First Cosmic Velocity

First Cosmic Velocity

A stunningly imaginative novel about the Cold War, the Russian space program, and the amazing fraud that pulled the wool over the eyes of the world.It's 1964 in the USSR, and unbeknownst even to Premier Khrushchev himself, the Soviet space program is a sham. Well, half a sham. While the program has successfully launched five capsules into space, the Chief Designer and h...

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Title:First Cosmic Velocity
Author:Zach Powers
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First Cosmic Velocity Reviews

  • Jonathan

    A lonely, despairing Soviet delirium.

    5/5

  • Alex Helm

    This was a very unique and intriguing read

  • Rebecca

    I received a free copy of this e-book from the publisher (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

    The idea of the "Phantom Cosmonauts" and the secret flight of Vladimir Ilyushin has always intrigued me. The author puts his own spin on these rumors in First Cosmic Velocity. In this novel, the Soviet Union starts launching cosmonauts before they have the capability to bring them home safely (just like they did with Laika). To keep the rest of the world from knowing that they ar

    I received a free copy of this e-book from the publisher (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

    The idea of the "Phantom Cosmonauts" and the secret flight of Vladimir Ilyushin has always intrigued me. The author puts his own spin on these rumors in First Cosmic Velocity. In this novel, the Soviet Union starts launching cosmonauts before they have the capability to bring them home safely (just like they did with Laika). To keep the rest of the world from knowing that they are deliberately killing cosmonauts, they use twins: one stays on earth for the publicity, while one flies the fatal mission. Each of the characters you meet here seems to be working under their own special type of delusion. I really enjoyed getting into the heads of the various players, both big and small.

    In the novel you get a good feel for just how haphazard the Soviet space program was, at times. The Soviets were believed to be way ahead of the US in the early days of the space race, but that was essentially an illusion. Most of the "firsts" the Soviets achieved were essentially pure dumb luck. The author does a good job of giving you a sense of that in this novel.

    I did have several questions about how exactly this whole grand conspiracy worked, but I'm okay with not all of them being answered.

    Space nerds should not miss this title, and general readers will definitely find it enjoyable.

  • Mike

    It’s the height of the Space Race and in the Soviet Union they’re hiding a secret. The cosmonauts who are returning to earth as heroes aren’t the same people who were sent into outer space.

    Russian Literature meets Capricorn One and, you know what, it works.

  • Rochelle Hickey

    by Zach Powers was an unexpected delight. I’m not sure what I at first expected delving into the 1960’s space race focusing on the Russian launches. The book description made it feel like a quirky twisted science fiction adventure but really it’s a slow burning story about moral dilemma. What are the lengths one would go to succeed? To survive? To be a Soviet hero?

    I love how very few characters through the whole book have an identity for themselves. Names are t

    by Zach Powers was an unexpected delight. I’m not sure what I at first expected delving into the 1960’s space race focusing on the Russian launches. The book description made it feel like a quirky twisted science fiction adventure but really it’s a slow burning story about moral dilemma. What are the lengths one would go to succeed? To survive? To be a Soviet hero?

    I love how very few characters through the whole book have an identity for themselves. Names are titles, names are given, names are shared, names are confused, but everyone is named in the part they play. Twins are no longer two but one, even in flashbacks, as if through training and brainwashing, their names are erased allowing them to become the single hero cosmonaut that the public perceives. The farce becomes reality as the world craves the adventure of space exploration.

    I would highly recommend this uniquely fictional perspective about the Soviet space program. I could not put it down.

    Thank you to

    for giving me an advanced readers copy for my honest and unbiased opinion.

  • MCZ Reads

    3.5 stars

    Thank you to Goodreads for this ARC!

    First Cosmic Velocity is a gorgeous physical book that honors the well-crafted writing inside, but I'm not sure the story measures up quite as well. There's plenty of contemplation and discussion and exploration, but for all that pondering, it seems like there are no solid conclusions. That's not always a bad thing, as long as the reader can take something away from the story. But that combined with characters who seemed to ser

    3.5 stars

    Thank you to Goodreads for this ARC!

