What to read? “Hunting Elk” and “Insider” by Yulia Latynina

Two remarkable and recommendable books by Yulia Latynina:

The first one is a science fiction, part of literary cycle “Empire of Weia”, published in 1999. The second one is an economic detective fiction, part of literary cycle about Russia of 1990s, published in 1999. But both books are about the same economic and social mechanisms and (what is my special interest here) about place of business creativity in troubled times.

For some years now I’ve been under impression that creativity in business in Russia of 1990s was among the top globally. That is to say: not only the most ruthless (business)men crawled successfully to the top of new Russian business elite, but also the most creative ones. As the game of no rules requires a lot of creativity (and courage, which is necessary part of “creativity in action”). The two books of Yulia Latynina are not only a fascinating reading but also a confirmation for the idea of high level of creativity in troubled time business: my hamble level of creativity would be below average among the average criminals in the book.

In the “Hunting Elk”, the same business problems are shown from the point of view of competing owners, competing financists, competing security officers. And both how the problems are viewed and what solutions are developed is shown with much talent by Ms. Latynina.

The “hunted” owner finds a very elegant combination of resources from different fields as a response to raider attack (“no-exit” problem, see here) while most of his staff do not even see the problem – they see tasks, which lead to bigger or smaller defeat (and the task is to have the smallest possible).

The author shows quite impressive solutions from both sides of the conflict. Thinking process and contradictions are often part of the story and the author shows them prior to giving the solution, which makes the reading something more than just another detective story. Translated from the detective language to inventive generalisation we may read: “May I use this resource?” – “It looks not firm enough, thus it is risky” – “May I be sure that the resource is not firm? May I use it?”

The outcome of the adventure is defined partly by luck, partly by the fact that each step in the combination of the “hunted” owner was intended to lead either to direct gain or (if “not working properly”) to indirect better position on another level (insuring better resourses on another level: e.g. criminal vs. economic) – with direct analogies to chess. And, as it is often the case, side problems were solved as if in passing but with small contribution to the bigger goal.

The “Insider” is more on a higher level – both social and economic. It makes the book less a detective science fiction and more a Machiavelli-style contemplation over the structure of state and power. And it shows creative problems of this level as well as – try to guess – creative solutions.

Recommendable reading.

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