It is the story of a happy Captain of a sinking ship. It is the story of Chernobyl, afterwards. It is the story of provisional investigators, provisional policemen, provisional scientists who are provisionally accepted as the mad inhabitants of a zone officially uninhabited, in which no crime officially occurs. The mood is of a cocktail party on an asteroid hurtling toward earth. There we find Arkady, sullen, stubborn, singular, biting at radioactive pickles (“Crisp, tasty, and with a touch of strontium”) and asking questions.