Once upon a time in Russia there really lived a happy young generation, which smiled at the summer, the sea, and the sun--and chose "Pepsi-Cola".

Now, it is already difficult to determine how this could have happened. Probably, there was more to it than the remarkable taste of this beverage. And more to it than the caffeine, which forces kiddies to constantly demand a new dose, from childhood reliably guiding them into the cocaine current. And even more to it than the banal bribe--we'd like to believe that the Party bureaucrat that the contract depended on just fell in love with this dark, bubbly fluid, with all the pores of his soul, so disillusioned in communism.

Most likely, the reason was that the ideologues of the USSR thought that there was only one truth. So in reality, the Generation 'P' had no choice in the matter, and the children of the Soviet Seventies chose Pepsi the same way their parents chose Brezhnev.

Generation P, published as Generation 'П', is a novel by Russian author Victor Pelevin. It deals with advertising, mainly, and at the same time creates a surprisingly accurate depiction of post-communist Russia

The world of Generation P is a strange one to people who haven't lived it. At the time it was being finished, Russia had been barely out of the stage of what was essentially primitive accumulation. The period 1991 (possibly earlier)-1998 consisted of younger members of the former Soviet bureaucracy (high officials in the Komsomol, for instance) privatizing all they could get their hands on. This later became more evenly distributed, as vast criminal organizations arose (the Russian Mafia one sees in Chuck Norris movies are real) and grabbed pieces of the pie for themselves. This era produced the New Russian, a popular comic character and folk antihero. This period marked the formation of Russian business, to various degrees of legitimacy.

The main character's name is Vavilen Tatarsky, and he is an advertising designer. The book is inundated with his creations, all of which are hilarious because they parody Western commercials in a way that comments on the Russian experience.

You always get back to the basics.

As always in Pelevin's work, a large amount of mysticism is involved, although it's rather tongue-in-cheek. Tatarsky's first name, 'Vavilen', was supposed to be "Vassily Aksenov" and "Vladimir Ilyich Lenin" when his father named him. Of course, that's not what it means--it slowly morphs into "Babylon", and that's the mystical essence of the book, complete with ziggurats, lotteries, and creation myths. The author somehow combines all this mishmash into a compelling and hysterical story.

One of this book's interesting suggestions is that all politicians are actually 3-d models, generated on SGI machines (what else?). The Americans, for example, have the most powerful technology, but their dialogue sucks. Amusingly, the protagonist later on decides to replace the SGI logo with a stylized breast (get it? Silicon Graphics?), and succeeds.

This book has been published in English as Homo Zapiens. Get a copy.