For a book written in a fairly flat, emotionless voice the story in Ascent is incredibly moving and intensely rendered. The character's motives and feelings are rarely mentioned, but it is remarkable how vivid the narrative is and how immersed the reader becomes.
A fictional account of a Soviet fighter pilot who forges a legendary reputation in the Korean War only to lose it all in the dying days of the war. His previous prestige saves him from the Siberian labour camps, but he is exiled to a remote base in the Arctic circle for ten years. One more legendary exploit rescues him from this obscurity and secures his ultimate ambition – a spot on the team for the Soviet space program.
Since finishing the book a few weeks ago I keep finding myself returning to its themes and images; the ending still haunts me and will stay lodged in my brain for a long long time.