The Inse­cure Mind of Sergei Kraev

September 1, 2021

On April 17, 2120, thir­teen-year-old Leon Levy is home with his par­ents – Tech­nion com­put­er sci­ence pro­fes­sors new­ly famous for invent­ing a way to trans­mit dig­i­tized smells to the brain. Over lunch, Leon’s par­ents sud­den­ly col­lapse. Min­utes lat­er they are declared brain dead by their neur­al implants.

One hun­dred years lat­er, Leon, in his annu­al mes­sage to his extend­ed fam­i­ly, nar­rates a sto­ry he has kept secret his entire adult life. The sto­ry traces the lives of his par­ents and their bril­liant friend Sergei Kraev over a twen­ty year peri­od, start­ing with the trio meet­ing in grad­u­ate school and end­ing in catastrophe.

Set in a future where online social trust has been restored and where Israel, Korea, and Sin­ga­pore lead the world in cul­ture and tech­nol­o­gy, The Inse­cure Mind of Sergei Kraev is a clas­sic tale of love, ambi­tion, and self-inter­est build­ing to a shat­ter­ing finish.

Discussion Questions

Cour­tesy of Eric Silberstein

  1. The title of the nov­el is The Inse­cure Mind of Sergei Kraev. How is Sergei inse­cure and how are the oth­er char­ac­ters inse­cure? Look­ing back at your life, can you point to actions you wish you had tak­en but failed to due to your own insecurities?

  2. Why do peo­ple fol­low Sun­ny? What, if any­thing, do you find admirable in her path through life and her lead­er­ship style? Have you ever had a man­ag­er or worked with some­one like Sun­ny, and if so, what was the cul­ture like?

  3. Who deserves the most blame for the cat­a­stro­phe – Sergei, Sun­ny, Daniel, or Kari­ma? Who deserves the least? Could you make a rea­son­able argu­ment for each bear­ing either the most or the least responsibility?

  4. The nov­el is set in a future where two prob­lems we face today – con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries and com­put­er hack­ing – have been solved through tech­nol­o­gy and reg­u­la­to­ry over­sight. Do you think a group like the Board of Real­i­ty Over­seers” could or should ever exist? Do you see oth­er types of solu­tions emerg­ing to bring peo­ple togeth­er around a shared set of facts?

  5. You could argue that Lynette is the most prin­ci­pled char­ac­ter. Do you agree with that? Why does she have a hard time per­suad­ing peo­ple to her point of view? Do you see your­self in Lynette? Do you know any­one like Lynette?

  6. Many scenes are set in Korea, Israel, Sin­ga­pore, and Rus­sia. Have you been to any of those coun­tries? Do you rec­og­nize the sights, foods, and music described in the nov­el? What coun­tries have you trav­eled to? How might the US role in the world be changed by the turn of the next century?