Updated : Nov 08, 2019 in Literature

The Dead Astronaut

The story began with a description of an abandoned site of Cape Kennedy. The picture of a desertified old space complex, filled with abandoned cars and debris of tires, created a feeling loneliness. The conversation of the main character and Judith about money added some suspense to the situation. Judith was worried that 5,000 dollars may not be enough for hunters who occupied the Cape Kennedy and that she was inappropriately dressed. It was not clear what their intentions were and it was hard to predict what the upcoming events would be like. However, after their discussion about Valentina Prokrovna, it became clear that they wanted to find the capsule of a dead astronaut Robert Hamilton who died 20 years ago.

The author explained the story of the main character and Judith, and their relationships with Robert Hamilton. I liked how he explained Judith’s obsession with finding the capsule. Robert Hamilton died because of the collision with a meteorite which damaged his oxygen system. Cape Kennedy, formerly being a space complex, was now used as a graveyard for satellites. I liked how the author talked about the role of relic hunters in this entire situation. Fragments of dead astronauts’ bodies for them were really something like saints’ bones for the medieval times. They were the relics of the space age. It was a little bit funny that when one of the capsules crashed in the Kalahari Desert local tribesmen thought that the dead astronauts were actually dead gods and cut off their hands and disappeared in bushes. This phrase reflects the fact that human civilization is currently very heterogeneous it terms of technological development.

Soon, it became clear what Judith and her companion were doing on Cape Kennedy. They were arranging a meeting with one of the hunters – Sam Quinton – who could provide them with remains of Robert Hamilton. I enjoyed reading the author’s descriptions of the scenery of that place and of the appearance of the hunter. When he described his face, eyes, and behavior, I could literally feel what life this man had in this lonely and void place. It was very interesting to read about the scene where two main characters, together with their hunter companion, walked into a basin where hunters stored and managed their collection of space relics. It felt like some post-apocalypse science fiction movie.

At first, I thought that they will immediately get the remains and leave Cape Kennedy. However, as it was soon revealed, Robert Hamilton’s capsule was still on Earth’s orbit and they were waiting for it to fall. It was interesting to read how hunters rode through the sand dunes in search of Valentina Prokrovna’s capsule. The author compared them with hares. He also stated that among all remains that were found from the crash of her capsule the most valuable was the film of her death. Such violence, screened in underground cinemas of London, Los Angeles, and Moscow is the most demanding thing of all that was left after Valentina’s crash. It is hard to explain why but this aspect is somehow disturbing.

It was also interesting how Judith prepared the cabin and herself as if she would meet Robert Hamilton in person. All these preparations reflected deep and strong emotions which were making her nervous. The situation became much more intense when the US Army came to the site. It worried the main character greatly because he wanted to get Robert Hamilton’s remains before the Army would find them.

I liked how the author described the emergence of Robert’s capsule in the sky. He wrote: “From the dunes near the settling tanks, we watched him emerge from the stars on his last run.” I found this sentence very elegant and tragic at the same time. The Army made significant preparations to the landing of Hamilton while Judith could not find peace and eagerly waited for this moment. After the capsule had landed and hunters gave the remains to Judith, it was hard to understand what she was feeling. The only thing that the author wrote about her state was that she was silent and did not speak to anybody. In the end, when her husband gathered the remains to bury them, she seemed to have calmed down.

The most emotional and interesting part of the story was its end. It was totally unexpected that the story will end with such tragic and dramatic events. At first, I could not figure out why the main characters became ill. But after it was revealed that Robert Hamilton’s capsule was carrying an atomic weapon, I was almost shocked. It was the last thing I expected to happen. Besides this tragic fact, I was also worried about relationships between Judith and her husband. The last question that he wanted to ask left a sense of mystery. I think that he wanted to figure out who she loved more – him or Robert? But after he saw the expression on her face, he understood that all this time she loved Robert and was totally devastated after she found his remains.

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