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1. His Master's Voice
2. The Futurological Congress: From
3. The Cyberiad
4. A Perfect Vacuum
5. One Human Minute
6. Memoirs Found in a Bathtub
7. Peace on Earth
8. Solaris
9. Eden (Helen & Kurt Wolff Book)
10. Fiasco
11. Solaris; Chain of Chance; Perfect
12. Tales of Pirx the Pilot
13. Highcastle: A Remembrance
14. The Investigation
15. Star Diaries: Further Reminiscences
16. The Invincible (Ace Science Fiction
17. A Stanislaw Lem Reader (Rethinking
18. Solaris
19. Solaris (french)
20. The Chain of Chance

1. His Master's Voice
by Stanislaw Lem
Paperback: 199 Pages (1999-11-25)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$8.82
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0810117312
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
A witty and inventive satire of "men of science" and their thinking, as a team of scientists races to decode a mysterious message from space. "I had the feeling that I was standing at the cradle of a new mythology. A last will and testament...we as the posthumous heirs of Them..."A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
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Customer Reviews (22)

5-0 out of 5 stars fantastic
The fruits of this great work must be earned, there are no low hanging branches.That being said, those willing to put in the effort and concentration Lem demands will be handsomely rewarded.Looking back, getting through the first fifty pages was almost a right of passage.This book isn't written for mindless consumption, it is a thoughtful, challenging book that asks the reader to participate in an experience, to dive deep into a story about frustration, loneliness, mystery, and ultimately our place in the universe.It is one of the best book I have read, and a book for those who love the struggle and satisfcation of a truly awe inspiring read.

1-0 out of 5 stars Lem Caught With His Pants Down
This book was a huge disappointment to me.

HIS MASTER'S VOICE is nothing more than a loosely constructed framework through which Lem himself can express his ideas of 'life, the universe, and everything'.He has ideas about science, religion, philosophy in general, morality, human nature, etc...

The book is written from the perspective of a scientific and mathematical 'genius', and is essentially that character's thoughts and ideas about science, life, the universe, humanity, and all the rest of it... Now you are starting to see the problem.

Lem was not really a scientist, although he worked in a lab [he was a technician], and he was not a noteworthy philosopher, either.By pretending to describe the thoughts of the world's greatest scientific genius, Lem commits an enormous literary blunder.As an author, he is, essentially, caught with his pants down.It is the same as when an author creates a fictional philosopher from the future whose philosophical ideas have transformed humanity, and then goes on to describe all those ideas -- DISASTER!!Lem's ideas in HIS MASTER'S VOICE come off as sophmoric and pretentious, and his protagonist as an empty caricature.

Lem was renowned for his imagination and writing, these are the things that made him famous.And these are the things that he [for the most part] discards in HIS MASTER'S VOICE.If Lem had written a book about the world's greatest writers coming together to write a message of contact to an alien civilization, or something similarly within his purview as a great WRITER, then that would be a book worth reading.And I, for one, would love to read his thoughts channeled through a protaganist that is the world's greatest writer.

But to read Lem's thoughts channeled through a protaganist that is the world's greatest scientific genius?Is painful, and embarassing.Lem is in no position to describe such thoughts, perhaps if Steven Hawking wrote a novel it would be a different story.

There are a couple of cool ideas here, but they are not worth the bother.

1-0 out of 5 stars I really wanted to like this book.
Unfortunately - it is an incoherent mess.

The "author" talks more about talking about talking about the project than actually talking about the project - and no; those aren't typos...

The reader is victimized by the author into reading several chapters about how the "manuscript" was discovered, blah, blah, blah; etc.

Pretty much the same drivel as in his other books.

I actually wanted to like the book, and read the book - unfortunately I went insane trying to unravel the morass of story, back-story, flashbacks, autobiographical elements, and tangents.

A very bad attempt at forcing oneself into creating a novel from a short-story - there is WAY too much filler material that has nothing to do with the actual story.

2-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant but Boring
In reading His Master's Voice at times the reader should be staggered by the powerful intellect of the author.Lem's understanding of psychology, and philosophy are greater than his considerable scientific knowledge.As an unorthodox textbook on those first two subjects I would recommend this book. As a Sci-Fi novel, however, I think it falls flat.There just isn't enough entertainment value in His Master's Voice to make it worth your while.

I regret saying this because the laugh, ultimately, is on me. It seems obvious throughout the book that one of it's main purposes is to satirize "Western" Sci-Fi as mindless escapism. Lem was often critical of popular Sci-Fi authors and their readers for not using the genre to create stories that ask deeper questions and created a more meaningful culture around them. By declaring this book, "not entertaining enough" I'm only proving him right.

Sorry Lem.

4-0 out of 5 stars Interesting Sci-Fi
"His Master's Voice" is a philosophical science fiction novel (actually, it is in part a critique of popular science fiction literature) written by Stanislaw Lem. It is styled as a memoir of a mathematician, Peter Hogarth, who is recruited in a Manhattan-style Pentagon-directed project (code name, His Master's Voice) with the aim of decoding an apparent inter-stellar transmission originating from the Canis Minor constellation. The transmission is a neutrino stream with peculiar properties suggestive of an information-rich signal rather than pure noise. Besides seeming to have a meaningful content the neutrino stream is also found to have properties conducive to bio-genesis.

Lem uses this premise in order to explore a variety of issues, including the possibility of establishing meaningful extra-terrestrial contact, the ethics of military sponsored scientific research (the Pentagon is interested in the possibility that the neutrino code is an instruction manual for the assembly of a new kind of technology with potential military application), Cold War-era politics in which individuals are construed as the purely self-interested agents of game theory, the uses and abuses of technology and the ways in which humans interact with technology and problems of epistemology. Lem is particularly pessimistic about our ability to derive knowledge when faced with the truly unknown - thus, despite a tremendous investment of resources, the HMV project is ultimately unable to arrive at any tenable conclusions regarding the nature of the neutrino transmission (or even, to determine whether it is a message at all or the outcome of a purely stochastic process). The book is also a realistic portrayal of the hermetic intellectual environment within which the HMV scientists conduct their work. It provides insights into some of the professional turf wars and fundamental misunderstandings that exist between scientists trained in different disciplines.

Stanislaw Lem has been called the `Jorge Luis Borges for the Space Age' and this is perhaps a fitting characterization. "His Master's Voice" makes no concession to entertainment - the novel contains very little in terms of action. It is a densely written piece that requires the reader's active attention and it is devoted mainly to the exploration of some fascinating ideas and hypotheses. It deals with certain themes similar to those explored in Lem's other novel, "Solaris", which incidentally is a more accessible work and perhaps a better starting place for a Lem neophyte. ... Read more

2. The Futurological Congress: From the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy
by Stanislaw Lem
Paperback: 156 Pages (1985-10-28)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$6.39
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156340402
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Bringing his twin gifts of scientific speculation and scathing satire to bear on that hapless planet, Earth, Lem sends his unlucky cosmonaut, Ijon Tichy, to the Eighth Futurological Congress. Caught up in local revolution, Tichy is shot and so critically wounded that he is flashfrozen to await a future cure. Translated by Michael Kandel.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (35)

5-0 out of 5 stars Unique
I love How indifferent the narration is to everything. When a Molotov cocktail ignites several people in the hallway of the hotel, it is merely stated,as though the narrator is unfazed by the event. Hilarious and psychopathic. Only Stanislaw Lem could think this way;really weird and random things.

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply the best.
In my (admittedly) limited experience, The Futurological Congress is to science fiction what Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas is to "straight" fiction - florid, immersive, gorgeous, and - most of all - tactile.

Fear and Loathing will give you a taste of what the hippies thought they were on to.Congress will leave a very similar taste in your mouth - while it may not iconify a generation, it definitely captures an aspect of the zeitgeist that Fear and Loathing rides into the sunset.

If you've never heard of Lem, if you're vectoring in from a Thompson-esque background.... if you have a need for some HEAVY ideas with some ZING!.... start here.

This is, simply put, the best English translation of a non-English work I've ever read.Trained and studied critics will more accurately typify the how and the why... at the end of the day, you've NEVER read ANYTHING like this.Swerving between Burroughs at his most coherent and Thompson at his most In Touch, The Futurological Congress will defibrillate even the most jaded of science fiction fans.

5-0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading For Sci-Fi Fans
The Futurological Congress is among the greatest works of Science Fiction ever written, and it is considered by many (myself included) to be S. Lem's finest work.

Set in the not too distant future, Congress is narrated by Ijon Tichy, who recounts the events of his visit to the Futurological Congress. The irony is that the titular event never really occurs thanks to a popular uprising in the host country. Poor Tichy dies only to be resurrected in a future where society is regulated by an endless array of psychotropic drugs.

In today's world of Ritalin, Ambien, Cialis, Prozac, and so on, Lem's drug fueled vision of the future seems eerily prophetic. The translation (from the original Polish) does an excellent job with the laundry list of psuedo-drugs Lem invents for the citizens of the future, and preserves his trademark cynicism and eye for human foibles. Written under the heavy-hand of Soviet rule, Congress is full of digs at government, bureaucracy and the man's timid resistance to manipulation.

An amazing and bizarre story, full of wit and remarkable insight, Congress resonates to this day and rightfully earns its place at the pinnacle of intelligent Sci-Fi.

2-0 out of 5 stars Experimental Science Fiction with a great message
I need to start out by saying that I am not as well read in Science Fiction as I am in other genres.

Stanislaw Lem writes with a style that is inaccessible for me, but I could see as being accessible for other people. This book, published in 1971, was too psychedelic for me and consisted of too many sexual themes. Upon coming to the conclusion of the book, I was disappointed not with the ending but that the ultimate message of the book was such a great message that I wish it had been told in a different way because the ultimate message would have stood out more with better focus and direction and I believe could have been told without the strong sexual references. Also note: I do not believe that my evaluation of the book and the way it was structured had anything to do with the translation, too.

