The ambitious, time-traveling scenario of Russian writer Pelevin's third novel finds the aptly named poet Pyotr Void tumbling between two distinct nightmares. In the first he is serving as commissar to the legendary Bolshevik commander, Chapaev, during the 1919 Russian Civil War. Pyotr pines for Chapaev's machine gunner, Anna, entertains officers who come to pinch cocaine (acquired by an accident of fate) on the pretext of discussing the nature of the intelligentsia, and feels horribly disjointed all the while. Then, Pyotr wakes up in a present-day mental hospital in Moscow distinctly labeled "schizophrenic." He observes his doctors and roommates (including an effeminate man who has assumed the identity of "Maria") until he almost feels comfortable, only to be pumped full of sedatives and returned to the year 1919.