Hungarian SF

This page focuses on contemporary Hungarian speculative fiction that needs to be translated and published in English. Translators, publishers, editors: you know what to do!

The Gregor Man trilogy by Péter Zsoldos
(synopses by Bogi Takács on Locus)

The Viking Returns (A Viking visszatér, 1963)

“[S]tarts with a rather conventional setup – Gregor Man, an astronaut, is marooned on an alien planet where the local sentient species is humanoid, but it has not yet built a technological civilization. This allows for plenty of stone age fantasy adventuring, though Zsoldos’ approach is markedly more realistic than that of his contemporaries. The fluid storytelling keeps the reader riveted – it’s hard to believe The Viking Returns was the author’s first novel, and it’s aged surprisingly well despite having been written over half a century ago. The plot is, however, not particularly original. At the end of the first volume, Gregor Man finally manages to reunite with his fellow space travelers.”


Distant Fire (Távoli tűz, 1969)

“The meat of the trilogy is in the lengthy second novel….Gregor Man realizes that the planet is home to not one sentient species, but two. While he was trying to stay alive in the wilderness, his comrades have managed to locate the second species on the coast and proceeded to join their bronze-age civilization. After a few twists, the protagonist ends up leading the coastal city of Avana. At first, Gregor Man sets out to achieve his goal with all the naivety that can be expected of a science fiction hero from the 1960s. He thinks every problem can be solved with “superior” technology, he tries to become an embodiment of the enlightened ruler trope, and so on. In his new role, he is more reminiscent of a colonial governor than a marooned astronaut. Then the first cracks appear in the facade. At first, Gregor Man finds himself battling the stubbornness of his own city council. He is quite ready to think of them as savages (more colonialist overtones!), and their plan indeed goes wrong, but the failure is caused by a factor Gregor Man himself could not foresee in all his enlightened rulerdom. Then he continues to be mercilessly pommeled by the author – it turns out that all his effort was for little gain, as he simply happened to be on the wrong side of the ocean. On the other side, a large invading army of a more advanced civilization is massing to rule over the world. The Christian allusions are quite obvious – their proselytizing religion compels them to spread their faith across the globe. Gregor Man is forced to realize that this time he is on the short end of the stick.”


The Last Temptation (Azutolsó kísértés, 1988)

The much later written third volume…is more of a farewell to loyal fans than anything. Gregor Man is offered a way out by another spacefaring species (to further underscore the point that even though he is a special individual, he is not the center of the universe), but he turns down the offer.