Nesvadba, Josef

Tagged: Author

(1926-2005) Czech psychiatrist, doctor and author, who began his literary career with dramatic sketches but soon turned to detective stories and satirical sf, continuing the tradition of Karel Čapek. One of the best Czech sf writers (see Czech and Slovak SF) – though he wrote less after the late 1960s – and aside from Čapek the best known in the West, Nesvadba created subtly ironic variations on common sf themes, poking fun at human weaknesses, and was not afraid to Satirize his own social system (as in "Inventor of His Own Undoing", in all the English-language collections noted below). His three early collections of short stories are Tarzanova smrt ["Tarzan's Death"] (coll 1958), Einsteinův mozek ["Einstein's Brain"] (coll 1960) and Výprava opačným směrem ["Expedition in the Opposite Direction"] (coll 1962), not to be confused with the later Výpravy opačným směrem ["Expeditions in the Opposite Direction"] (coll 1976), which assembles early work, some previously collected, as does Einsteinův mozek a jiné povídky ["The Einstein Brain and Other Stories"] (coll 1987). A mystery novel of fantasy interest is Bludy Erika N. ["The Ravings of Erika N."] (1974), which draws on some of Erich von Däniken's ideas.

A later stage of psychiatry-related sf novelettes and novels begins, in book form, with Řidičský průkaz rodičů ["Parents' Driving Licence"] (coll of 3 linked novelettes 1979). Others are Minehava podruhé ["Minehava for the Second Time"] (coll of 3 linked novelettes 1981) and the novel Hledám za manžela muže ["I am Looking for a Man to be a Husband"] (1986). These are less well known in the West, but the title story of the second collection has been translated in cut form as "The Return of Minnehawa or Marian Kolda's Psychoscope" in Panorama of Czech Literature, No 8 (anth 1986 Czechoslovakia) edited by Nesvadba, an anthology of modern Czech fantasy and sf with biographical pieces on the authors.

Nesvadba's stories have been a fertile source of inspiration for the Czech film industry. Films based on his work include Tarzanova smrt (1962; vt The Death of an Apeman) directed by Jaroslav Balík, screenplay by Nesvadba and Balík, a tragicomic new adventure of Tarzan, Nesvadba's own novelization being published as La Muerte de Tarzan (1988 trans anon Cuba); Blbec z Xeenemünde (1962; vt The Idiot of Xeenemünde) directed by Balík, screenplay by Nesvadba and Balík, another tragicomedy, this time about a halfwit scientist who kills Nazis; Ztracená tvář (1965; vt The Lost Face) directed by Pavel Hobl, screenplay by Hobl and Nesvadba, a slapstick story set in the 1930s about a doctor who can perform miracles of disguise with plastic surgery and organ transplants; Zabil jsem Einsteina, pánové! (1969; vt I killed Einstein, Gentlemen) directed by Oldřich Lipský, screenplay by Lipský, Miloš Macourek and Nesvadba, an over-farcical Time-Travel comedy involving a society in 1999 where women are sterile and bearded because of radiation from nuclear war; Slečna Golem (1972; vt Miss Golem) directed by Balík, screenplay by Balík and Nesvadba, about the creation of an artificial woman by cloning; Upír z Feratu (1981; vt The Vampire from Ferat) directed by Juraj Herz, based on Nesvadba's Technofantasy story known in English as "Vampires Ltd.", about a racing car that uses the blood of drivers rather than petrol as fuel (see Vampires). Another film based on a Nesvadba story is Zítra Vstanu a Opařím Se Čajem (1977; vt Tomorrow I'll Wake up and Scald Myself with Tea).

Nesvadba's intricately plotted, absurdly logical stories have been translated into many languages and widely anthologized. English-language editions of Nesvadba's stories are Vampires Ltd: Stories of Science and Fantasy (coll trans Iris Urwin [sic] 1964) and In the Footsteps of the Abominable Snowman: Stories of Science and Fantasy (coll trans Iris Irwin 1970; vt The Lost Face: Best Science Fiction from Czechoslovakia 1971). All but the first and third stories of the latter collection are also in the former, which also contains three stories not in the latter. The relative inactivity of his latter career continued during the years of the Czech Republic, until his death. [JO/SČ/FR/PN]

Josef Nesvadba

born Prague, Czechoslovakia [now Czech Republic]: 19 June 1926

died Prague, Czechoslovakia [now Czech Republic]: 26 April 2005


  • Bludy Erika N. ["The Ravings of Erika N."] (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Lidove Nakladatelstvi/Lidova Knihovna, 1974) [hb/]
  • Dialog s doktorem Dongem ["Dialogue with Dr Dong"] (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Ceskoslovensky spisovatel, 1964) [binding unknown/]
  • Tajna zprava z Prahy ["Secret Report from Prague"] (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Ceskoslovensky spisovatel, 1978) [binding unknown/]
  • Hledam za manela mue ["I am Looking for a Man to be a Husband"] (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Ceskoslovensky spisovatel, 1986) [binding unknown/]


  • Tarzanova smrt ["Tarzan's Death"] (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Mlada fronta, 1958) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Einsteinv mozek ["Einstein's Brain"] (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Mlada fronta, 1960) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Vyprava opanym smrem ["Expedition in the Opposite Direction"] (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Ceskoslovensky spisovatel, 1962) [coll: binding unknown/]
  • Vypravy opanym smrem ["Expeditions in the Opposite Direction"] (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Ceskoslovensky spisovatel, 1976) [coll: contents differ from Výprava opačným směrem above: binding unknown/]
  • idisky prkaz rodi ["Parents' Driving Licence"] (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Mlada fronta, 1979) [coll of linked novelettes: binding unknown/]
  • Minehava podruhe ["Minehava for the Second Time"] (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Nasa Vojsko, 1981) [coll of linked novelettes: binding unknown/]
  • Einsteinv mozek a jine povidky ["The Einstein Brain and Other Stories"] (Prague, Czechoslovakia: Ceskoslovensky spisovatel, 1987) [coll: binding unknown/]

collections in English

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