By John Biggins
During this ironic, hilarious, and poignant tale, Otto Prohaska is a submarine captain serving the almost-landlocked Austro-Hungarian Empire. He faces a bunch of not going situations, from petrol poisoning to exploding bathrooms to trigger-happy Turks. All symptoms element to the entire cave in of the bloated empire he serves, yet Otto refuses to desert the Habsburgs of their hour of desire.
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Additional resources for A Sailor of Austria: In Which, Without Really Intending to, Otto Prohaska Becomes Official War Hero No. 27 of the Habsburg Empire (The Otto Prohaska Novels)
Anyway, I want you to meet with Prohaska some time today to discuss how things stand with the boat. m. tomorrow with a complete working-up programme for U8. I want the boat to be fully operational by the 20th of this month at the latest. ” With these words the interview ended. Meszáros and I left and made our way down to the breakwater. ” “Oh, I see. He was a fellow called the Edler von Krummelhausen. ” “Only by name. ” I cannot pretend that I was not disturbed by this piece of information. Suicide was very common in Central Europe in those days, and whatever the Church might say, spattering one’s brains over the ceiling was still widely accepted in the Habsburg officer corps as a fitting and gentlemanly way of resolving life’s little difficulties: women, gambling debts, syphilis, falling off one’s horse in front of the Emperor, being caught selling mobilisation plans to the Russians, and so forth.
Then, in a low conspiratorial tone, fumbling in the back pocket of his jeans: “Wanna fag, do you? That ol’ cow Felicja’s out for the day so she won’t come botherin’ us. ” Sister Felicja is a large, ugly nun from Pozna who controls the day-to-day business of the Home with all the tact and charm of an old-style Prussian Feldwebel—except that she seems not to wax the ends of her moustache. I sensed that the offer of a cigarette (which I refused as politely as I could, not having smoked for many years now) was an outward sign of confidence and esteem on Kevin’s part.
In fact it had already lasted four months and disposed of two captains by the time that I arrived. There was never any shortage of things to go wrong aboard a submarine in those days when underwater craft were still mysterious, half-experimental things, and certainly not with a cobbled-together dockyard reject like ours. Valves leaked, the hull leaked, battery cells leaked, pipes blocked, fuel filters clogged, crankshafts broke and carburettor jets blocked. We toiled day and night to get the boat ready, my crew and I.
A Sailor of Austria: In Which, Without Really Intending to, Otto Prohaska Becomes Official War Hero No. 27 of the Habsburg Empire (The Otto Prohaska Novels) by John Biggins