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I’ve been reading a lot of sci-fi recently, especially that written by writers who are neither American or Western European. I have found their slightly different take on the genre refreshing. In the west, the idea of travelling to distant worlds tends to tie in with the expanse of empire and world domination. Unsurprisingly, sci-fi from the east takes a slightly different viewpoint. of course, I could be forcing my own world view onto what I read, but I digress.

Jakub Prochazka is the first Czech astronaut and will be the first to encounter a band of purple dust hovering in space and behaving in ways the scientists on earth can’t explain. His eight month mission is to go and bring some samples back to earth for analysis. But his mission, as expected, does not go to plan.

As his mission progresses we see in flashback the story of his early childhood, his father’s collusion with the communist regime and eventual downfall, his life with his grandparents and the brief yet important relationship with his wife, Lenka.

It is her decision to leave him while he’s on his mission that seems to trigger his breakdown and we are left to decide whether Hanus, the spider-like alien who shares his ship, is real or a figment of his deteriorating mind.

To say too much more would be to spoil the book. Kalfar has created an interesting everyman, perhaps his father’s son, who seeks glory and meaning at the expense of those he cares for most. The book is almost contemporary which lends a layer of realism to the story. As other reviewers have said, this is literary science fiction and there is one passage I have highlighted on my copy which I will go back to and read time after time. I may have cried.

Is this an original tale? No, not really, but how many of those are there? I found myself reminded of other books and other films as I read on, but this is by no means a rip off of any other tale. Spaceman of Bohemia is a very enjoyable read and it has stayed with me since I finished it a couple of days ago. I expect that like Hanus, it may haunt me for a while yet. Excellent.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review