P&P you know; YBT is set in post WW2 Russia, and is written in a style which is almost a pastiche of eastern European literature. Surprisingly the two books have quite a lot in common - both are very ironic in tone. The last SF book I read (Gardens of the Sun) was marked by good description of action. These two books are marked by ironic inaction. In fact, reading them has made me feel that irony is an expression of impotence. It is the covert response of a powerless person, designed to give him/her satisfaction, without alerting the strong-but-stupid aggressor:
'I haven't time to correct your maths.'
'Alas, I shall have to attempt to perform the calculations using my own meagre resources.'
(I just made that one up, but you get my drift)
I notice that the word 'droll' is used a lot in YBT (including the pun in my heading) but it's a Jane Austen kind of word. Drollery - the aggression of the impotent.
(ETA of course someone like Mr Bennett is not without power, but he is ironic: I think his irony shows that he has abdicated the responsibility of power.)