Monika Šimkovičová's Vigil was published by Publixing in November 2017.
Information about Monika Šimkovičová (in her own words):
"It may seem that I started to write just recently, but the truth is quite the opposite. I’ve been writing since my childhood. First it had been some poems but soon I realised that it’s not the right thing for me. My first poem, the one about the very first Czechoslovak cosmonaut, was literally understood by no one...
When I was 8 and I wrote Hands off from Vietnam, my teachers were bringing me to all the military bases around and I had to recite it...
So I gave up on poetry and started to write short stories instead. Some of them even made it into a real book. But that was just the beginning.
In 2015 I finished a novel called Roden24, which was published as an e-book in Slovak, Czech and English. And at the same time it was also published as an audiobook narrated by the leading Slovak actors.
And that was the time when when Roden started to grow up. It even overtook his older sister Aluni, which has been waiting last 5 years to be finished. The novel VIGIL was born."
Information about Vigil:
An amazing discovery! One pill replaces 9 hours of sleep.
The future belongs to those who do not need to sleep.
The future belongs to Vigils.
Homo vigilis. Vigils. A new human species that does not need any sleep to live. Vigils never need to rest, they never feel tired and as opposed to the Sleepers - ordinary humans - they don't tend to get sick.
In addition, their sense of smell is perfect. They appear to be flawless, there's nothing lacking...
...maybe except for the inability to dream. But who needs dreams for their everyday lives?
A book about imagination being stronger than all knowledge, about dreams being more powerful than reality.
I sit at the computer with great determination. I think: I've been in it from the very beginning. Who else should leave a message for future generations, if not I? Who could possibly be more objective? I plunge into that dreary silence. Then I draw the curtains again, make myself a sickly-sweet coffee and get down to writing. Maybe my next opus will not bear the seal of genius, but it certainly will be noteworthy for its topic.
As fate has decreed, I am in fact the only Vigil in the world who is capable of sleeping.
A REVIEW OF MONIKA ŠIMKOVIČOVÁ'S VIGIL
Monika Šimkovičová's Vigil is one of the hidden treasures of modern science fiction. I was pleasantly surprised by this novel, because it's a fascinating literary science fiction novel with engaging characters. It's one of the most intriguing science fiction novels I've had the pleasure of reading during the recent years, because it's something different and fresh.
What makes Vigil unique is that it's Slovakian science fiction. As many speculative fiction readers are probably aware of, Slovakian science fiction is difficult to find. It's great that this novel has been translated into English and made available for English-speaking readers, because the story is delightfully original and well written (the original novel was published in 2016 and it has been translated by Petra Schultze).
Monika Šimkovičová's Vigil is a novel about human beings who have become Vigils because of a pill that replaces 9 hours of sleep. Vigils don't need any sleep to live and they never rest. They are a new human species. In this novel, the author follows the lives of different people as they cope with the changes and problems in their lives.
This novel begins with Martha Neff telling how she has known Dr Roden Wagner, the inventor of the pill that replaces sleep, ever since he was a boy. Martha is an interesting character, because her feelings are explored realistically and readers find out how she begins to live her life anew when she becomes a Vigil. Her life changes in significant ways and she begins to realise certain things.
I enjoyed reading about Roden Wagner, because ever since he was a child, he had not devoted much time to sleep. Roden was bothered by the time lost in sleeping and was convinced that one could get more opportunities in life by not sleeping. He invents a pill that makes him the first Vigil in the world. His marriage to Rya intrigued me, because their relationship was complex because of something that Rya did.
Reading about Samuel Trier and Claudia was fascinating, because their relationship was turbulent. Samuel is an artist and Claudia is a woman who is always travelling somewhere to save something. I was also fascinated by what the author wrote about Costa and what happened to him after he attacked a person in a vile way, because he had become a slave to his heightened sense of smell.
One of the best things about this novel is that Monika Šimkovičová writes engagingly about her characters and their interlinking lives. There's something deeply honest, realistic and touching about the characterisation that I find irresistible. All of the characters are real people who struggle with their own problems and try to cope with the choices they have made.
Albeit being a science fiction novel, Vigil is a surprisingly humane novel that will touch and fascinate many readers. The author's way of exploring the human condition feels enticingly fresh, because the Vigils are different from the Dormants (normal people who haven't taken the pill). The author fluently explores how the Vigils are not capable of dreaming or fantasising about anything and how the colour purple compels them. They have a highly developed sense of smell, and they have substituted sleep with other activities. These changes are liberating, but they affect the Vigils' creativity and way of life in an unexpected way.
It's great that the author touches upon the themes of dislike and unease, because the Vigils arouse discomfiture among the Dormants. She handles these themes well and avoids making a fuss about them.
Although this novel is a relatively fast read, the author has packed it full of elements that will make readers think about the story. When you finish reading this novel, you can't help but think about what you've read, because there are many things that will linger on your mind. The author raises such big questions as is changing our lives a good thing and can we become happier and more productive if we don't have to sleep anymore.
I look forward to reading what Monika Šimkovičová writes next, because she has a captivating and unique literary voice. I found her story deeply compelling and hope that readers will discover it.
My final words are:
Monika Šimkovičová's Vigil is captivating literary science fiction for adults. If you enjoy reading thought-provoking speculative fiction and love literary fiction, you should take a look at Monika Šimkovičová's Vigil, because it's a wonderful combination of both genres. The author delivers a fascinating story that is worth reading.