In recent years, even in the English-language literature, the world trendsetter, there is a strong shortage of space science fiction “close range” – that is, close to real science and real technologies, without slipping into fantasy in techno-entourage.
Do we need such fiction? Doesn’t it sound like a production romance, boring? But this is its beauty: if the author is critical of his fantasy, we get sane boundary conditions, and clear rules of the game. A novel without pianos.
And if the author still really understands what he describes …
Who is the author?
A real astronaut. And not just some one there, one of hundreds. Such a rarity even among astronauts – he flew both shuttles and Soyuz, visited the ISS and Mir.
But the point, of course, is not in formal regalia.
Who is an astronaut, frankly? Just a pair of hands in orbit, remotely controlled from the MCC. The wearer of these hands is required to be healthy, mentally resilient and diligent. Everything else is optional – and therefore, to be completely honest, most often absent. It is not outstanding intellectuals who fly into space.
The more pleasant is the exception when the cosmonaut is still an interesting person who can
, and to
‘u get off.
First, he wrote a memoir about the life of astronauts (there is a Russian translation)
and now he is aiming at pure fiction (there is no translation yet, but they promise).
What is this book about?
Fantasy. Very scientific, straightforwardly firmly. But not about the future.
A slightly alternative history of the early 1970s: the last flights of the American lunar program, our beloved lunar tractor is still crawling, the Cold War is in full swing, a race of satellite observation systems, surprises on the Almazi … there is … but no, these will be spoilers.
From the title and annotation, you might think that this is a detective story. But it’s more of an adventure and action movie, with a pinch of thriller and spy romance.
Written in a typically American manner – in a good way! efficiently, with arrangement, in the spirit of McLean, Clancy, Crichton – attention to detail and motives, many characters, several storylines.
And the most curious of all are the following two aspects.
What’s on the rivets?
The technique in the book is real, it really existed.
In such cases, readers (and even if viewers!) Who are in the subject are very sensitive to the slightest inconsistencies. You can often hear complaints like: “Well, was it difficult to ask those who know? Yes, it would be better if the author did not invent anything at all, in reality it was much more interesting! “
And here is an ideal case: the author himself will give odds to any riveter, the materiel knows perfectly well and not from the documents, he was a participant himself, and where he was not, he can ask those who were and did – on a short foot with everyone. And he has already written a book about how it really was.
So how respectful was Chris Hadfield of rivets?
Surprisingly without fanaticism. He very much distorted some things to make it easier to narrate.
In the world of the book, for example, there is only one Soviet lunar tractor (in reality, two reached the moon, and a third was ready). But that’s okay. In this at least there is no strong logical stretch. But, probably, everything else is plausible? This lunar rover is operated in shifts by two crews, each with five people, changing every couple of hours? .. This storyline in the book is auxiliary, and therefore, instead of ten people, there will be only one operator, permanent. Not because the author is not in the know. But because he considered it superfluous. The operator’s name is like one of three real drivers.
So if you’re looking for tough riveting, senseless and merciless, this won’t be here. It was not even planned.
But if the author considers something necessary, then he is not lazy here – Russian phrases to create an atmosphere are generously scattered throughout the book. And almost no mistakes.
How about promoting progressive views?
Of course, we are not talking about a vulgar “agenda” when characters with fashionable social problems are thoughtlessly shoved into a novel. The charismatic Chris Hadfield, a real colonel, is above such suspicions. (Although the book contains a strong woman, a black man, and a disabled person, they are there for obvious purely artistic reasons.)
But in the case of astronauts, the agenda is not about that …
Science, space, international cooperation on the ISS – for many, disappointed with earthly problems, these are the last outlet. The last stronghold of undoubtedly good, light, humane. Man to man, for world peace, and let no one leave offended.
And here – a book about bloodshed in space. From an astronaut who has already been on our Mir! He hugged our cosmonauts, floating out of the hatch after docking! He flew on our “Soyuz”! Spun in our centrifuge in Korolev, and drank our vodka to health in Baikonur!
Isn’t it dirty, isn’t it mean, to flirt with the topic of murder in space?
So that this does not become a desecration of the belief in scientific progress, the author at the end is likely to steer into a beautiful morality that space is not a place for confrontation? That let’s live together? Let’s all disarm and hug tightly already? Is this the only way humanity can preserve itself and develop?
Or at least introduce a scene where astronauts and astronauts fraternize on the front lines, despite the colliding political leadership? Well, here’s how in the recent “For the sake of all mankind” the two chief designers fell in love and passed on secret information to each other?
There is a moment in the book where one can assume that the plot will turn down this path. Everything for this was available.
To Chris Hadfield’s credit, he did not trash this para-religious admiration for space exploration, as before the immaculate sprout of a bright future.
No. The space industry specialists in the book are cynical people who get along well with cruel special services. The political leaders of both countries are cunning, selfish careerists. And the astronauts and cosmonauts – alas and ah! – just completed their training in space professions military, brainwashed with propaganda.
