When a young boy encounters a wolf in a snow-bound Russian forest in 1867, it is only the first of a series of brushes with disaster. Whether fighting for his life when scarlet fever strikes, coping with its legacy of deafness, braving death on an icy river or poverty and isolation in Moscow, Konstantin never falters in his determination to overcome obstacles and pursue his chosen field of scientific study. From childhood he is fascinated by the world around him and seeks to understand how things work, whether the natural forces which govern the universe or the design and capabilities of man-made engines. In an age of rapid, steam-driven mechanisation, he becomes increasingly excited by the relation of the Earth and the planets, and by the hitherto undreamed-of possibility of space travel.
Bringing vividly to life the visionary Russian experimental scientist, Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, this fictionalised biography captures the thrill of the pursuit of knowledge beyond existing boundaries. With its economical, poetical evocation of place and time, skilful storytelling and tender portrayal of the protagonists, Tom Bullough's utterly absorbing third novel brings together science and literature in an extraordinary tour de force.
‘Magnificent. Unforgettable. A dazzling coming-of-age novel.’
'This is a novel of compelling complexity of thought and feeling, sustained by the authenticity of its rich detail ... Bullough endows the components of his scene with a poet's sense of their quiddity and a novelist's appreciation of their human significance.'