Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar

My name is Jakub Prochazka. This is a common name. My parents wanted a simple life for me, a life of good comrade-ship with my country and my neighbors, a life of service to a world united in socialism.

– Opening

In the not-too-distant future, a distant comet enters the solar system bringing with it some unidentified space dust along its wake.

Settling between Earth and Venus, the purple cloud transforms the night sky, spreading fear and confusion among the population. What is it? Is it dangerous? Will it cause us harm? Manless space probes have been unsuccessful in their quests to collect samples, and no country wants to be the first to send a manned ship towards their unknown fate.

That is, until the Czech announce their intentions to send one of their experts. Jakub Prochazka has been fascinated with the idea of space since he was a young boy, and has spent years studying its dust and particles. The honour of the mission is unexpected, but one he accepts without hesitation.

On his 4 month solo trip across towards the static cloud, Jakub has plently of time to reflect upon his mission, and his life. Despite the training and assessments, Jakub questions whether or not he is loosing his sanity, due in large part to the large, spider-like hallucination creepy on the edge of his peripheral vision.

The hallucination gets worse until Jakub find himself regularly conversing with the creature, who he names Hanus. Remembering what his psychiatrist said about hallucinations being visual and auditory only, Jakub is faced with a reality check when he reaches out and finds the creature to be physically present under his touch.

Has Jakub finally answered the question of whether we are alone in the universe? Or is he simply experiencing the rapid deterioration of his sanity through the stress and anxiety of the lonely mission with a huge possibility of ending in his death?

This question is never really answered; it is left to the audience to choose whether or not to believe Jakub’s tale.

From his first encounter with Hanus, things spiral quickly out of control for Jakub. Once just a man on earth with a simple life, a wife and a job, Jakub’s story is now known to every human in every country; the hero spaceman tasked with uncovering Earth’s fate.

But faced with loosing his mind, his wife and his life, Jakub ponders the significance of his upbringing, his parents, his life and how he got here. Hanus is fascinated by his thinking, studying him and sharing things about his own existence. The unlikely duo become companions; two lone survivors on the edge of the unknown.

Spaceman of Bohemia is a fascinating book, with a truly unique story. I loved reading a book told from a difference perspective – a country and culture that I was ignorant to before. The author is talented, no doubt, and poured his soul and passion into Spaceman of Bohemia, and the result is something to be treasured.

There were some parts which seemed more sluggish than others, and I sometimes found myself racing through pages of nothingness instead of drinking in each and every word. But I can forgive that, because some of the chapters and paragraphs are stunning in their beauty and power.

4 Stars (4 / 5)

It is me. The spaceman.

– End

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