Bottom line: If you're interested in experimental Science fiction, a quick read, and are prepared to read some sexual and psychedelic themes, then as a reader you should not have a problem with the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Where am I? What day is this?
The past and future ooze into the moment of now within this timeless masterwork.So many layers of reality paint an amorphous reflection of our modern world.This sort of transcendent insight will revise society's concept of our common ground.Perhaps, Lem's byproducts (e.g. Ubik roll-on) will bring us back to where the happening is.Such is art. ... Read more

3. The Cyberiad
by Stanislaw Lem
Paperback: 312 Pages (2002-12-16)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$6.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156027593
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Trurl and Klaupacius are constructor robots who try to out-invent each other. They travel to the far corners of the cosmos to take on freelance problem-solving jobs, with dire consequences for their employers. “The most completely successful of his books... here Lem comes closest to inventing a real universe” (Boston Globe). Illustrations by Daniel Mr—z. Translated by Michael Kandel. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (51)

5-0 out of 5 stars Super Treat Fantastic
The only thing more amazing than this book is that brotha Lem's first language isn't English. I have no idea how it was so immaculately translated. The stories are funny, poignant, and unlike almost any sci fi you'll find.

5-0 out of 5 stars Monty Python for engineers
The negative reviewers are all right- this is not a tour-de-force of philosophy or a coherent other-world of dramatic heroism.

It is pure fun, a sort of Monty Python for engineers, with plenty of word play and high jinks and clever plot twists, in relatively brief sketches/fables. All that is missing are the songs.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Cyberiad - classic science fiction
The Cyberiad was written many years ago, yet it has more depth and interest than many current science fiction books.The stories really make you think.Well written, extremely cleverly translated.This is a book I'll be coming back to again and again.Expecially the story about how Trurl creates a machine that can make anything starting with 'n'...

5-0 out of 5 stars Fairy Tales for Very Geeky Children
The Cyberiad is a wonderfully silly collection of stories suitable for very odd teenagers or university students with a technical bend, maybe even certain gifted children.Since it's peppered with pseudo-mathematical and physical jargon, some of the humor would be lost on someone who didn't have a pretty sophisticated background in mathematical physics.In one story, for example, Trurl's poetry writing machine is challenged to produce a love poem in tensor algebra, topology and higher calculus.I'm not convinced that would undermine the enjoyability of the book to general audiences, though, since to them these jokes would simply serve as technical nonsense which only makes the two main characters, a pair of clever constructor robots named Trurl and Klapaucius, seem even more brilliant and inscrutable.I think many of the reviewers have missed the point, Lem is indeed a wonderful science fiction writer, but these stories are meant to be light fun for very bright people not a heavy intellectual exercise.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful
Wonderful.I had read Solaris and liked it (plus the first film but not the Clooney one).I then set out to read all Lem and discovered much, much more!

Without taking anything away from Douglas Adams' imagination, he MUST have read the Cyberiad in his youth.For example, you will find the probability machine they built to adjust probabilities so that dragons can come into (more probable) and out of (more improbable) existence...

And so much more.

The punning and nonsensical imagery (Lear and Alice in Wonderland) are superb. ... Read more

4. A Perfect Vacuum
by Stanislaw Lem
Paperback: 229 Pages (1999-11-25)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$8.81
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0810117339
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
.1 a"In a perfect vacuum, Stanislaw Lem presents a collection of book reviews of nonexistent works of literature - works that, in many cases, could not possibly be written. Embracing postmodernism's "games for games' sake" ethos, Lem joins the contest with hilarious and grotesque results."--BOOK JACKET. "Most of the "reviews" target the postmodern infatuation with antinarratives by lampooning their self-indulgence and exploiting their mannerisms. Lem exposes the limits of postmodern fiction, showing how its studious self-consciousness frequently conceals intellectual paucity. Beginning with a review of his own book, Lem moves on to tackle (or create pastiches of) the French new novel, James Joyce, pornography, authorless writing, and Dostoevsky, while at the same time ranging across scientific topics, from cosmology to the pervasiveness of computers."--BOOK J ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars A most interesting vacuum
A Perfect Vacuum is a reference for books on imaginary books. I love comments on imaginary books, an in this field Stanislaw Lem is a master. The difference with Borges reviews on imaginary books (read Fictions, by the Argentinian author) is that Stanislaw Lem recurs to science and locate most of his visionary plots into the future, where humankind is often not human and sometimes not kind. In line of other Lem's works: Imaginary Magnitude, One Human Minute, this "perfect vacuum" is a reference, the best of them all. I eagerly recommend this book.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Metareview
Here Stanislaw Lem embarks on a pretty unique method of satire - reviews of nonexistent books. Most interestingly, Lem takes the opportunity to advance his own ideas on technology, ethics, and logic while satirizing both writers and the literary criticism establishment. Getting a grip on these multiple levels of satire is the key to understanding Lem's purpose in this book. In several "reviews" here, he skewers literary criticism by pretending to be an exaggerated version of an academic critic, first by criticizing his own nonexistent longwinded introduction to this book, then by over-analyzing his fictitious books to the point of solipsism. Examples include critiques of a book that is apparently about nothing and another book in a language spoken by neither the writer nor the critic. All the while, Lem satirizes the ridiculousness of such endeavors with ironically overblown professor-isms like "The self-novel is a partial striptease; the antinovel, ipso facto, is (alas) a form of autocastration." Just like you would find in any literary critique written by a professor wishing to impress no one but another professor - a phenomenon that deserves to be satirized.

Lem also "reviews" several fictitious books that adapt the themes and plotlines of old classics to modern settings, which in the real world is the type of literary reinvention that is often slavishly over-praised by academic analysts - makingLem's satire necessary in bringing all these eggheads back down to Earth. In other "reviews" here, Lem provides commentary on the fictitious scientific and philosophical theories of his fake writers, providing him with a very sneaky method of advancing his always interesting thoughts on those same topics. Meanwhile, some brutal social satire (an underappreciated strength of many of Lem's proper novels) pops up in his "reviews" of fictitious fictional works. This book often seems to be the work of boring over-analytical ivory-tower scientists and snobs, but that's exactly who Lem is satirizing, in a sly fashion that would probably go right over their lofty heads. [~doomsdayer520~]

4-0 out of 5 stars So many ideas, so little time...
...must have been Stanislaw Lem's predicament. He had the ideas for a good dozen novels, but didnt' actually feel like writing them, so he wrote reviews of them. The kind of reviews that thoroughly give away the plot.

Well no, that's probably not what happened, but it amuses me to pretend it did.

A Perfect Vacuum is a collection of reviews of non-existing books. In fact, some of them (Gigamesh, written using a battery of computers supplied by IBM, foremost) couldn't even exist. Other books ("Rien du tout") would probably be excrutiatingly boring. Others ("Gruppenfuehrer Louis XVI") sound so good I wish someone would actually write them.

Some of the reviews are lighthearted, commenting mostly on the story. Others, however, wax philosophical about the author's ideas,
and there is my problem with this book. Some of the reviews seem to me polemics against certain literary schools. But if Lem first needs to set up a caricature of something in order to shoot it down, isn't that just a strawman argument? Also, if Lem writes a brilliant review of a very bad book, can I be forgiven for asking `what's the point'? If he writes (review of "Les Robinsonades") about `the full boorishness of the blunder' of the author, am I to find him clever for pointing out an error that he first himself introduced?

However, despite these objections this is a wonderfully inventive book, and many of its chapters have a timeless quality that makes me reread them time and time again.

4-0 out of 5 stars Ideal for?
The collection of essais (forewords or afterwords) on non-existent major books of our future. Perfect food for thought, but rather bleak in reading comfort - a little bit too dry and condensed. It's not a blood thriller(s), even if dissecting thrilling matters.
Anyway, it is a must for any real SF fan. Especially after Star diaries, Futurologic congress and things like Peace on Earth and Fiasco.

5-0 out of 5 stars one of my favorite satirical works ever
I forget when I discovered Lem - in college? -- but A PERFECT VACUUM remains one of my favorite works and I'm delighted it's still in print (it may have been out of print once).Lem packages a collections of fake book reviews of nonexistent books, written in a delightful broad array of styles and voices.His wry humor lights every page.He includes a scathing review of his own book !! Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys satires and highbrow whimsy.(If you like this, try Julian barnes: Foucault's Parrot, or,History of the world in 10.5 chapters. ... Read more

5. One Human Minute
by Stanislaw Lem
Paperback: 116 Pages (1986-11-24)
list price: US$11.95 -- used & new: US$7.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 015668795X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Contains three essays--"One Human Minute," "The Upside-Down Revolution ," and "The World as Cataclysm"--from science fiction master Stanislaw Lem.
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Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars definitely recommended
I recommend the first essay to anyone; it is a beautifully written and insightful description of humanity from a point of view I tend to agree with, and uses quite a bit of very interesting data which I have a hard time imagining how Lem got a hold of (unless of course it was all fabricated, but that would generally defeat the point of the essay). The book is conveniently short (the copy I read was 102 pages), but it's clear Lem did not leave out anything for brevity's sake. Each essay takes up a third of the book, but what I take issue with is their placement.

The first is by far the most interesting and philosophical, while the next is still quite creative but has much less in the way of social commentary and much more in the way of technical speculation. The second essay is simply a speculative history of 21st-century warfare, and while very creative, cannot compare to the depth of the first.

The third is entirely out of the realm of science fiction or philosophy, instead discussing the string of unlikely occurrences leading to the development of life on earth and subsequently of humanity, and while certainly very well thought-out, is much more dry than the other two and seems to belong more in a scientific journal than its present location.

Thus the book as a whole is almost anti-climactic after the essay which comprises the first third, departing from the general (and rational) writing technique even Lem seems to have adopted of constructing texts so as to pull the reader towards the conclusion.

Contrary to the official book description, only the first of these purports to be a review of a nonexistent book; the second simply claims to summarize a secret archive of books from the future, while the third is an essay on cosmic history and the unlikeliness of extraterrestrial intelligence.

The title essay, at least, easily equals Lem's best works such as Fiasco, and I expect it to appear commonly in philosophy classes someday.

5-0 out of 5 stars STATISTICAL TRUTH
Stanislaw Lem is one among the few authors to look frankly at the human condition, define the perceptual boundaries that shape our awareness, our cultures and our potential, and tell us that, despite our nearly crippling ways of being, what we have we must hold dear.

