The Helmet of Horror

The Myth of Theseus and the Minotaur

Publisher: Vintage Canada
A cyber-age retelling of the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur from one of Russia’s most exciting young writers.
Labyrinth (noun): An intricate structure of intercommunicating passages, through which it is difficult to find one’s way without a clue; a maze.

They have never met; they have been assigned strange pseudonyms; they inhabit identical rooms which open out onto very different landscapes; and they have entered into a dialogue which they cannot escape – a discourse defined and destroyed by the Helmet of Horror. Its wearer is the dominant force they call Asterisk, a force for good and ill in which the Minotaur is forever present and Theseus is the great unknown.

Victor Pelevin has created a mesmerising world where the surreal and the hyperreal collide. The Helmet of Horror is structured according to the internet exchanges of the twenty-first century, yet instilled with the figures and narratives of classical mythology. It is a labyrinthine examination of epistemological uncertainty that radically reinvents the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur for an age where information is abundant but knowledge seems ultimately unattainable.

From the Hardcover edition.



‘No one realised that the book and the labyrinth were one and the same . . .’
-Borges, The Garden of Forking Paths

According to one definition, a myth is a traditional story, usually explaining some natural or social phenomenon. According to another, it is a widely...
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“As often with Pelevin, this book is a mixture of the witty, the brilliant and the barking mad.”
The Daily Telegraph (UK)

“[I]magine Douglas Coupland successfully channeling Samuel Beckett and Philip K. Dick while trading set-pieces with Kurt Vonnegut and Nikolai Gogol. . . . [Victor] Pelevin is the foremost fiction writer to have emerged in Russia since the collapse of communism and the rise of post-Soviet consumer capitalism.”
The Globe and Mail

“A brilliant, post-modern, eclectic vision of myth, mind and meaning. And of the human dilemma and its horns, ancient and modern.”
The Times (London)

“At times The Helmet of Horror is as much of a maze as the ones Pelevin’s characters are trapped in, a hall of mirrors that, once entered, is hard to escape from.”
Sunday Herald (UK)