How long shall we hold the saber in our hand? — As long as there is an enemy. Star Corsair by Oles Berdnyk, book review

Star Corsair is a mixture of science fiction, space adventure and philosophy in one bottle.  It is an explosive mix indeed. The plot is developing spirally — a constant transfer through space and time. The whole story comes together only in the last pages, leaving behind a train of reminiscences about fight and freedom.
Oles Berdnyk, Star Corsair — Terra Incognita, 2019 — 367 p.

Outer space is a philosophical category for the author. He reveals its secrets metaphysically. Oles Berdnyk addresses to the concept of the universal noosphere, where the intellectual and sensual possessions of the ages are concentrated.

The main idea of ​​the novel is inner freedom, without which outer freedom is impossible.

“Our spirit is walled up in many prisons. Cosmic prison, planetary, social, racial, religious, family, sensual, mental… the prison of instincts handed down to us genetically, the prison of the body, built up by billions of years of nature’s efforts. Try to go through many of those doors. And where are the keys to get?” one of the characters says.

The author calls us to fight: “Such a life is worse than death. A shock is needed. Let the desire for creativity awaken in the hearts of those in whom it is just sleeping.” And he adds that our first necessity is to preserve individuality. Since “an unconscious fighter is not a fighter. A passive fighter is not a fighter. He is a victim, he is prey.” It is not surprising that Soviet ideologues saw the novel as an allegory of totalitarian reality, which is why the book was withdrawn from libraries.

The novel is distinctly Ukrainian-centric. Ukrainian cosmonauts ascend Hoverla to meet and say goodbye to mother Ukraine, to gain strength and faith from her. Star Corsair has become a cult work for Ukrainians all over the world. Instead, Soviet literary critics accused the writer of “space nationalism.” In 1973, at the March Plenum of the board of the of Writers’ Union, Berdnyk was accused of “khokhol-mania in space.”  (“Khokhol” is a contemptuous name for a Ukrainian). He was expelled from the Writers’ Union of Ukraine.

Some ideas in the novel may seem naive today, the characters are not fully revealed, but this does not diminish the importance of this piece of Ukrainian literature. The novel is worth reading. It is unusual and original. Star Corsair is more than fiction.