    First Cosmic Velocity is a gorgeous physical book that honors the well-crafted writing inside, but I'm not sure the story measures up quite as well. There's plenty of contemplation and discussion and exploration, but for all that pondering, it seems like there are no solid conclusions. That's not always a bad thing, as long as the reader can take something away from the story. But that combined with characters who seemed to serve as symbols and ideas more than fleshed out characters made the overall experience feel lacking.

    I did enjoy reading this novel, though. The meditative reflection on a country in turmoil and the speculative issues raised by the story pulled me along happily until the conclusion. I'd recommend this for fans of light sci-fi and anyone who enjoys contemporary takes on Russian culture.

  • Kate Grace

    Zach Powers’ First Cosmic Velocity is an intriguing first novel that reads like postmodern allegory.

    The book is thoughtful and philosophical, but never entirely ‘human’. In other words, readers live with big concepts - concepts like truth, sacrifice, and discovery - rather than with realistic characters.

    None of the characters, from the Chief Designer to Nadya to Ignatius, can escape their symbolic function in the world of the text.

    First Cosmic Velocity is not emotionally satisfying

    Zach Powers’ First Cosmic Velocity is an intriguing first novel that reads like postmodern allegory.

    The book is thoughtful and philosophical, but never entirely ‘human’. In other words, readers live with big concepts - concepts like truth, sacrifice, and discovery - rather than with realistic characters.

    None of the characters, from the Chief Designer to Nadya to Ignatius, can escape their symbolic function in the world of the text.

    First Cosmic Velocity is not emotionally satisfying, but it is thought-provoking. The book, with its reimagining of the Soviet space program, is a interesting read in light of current events (e.g. ‘fake news’, SpaceX).

    Thank you to Putnam and Goodreads Giveaways for my advance reading copy!

  • Michael Burnam-Fink

    Summer 2019 should be a great time to release a novel about the Soviet space program. After all, you have the Apollo anniversary and

    to spark interest. Unfortunately,

    is not that great of a novel. At best, it might appeal to the most basic of slavaboos.

    takes a kind of magic realism approach to the topic. The Soviet space program of 1964 is an elaborate sham. Every caclass="gr-hostedUserImg">First

    Summer 2019 should be a great time to release a novel about the Soviet space program. After all, you have the Apollo anniversary and

    to spark interest. Unfortunately,

    is not that great of a novel. At best, it might appeal to the most basic of slavaboos.

    takes a kind of magic realism approach to the topic. The Soviet space program of 1964 is an elaborate sham. Every capsule has burnt up on reentry. To preserve the illusion, cosmonauts are twins, one sent to space to die and one left alive to maintain the illusion. The story follows one of this twinned cosmonauts, Leonid in 1964, dealing with an upcoming launch, Leonid in 1950 as a child in a famine stricken Ukrainian village, and the Chief Designer in 1964, managing the Potemkim rocket program. The novel has all the tropes of the post-Iowa Writer's Workshop literary novel, a tendency to string words together in a pleasing way that is utterly devoid of

    with characters who suffer from middle-class ennui and post-ironic detachment.

    And it's a shame, because the subject of space, totalitarian societies, and sacrifice is so rife for exploration. Adam Johnson's

    has the same 'American white guy writing about totalitarian communism' problem, but Johnson weaves a thrilling fantasy. J.G. Ballard made the alienation of space his own subject in the "The Dead Astronaut" and "Memories of the Space Age". And Victor Pelevin wrote

    in his masterful

    , which is an authentic and utterly compelling modern classic of Russian literature!

    Read

    instead.

  • Annarella

    it's a well written book but unfortunately I didn't feel involved and the book fell flat.

    Not my cup of tea.

    Many thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss for this ARC, all opinions are mine.

  • Bonnie_blu

    I was looking forward to reading this book because of the intriguing premise. However, I was quickly disappointed. From the very beginning, the book was confusing. If I hadn't read the jacket blurb, I wouldn't have had any idea as to what was going on. Unfortunately, that was not my only issue with the story. I found the use of titles instead of names to be grating, the characters uninteresting, the "voice" to be the same for all of the characters, and the plot to be exceedingly slow.

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