Book review: Laika

August 23, 2009

Title: Laika
Author: Nick Abadzis
Pages: 203

Laika is a touching graphic novel about the first animal to be launched into orbit, a dog called Laika.

It was decided that a dog would be launched into space soon after the Russian’s successfully launched the spacecraft Sputnik into orbit. Nikita Khrushchev, the soviet leader, wanted the launch to coincide with the 40th annivesary of the Bolshevik Revolution.

As a result the designers were hard pressed for time and decided that the spacecraft would not return to earth, Laika was sent to die in space. Laika was a stray dog who was found wandering the streets of Moscow. Russian scientists preferred stray dogs for their experiments because they were already used to extreme cold.

Although the Russians claimed that Laika lasted several days and was euthanized using poisoned food the truth is that she (Laika was female) died after a couple of hours in orbit. She died from stress and overheating, definitely not a painless death as the Russians claim.

Abadzis has researched the book well but a lot of it is fictional. He does a fantastic job of creating a fictional account of Laika’s early life.

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