Jaroslav Kalfar: Spacemen of Bohemia

The latest addition to my website is Jaroslav Kalfar‘s Spacemen of Bohemia. Kalfar was born in Prague but moved to the US when he was fifteen and wrote this novel in English. It is about Jakub Procházka, the first Czech astronaut (in 2018), who is sent into space to investigate a mysterious purple cloud between Earth and Venus. The novel certainly has science fiction elements – Jakub even meets an extraterrestrial who may or may not be a hallucination – but is also about a lot more, including his relationship with his wife, dealing with isolation (the journey to the cloud lasts four months), political corruption and abuse of power (Jakub’s father was a secret policeman under the Communist regime), the pretensions of small nations and, of course, as in any good Czech novel, outwitting the Russians. It is both funny and serious and a thoroughly first-class first novel, even if you do not generally take to science fiction.

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