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Astronautilia (wikipedia.org)
239 points by tintinnabula 8 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 53 comments

I wonder what inspired OudeisPloiarkhos to create an account and upload the plot summary. It's their only contribution to Wikipedia, and it's so detailed I somewhat wonder if it's really proper for the site.

I'd guess some kind of academic assignment, though it's strange that they spent a few more months editing it after the original post.

My guess is a family member. The author seems to have been a colorful and accomplished man who, nevertheless, never attained fame. The Wikipedia page, as well as the one about the author himself, might be the work of an appreciative child or relative wanting to embellish the author's memory.

In Baltimore, there's something similar with the Amaranthine Museum, dedicated to the works of the eccentric and obscure artist Les Harris by his very dedicated daughter. It's something of a hidden treasure.[1]

[1] https://amaranthinemuseum.org/

The author is famous enough to have had a Wikipedia article since 2005.

His family is a possible source, the external links include a blog post saying that the author's son sent him a PDF copy.

Some weird stuff has cult-like following in some countries. Meaning, in Hungary, the Bud Spencer movies, Torrente and Ford Fairlane script punchlines are something almost every hungarian can recite by heart. I didn't occur this phenomenon anywhere else (yet).

Dinner For One [0] is a prominent example of a minor production in one language becoming unaccountably famous in another, to the point that certain lines became standard catchphrases in the adoptive culture — in this case, German.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dinner_for_One

Torrente, as in the Spanish movies?

Haven't observed


The Czech article is way shorter and has a bunch more different authors

I'd guess that some family member like son Jan Pinkava https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0684342/ or grandchildren contributed.

That’s one of the reasons I love HN, you find some posts like this that are completely out of this world!!! Being Greek and a sci-fi fan, I need to find this book :-)

The book is hard to find. This copy is sold for 9000 CZK (380 Euro): https://www.trhknih.cz/kniha/9uwthe8b

Or you can read it in the study room of the National library (Klementinum): https://aleph.nkp.cz/F/83GIEU45K19XBDL2VVT6CJBMH2LA526L5YQ9U...

It's not digitized?

You can find it on libgen :)

Hey nice, thanks for this. I didn’t think of searching on libgen ;-)

The surreal and dreamlike plot summary reminds me of this strange black and white indie sci fi movie / musical from 2001 (or 2005?) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_American_Astronaut

A throwback to vintage serials, shot as time and budget allowed over years. I pre ordered a copy of the DVD and waited a few years for it to arrive so I guess it was like a crowd funding thing long before that was easy to do.

"His mission begins with the unlikely delivery of a cat to a small outer-belt asteroid saloon where he meets his former dance partner, and renowned interplanetary fruit thief, the Blueberry Pirate. As payment for his delivery of the cat, Curtis receives a homemade cloning device already in the process of creating a creature most rare in this space quadrant – a Real Live Girl."

Oh, there's a copy hiding out on YouTube. I don't feel so bad posting this link because it's long out of print, I actually own a copy that I bought from the original artist, and it's just... pretty amazing.


After the opening credits, there's just 2 minutes of the protagonist shaving that I forgot about. But then he jumps out of his ship to bring the cat to the asteroid/saloon. I'll just link that moment because it's the moment I fell in love with this movie.


The American Astronaut is one of my all-time favorite movies, and I have never met anyone before, online nor real-life, who has even heard of that movie much less liked it.

The other cult classic that I would put in a double feature with this one is Six String Samurai. Another weird movie that absorbs and reflects a lot of genres and tropes (post apocalypse, martial arts, Vegas, Elvis) and that indie DIY aesthetic. Also very musical, with several segments that are basically music videos for the band that did the sound track. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Six-String_Samurai

Also on YouTube, apparently an official release: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oaPP00uNkNI

Yes! I love that movie, too.

Mutant: "If I were you, I would run!"

Buddy: "If you were me you'd be good-looking."

I would love to know how Czech culture influenced the novel.

My impression is that central Europe (which I apologize for lumping together) has a pretty long-running tradition of literary absurdism and surrealism. They're works that are more allegorical than "scientific" or "futuristic," even though they might be responding to (or "riffing on") actual early sci-fi of the techno-futurism variety.

As some examples, besides his R.U.R., Capek (Czech) also wrote The War with the Newts. It's an animal fairy tale that predates George Orwell's animal fairy tale by a decade.

Franz Kafka, obviously, was born in Prague and spent his life in central Europe.

Witold Gombrowicz's Ferdydurke (1937) is a Polish analogue from the same decade. Bruno Schulz's short story anthology The Street of Crocodiles is another one.