"One Human Minute" is only one aspect of this dressed-down yet curiously uplifting view of being human, adding a statistical perspective to his perhaps better-known characterizations of isolation, loss and pain. "Solaris" and its mirror "The Invincible", as well as the staggeringly dark "Fiasco" each demonstrate the variety, texture and opacity of the walls which make us what we are while simultaneously delimiting our awareness of outer and inner existence. The persistence of these works in bringing the reader face-to-face with unknowability should drive out many of the preconceptions on which we base our sense of self. Free of the musical ditties that, with drowning sentimentality falsely reassure us close encounters of any kind will forever be of the all-singing, all-dancing variety, Lem tells us instead that we are each on our own and that there's really nothing all that terrible about it. As long as we recognize the limitless limitations.

"One Human Minute" provides a less emotional exploration of our being. Here, Lem puts us objectively in our places -- one among the masses, defined by shared parameters, weights and measures that cut deeply into our personal sense of "uniqueness". It is a bracing perspective, one that is hardly popular, despite being the only cure for our species' overbearing, top-of-the-foodchain hubris. He is gone now, but his work and his ideas will continue to compel anyone willing to openly think about what it means to be, to see the world with less of a tint. Or is it taint? ... Read more

6. Memoirs Found in a Bathtub
by Stanislaw Lem, Christine Rose, Adele Kandel
Paperback: 204 Pages (1986-07-23)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156585855
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The year is 3149, and a vast paper destroying blight-papyralysis-has obliterated much of the planet's written history. However, these rare memoirs, preserved for centuries in a volcanic rock, record the strange life of a man trapped in a hermetically sealed underground community. Translated by Michael Kandel and Christine Rose.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars Existentialism at its finest
Fascinatingly complex, confusing, stimulating, and challenging. I just finished the novel and will undoubtedly reread it again, and again, and again. I picked upmemoirs found in a bathtub (ironically?) on a whim at the goodwill for 50 cents!

Lem is on a very short list of authors who are beyond anything else you've probably read. But who knows, I certainly don't (hah!)

Paradox, the seat of being, a satirical symphony of chaos

Theres not enough stars in the sky to score this amazing novel

5-0 out of 5 stars Not for the common reader
My first thought on the book is for a reader to wait until the end of the book to read the introduction.This book is not for the intellectually weak.The allagorical and symbolic meanings of this book are not easily analyzed nor determined and it takes a few readings just to get the plot straight.Dispite these negative characteristics, "Memoirs Found in a Bathtub" is a great story, dedicated to satirizing the flaws of a buearocratic society, among many other issues.For English majors looking to analyze this as a part of course study, not much has been written on this particular work, and the articles I have found negate their arguments within the first 200 words.I recommend this book for people who liked the following books, but are looking for something a little more difficult: Nineteen Eighty-Four The Giver or any other dystopian piece of literature.

5-0 out of 5 stars Kafka on Prozac
Memoirs Found in a Bathtub by Stanslaw Lem follows the adventures of an agent-in-training as he wanders in search of a mission through the vast bureaucracy of a purposeless intelligence agency.

The agent is anonymous.But we can call him K - because the story, the style, and the absurdist message are drawn directly from Kafka (esp. The castle].K is an everyman, and his agency is an allegory for society.Ostensibly, the agency is the post-apocalyptic remnant of America, but it feels entirely European.

The theme of the Memoirs is that one's search for individual identity (i.e. the mission) is distracted by reflections of the self in other people.Social interaction discloses layer upon layer of identity (like the numberless floors of the agency's building) but no essential purpose.Such a search wraps the individual tighter and tighter in a web of conformity.

In the end, K can no longer imagine leaving the building.He becomes incapable of even attempting a mission, should he ever find one.Even his human rebelliousness turns into tragically reflexive conformity.

Lem's narrative style conveys serious ideas using a simple narrative prose and pervasive, but understated humor.In this respect, Lem writes like Kafka on Prozac - with clearer ideas, faster pace, and more fun.For me, this is the best aspect of the book.

The worst aspect of the book is the introduction.I advise the reader to skip it; with the intro included, my recommendation drops by at least one star.It places the Memoirs in a sophomoric (and entirely unnecessary) SciFi context and draws the connection with America.I speculate that the introduction was added to satisfy censors in 1961 Poland.

5-0 out of 5 stars a perfect work of art
Hilarious bureaucratic master-work reduces every paranoid cliche to the realm of the absurd. After a brief prologue (explaining the currentstate of the world), the memoirs take over the book and create an environment both instantly insane and memorabley accurate. Lem was always the funniest of the sci fi writers- he makes you think, the same time he causes you to laugh out loud. (it's like Kafka mixed with the Marx Brothers.) The un-named narrator will have you rooting for him from the first sentence. Even the final stark scene is somehow uncomfortabley amusing.

4-0 out of 5 stars Enter the labyrinth...
These memoirs are presented in the foreword as the last remnant of a dead civilization, and its twisted hierarchical organization and jargon justify the archaeologist of the future in thinking that this is the artifact of a bizarre religion. As such, it is a religion that radically cut itself from transcendence: its Temple is a shadowy museum of illusions and deceptions, with no hope whatsoever of receiving the light of order; pseudo-heresies are created by their unknowing priests, revelations are elaborated at will only to be contradicted soon after. This is the world that the book's nameless hero must brave - he experiences several 'signification crisises', going back-and-forth between allegory as a universal rule and a complete negation of sense. The Building in which all the events take place is a sort of fiction-generating machine (like Lem's book itself), perpetually spinning tales, intrigues and conflicts. What makes the book powerful is that Lem equates his reader with the main character, both sharing an elusive mission; the work starts smoothly, until reader and agent are completely immersed in this world of mirrors, crypted informations and thwarted enigmas. The desire to understand remains, but there is nothing to understand as the personal quest (the agent's and the reader's) becomes more and more convoluted and drowned into a complex string of half-truths. A maze of a novel. ... Read more

7. Peace on Earth
by Stanislaw Lem
Paperback: 240 Pages (2002-12-04)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$9.14
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 015602814X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Ijon Tichy is the only human who knows for sure whether the self-programming robots on the moon are plotting a terrestrial invasion. But a highly focused ray severs his corpus collosum. Now his left brain can’t remember the secret and his uncooperative right brain won’t tell. Tichy struggles for control of the lost memory and of his own two warring sides. Translated by Elinor Ford with Michael Kandel. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book ... Read more

Customer Reviews (9)

2-0 out of 5 stars Neither hemisphere liked this read.
This really isn't my favorite Lem story.I do really like the idea of someone being two different people who have to find a way to communicate when the brain's corpus callosom is cut and therefore thoughts cannot be shared.The idea of putting all of the earth's weapons on the moon and have computers research and improve on them without humans was kind of a stretch of reasoning.

5-0 out of 5 stars Another Lem Mind Bender
Ever since I was introduced to Lem I've been nagged by the question "Why haven't more Americans been exposed to this master of SciFi?"

Lem's writing is frequently hilarious, unbelievably imaginative, and always thoroughly engrossing. The biggest exposure his work has enjoyed in the States was probably S. Soderberghs 2002 film adaptation of Solaris (which flopped) starring George Clooney, which itself was a remake of a 1972 film by the Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky.

In Lem's vision of the future the great nations of Earth have tired of endless and financially ruinous arms races and therefore collectively agree to suspend arms development on Earth. Unwilling to leave themselves entirely defenseless, they divide the moon into autonomous sections where computers and nanomachines continue weapons research without human interference or oversight.

The concept is ingenious. No nation has any idea whether their weapons are entirely inferior to those of another, or if they even have any weapons at all. Initiating an attack would be a perilous gamble, for no nation knows its own strength, much less that of the enemy. An uneasy peace falls over the Earth, and war is relocated to the moon, just within reach, should the fragile peace be broken.

Peace on Earth is told from the vantage point of Ijon Tichy, who features in other works by Lem. When contact with the moon suddenly ceases everyone assumes the worst. Tichy issent to the moon on a recon mission to ascertain the status of the war machines. His mission ends in failure when he returns with a bisected brain and little memory of his journey.

As Tichy and the governments of Earth struggle to piece together the mystery the possibility of war draws ever closer. In addition, Tichy must contend with his bisected brain. The hemisphere that might remember what happened on the moon seems determined not to cooperate with the other hemisphere. To make things worse, the renegade brain halve has control of one of Tichy's hands, which does whatever it pleases, including punching Tichy repeatedly in the face.

You have to read to book to appreciate the extent of Lem's talent for bringing the technology of the future to life. The chapters describing the technology on the moon are absolutely mind boggling, the work of brilliant mind. So get one of his books, and join the club already.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Bisected Brain
Even at this late stage of his career, Stanislaw Lem was still delivering sharp satire that skewered not just the human condition, but also the archetypes of science fiction. Here, the droll antihero Ijon Tichy is the victim an enemy attack that has severed the connection between the left and right sides of his brain, resulting in the weirdest behavior you'll ever see from a sci-fi secret agent. Meanwhile, Tichy is assigned by Earth authorities to dig up some dirt on what's happening with proxy warfare on the moon. In the most biting aspect of Lem's satire, the nations of the Earth are self-righteously proclaiming "Peace on Earth" when they have merely exported warfare to the Moon, where it is conducted by self-replicating robots and nanotechnology. It turns out that these tech gadgets have evolved on their own in ways their human creators could never comprehend, and some portions of this book are mindbendingly surreal as Tichy tries to infiltrate bizarre mutant technological landscapes. How these technologies end up threatening their Earthbound masters, who had designed them for falsely peaceful purposes, allows Lem to ruminate brutally on the fallacy of war and the pitfalls of technology. The master of sci-fi satire strikes again. [~doomsdayer520~]

5-0 out of 5 stars Another great work by Stanislaw Lem!
This is another novel in a series of stories about Ijon Tichy, space traveller. Ijon Tichy' stories are always fun to read, no exception here - some kind of combination of absurd andscience fiction genres (of course, Stanislaw Lem has so much more than this). This is the later work by this master and I do believe it's not his strongest - but even so it is very good. At the same time, for somebody new to Stanislaw Lem I wouldn't recommend to start his journey here - there are better starting points. This book will be better appreciated by somebody already familiar with Lem books in general and with Ijon Tichy stories, in particular.

