Irina: The Vampire Cosmonaut is set in a country called the “Zirnitra Union” (UZSR) that looks a whole lot like the Soviet Union of the late 1950s. It is in a space race with a country called the “United Kingdom of Arnak” (UK) that looks suspiciously like the US. And like that Cold War space race, the commies were coming out on top.
The UZSR put the first satellite in orbit on a rocket that looks a whole lot like the R7 that put Sputnik into orbit. They sent a dog into orbit for 3 hours before it died of overheating and took credit for a week-long flight. And they show a UK rocket blowing up on the pad that looked just like the US Vanguard launcher.
The next trick is to put a human in space. Here’s where history diverges a bit. They were afraid that if they sent up a human and he died, it would be a scandal. So they capture a female vampire (Irina Luminesk) to send up as a secret test subject. If she lives, there’s proof that it can be done and they will use that information to send up a human cosmonaut with lots of publicity. No different than when they sent up the dog, Maly.
Our hero (Lev Leps) is a washed-up prospective cosmonaut who made an unspecified mistake that ended his career before it even began. His job is to train Irina to be a test subject. He is supposed to treat her as a thing and not as a person, partly because she is disposable and likely to be discarded – just as was the dog – and partly because she is a member of the “accursed” vampire race. The name he is supposed to call her by is just a designation, N44. He’s also supposed to monitor her condition, keep her secret from civilians, and prevent her from escaping.
Of course, Lev gets a loli sidekick who is an expert on vampires. (Rolls eyes.)
In this world, vampires have pointy ears and fangs but are really not all that different from humans. They eat the same food and do not drink blood. They have superior night vision and can handle cold well but do not deal well with bright light and heat. No transformation into bats or superstrength.
During the day, Irina is required to sleep in a coffin in a locked dungeon cell while Lev sleeps in an adjacent cell. It is pretty obvious he isn’t going to be treating her like a disposable object and fairly obvious from the opening that Irina is there because she has something she wants to do and not because someone kidnapped her.
There is a sad display of institutionalized racism. Thinking about the dog being marooned in space to die from overheating (like the actual cosmodog, Laika, did) also leaves me sad. But overall, it isn’t too bad.
This one could turn out to be fun or it could be a flop. But at least it has an Irina in it. And a caviar eating sequence that screams seduction.