Omon Ra, by the gifted Russian writer Victor Pelevin, is a pointed, dead-on-satire of the now-defunct Soviet space program, and a moving account of a cosmonaut's coming-of-age. The story is told in the beguiling voice of its young protagonist, Omon Ra, whose odd name combines a term for the Soviet special forces with the name of the sun god in Egyptian mythology. Ever since he was a boy, Omon has dreamed of flying in space. He enrolls in a training program for cosmonauts, only to learn that his first assignment will also be his last. For although the Soviet space program claims to carry out its missions with unmanned rockets, its scientists haven't yet mastered the necessary technology; so Omon is to drive a supposedly unmanned landing vehicle across the moon's surface, put in place a device that will emit the words of Lenin into space, and then remain on the moon, abandoned, until he dies. The voyage that results combines the absurdity of Soviet protocol with the wonder and pathos of space flight. As told in Pelevin's artful prose, the story of Omon's ill-fated trip to the moon has the nimbleness and buoyancy of the best contemporary Western fiction as well as the sting of great Russian satire.
Translated by: Andrew Bromfield
Format/pages: paperback / 154 pages
Publisher: New Directions