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About Stanislaw Lem
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"A brilliant mind with a hearty appetite for science, philosophy and literature."
("The New York Times Book Review")
The novel has been translated into over forty languages and sold several million copies. This is the first English translation directly from the original.
Bringing his twin gifts of scientific speculation and scathing satire to bear on that hapless planet, Earth, Polish author Stanislaw Lem sends his unlucky cosmonaut, Ijon Tichy, to the Eighth Futurological Congress in Costa Rica to discuss the overpopulation problem. Caught up in local revolution, Tichy is shot and so critically wounded that he is flashfrozen to await a cure. But when he awakens in 2039, he is faced with a future unlike any that the Congress could have ever imagined. Translated by Michael Kandel.
“A vision of Earth’s future where the authorities dose the population with ‘psychemicals’ to make life in a desperately over-populated world worth living.”—The Boston Globe
“Lem’s view of the overcrowded future is original and disturbing. A pessimistic, mordantly funny book.”—Kirkus Reviews
“Lem writes with a humor underlined by his commentary on the way the world is.”—SF Site
The Hermes explorer ship represents the epitome of Earth’s excellence: a peaceful mission sent forth to make first contact with an alien civilization, and to use the expansive space technology developed by humanity to seek new worlds, friendships, and alliances. But what its crew discovers on the planet Quinta is nothing like they had hoped. Locked in a seemingly endless cold war among themselves, the Quintans are uncommunicative and violent, refusing any discourse—except for the firing of deadly weapons.
The crew of the Hermes is determined to accomplish what they had set out to do. But the cost of learning the secrets hidden on the silent surface of Quinta may be grave.
Stark, startling, and insightful, Fiasco has been praised by Publishers Weekly as “one of Lem’s best novels.” It is classic, thought-provoking hard science fiction, as prescient today as when it was first written.
These are the stories of Trurl and Klapaucius, master inventors and engineers known as “constructors,” who have created marvels for kingdoms. Friends and rivals, they are constantly outdoing and challenging each other to reveal the next great evolution in cybernetics, and the exploits of these brilliant men are nothing short of incredible.
From tales of love, in which a robotic prince must woo a robotic princess enchanted by pleasures of true flesh, to epics of battle, in which the heroic constructors must use their considerable wit to outsmart a monarch obsessed with hunting, to examinations of humanity, wherein Trurl and Klapaucius must confront the limits of their skills and the meaning of true perfection, these stories are rich with profound questions, unimaginable marvels, and remarkable feats.
Hailed as “the most completely successful of [Lem’s] books,” The Cyberiad is an outrageously funny and incomparably wise collection of short stories, taking an insightful look at mechanics, technology, invention, and human ambition (The Boston Globe).
By pure chance, scientists detect a signal from space that may be communication from rational beings. How can people of Earth understand this message, knowing nothing about the senders—even whether or not they exist? Written as the memoir of a mathematician who participates in the government project (code name: His Master's Voice) attempting to decode what seems to be a message from outer space, this classic novel shows scientists grappling with fundamental questions about the nature of reality, the confines of knowledge, the limitations of the human mind, and the ethics of military-sponsored scientific research.
Six explorers—the Captain, Doctor, Engineer, Chemist, Physicist, and Cyberneticist—crash land on a beautiful but strange planet, fourth from another sun. The landscape is bizarre, hosting acrid deserts, hissing trees, and thick spiderlike vegetation. But it is the signs of humanity that are most puzzling. In a labyrinth of plant-shaped buildings are dead ends, passageways, domes, vaulted ceilings, and giant statues. And everywhere there are images of death: mass graves, bodies in ditches and wells, clusters of egglike structures filled with skeletons.
Something is wrong with the inhabitants of Eden. But as the crew unlocks the secrets of this twisted society, the most haunting fact they must face is how similar it is to their own.
The Chicago Tribune lauded Stanislaw Lem as “not only a marvelous spinner of tales of the fantastic but also a challenging philosopher of the meanings and ramifications of technology.” Eden stands as a timeless and powerful examination of the conflict between human nature, human discovery, and all-too-human flaws.