5-0 out of 5 stars Only Ijon Tichy could both destroy and save the planet.
Ijon Tichy, our favorite clutzy hero, who has been subjected to "benignimizers," time machines, insane robots and who was responsible for creating the universe, stays a little closer to home inthis mind boggling little masterpiece.Lem, although unknowingly, createda strangely prophetic story for Y2K worry worts.The idea of our quest tobecome more advanced, no matter how idiotic the advancements, leads to ourundoing; or for the optimist, a new beginning.I'm intentially beingcryptic, as not to ruin the story, but this book is definitly worth itsweight in LEM. ... Read more

8. Solaris
by Stanislaw Lem
Paperback: 204 Pages (2002-11-20)
list price: US$13.00 -- used & new: US$5.99
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Asin: 0156027607
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Who's testing whom? When Kris Kelvin arrives at the planet Solaris to study the ocean that covers its surface, he is forced to confront a painful, hitherto unconscious memory embodied in the living physical likeness of a long-dead lover. Others examining the planet, Kelvin learns, are plagued with their own repressed and newly corporeal memories. Scientists speculate that the Solaris ocean may be a massive brain that creates these incarnate memories, its purpose in doing so unknown.
The first of Lem's novels to be published in America and now considered a classic, SOLARIS raises a question: Can we truly understand the universe around us without first understanding what lies within?
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Customer Reviews (41)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Purported Sci Fi Classic That's Not Aging Gracefully
Having read this purported classic sci fi novel again recently, I've discovered that it hasn't aged well.The novel is beginning to reveal its age by the obsolete technical terms Lem has incorporated into his book dating this novel to the pre-computer age.Many of the futuristic sounding images back when he wrote the novel are now ancient. The basic themes of alieness, the emotional separation in the first third of the novel and the climatic emotional scene retain their power and poignancy.This novel is both simple and easy to read (sometimes a sign of good writing) and also includes some of Lem's famous difficult to follow narrative (though not in great amounts), yet his offuscated language is in itself part of its science fiction fascination and charm for some.In some respects the resulting movies have been able to focus on several parts of the novel better than the novel but neither are able to transfer from the book the momentous and unfathomable Solaris itself and the many mysterious activities occurring on the planet itself.Both movies also take a rather different emotional tonal departure at the end from the book.While Solaris was a landmark in some ways, especially the original movie, time has allowed many of the sci fi features to be further enhance and polished by future writers, except for the breakthrough in disoriented displacement, surprise and bewildering science fiction alienness which remains as compelling and memorable as any sci fi media forms created.

4-0 out of 5 stars Emotional camouflage contrasts planetary revelations
Solaris is one of those atmospheric novels which doesn't apply its readership to the mainstream. It's heavy on descriptive paragraphs and notational dialogue than it is on action sequences and spoken revelations. It's such a novel where the reader must pick up the nuances of the words and relationships to truly grasp the impact of the entire novel. If you're not sure what I mean, consider two movies and whether you can relate to them one way or another through their use of ambiance: Lost in Translation and Napoleon Dynamite. Both are sparse on dialogue but heavy on use of atmosphere to bring the reader/watcher in tune with the characters. In the same line, Solaris is a novel of nebulous activity where characters are at mercy of the greater scheme of things.

Lem's detailed descriptions of the planetary formations of Solaris are breathtaking and imaginative but occasionally drag on with imagery which is difficult to come to terms with in explanations of shape, size and even color. His views of environmental consciousness and its effect on human manipulation is one of unique insight considering its date of release- 1970. Thereafter, a number of novels have taken a similar approach in `planetary awareness' and `living oceans.' The relationship of experimentation borders on diabolical- humans bombard the ocean with x-ray beams while the same offers up so-called human-like hallucinations to the scientists. The effect to the ocean is unknown but the Solaris-to-human has forever changed with the new lifelike hallucinations of once known companions.

It's quite a gripping look at how a planet struggles to understand what it is to be human while the humans themselves face their own monsters. However, the occasional chapter is full of lengthy descriptions which siphon away the rich ambiance already established. The gaze outward to the planet isn't as fulfilling as the gaze inward into the minds of Solaris and Man. The strength in the novel lies internally, where you must finger through the gradual enlightening shades of emotional camouflage (as contradictory as that may sound, Lem writes it like no other).

4-0 out of 5 stars The Book is Better Than the Movie
I rented the DVD (with George Clooney) and because some of it was confusing, I decided to purchase the book. Some important parts were changed in the movie, and I liked the original story better.

5-0 out of 5 stars Science Fiction At Its Best
Lem is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, writers of science fiction because he elevates the form into the realm of philosophy.Here, as in several other books (among them Fiasco), he asks what it might be like to encounter an alien intelligence which is so different from ours as to render true communication impossible.In Solaris, Chris Kelvin journeys to the planet Solaris where he and his crewmates encounter an alien capable of reading minds and then "bringing back" people they have known.For Kelvin, it his dead wife.There are subtle differences, however, between the alien versions and the people the astronauts once knew.Why?That question is never answered and the reader is left to conjecture, just as conjecture is all that is allowed by Lem of the alien's motives.Lem writes for people who want to think.For those who want tales with neat beginnings and endings which are sewn up tight, he is not your man.

4-0 out of 5 stars Deeply Philosophical Science Fiction
Solaris is a beautiful and mysterious story that depicts the romance between Kelvin, a scientist sent to study a living planet, and an artificial human created for unknown reasons by the planet using Kelvin's memories.

The story begins mysteriously with his arrival on the space station where he finds his scientific mentor has recently committed suicide, and his companions aboard the station are consumed by relationships with their own visitors, the nature of which remains unclear.The three scientists grapple with the limits of their own ability to know anything about the nature of the phenemena they encounter and eventually attempt to free themselves of their visitors.

Solaris questions the motivations behind space exploration, and the possibility of ever communicating with a truely alien life form. ... Read more

9. Eden (Helen & Kurt Wolff Book)
by Stanislaw Lem
Paperback: 276 Pages (1991-10-31)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$11.05
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Asin: 0156278065
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A six-man crew crash-lands on Eden, fourth planet from another sun. The men find a strange world that grows ever stranger, and everywhere there are images of death. The crew's attempt to communicate with this civilization leads to violence and to a cruel truth-cruel precisely because it is so human. Translated by Marc E. Heine. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
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Customer Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beyond SF
An astonishing book, especially so given its date. It's not about narrative nor character, so if you're reading for those prepare to be disappointed. It's about the impossibility of human perception outside of any human frame. Having said it's not about narrative, it's disappointing that Lem felt the need to supply something of a classic-realist conclusion in the last pages, but the rest of the book is excellent. Clarke's (later) 'Rendevouz with Rama' explores a similar theme.

5-0 out of 5 stars What is going on?!
If you love stories where strange new worlds and new civilizations are explored, you'll love Eden!This planet is home to 6 astronauts who crash land in the opening pages of the book.Named only for their professions except for the engineer named Henry.Explorations start from a boring desert plane (where their ship has landed) to four separate expeditions.First a northward expedition discovers a strange factory of utmost complexity creating sophisticated items that are recycled , eastward gives them a first contact with an inhabitant in a very strange transport, South and west just give more and more mysteries.The theme here is how difficult it is to understand a totally alien society.They find that they have plenty of theories to explain the strange sites and occurences but are just unsure of the truth.Part of the problem they decide is that they base their explanations on what they know from earth and earth society.They concede that explanations based on from earth experiences should be disregarded.Well, have no fear as explanations do come at the end of the book, unlike Lem's other planetary exploration of "Solaris".

4-0 out of 5 stars Could we understand the truly alien if we saw it?
Almost all of Lem's science fiction centers around one or two variations of one theme. The theme is "What is intelligence?" and the two variations are "What would robotic life be like?" and "What would a truly alien intelligence be like?""Eden" is in the second group.A party of explorers arrives on an alien world and wanders around trying to make sense of it.The subtext of "Eden" is that it could really be a description of Earth as viewed through completely fresh eyes.In a typical scene the explorers wander into a valley of flowers.When approached the blooms suddenly take flight.Lem leaves it to the reader to realize a visitor to Earth might make the same mistake about butterflys.Like many of Lem's works the book is really a work of philosophy and somewhat abstract:the explorers do not even have names, just job descriptions.By the standards of any other science fiction author this book deserves 5 stars, I only give it 4 because I prefer "Solaris" and "Fiasco" with which "Eden" should be grouped (along with the more difficult "His Master's Voice") as books about contact (Sagan's "Contact" is clearly based on "His Master's Voice").

3-0 out of 5 stars as always - not a good translation
The eng. translation takes most of the mystery out of the book.

3-0 out of 5 stars TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER....UH, PLEASE?
Instead of just making a fly-by of an unexplored earth atmosphere planet named Eden, a six-man crew spaceship crashlands with no hope of rescue. Lem doesn't even deign to give the characters proper names. Instead, in a Kafkaesque manner, they are simply called The Captain, The Chemist, The Engineer, The Physicist, the Cyberneticist, and The Doctor. It's not really clear to me why he chose this method, unless he wanted the universal everyman or stereotype of each profession. Who knows? The first problem the crew has to face is just getting out of the ship since the main hatch is resting underground and the only other exit has been flooded with radioactive water. It doesn't seem like they can contact anyone off planet either, and it will be impossible to move the ship without powering up robots. But one of the crew does seem to remember seeing a city before they crashed, and so the crew sets out on foot. They do find alien lifeforms and structures, but what results is the usual violence that humans seem to display when enveloped in fear and the unknown. The crew expects to be attacked or to be greeted by the inhabitants, but what happens when the natives act as if they're not even there?

Lem does a good job of portraying the aliens in his fiction as aliens. In works by other sci-fi writers, extraterrestrials seem to be humans in green skins, or animals with longer teeth. As he did in Solaris, the author hits the theme that like mortals comprehending God, humans would have an impossible time figuring out the behavior and mentality of a truly alien species. Yes, vastly different civilizations have collided through time on Earth, but what would happen if we truly faced and ALIEN consciousness? The crew in this book make the same mistakes we would make. Namely, comparing and contrasting alien behavior and buildings to human models. Of course, this leads to many wrong conclusions in Eden, even leading to death for some.

