|Location:||Pegasus Galaxy, Atlantis|
|Relationships:||brother, sister, nephew, possible wife; no names given|
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Doctor Radek Zelenka is a scientist in the Atlantis expedition. He is also a Czech National, and is prone to outbursts in Czech when under stress or aggravated by others. Zelenka was originally supposed to be a one-off character, but because fans reacted so positively, he was brought back for additional episodes.
The character is played by actor David Nykl.
Given the character's apparent age, it is assumed he grew up behind the Iron Curtain; when a virus stripped away the Atlantis inhabitants' memories, Zelenka was very agitated at the thought of being taken away by the men with guns, and he exhibited extreme paranoia when he encountered other people wandering the halls in a state of confusion similar to his own, which would indicate some familiarity with life under Communist rule.
It is known that his family was poor; one fateful winter, the family was forced to live in a tent after Zelenka's younger brother burned down their house by leaving a lit candle unattended.
Zelenka mentions a sister; he dislikes children, and gives the reason as his nephew, who "breaks things and smears thing on furniture".
We do not know if Zelenka is married (or has been in the past), but he does tell the recipient of his video goodbye "Drž se, miláčku," which translates to "Take care, dear.". We're not told if this is meant to be a letter to his wife or a sweetheart, or to his sister.
Zelenka was offered a position at Masaryk University, but he turned it down to go on the Atlantis Expedition. Zelenka raised racing pigeons while living on Earth; he keeps pictures of them on his tablet computer,
He works closely with Dr. Rodney McKay and while he is responsible for his own department, he also seems to serve as a sort of second in command in the labs. He is often paired to work with Major Evan Lorne with whom he has an easy camaraderie; he also works well with Lt. Col. John Sheppard.
Zelenka is written as fairly timid, but when it comes down to it, he does what needs to be done to complete a task, whether that task is saving Atlantis, or putting a co-worker back into their own body.
Canon or Fanon
Many fan stories give Zelenka a strictly academic background, but based on the canon information noted above, there is a subset that posits he served mandatory time in the Czech Army; we don't know for sure, but given his age, and what we know of how things worked behind the Iron Curtain, it's not a stretch to assume that he at least served the minimum time.
Another interesting bit of extrapolation is that Zelenka and his family may have been Soviet resistors; most fans assume that it was passive (or even covert) resistance. Czech Psychology & Tabula Rasa Meta, an essay written by dragonladyk, makes some interesting points about what we assume about Zelenka and his past.
In nearly every story featuring Zelenka, whether he is paired with a woman or a man, writers use Czech as part of Zelenka's internal and external dialogue, as in canon, he frequently uses his native tongue when he is angry or making snide comments. As many people have commented, any Radek fan-girl worth her salt knows the meaning of "miláčku." (For those that don't know, it means "My dear!")
One bit of fanon with no canon-support whatsoever is the idea that Zelenka runs a still on Atlantis. Diana Williams created the vid [Ode to Zelenka's Still] illustrating the popular idea. The fanon probably started with the Geeks and Goons series by Koschka which was posted in Feburary 2005 to Fanfiction.net:
"Zelenka…Zelenka tore down his stills. That didn’t much affect me or my men, who knew better than to be caught drinking that moonshine, but the scientists rioted in the halls."
Another bit of fanon based on subtextual evidence (some of David Nykl's onscreen expressions and glances) is that Zelenka has/had romantic feelings for Elizabeth Weir, feelings that she is unaware of or does not return. There are stories where Zelenka/Weir is the featured pairing, but it is also not unusual for this fanon to come up in stories where Zelenka is not part of the featured pairing, i.e., McKay/Sheppard slash.
The Czech Is In The Male fic-a-thon masterlist
Threesomes, foursomes, and moresomes
Zelenka-centric LJ Communities
- Season 4, Episode 6, Tabula Rasa
- Season 3, Episode 14, The Tao of Rodney
- Season 2, Episode 13, Critical Mass
- Season 1, Episode 17, Letters From Pegasus
- Season 3, Episode 10, The Return, Part I
- Season 3, Episode 12, Echoes
- Season 4, Episode 13, Quarantine
- Season 2, Episode 4, Duet