Shop now Shop now Shop now  Up to 50% Off Fashion  Shop all Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Listen with Prime Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars13
4.5 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
Format: Paperback|Change
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

Victor Pelevin's "Omon Ra", written in 1994, tracks the career path of Omon Krivomazov from his childhood as a stargazing child who wants nothing more than to fly in space, through his acceptance into the Soviet space program, his training as a cosmonaut where he is selected to be a standard-bearer of Soviet science and exploration. Omon Ra (as he comes to be called) is chosen to be the first Cosmonaut to be sent to the moon. But the devil is in the details and Omon quickly finds that life and his travel plans are not quite what he may have expected when he joined the space program.

A lot of the pleasure from Omon Ra was from the twists and turns of the plot and the various revelations along the way and it would do harm to reveal more than the bare bones of Omon Ra's journey to the moon. Suffice it to say - the bare outline mentioned about does no justice to a book that is brilliantly subversive, funny, and thoughtful.

I think the most memorable aspect of Omon Ra for me is Pelevin's style. I know that many people, when they think of Russian and Soviet literature think of dark foreboding where despair is the norm and where ones existence is set out in great detail in dense tortured prose whose many threads require all one's concentration to untangle. Pelevin is having none of that and in fact his writing style is fluid, easy to follow and most of all, humorous. To that extent he is more similar to Vladimir Voinovich than to any other Russian/Soviet writer I can think off.

Pelevin's satire and his prose style is what make him, like Voinovich, so subversive. His story does not bang the reader over the head with a hammer (or sickle) to rail against the empty promises and fake myth-building upon which his nation is built. No need for that when making the reader laugh at the lunacy that passes for science and governance. Pelevin is more Swift or Twain than Zola or Dos Passos.

Some may see this book as a parable limited in its application to the USSR. There's certainly something to be said for that idea. The book is, after all, written by a Russian about life in the USSR. I think people reading Omon Ra will come away chuckling at the absurdities of life in a now-extinct regime. However, I think they may also come away thinking that behind the myths any nation creates for itself there may lie an Oz-like man or group screaming "pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." More often than not - where there is smoke there is also mirrors.

Omon Ra was a pleasure to read. Highly recommended. L. Fleisig
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 21 February 2003
This was a novel I encountered in my search for fiction and sci-fi from russia and eastern europe, to vary my usual diet of british and american offerings in the same genre. I'm glad that I did.
Omon Ra is entertainment from start to finish, following the main character Omon from early childhood right through to his adventure into the unknown. It's hard to say much about this without revealing huge pieces of the plot (and I just hate reviews which do that), but there's a lot more packed in these pages than just the basic story premise.
It's one of those books that can be read on more than one level. It explores friendship, patriotism, the influence of authority and the burning desire to explore the unknown (and the known). It's bleak and depressing at times, and at others it's emotional and very touching.
This was the first of Pelevin's novels that I've read, and it's a certainty to say that it will not be the last.
0Comment|15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 16 September 2005
Victor Pelevin is a stunning writer. His satires of Soviet and post-Soviet Russia are so witty, so surreal, and so exact. This is his best perhaps: a funny and tragic take on the Russian space programme, following a group of Soviet youths preparing for a moon landing. His fascination with drugs and psychosis and the plain wierd might bring to mind Will Self, but unlike that mediocre writer, Pelevin has a genuine sense of compassion. Perhaps his greatest talent is that, no matter how far-fetched and extreme he gets, he never loses touch with the humanity of his characters. He makes us care about them. He can also be a heartbreaking writer, and never more so than in this book. Read it!
0Comment|8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 May 2007
This book is the most convincing and because of this, perhaps the scariest exploration of ideology I have ever read. It draws you into its surreal world which is also a metaphor (or perhaps not? maybe a realistic rendering?) of a world drenched in ideology. In that sense, it's very post-Soviet. It starts out light-hearted and ends as a nightmare, with completely shocking (to me) plot twists and heartbreaking moments along the way. About the hopelessness of achieving anything but of keeping going, nevertheless, and of values that transcend death. I read this last year and it still haunts me.
0Comment|4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 12 December 2010
The story is a supposedly fictional account of a young cosmonaut whose sworn oath that he would if necessary die for his country unfortunately must be fulfilled far sooner than he ever imagined it would when he is forced to train as a "suicide cosmonaut" in the Soviet space program. It transpires that, despite the fact that the USA has already visited the moon, the Soviet Union, at that time renowned for its use of automation, is in reality totally incapable of the simplest automation tasks and have instead been using the "suicide cosmonauts" to carry out the supposed automated tasks at the expense of their lives. For instance, in Soviet rockets, each separate stage needs to be fired by one poor cosmonaut who obviously dies in the process. Omon Ra (the main character) is to become the driver of a lunokhod (actually, cyclist...) vehicle when on the moon; his task is to pedal the vehicle far enough to deploy a radio beacon, then he must shoot himself. When the time comes he refuses to do so, with surprising consequences.