I think in the end Lem lets me down simply because there are some explanations of the Edenites behavior, and these explanations are ideas that humans could have. I guess no human can truly write a realistic encounter with an alien race simply because a human mind cannot think like a non-human mind. Well, maybe a flying saucer will land in my backyard tomorrow and I'll write a book about it.

If you liked this book I would highly recommend Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke. ... Read more

10. Fiasco
by Stanislaw Lem
Paperback: 336 Pages (1988-03-15)
list price: US$17.00 -- used & new: US$12.31
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Asin: 0156306301
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The planet Quinta is pocked by ugly mounds and covered by a spiderweb-like network. It is a kingdom of phantoms and of a beauty afflicted by madness. In stark contrast, the crew of the spaceship Hermes represents a knowledge-seeking Earth. As they approach Quinta, a dark poetry takes over and leads them into a nightmare of misunderstanding. Translated by Michael Kandel. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
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Customer Reviews (24)

Walked into this one with Eden, Return From The Stars, Solaris, Cyberiad and most of the Pirx stories under my belt. After reading Fiasco, I researched Lem on the Web, for the first time, just to get to know this extaordinary man and his career better. I found out that I not only learn from him, I also learn just from reading about him.

I believe this novel, Lem's last, contains his finest effort of all. The playfulness and leitmotifs of some of his other work are absent, but we get a sober treatment of just how a voyage of several light years could be carried out, and a cautionary tale about expectations,self delusion and just how alien alien can get. The first chapter, that some other reviewers found boring, I found to be written in the style of his Pirx stories, with one event leading to the next, and with our pilot Parvis' viewpoint featured. No deep concepts, no long, involved conversations - just an adventure story prequel to the Quinta voyage. For example, the six-page description of Parvis taking control of the fusion-powered Digla is a fascinating and satisfying tour de force of traditional hard scifi.I climbed into the control harness as if I was Parvis, while I renewed my deep love of Lem's evocative prose (see title of this review). For me, the first chapter was a wonderful return to seeing the future through the eyes of a very bright and capable 'regular' guy; an everyday hero. It is also a last look at humanity before we make our first massive interspecies blunder.

The remainder of 'Fiasco' is, in my opinion, the blueprint, the highest court of appeal, for ALL hard science fiction. 'Fiasco' isn't fiction with a scientific theme; it is fiction about science. As was said in one essay I read about Lem,unlike other authors, that became skilled at giving the appearance of science to their stories,Lem gives the appearance of actual research. The theory, physics and the philosophy of his science are expounded upon in conversations and books being read by characters in the story (during the subjective 6 year journey to Quinta). We learn about things right along with the resurrected pilot Tempe.

In 'Fiasco', Lem also introduces a new technique of interstellar travel - made possible by something he calls the Holenbach Interval, and employed using 'Sidereal Engineering'. Einstein's speed limit is observed, but instead of playing tricks with distance or velocity, starship Eurydice's 18 supercomputers ping a black hole with a very large explosive charge, creating a momentary assymetrical resonance reaction in the topology of gravity waves surrounding it. Within them, time runs backwards, creating a haven that, if successfully entered, allows only two weeks of shiptime to elapse for one and one-half years of galactic time - the time during which the Hermes makes it's fateful encounter with Quinta. One of my favorite quotes from the book : "Physics, my friend, is a narrow path drawn across a gulf that the human imagination cannot grasp. It is a set of answers to certain questions that we put to the world, and the world supplies answers on the condition that we will not then ask it other questions, questions shouted out by common sense. And common sense? It is that which is understood by an intelligence using senses no different than those of a baboon."

The ideas and discussions here breathe the fourth dimension of speculative fiction into your mind as you read, and give insight into the responsibility that goes along with being a science fiction author (or should). Truly, you are not just entertained; you are enlightened and expanded and filled with the enormity of this mission and all of it's implications, and those of any similar missions you may read about in the future.

If there is a core competency, and serious responsibility, associated with speculative fiction, it is meaningful prognosis. With fiction becoming fact on a near-daily basis, speculative fiction is the only literature we can turn to for imaginative exploration of technologies and sociologies ahead of the time someone is trying to foist them on us. 'Fiasco' is just such a work of literature, and it gives your mind the kind of insight you'll need to evaluate what you read in tomorrow's newspaper.

4-0 out of 5 stars Must Reread.
Just finished Fiasco.Although, I might not have.The first chapter was really long and boring, however, once the main story gets off and running, it turned out to be a great first contact story for the human race.Of course the best planning for first contact just doesn't help because this is totally unchartered territory.What can an alien intelligence be like.They would have to want to meet us wouldn't they?Why wouldn't they?

After reading this I have come to the conclusion that ....I have to read it a second time.I think there is a lot of thought that went into this novel.The ending seemed rather short though compared to the well crafted body of the story.From reading other reviews, it seems that that boring first chapter has some relevance after all ....on the ending.

Must reread.

What do you think?

4-0 out of 5 stars much to think about
Judged strictly within the realm of science fiction, I would have given this novel five stars. It operates at a higher by far intellectual level than most science fiction. First, let it be said that Lem didn't just write a parable or morality play with science fiction trappings. There isspeculative hard science aplenty to give a very realistic feel of plausibility to this future world of incredibly sophisticated machines and interstellar space travel. But, within this framework of technology, the main focus of the book is the moral and philosophical dimension. This primarily has to do with trying to make contact with an alien life-form, but there are many strange and interesting subordinate topics packed into this dense book. Without trying to be a spoiler, just a word about the ending. Although there is a definite conclusion I found it still to be somewhat ambiguous,so don't expect all of your questions to be answered.

3-0 out of 5 stars Philosophical Manual meets Adventurous Tale

Sometimes ratings don't actually match true reception of the book. My rating of six feels like a bookmark of the somewhat difficult time I had reading this novel, and I fully intend to return to it at some later date with the expectation that my rating will rise at that point. But for now, I found this movie really good whereas not very "enjoyable" in the sense that I feel that rating is asking for. If that makes any sense at all (eh, numeric ratings are arbitrary anyway).

Stanislaw Lem's Fiasco is definitely a strong justification for anyone who likes to call science fiction "speculative fiction", mostly because it's made up almost entirely of speculations. Following a long introductory chapter that helps to set the mood in terms of humanity's process of stretching across the stars, the main plot begins as a small crew of people attempt to establish contact with an alien civilization for the first time. As they approach, every conceivable result is debated and cross-analyzed, whereas the precise nature of the civilization they're journeying too is rendered just as controversial. Most of the dialog and description from there is a process of opening up the reader to the different possibilities, whereas the action itself is a constant specification of what actually ends up happening within the narrative. It actually makes the book somewhat schizophrenic: the book is one part philosophical text examining the multi-faceted possibilities of the Universe (which are, ultimately, infinite, but Lem does manage to break it down into what are the primary issues), combined with a series of increasingly specific incidents, plot-wise. Part of my difficulty in reading this book (and I didn't really have the energy most of the time to read it as close as I usually do) is the fact that I was for the most part more interested in the speculative aspects of it over the plot, meaning the process behind the actions of the characters and the decisions of the author weren't always all that clear to me.

I mean, "every single line means something." Each individual speculation on the philosophical part of this text could have easily branched off to become its own science fiction book entire. That was wonderful. But I had to re-read and re-read to try to figure out how the characters thought it could really be a good idea to blow up the Quintan's moon as a show of strength, and I'm still not satisfied. In a situation where a spaceship has that kind of power, you'd think the users would come up with some different action to provide the same psychological effect with less damage to the mission. A lot of the actual plot of the book felt, to me, like Lem was understanding that he couldn't just keep the book so loose and speculative, that he'd actually have to make decisions as to what happens, so he almost literally made the decisions based on what he just felt like happening.

However, I might be wrong, and that's why I have to read the book again. Fiasco reminded me of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse, only in space--and with explosions. One thing I do understand is Lem's motive behind having the Quintan civilization in constant warfare... the Cold War focus of this book is actually one of its stronger points, though it may make it seem dated. I also rather enjoyed what the Quintans ultimately turned out to be, because--well, let me go back a bit.

The beginning of the book is almost stand-alone. It features a rescue mission on Titan gone awry, but is used mainly as a sort of visual display to the book. The most important aspect to it in terms of the themes of the book is the moment where the pilot has to struggle with his own psychological tendency to animate and anthropomorphize a world distinctly unformed by biological life. When the main narrative starts, it is introduced in the form of a story-within-a-story, and that story has what I would call a graphic match to the ending of Fiasco (a "graphic match" is a term used in cinema theory to describe two similar-looking images used next to each other to create a visual analogy or "rhyme". I do not remember the literature equivalent, so this will do for now). The man standing in the maze of termite mounds ultimately becomes the pilot standing in the maze of Quintan fungus-forms, and the theme enacted by that comparison is reflective of the theme created by the pilot's psychological dealings with the landscape of Titan.

All of that I found magnificent; and as an instructive text towards looking towards the future and the potential conflicts we'll run into if we ever attempt communication with an alien life, we could almost consider this book a manual for later ages. I'm just still not clear what the actual contact gained had to do with anything. All of the more concrete details in the book seem like they could have easily been replaced with anything else Lem or others may have wanted. I find the relationships between the actual characters rather confusing, and sometimes I'd be reading something and feel like I must have fallen asleep and pretended I read it, because I'd feel a reaction more akin to, "Wait, I'm actually reading about cataclysm now?" than clarity. I also feel that there's probably a very strong emphasis in the use of Pirx, a name I only recognize because I did enough research about Lem prior to reading to know that he's written other stories about said pilot... I think the use of Pirx as a potential history for the amnesiac pilot is supposed to mean something to more familiar readings of Lem, and so I guess I'll go back to the library and borrow "The Adventures of Pirx the Pilot" sometime soon to see if it helps clarify anything.


5-0 out of 5 stars What if alien life doesn't want to be contacted?
Almost all of Lem's science fiction centers around one or two variations of one theme. The theme is "What is intelligence?" and the two variations are "What would robotic life be like?" and "What would a truly alien intelligence be like?" "Fiasco" is in the latter category.An expedition from Earth approaches and attempts to contact an alien race that does everything it can to avoid being contacted.The humans use their technological advantage to slowly escalate their efforts with ultimately catastrophic results.