After World War 2, you have people like Stanislaw Lem (Polish) writing a lot of farcical science fiction and Jan Svankmajer (Czech) making a lot of grotesque, farcical stop-motion animation.

Adjacently, on the Russian side you have SF-flavored satire like Bulgakov's Heart of a Dog, and on the French side you have stuff like L'Écume des jours.

I'd say that Czech creators are uniquely creative in their absurdist flavors.

Sadly I hear about this for first time myself. The word hvězdoplavba is somehow know and used, mostly in poetic context. I don't think it had any particular affect on the society tho. I'll go check some second hand bookstores for this gem.

Edit: after reading bit more about this, the author was kind of inspired by another Czech author Karel Čapek, whose works did and keeps influencing people (also coined the word Robot for "mechanical worker" (that's enough bragging for today)

First time hearing about this book.

sort-of related (scifi, poetry) is the book Tau Zero[1] and its similarities with the Swedish epic poem Aniara[2]



I can't help but wonder if this is a parody article inserted into Wikipedia by some brilliant vandal.

As science fiction and fantasy have evolved, they have converged.

We can see plenty of fantasy in works of science fiction in the conventional _forms_ of science fiction -- short stories, novels, TV shows, movies, video games.

It will be interesting to see science fiction in the conventional _forms_ of fantasy -- epics, ballads, poetry, fairy tales, onomastics, runic and incantatory forms of language....

(As an aside, I've heard rumors of published contemporary sci-fi written in classical Sanskrit verse but I can't find any -- is this really a thing?)

> It will be interesting to see science fiction in the conventional _forms_ of fantasy

I think this happened a fair amount in the forms of religious texts / mythology and mysticism in the early/mid 20th century, no?

You mean like the cult and occult stuff? True, I guess there were some elements. Heaven's Gate, Scientology, and others appear to have adopted a religious outlook on science fiction ideas. I'm not sure that they really adopted conventional forms of fantasy in their literature.

I always wonder what books there are out there, that are very interesting, with no English translation. Must be a lot of them.

Arabic and chinese each have literary traditions approximately as broad and deep as the western canon. I'm sure there are plenty of others. In all likelihood most excellent and interesting works are not available in english.

Same with the Hindu mythology. As rich or even richer in terms of metaphors and knowledge that can transfer over to modern life.

I have the same thoughts about content on the web

The Russian web is surprisingly helpful for cyber security or undocumented Windows APIs. They also seem to have a better ecosystem of small Windows utilities to do obscure system tasks (like look up your connected USB devices, or check your memory for defects).

also a lot of interesting electronics content in russian

Seems like AI translation is will soon be good enough to explore this. Unfortunately, I think bigger barrier is culture than language and maybe we're not missing out that much in practical terms then.

Is there any work being done currently for a full English translation?

Tell me about a complicated sheep, o Muse,

of how it bleated as it saw all of our world

and made it real just being there, a holy ewe

Maybe we'll have an Emily Wilson translation of the Astronautilia one day, I'd read that for sure!

I am too stupid to even understand the wikipedia summary of this book.

What about a sheep self-referentially observing itself and thus justifying the existence of an entire cosmos doesn’t make perfect intuitive sense to you?

Fairly straightforward once realised the sheep is a hardy mountain sheep and not a modern "bred to produce wool" sheep that's frankly dumber than a string bag to carry water.

But it's unclear exactly where the lesbians fit in here, so I guess I'll have to learn Czech and read the full work.

This is the most insane thing I've read about this year.

For the most insane thing you've listened to this year, try Mouth Dreams

Neil Cicierega has a number of "Mouth..." albums, each more deranged than the last. Mouth Silence, Mouth Sounds, Mouth Moods, Mouth Dreams. The opening to Mouth Dreams haunts my nightmares.

Highly recommended.

SoundCloud is my preferred source: https://soundcloud.com/neilcic. There are also some one-off tracks that don't show up on the "Mouth..." albums, like "Bustin" and "Dear Dinosaur".

Oh wow I had no idea this was the same person from Lemon Demon

Also Potter Puppet Pals, and Brodyquest, and The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny (technically that was as Lemon Demon)

Thank you

It's been...

It’s been 23 days.

Nah, OP is Chinese and it's been about 24 hours

or Korean or Vietnamese

It's been strange these last 23 days.

"but a violent revolution breaks out amongst the women; one approaches the Queen and, pulling out a penis, rapes her. The other rebel women follow suit." (quoting from wikipedia summary)

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