The only place where the author caved in a little and began to play along with “his own”, likening them, and “strangers” by subordinating them … but by the way, this will be spoilers.
Is it worth reading?
The problem with the book is that there is no zest, no really interesting idea.
Formally, the plot revolves around a certain scientific riddle, and at the end there is a completely scientific solution … but the riddle itself, and everything around it, is very, very tense. If after reading you do not have an intellectual orgasm, do not blame me, I warned you.
The plot is just an excuse for the dashing adventures of cosmonauts and astronauts.
Still, being a pair of hands on remote control from the MCC is still romance. And sometimes you want to play the fool, to imagine all kinds of things, like a boy with soldiers – with bang-bang and oh-oh-oh and heroes who walk by themselves.
How cleverly twisted? (retelling, SPOILERS!)
Prologue: a tough guy, a combat pilot and an astronaut just about – loses an eye when a bird hits the fighter. And he can only be a flight director.
In the United States, meanwhile, because of the Vietnam War, the space budget is being cut, the number of launches under the lunar program is being cut. The upcoming launch will be the last one. In prelaunch training, one of the astronauts of the main crew dies, and a backup will fly instead.
And the Soviet lunar rover found something interesting, and the Russians are also launching the Almaz into orbit, with the latest satellite surveillance system that would threaten American secret facilities.
The Americans decide to kill two birds with one stone: the last lunar mission will land right next to the lunar rover in order to understand what he found there, and at the same time disable it. But first, while still in Earth orbit, the ship will secretly approach the Soviet Almaz in order to inspect it and also, if possible, disable it.
However, at the last moment, when the Americans have already begun to converge, it turns out that there are people on the Almaz now, and they have a spacewalk, and the Russians are ready to drive the Americans away with screwdrivers and wrenches. And the insidious Chelomey also installed a cannon on the ship. And shoots from it at the American ship, commanding from the MCC.
However, there are problems with the cannon, in the middle of the line it is carried away. “Almaz” is actually out of action, one American and one Russian were killed. And the second Russian caught on to an American ship. But the ship is already beginning to maneuver to reach the moon. The Americans let the Russian inside. It turns out to be an astronaut.
The American side decides that the incident is too much, and in order to calm the Russian side, it offers to leave everything in between, and for the rest of the world to present it as if they have a common lunar flight. The Russians will be able to claim that the Soviet people have also been to the moon. Moreover, without the help of a third crew member, the Americans will not be able to land on the moon (according to the plan, one remains in lunar orbit, two will land on the moon), and the ship is already on its way to the moon.
The Russians agree. But secretly from Houston, they contact the ship directly. It turns out that the astronaut who will land on the moon with the Russian cosmonaut is one of the thousands of Berlin orphans that American families adopted after the war. But he is not German – which the American special services do not know, but the Russians did. He is of Russian origin. And not a complete orphan. He has a brother in Berlin. Whom the Russians lure into the USSR, bring him to the Mission Control Center, and blackmail him into the astronaut.
The astronaut and the cosmonaut are landing on the moon. Houston is trying to outsmart the Russian MCC, the Americans still want to damage the rover – but in a way that is not obvious. To break not immediately, but after the departure of the mission. The cosmonaut understood this, but she could not inform the Russian MCC about it. And the Russian MCC, meanwhile, is blackmailing the astronaut, and demands from him that he help the cosmonaut to quietly take out from the moon that super-valuable that the lunar rover has found – a radioactive stone, which should not exist on the moon if our models are correct. And then transfer it through Russian diplomats to the USSR for further research.
As a result, the American manages to disable the lunar rover – the Russian cosmonaut, who secretly kept the pistol with her, could not stop him, no matter how she tried.
But on the other hand, when landing on the ground, the astronaut is forced to submit to the blackmail of the Russians, and slightly changes the place of splashdown. Miles per hundred.
Just enough for a motorboat from a surfaced Russian submarine to reach them – and not helicopters with American rescuers and a one-eyed flight director. Who already knows that the astronaut is, in fact, a killer. The death before the start was not accidental. This was the only chance for a stunt double to be on the moon when the program was cut.
A rather chaotic piece begins, where the killer astronaut does not want to give up the stone, the one-eyed flight director from Houston jamesbondite, Russian special forces torture the astronauts, the landing capsule drowns, there is shooting-massacre … underwater pursuit …
As a result, the astronaut swims away to her own, the killer astronaut dies, and the radioactive rock, which has nowhere to come from on the moon according to the available models, goes to the one-eyed flight director. That is, it goes to the Americans.
And it turns out not to be a moonstone at all, but a Martian meteorite.
But the Russians don’t know that. And their lunar rover broke down. So, maybe they will try to send their full-fledged mission to the moon – with people. And then the Americans will have a reason to resume their lunar flights.
Such is the happy ending, full of bright hopes for the development of astronautics and for saving budgets.