"Fiasco" is a brilliant read on its own, and very approachable, but should really be considered part of Lem's larger set of works on this theme:"Solaris", "Eden" and "His Master's Voice" being the most obvious...with "Fiasco" being the most approachable, "Solaris" the best known and "His Master's Voice" the most challenging. ... Read more

11. Solaris; Chain of Chance; Perfect Vacuum (King Penguin Anthology)
by Stanislaw Lem
Paperback: 544 Pages (1981-07-27)

Isbn: 0140055398
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12. Tales of Pirx the Pilot
by Stanislaw Lem, Louis Iribarne
Paperback: 216 Pages (1990-11-30)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$4.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156881500
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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In Pilot Pirx, Lem has created an irresistibly likable character: an astronaut who gives the impression of still navigating by the seat of his pants-a bumbler but an inspired one. By investing Pirx with a range of human foibles, Lem offers a wonderful vision of the audacity, childlike curiosity, and intuition that can give humans the courage to confront outer space. Translated by Louis Iribarne. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
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Customer Reviews (11)

5-0 out of 5 stars subversive science fiction
one of his many social satires and critiques
masquerading as science fiction!superb!

3-0 out of 5 stars A Comedic Space Opera
Not my favorite Lem book, but still a good read, if for no other reason than as a kind of backstory for Fiasco, which I consider along with Solaris, as Lem's masterpiece, and which I read first. Fiasco begins on a ice-bound station on Saturn's moon Titan. There is an accident. And Prix along with his would-be rescuer are frozen in stasis. Decades later, the bodies are found, but there are only enough parts to rebuild on man. Moreover, there is memory loss, so we don't know for sure if it is Prix who is resurrected or his would-be rescuer.

I enjoyed this book, but it has more in common with the American space operas of the 1960s, which Lem proclaimed to despise. I'd still recommend it as light read, but you need to be something of a Lem fan to enjoy it today, IMHO. Read Fiasco first, which is truly "speculative fiction" in its highest form.

Also, there's a fascinating Wikipedia page on Stanislaw Lem, with links to in-depth synopses on many of his novels.

5-0 out of 5 stars Space travel is routinely dangerous
If you're reading this book you probably don't really need an introduction to Stanislaw Lem since this really isn't his best known work to American SF audiences.That work, of course, is "Solaris", which has now been made into two movies and while I haven't seen either one enough to comment on it (nor is this the place), all I can say is that George Clooney isn't starring in an adaptation of MY novel.

People are used to American SF and then find Lem may experience a bit of culture shock.He's not your typical SF writer.Oh, he writes about space and spaceships and aliens but he's consciously attempting to subvert what he feels are the cliches of the form and point out the easy ways out that everyone takes.The central premise of "Solaris", that there are times when you will just not be able to understand aliens no matter how hard you try, is probably one of the more radical SF ideas from a storytelling standpoint.So by reading a Lem work, you have to be aware that he knows exactly where you're coming from and he's out to show you why you shouldn't just settle for what you know.

Thus, we have Pirx.A dumpy, somewhat clumsy lad, at first glance you might think he's just going to bumble through his adventures and succeed purely on blundering luck but as it turns out he's got a bit of a keen mind that won't just accept the conventions that his peers just rely on without thinking.There's maybe five stories in this volume and when they start he is fairly green.But by the last story he's developed his own style of doing things, and even if they are utterly clutzy at times, you can't argue that they succeed.

What Lem excels at here is making the future both exciting and mundane.His space cadets and patrols feel like a natural extension of the world we know, where this type of thing is perfectly normal.And yet there's still a certain sense of excitement that "Hey, we're in space" . . . the notion that this is both possible and plausible.Pirx, for all his faults, doesn't accept the orthodoxes that everyone else just absorbs and rarely questions.Two of the stories involve people dying in space accident mysteries that serve the dual purpose of showing us that even though it's the future, technology isn't going to save us all and stupid accidents are still possible.Pirx only saves himself from the same fate by thinking outside the box slightly, where the people who die in the stories often perish because they can't accept that the technology would steer them wrong.It's both cautionary and revealing.

Each story is its own small wonder, gradually building to the final tale, a haunting story were Pirx buys his own ship with a past, complete with a robot who can't seem to forget.There are moments in that one that are sad and unsettling and spine-tingling, where the future feels both alien and right here.

When it comes to Lem, a lot of people just read "Solaris" and stop there.That is a book that should be read by any SF fan . . . but he's done others that are also worth your time as well.This is one of them.

5-0 out of 5 stars Pirx. Space professional of the future?
Throughout a dozen or so stories the reader is confronted with an evolution of sorts. Pirx, initially a cadet in some sort of a space pilot school, later becomes a full fledged 'space-man' with experience that others can safely and often rely on. Not much of his personal life is shown since the stories concern itself more with a particular plot of the moment. Because of that, Pirx sometimes appears to be a bit alien and emotionless and although what he does can be considered heroic by many standards the book underplays this aspect very well

Pirx is confronted with different problems (on earth and in different locales in the solar system), which he has to resolve or help to resolve. Some of them very mundane, some comical, the others quite heavy with ethical meanings.

Although the setting can be assumed to be far in the future, when space travel has become almost as common as a ride on a bus, the technology often seems like it's on a level of a steam-powered locomotive. The ship computers are mentioned, on-board nuclear reactors abound but all that somehow seems so amazingly ordinary and `everydayish' as an old car or a kitchen gas oven. It gives the stories quite a transcendent feeling

5-0 out of 5 stars Pirx not quite such a nice guy
The ending of this sequence of vignettes hit me like a sledgehammer.Pirx strikes me as a typical guy working in the space service.Several years ago I met a former cosmonaut and I had a much deeper understanding of whom I had met upon reading this book this year.The banality of evil is one theme in Lem's 1970's work, in Communist Poland with its official worship of technological progress as the justification for that now defunct regime.The ending of the book (which I won't give away) screamed at me that being dumb and numb is no excuse, even for a space jockey with "the right stuff." A couple decades ago, my Polish language teacher mentioned that in his opinion, Lem was the best writer in contemporary Polish fiction. Lem addresses the dark side of humanity as a constant in society with an ever-increasing level of technological complexity.More technology simply gives us more opportunities to confront who we are along with the responsibility to be prepared to think about what we are doing and what choices we will make. ... Read more

13. Highcastle: A Remembrance
by Stanislaw Lem
 Paperback: 160 Pages (1997-01-28)
list price: US$12.00 -- used & new: US$4.98
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156004720
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
A “delightfully seriocomic memoir”(New York Times) from the celebrated science fiction writer that summons up a mischievous boyhood in Poland just before World War II. Translated by Michael Kandel.
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Customer Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars A favorite for the bedside
Stanislaw Lem's writing is beautiful in this brief work. Fans of his science fiction will surely want to read this to get behind the artifice and learn about the writer. But those who are not familiar with his work will also enjoy this as a meditation on memory, growing up in Poland, and this writer's power to evoke meaning. I read it mostly before falling asleep and it gave me wonderful dreams. ... Read more

14. The Investigation
by Stanislaw Lem
Paperback: 224 Pages (1986-07-23)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$10.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156451581
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A young officer at Scotland Yard is assigned to investigate a puzzling and eerie case of missing-and apparently resurrected-bodies. To unravel the mystery, Lt. Gregory consults scientific, philosophical, and theological experts, who supply him with a host of theories and clues.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Splendid science fiction detective story.
Lem was one of the most imaginative science fiction writers ever. He was the most widely read sci-fi authors in Europe. Lem was a doctor who wrote more as a past time, (like William Carlos Williams). Some of Tarkovsky's great films were taken from Lem's stories - Stalker, Solaris, (NOT that American abomination), to name two. The Investigation takes place in and around London, and concerns rather bizarre happenings, bordering on the supernatural, at area morgues. Detective Gregory of Scotland Yard is assigned to solve the mystery.

This is not a very long book, but very well worthwhile a mystery.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not the typical detective tale...
I feel G.K. Chesterton's "The Man Who Was Thursday" would be the appropriate companion piece to read with "The Investigation". Both books are filled with the ominious, the unaswerable, both are philosophical and haunting. The mystery here is the mystery of existence. This book is the great sonata of life "living the questions". Besides, the atmosphere is rich, dark and foggy - it is the England we all stereotypically imagine in our minds. Read this book because you want great literature. It's not just "another mystery". It's beyond that.

4-0 out of 5 stars The world isn't scattered around us like a jigsaw puzzle
This is a wonderful thriller; at times surreal, at times resolvable and at times resolved. But there is a great sense of the unknowable in the face of the 'randomness' of events around us. 'What if life is like a soup with all kinds of things floating in it, and from time to time some of them get stuck together by chance to make some kind of whole?' Yes, this is my experience of life and it comforts me that there are unexplainable things - things that I cannot explain and in a real sense can never be explained. The principal character in this novel carries my own name - Gregory - and that bonded me a bit. But it is the statistician, Sciss, who says 'I don't have any illusions. That's pretty awful you know ....' I identify most of all with that statement, if not Sciss himself.

Recommended other reading:
'Limiting Factor' by Clifford D Simak (this is a short story)
'Under Western Eyes' by Joseph Conrad (he comments on illusions too)

3-0 out of 5 stars Philosophical Mystery Story
A mystery story involving, of course, dead bodies.

The spirit of the novel is best contained in the statistician's remarks on gravity.The word "Gravity" doesn't really explain anything, rather it gives a name to the tendency of objects to fall toward the center of the earth.If something like that happens every day, we give it a name of some sort and accept it as normal.If something like that seldom happens, then it's exceptional and warrants investigation.

Although I was dissatisfied with the ending, the reasoning employed along the way there is pretty engrossing.The story is also strange enough in places to be bleakly humorous.Maybe an extra half-star, for being different.

3-0 out of 5 stars Just the facts, Stan.
As every detective and scientist should know, objectively there are facts and relationships between facts.Sometimes there are causal relationships between facts, and the facts are correlated; sometimes there are no causal connections between facts, and the facts may or may not show some statistical correlation.The situation where the facts display at least chance correlations but may not be linked causally provides the leitmotiv for Stanislaw Lem's "The Investigation" (and his "Chain of Chance" for that matter).