There is also a suggestion that the story, far from being completely fictional, is an allegorical account of the life and subsequent death of one Pavel Ivanovich Belyayev, a supposedly unknown Soviet cosmonaut who supposedly died of peritonitis in 1970. The suggestion was apparently confirmed by the author in conversation with another author. The story of Belyayev is a strange one; whilst he was apparently originally supposed to fly Vostok 8 into the Van Allen radiation belts, this was cancelled. Strangely, though, despite the fact that he apparently did nothing special, Pavel Ivanovich Belyayev was awarded Hero of the Soviet Union (March 23, 1965), the Order of Lenin, Order of the Red Star, numerous medals and foreign orders. He also bore the title of the Hero of Socialist Labor of Bulgaria, Hero of Vietnam, and Hero of Mongolia (quoted from Wikipedia).

And, contrary to general custom, cosmonaut Belyayev was not cremated, but buried with full honours in Moscow's most exclusive cemetery. Of all the graves of ALL the cosmonauts, his stands out as by far the most spectacular, with a magnificent statue, evocative of a man who did something truly special for his country in a way no-one else has.

So, this Pelevin "fiction" is, allegedly, a coded recounting of Belyayev's own journey as the only man in the history of the Soviet space program who truly went beyond the Van Allen belts and the protection of the earth's magnetosphere. This mission was, allegedly, a joint US-Soviet attempt to land one man (an American) on the moon in a one-way trip, with the Russian as the "taxi-driver" who actually returned to earth and later died from radiation sickness. The name of the alleged American astronaut is, of course, unknown. This version necessarily suggests the Apollo missions were all faked and the named astronauts never left low earth orbit. There is a strange twist also in the fact that the English version does not mention that the original Russian version contained a verse in English:

We're spaceward bound tomorrow
But there's no grief or sorrow
Alone in the sky
The Moon's riding high
You ripe ears of Barley, goodbye.

This also was confirmed by the author. I recite this information merely to lend a touch more interest to Pelevin's story. The circumstances of that other story can be researched independently by anyone interested. Pelevin's story in and of itself is very easy to read but hauntingly powerful.
0Comment|3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 21 April 2011
I am fan of all his books, he is extremely popular writer in Russia. KGB, landing to the Moon, Soviet Union and Unated States astronauts - great humor and very funny reading!
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 17 June 2008
Omon Ra is everyone who dreams to escape from tedium. When life is bleak and love runs on empty then a man or woman may as well dream of the moon. The boy Omon pined to be a cosmonaut and as these things are was not careful enough for what he wished for. When a young man he gained admittance into the elite Red Banner Flying School. It was here that began the state process of indoctrination and intimidation that eventually led to his blast off into the lunar skies. This story set in Soviet Russia is much more than just Russia's race to parity with the West (they put a man on the moon so can we). It's also about lunacy that is blind obedience to authority which is universal. Omon is set to die in his dodgy soviet spacecraft. Compliant youth agrees to give up this life so that leaders and rulers i.e. much older men who plan to live the full three score ten years can bask in the reflected glory of "our brave young men". If only the cause was truly noble.

Pelevin does a good job of keeping the reader in the story unlike say in his other book Buddha's Little Finger. I can't say this is great writing but it is a very good think. There's a chilling pretty little paragraph where Omon opines that everyone knows fully well what's going on beneath their feet in the KGB building next door to the Children's World store where they are queueing to buy toys. Insights like this are treasure pods of information of soviet nirvana. Is it any different from the fact that we also know that slave labourers make many of our purchases or that our governments participate in activities that should not get any human into the kingdom of heaven yet we play along with feigned nonchalance. Long live the insidious power of ideology.
11 comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 20 April 2016
This is a genius book! excellent translation, very funny and thought provoking
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 28 October 2014
Nice condition, received quickly, enjoyed it
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 26 December 2014
Soviet era-satire. Occasionally amusing.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Customers also viewed these items

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.