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Pešek, Luděk

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author, Artist.

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(1919-1999) Czech artist and author, whose first novels (about social inequalities; not sf, but listed below for convenience) were published in Czechoslovakia in the late 1940s, but from 1968, after being exiled by the communist regime, he lived in Switzerland, his books being first published in German translation; they have been widely translated into other languages. His astronomical paintings are well known, and have been featured in National Geographic; one appeared as the cover art for Omni (September 1981). He illustrated some of his own books as well, including the first of several Young Adult sf novels, Die Mondexpedition (1966; trans Helene Schmidt as Log of a Moon Expedition 1969), comprising the detailed description of a Near Future trip to the Moon, which is studied scientifically; the introduction, by Lloyd Motz (1909-2004), is condescending.

Pešek's best novel may be Die Erde ist nah: Die Marsexpedition (1970; trans Anthea Bell as The Earth is Near 1973). It deals, with unusual sophistication for its genre, with the psychological stresses experienced by the first expedition to Mars, and the costs of combating – rather than co-ordinating with – Martian Ecology; it won the 1971 Jugendbuchpreis (Children's Book Prize) in Germany. Another sf book is Falle für Perseus (1976; trans Anthea Bell as Trap for Perseus 1980), set in a twenty-third-century totalitarian Dystopia; the original Czech-language version of this title was not published until several decades later, as Past na Persea (2020). The asteroid 6584 Ludekpesek is named after Pešek. [JO/JC/PN]

see also: Czech and Slovak SF; Sociology; Space Flight.

Luděk Pešek

born Kladno, Czechoslovakia [now Czech Republic]: 26 April 1919

died Stäfa, Switzerland: 4 December 1999


  • Lidé v kameni ["People Among the Stones"] (Ostrava, Czechoslovakia: Lukasik, 1946) [pb/]
  • Tahouni ["Draught-Horses"] (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Evropský literární klub, 1947) [pb/Luděk Pešek]
  • «Drazba» ["Auction"] (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Evropský literární klub, 1948) [listed by some sources but never in fact published: na/]
  • Die Mondexpedition (Recklinghausen, Germany: Paulus-Verlag, 1966) [illus/hb/Luděk Pešek]
    • Log of a Moon Expedition (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1969) [trans by Helene Schmidt of the above: illus/hb/Luděk Pešek]
  • Die Erde ist nah: Die Marsexpedition (Recklinghausen, Germany: Georg Bitter Verlag, 1970) [illus/hb/Luděk Pešek]
  • Nur ein Stein ["Only a Stone"] (Weinheim, Germany: Beltz Verlag, 1972) [binding unknown/]
  • Preis der Beute ["Price of Plunder"] (Weinheim, Germany: Beltz Verlag, 1973) [binding unknown/]
  • Eine Insel für Zwei (Weinheim, Germany: Beltz Verlag, 1974) [binding unknown/]
  • Flug in Die Welt von Morgen ["A Flight into the World of Tomorrow"] (Recklinghausen, Germany: Georg Bitter Verlag, 1975) [binding unknown/]
  • Falle für Perseus (Weinheim, Germany: Beltz and Gelberg Verlag, 1976) [pb/]
    • Trap for Perseus (New York: Bradbury Press, 1980) [trans by Anthea Bell of the above: hb/Jane R Wattenberg]
    • Past na Persea (Prague, Czech Republic: Zdenek Rampas – Nová vlna – Stanislav Juhanák – Triton, 2020) [original Czech text of the above: pb/Luděk Pešek]


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