Correlated facts are suggestive, but when the number of facts does not amount to a meaningful statistical sample the correlation may be an artifact, and then sound inductive reasoning often gives way to wild speculation.In "The Investigation", lieutenant Gregory of Scotland Yard desperately tries to puzzle out a consistent explanation for a bizarre series of disappearing corpses while receiving input from a scientist, a doctor, and fellow detectives --- each with his own ideas.The problem is that there doesn't seem to be enough solid evidence to decide whether the facts of the case have causal structure or whether they simply form "fortuitous patterns".Hmmm.

The category of "science fiction" is usually reserved for whimsical flights of fancy, but here we have a book that breathes fictional life into part of the intellectual apparatus that is at the very heart of science --- the empirical, or scientific, method.No pedantic statement is made about the empirical method, it's darker corners simply serve as a compelling thematic backdrop for a detective story."The Investigation" is not a detective novel in the traditional sense though, and the ending will throw Agatha Christie enthusiasts for a disconcerting loop...but, an enjoyable one.

The narrative style is pleasingly "cinematic" in that, with few exceptions, only things that can be seen and heard are described --- it reads something like a well-written screenplay.This narrative approach is nothing new, though, and its lack of originality kept me from getting too excited; but, my fetish for stylistic originality is probably not shared by most readers.The book is also intellectually provocative without being didactic in that the story conjures up a small whirlwind of intriguing questions, not a parade of dubious and facile answers.Most importantly, it's a fun and engaging story. I really liked this one. ... Read more

15. Star Diaries: Further Reminiscences Of Ijon Tichy
by Stanislaw Lem
Paperback: 286 Pages (1985-06-26)
list price: US$16.00 -- used & new: US$15.19
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156849054
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Ijon Tichy, Lem's Candide of the Cosmos, encounters bizarre civilizations and creatures in space that serve to satirize science, the rational mind, theology, and other icons of human pride. Line drawings by the Author. Translated by Michael Kandel. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book ... Read more

Customer Reviews (20)

4-0 out of 5 stars good book but only decent translation
I happen to know that this book is extremely hilarious in the original Polish. The english translation is not bad, but somehow doesn't capture the heavily language based humor. The thought provoking stories are still there, so it's a decent book for all that.

5-0 out of 5 stars Top Ten Sci-fi book!
This book has held a spot in my top ten favorite sci-fi books ever since I first read it as a teenager. I was amazed by the divergent thinking Lem uses in his wide variety of space tales. One of my favorites now (although it was too disturbing when I was younger) is the story of the computer/robot monastery, on a planet where every doctrine had been stripped away by scientific discoveries. The monks' reaction to this situation is described so poignantly that even Tichy is humbled. At the other end of the spectrum is the slapstick humor when Tichy enters the time vortexes and finds himself multiplied. I consider this Lem's finest work and I'm so glad it was translated into English!

4-0 out of 5 stars Ijon Tichy flies again --
-- and again, and again. Not quite a novel, but more than anthology, this book assembles twelve travels of the peripatetic Tichy. These voyages are numbered sporadically from 7 to 28. The numerical order of their presentation has nothing to do with the dates of their writing, however. Members of this collection come from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, and their non-chronological order of writing reflects the time machine mixups in which Our Pilot has found himself.

If you've never read Lem, then start here. His tone approaches Douglas Adams's combination of the mundane and absurd. The self confident mood is just the opposite of Adams's bafflement and hard-earned paranoia, however. So, when the space spuds attack (voyage 25), our hero and his associates fly boldly out to take on the tubers of terror, on their home turf. The educated, thoughtful tone (voyage 21) creates a startling comment on the nature of pure belief. Slapstick sensibility (voyage 7) parodies "in one door and out the other" humor, using time travel instead of doors and one actor instead of many. Maybe that's one actor taking the roles of many, sequentially and concurrently.

No matter, it's a fine collection, mixing philosophy and comedy in ever-varying parts. I recommend it to readers across a wide range of interests.

-- wiredweird

5-0 out of 5 stars The best!
The best book from Ijon Tichy series. The set of stories is the best I read from this series. The stories, written in various years, show how diverse Lem is. Some of the themes he touches here are very serious, e.g.planet with the 'water cult', planet with 'no identity' people, religious monk/robots, etc. Some are masterpieces of sci-fi humor (multiplication of Tichy on the ship is just the best), some are just a simple fun (twentieth voyage with the attempt to fix the past from the future with the outcome that anything significant that happened to the human race is because of mistakes in trying to fix the history). Highly recommended to anyone (not only sci-fi fans). And by the way - it is totally different from 'Solaris'.

5-0 out of 5 stars Funny
If you want to have fun - read this book

PS: Did the english translation include 'The Profit from a Dragon' (not sure about the translation) that was an exeptionally funny one (not the best though) ... Read more

16. The Invincible (Ace Science Fiction Special 4)
by Stanislaw Lem
Paperback: 223 Pages (1973)
-- used & new: US$229.10
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0283979623
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Evolution on Reigis III
The invincible is a great story about a ship, the invincible, that has a crew of about 80 people, armed to the teeth with nukes and superior shields.It is on a mission to Reigis III to find out what happened to their sister ship, the condor.Part of the story has to do with exploring the barren planet that contains some seas and metalic ruins, finding the condor and then dealing with what happened and why.Lem is a great writer of hard SF, trying to be very factual and makes sense.The book has been written some time ago though so some points are a little dated such as the warship the invincible being a huge rocket, but this really doesn't detract from the whole story.What happened to the mighty sister ship the condor?This may have been the first book to deal with this type of enemy!Very advanced for the time of this book.Great chapter on the theory of how this enemy evolved on the planet.Recommended!

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book. Well ahead of the time.
Great book, just as much of Stanislaw's Lem's books are.

Titanic, unstoppable Spaceship lands on alien world... encounters alien life form that bears an amazing resemblance to the monster in Michael Crichton's "PREY" (only it's much more exciting and interesting in the movie "THE INVINCIBLE" )

Ah, I have to go buy a new copy of this. Mine's in tatters.

4-0 out of 5 stars Those Strange Planets Can Be Murder
An impressive science fiction thriller, despite the fact that my Ace paperback edition is an English translation of a German translation of a Polish novel.

A military spacecraft lands on an unexplored planet to determine the whereabouts of a lost crew.The story resembles the film ALIENS in some ways, and also the Niven-Pournelle-Barnes novel LEGACY OF HEOROT; although this novel predates those other stories by a few decades.A better way to describe it is to call it a horror novel in a Perry Rhodan vein, for those of you who are old enough and pathetically geeky enough to benefit from that reference.It employs many elements of space opera:laser guns, antimatter cannon, force fields, atomic combat, and other such special effects commonly found in Perry Rhodan and Doc Smith's LENSMAN.But this one has a much creepier tone to it than what you'd expect from space opera.

The theme to the book is similar to that of other Lem novels, like SOLARIS and THE INVESTIGATION, where the heroes find themselves up against increasingly complex and frustrating phenomena.I liked this one better than those two, however.Recommended, but you'll have to look to find a copy.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great World
I read this after "Eden" and found it to be an interesting book, for it deals with an alien life form which is complex and strange.As in all his books, Lem explores human understanding of a foreign world.

4-0 out of 5 stars A very good Lem
A rather common theme in Lems writing (Solaris, Fiasco) is human encounterwith an alien, fundamentally incomprehensible civilisation or"organism". In Lem's view such an encounter is likely to escalateto the level of destruction or surrender because human motives andinterpretations are with necessity confined within human frames ofreference, no form of closer understanding is possible. In"Invincible" an expedition shall find out the fait of a previouslost expedition. The aggressor (the result of a very particular form ofevolution) this time is the alien being a deadly threat because of humanpresence (or rather, human technology) only. The plot unfolds with manytwists and turns typical of Lem and is good entertainment for anyone likingSolaris or Fiasco. ... Read more

17. A Stanislaw Lem Reader (Rethinking Theory)
by Peter Swirski
Paperback: 131 Pages (1997-11-12)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$14.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 081011495X
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
A series of interviews and critical dialogues with the late Stanislaw Lem whose writings have been translated into over 40 languages and have sold over 35 million copies. For those who only know him as a novelist, A Stanislaw Lem Reader is an excellent introduction to Lem's philosophy, scientific speculation, literary criticism, and social theory, while remaining perfectly accessible to readers unfamiliar with any of his works. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Another chapter on Lem
The book is unusual, no doubt, for a "reader;" actually it's hardly a Lem reader as such.It consists of a long critical introduction/analysis plus a couple of long interviews on everything under the sun and a translation of a major (and mordantly Lemian) piece on computers, virtual reality, and its ab/uses.

Much as I enjoyed it, I liked another chapter on Lem much more, this one is in another book by Swirski, From Lowbrow to Nobrow.Entire chapter six is on Lem's Chain of Chance, and it's brilliant, written more like a cross between philosophical journalism and a reader's guide, check it, it's a classic

5-0 out of 5 stars Difficult but worthwhile...
A lot of information for being approx. 150 pages as every single page contains pertinent content.(In other words, there is not one single wasted line or sentence.)Very strong writing with a nice flair as it focuses on the interdisciplinary side of Lem's novels, rather than being just an ordinary literary review.The interviews with Lem are also thought provoking; since it allows Lem's "voice" to be "heard". However, it is a little dense and at some points may be difficult to decipher exactly what the author or Lem is trying to say as both use vocabulary that is not quite "layman's terms".Still, overall it does give good insight to Lem and is a useful introduction to Lem's works.In addition, the author's focus (how literature interacts with science and society)is a breath of fresh air compared to what is usually circulating around in the guise of literary criticism!

