Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Spaceman of Bohemia: Truths Must Not Be Feared

Jakub Prochazka has never forgotten the Shoe Man who turned his grandparents out of their home. He appeared with an iron shoe that Jakub's father once used to torture him. Jakub's father had been an informer when Czechoslovakia was under Soviet rule, a ranking member of the Party, an expert torturer. Then came the collapse of the USSR and the trial, and orphan Jakub living with his grandparents.

When my father the hero was lost, my father the nation's villain came to light.

Jakub's dream of becoming a scientist is partly inspired by the desire to reestablish Prague as a center of scientific research.

But mostly Jakub desires to restore his family name, remove the curse as it were. When he is offered the chance to go into space and investigate Chopra, a strange purple dust cloud, he eagerly accepts. He will be a hero, bringing scientific glory back to the homeland.

Even if it means leaving his beloved wife behind, an unwilling Penelope left in limbo as her husband explores new worlds.

During his isolated journey through the solar system Jakub has a lot of time to miss his wife, think about the past, and discuss his life with a new friend--the giant black arachnid, the last of his kind, with an interest in earthlings. He teaches Jakub his people's tenants: The body must not be violated. Truths must not be feared.

When the Chopra cloud is reached, Jakub faces challenges that change his life. In the end, Jakub must decide on what kind of life awaits him.

Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar is an unusual book, at once funny and probing, emotionally wise, improbable, a blend of philosophy and fantasy. Exactly the kind of genre-bending read I enjoy dipping into a few times a year!

Kalfar is a Czech-American who came to the US at age 15, and says he learned English from The Cartoon Network. This is his first novel. He holds an MFA from New York University. I look forward to reading more from this young author.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Spaceman in Bohemia
Jaroslav Kalfar
Little, Brown and Company
Publication March 7, 2017
$26 hard cover

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