The year is 3149, and a vast paper destroying blight—papyralysis—has obliterated much of the planet’s written history. Fortunately, these rare memoirs, preserved for centuries in a volcanic rock, record the strange life of a man trapped in a hermetically sealed underground community . . .
From the Kafka Prize–winning author of Solaris, this is an entertaining and thought-provoking blend of politics, philosophy, humor, and science fiction.
Translated by Michael Kandel and Christine Rose
In One Human Minute, Stanislaw Lem takes a hard look at our world and technology—what it means now and what dire implications it could have for the future—in satirical, wise, and biting prose.
With this collection of three essays, Lem targets some of the most pressing issues humanity faces, from our unsettling origins to the cybernetic future of our weaponry. “The Upside-Down Evolution” chronicles the Earth’s military evolution from nuclear stockpiles to deadly, robotic microweapons. “The World as Cataclysm” examines how humankind’s dominance on Earth is the result of the extermination of another species just as qualified to rule the world. And the title essay presents a disturbing and fascinating snapshot of every single thing happening on the planet in a sixty-second span.
Effortlessly blurring the lines between fiction and nonfiction, scientific essay and fantastical short story, cynical reproach and wry humor, Lem’s One Human Minute combines the best elements of the renowned science fiction author and Kafka Prize winner’s writing into one irreverent and intellectually stimulating package.
In the grand tradition of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, Stanisław Lem's The Invincible tells the story of a space cruiser sent to an obscure planet to determine the fate of a sister spaceship whose communication with Earth has abruptly ceased. Landing on the planet Regis III, navigator Rohan and his crew discover a form of life that has apparently evolved from autonomous, self-replicating machines—perhaps the survivors of a “robot war.” Rohan and his men are forced to confront the classic quandary: what course of action can humanity take once it has reached the limits of its knowledge? In The Invincible, Lem has his characters confront the inexplicable and the bizarre: the problem that lies just beyond analytical reach.
The Polish writer Stanisław Lem is best known to English-speaking readers as the author of the 1961 science fiction novel Solaris, adapted into a meditative film by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972 and remade in 2002 by Steven Soderbergh. Throughout his writings, comprising dozens of science fiction novels and short stories, Lem offered deeply philosophical and bitingly satirical reflections on the limitations of both science and humanity.
In Summa Technologiae—his major work of nonfiction, first published in 1964 and now available in English for the first time—Lem produced an engaging and caustically logical philosophical treatise about human and nonhuman life in its past, present, and future forms. After five decades Summa Technologiae has lost none of its intellectual or critical significance. Indeed, many of Lem’s conjectures about future technologies have now come true: from artificial intelligence, bionics, and nanotechnology to the dangers of information overload, the concept underlying Internet search engines, and the idea of virtual reality. More important for its continued relevance, however, is Lem’s rigorous investigation into the parallel development of biological and technical evolution and his conclusion that technology will outlive humanity.
Preceding Richard Dawkins’s understanding of evolution as a blind watchmaker by more than two decades, Lem posits evolution as opportunistic, shortsighted, extravagant, and illogical. Strikingly original and still timely, Summa Technologiae resonates with a wide range of contemporary debates about information and new media, the life sciences, and the emerging relationship between technology and humanity.
Set in the not-too-distant future, when space flight has evolved to the point where humanity is ready to colonize the solar system, Tales of Pirx the Pilot follows one somewhat-hapless explorer as he struggles though his training as a cadet, his career as a pilot, and his tenure as captain of a merchant ship.
In these collected stories, Pirx stumbles his way through various exploits: traveling to the moon; battling mechanical malfunctions; encountering robots; and confronting questions of ambition, evolution, exploration, experimentation, and the nature of humanity itself. And in classic Pirx fashion, he faces down each dilemma with charm, curiosity, courage, and intuition.
These early works by revered speculative fiction author Stanislaw Lem are filled with both the sharp insight for which he is known and a childlike innocence, making them an entertaining and thought-provoking read for science fiction fans of all ages.