3-0 out of 5 stars The man behind the books.
This slim volume isn't as much an introduction as a motley collection of interviews with Stanislav Lem, through which the author attempts to expose Lem's personal ideology. There is an overview of Lem's works - courtesy of the author, a pair of interviews (1992 and 1994), and a short essay written by Lem about his futurological masterpiece, "Summa Technologiae" (1964, essay written in 1991). The first problem the book runs into is that it's not particularly informative. I really hoped for a deeper analysis of Lem's works. In the interviews, Lem merely uses them to exemplify his beliefs. Furthemore, Lem himself comes off a bit patronizing and self-promoting. He repeatedly makes smug comments about his literary competition, several movements in philosophy, and a particular Polish critic who wrote an unduly scathing review of "Summa." Lastly, a good deal of the interviews become redundant. Lem's responses run long, and he manages to bring most to the followings few conclusions: the world can never be perfectly understood, or even fathomed; moderation is the safest philosophy - tertium datur; truth is in the eye of the beholder; language compromises any attempts at hard analysis; anyone who fails to believe that is misguided. Now that I think about it, Lem sounds very much like his GOLEM XIV. Nevertheless, he manages to make several interesting points about himself and his works: he proudly reiterates that he is most certainly not the alpha and omega of the European, or even Polish philosophical society; that his magnitude as a futurologist and philosopher is (mistakenly) overstated; and that his works are largely testing grounds for his evolving ideology.

The interviews portray Lem's faith in mankind as slight. He finds humanity as somewhat vain, and currently degenerating. An especially hard-hitting forecast of his predicts a deluge of information that will drown civilization. This examination of Lem's repeatedly frustrated attempts to bring the cosmic forces of logic to crack the tough nut of the Western civilization made me aware of just what I want from Lem as a reader: I want a book where mankind is awed and humiliated in numbers sufficient to produce a positive effect. I want the cosmos to teach man a lesson. I want an emergency exit.

5-0 out of 5 stars Difficult but really eye-opening
Recommended to all Lem scholars, science-fiction fans, literature lovers, and people who like to look beyond literature.I thoroughly enjoyed it even though it's not exactly Sunday reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant, challenging, innovative, thought-provoking...
I did not know anything about Lem before--this is a great and utterly challenging introduction to just about anything that Lem wrote about: contemporary culture, literature, science, philosophy.I admire theinterviewer: it must have been a difficult task of arranging and editing(and translating) these talks.I read this book and bought a few Lemnovels--what a treat!I recommend A Stanislaw Lem Reader to all who loveliterature and are of reflective nature. ... Read more

18. Solaris
by Lem Stanislaw
 Paperback: Pages
list price: US$0.75
Isbn: 0425021017
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (2)

Having seen the film that starred George Clooney and was based upon this book, and having found it wanting, I decided to go to the source. I am glad that I did, as it is certainly better as a book than it is as a film. It is also far more profound than the film, which concentrated on the love story.

This book is much more than that, covering many themes. It is, first and foremost, about contact with an alien entity and communication of a type beyond our comprehension. Is it friend or foe? Who can say, as the source of the communication makes its pitch based upon an individual's memories, some good, and some bad? What it is communicating remains unfathomable. Still, the book provides much food for thought.

5-0 out of 5 stars What WAS it?
Solaris was a planet, but it also was a mystery.For hundreds of years mankind has been trying to understand if the ocean was a intelligence or just organic soup.Kris Kelvin, a researcher from Earth, must try to understand WHAT is happening, because the planet has done something.Something wonderful, amazing and very, very scary.
The book forces us to think about what we define as intelligence, what we define as human and, even, what we define as God.Wonderful, truly a classic.A must read! ... Read more

19. Solaris (french)
by Stanislaw Lem
Paperback: 319 Pages (2002-08)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$17.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 2070422399
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The first of Lem’s novels to be published in americanca and still the best known. A scientist examining the ocean that covers the surface of the planet Solaris is forced to confront the incarnation of a painful, hitherto unconscious memory, inexplicably created by the ocean. An undisputed SF classic. Translated by Joanna Kilmartin and Steve Cox.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (56)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent history!!
Excellent history. 2002 movie "Solaris" sucks. The book is more deep about the intelligent ocean and is more than a love history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Exploring Solaris, from movies to book
I'm kind of new to the story of Solaris, seeing the film with george clooney, that i really liked and then later seeing the drawn out russion film. Although i know most of the story centers around Rheya and Kelvin, the sci fi side of me wanted to know more about the planet of Solaris. The book does just that, i loved reading along with Kelvin, the main character, how he peruses the library on the space station regarding the first explorations and what they had found. Solaris after all had first been discovered and visited 100 years ago resulting in volumes and volumes of books and film. Also, the book goes into great length to describe the structures that are miles high that Solaris constantly makes and destroys and how some exploration teams had been the victim of staying too long in studying these structures. This background i feel is essential to understand solaris crowning achievement of makeing a human "clone" from memories. I have heard that the hollywood movie of Solaris had much more footage that was cut by listening to the director's commmentary. If this footage contained more background of the planet it would more closely follow the book which really makes it a more complete story. Solaris is great sci fi discovery of an amazing and unique planet, as unique as the description of Arakis (DUNE) with its sandy sees and rock islands. Still, not all is explained in Solaris. Perhaps the unknown left unknown is the best type of story in the end, we keep trying to think of what Solaris is all about, just as the explorers in the story will continue to do.

5-0 out of 5 stars Exploring Solaris, from movies to book
I'm kind of new to the story of Solaris, seeing the film with george clooney, that i really liked and then later seeing the drawn out russion film. Although i know most of the story centers around Rheya and Kelvin, the sci fi side of me wanted to know more about the planet of Solaris. The book does just that, i loved reading along with Kelvin, the main character, how he peruses the library on the space station regarding the first explorations and what they had found. Solaris after all had first been discovered and visited 100 years ago resulting in volumes and volumes of books and film. Also, the book goes into great length to describe the structures that are miles high that Solaris constantly makes and destroys and how some exploration teams had been the victim of staying too long in studying these structures. This background i feel is essential to understand solaris crowning achievement of makeing a human "clone" from memories. I have heard that the hollywood movie of Solaris had much more footage that was cut by listening to the director's commmentary. If this footage contained more background of the planet it would more closely follow the book which really makes it a more complete story. Solaris is great sci fi discovery of an amazing and unique planet, as unique as the description of Arakis (DUNE) with its sandy sees and rock islands. Still, not all is explained in Solaris. Perhaps the unknown left unknown is the best type of story in the end, we keep trying to think of what Solaris is all about, just as the explorers in the story will continue to do.

5-0 out of 5 stars Exploring Solaris, from movies to book.
I'm kind of new to the story of Solaris, seeing the film with george clooney, that i really liked and then later seeing the drawn out Russian film.Although i know most of the story centers around Rheya and Kelvin, the sci fi side of me wanted to know more about the planet of Solaris.The book does just that, i loved reading along with Kelvin, the main character, how he peruses the library on the space station regarding the first explorations and what they had found.Solaris after all had first been discovered and visited 100 years ago resulting in volumes and volumes of books and film.Also, the book goes into great length to describe the structures that are miles high that Solaris constantly makes and destroys and how some exploration teams had been the victim of staying too long in studying these structures.This background i feel is essential to understand solaris crowning achievement of makeing a human "clone" from memories.I have heard that the hollywood movie of Solaris had much more footage that was cut by listening to the director's commmentary.If this footage contained more background of the planet it would more closely follow the book which really makes it a more complete story.Solaris is great sci fi discovery of an amazing and unique planet, as unique as the description of Arakis (DUNE) with its sandy sees and rock islands.Still, not all is explained in Solaris.Perhaps the unknown left unknown is the best type of story in the end, we keep trying to think of what Solaris is all about, just as the explorers in the story will continue to do.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
A novel about really different aliens, and the struggles that the human psyche has in dealing with such concepts.

A psychologist is dispatched to a station on an alien world to see what is going on, and finds murder and a host of mental problems when he arrives.

... Read more

20. The Chain of Chance
by Stanislaw Lem
 Paperback: Pages (1978-01-01)

Asin: B002KZN8TS
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars A great find!
I remember reading this story a very long time ago, and I remember the story clearly.I'm glad that this book is finally available.If you like a good mystery, even if you don't really like Science Fiction, then this book is for you.Like all good mysteries, it will keep you guessing right up to the last page though once you know the solution, every clue falls into place.It's also an exciting story.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Butler Did It... Actually, Not This Time
Fans of Lem's methodical and unique philosophical insights into psychology and humanity will not be disappointed by this novel.In that sense, along with the usual complex and precise, yet eloquent prose (I have the greatest respect for the translators of Lem's novels - that must be an art in itself), this is classic Lem.Throughout his catalog of fiction Lem seemingly wrote in two voices.One voice is exemplified in the Tichy novels where slapstick, as well as, more subtle, highbrow humor is blended seamlessly with the philosophical ponderings.The second voice is a drier one substituting exhaustive detailing and complex technical conceptual development in place of the levity.This book represents the latter.This iconoclastic novel stands the classic whodunit on its head in a way few writers would even dare. Lem uses the storyline as a device to explore a theme common to his work, but never as fully developed as it is here.He points to a common shortcoming of man's psychology; namely, that we tend to overestimate the influence of willful design in our lives, while failing to fully grasp the importance of random chance.Not Lem's best work and certainly not a novel for everyone, but still well worthy of 5 stars.

5-0 out of 5 stars From Lowbrow to Nobrow
I came across an excellent book From Lowbrow to Nobrow by Peter Swirski who I discovered later has written a whole bunch of books and articles on Lem. Chapter 6 in From Lowbrow to Nobrow is about Lem and Chain of Chance and I suppose I was lucky to read Swirski's chapter first because it really opened my eyes to this incredible book. I went to read Chain and Chance right after finishing the chapter about it and it was as good and amazing as I though it would be. I see that some readers have problems understanding what the book is about, if you read From Lowbrow to Nobrow you will find a way into Lem's book what will make you come back for more of Lem and Swirski. I'm hooked.

1-0 out of 5 stars Lem's dud
If you have never read a book by Lem, you shouldn't start here. The best thing about Stanislaw Lem's stories is that he will bring up some of the most absurd angles of how our lives can be altered by technology. His best writing contains science fiction, philosophy, interesting asidesand ethics wrapped up in a fun story. This book doesn't have any of that. Pick up His Master's Voice or Fiasco instead.

3-0 out of 5 stars Lem's Drier Side
Though this lacks the jaunty tone of many of Lem's short stories or fictional essays, it still shares his disturbing habit of assualting your cerebrum in new and rather inventive ways. This book is sometimes as bizarre at is mundane, and this paradox is ultimately essential to the plot. Butthis book is enjoyed by a Lem fan, and I'm not sure that a reader unfamiliar with him will wait out the denoument... ... Read more

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