann obsession.
The attention to detail deserves the highest praise! Language used by the characters differs depending on the time period of given story. Also the amount of research that had to go into writing Mars 1889 or Grishka is kudos worthy.
The stories include:
2586 Steps- 19th century Polish physician moves to Norway to continue his research on leprosy, superstitious locals blame the disease on supernatural forces
Plane to the Far Away Land– crazy elderly man enlists help of a young clerk to board a plane to a seemingly nonexistent country; inspired by prose of Alexander Grin.
The Evening Bells- Paweł Skórzewski return yet this time he is send to investigate mysterious plague that in Ukrainian swamp, which seems to have its roots in folk legends.
Rotten Times- a quick look at how at soul selling industry in 21st century.
The Opportunity- an elderly Russian officer of tsar’s guard plays never ending chess game with past and fate as he tries to go back in time to save Pyotr Stolypin a Russian Primeminister assasinated by bolsheviks.
Mars 1889- Russian astronomer’s search for the writing of an eccentric 19th century duke who claimed to have sent a space probe on Mars alerts special division of KGB.
My Block of Flats Is Haunted- the letter correspondence between government and a concerned citizen who believes that dark powers reside in his apartment building.
Nuclear Roulette- alternative reality in which Poland in secrecy developed a nuclear bomb, started and won World War II becoming a global super power and now holds world in a mat as the keep nuclear technology a secret.A young Ukrainian Nationalist moves to now Polish Lviv to prepare grounds for Ukrainian insurrection.
Witch Monika- a young girl accused of witchcraft is led to the pyre when her execution is interrupted by traveling inquisitor.
Grishka- story of tsar’s secret service monitoring famous Rasputin.
Very Alien Capital– the same concerned citizen has some question concerning banking system and possible Alien invasion
Vlana- a teenage boy falls for his science teacher’s conspiracy theory. In the meanwhile a parallel vampire dimension sends an assassin to hunt down a criminal who escaped to our world.
Cesspool- special team is send on a mission to eliminate an alien outpost and prevent extraterrestrial invasion.The only problem is that alien are hidden in crime infested Moscow maze of tunnels under Moscow.
Zone- a police officer and his daily routine in radiation polluted quarantine zone surrounding Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Strugatsky brothers’ Roadside Picnic and Tarkovsky’s Stalker reference.
Four out of five Stolypins.