In 1890 the Russian author Chekhov undertook an historic journey across Siberia to the convict island of Sakhalin. A hundred years later, in an isolated artist's retreat, a Soviet film unit prepares to commemorate his journey by using a technique that will cause their chosen actor to not only play the role of the playwright, but to believe that he is Chekhov.
But the situations Mikhail acts out diverge wildly from known biographical facts when Chekhov hears of an explosion in the Tunguska region of Siberia. Yet the real Tunguska explosion occurred in 1908 - so how could Chekhov have possible heard of it in 1890?
In present-day Russia, a movie production team uses an experimental technique to hypnotize an actor into thinking he is Anton Chekhov. While he is in a trance, they plan to question him about Chekhov's 1890 trek into Siberia, as background for the film they are making. To everyone's astonishment, the actor, transported into Chekhov's body, relives the author's experiences relating to the possible crash of a comet in the Tunguska region in 1908, the incident somehow relocated to 1888. Meanwhile, he is also tapping into the life of Anton Astrov, captain of a future spaceship which might be responsible for the Tunguska explosion. Watson ( Alien Embassy ) continues his speculations into the nature of reality in this highly readable tale, enhanced by believable characters and authoritative plotting, and remarkable for the realistic detail he brings to each of the timelines. Originally published in the U.K. in 1983, this book's appearance in the U.S. is long overdue.