Besides my wife, that is. Emma and I are both great fans of the Polish author Stanislaw Lem, and especially enjoy the stories featuring Pirx.
Why is this character so appealing?
Allow me to be lazy and borrow a bit from Wikipedia:
"Pirx is a fictional character from works of science fiction by Stanisław Lem: the story collections Tales of Pirx the Pilot and More Tales of Pirx the Pilot, and the novel Fiasco. The story of Pirx is that of a spaceship cadet, pilot, and captain. In a way, Pirx is as an ordinary 'working man' who unlike traditional heroic space pilots has little if anything heroic about him. He sometimes finds himself in extreme situations, which he overcomes mostly through ordinary common sense and average luck."
I came across a film adaptation of one of my favorite Pirx stories, The Inquest in SearchOhio. What's the story about? I'm going to be lazy again and quote from Amazon:
"A major corporation produces human-like robots; however, the public opinion, the media and the trade unions oppose it. A decision is made to conduct an experiment. An experienced pilot is to fly a spaceship to Saturn and launch two artificial satellites from there. The crew will be made up of androids, and the commander must evaluate the work of his unusual team. To accomplish the flight, pilot Pirx is chosen, who is known for his honesty and integrity. His ill wishers from the corporation are afraid that Pirx's opinion might upset the profitable production, so they take measures..."
For a 1970's era Soviet SF film, Pilot Pirx's Inquest isn't bad. The story is certainly strong and the special effects are no worse than, say a typical Doctor Who episode from the same period. You can order a copy from SearchOhio. Of course, nothing beats reading the story, even in translation. It's part of More Tales of Pirx the Pilot. You get get a copy of that from SearchOhio, too.