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Imaginary Magnitude Paperback – October 28, 1985
A network of beacons allows ships to travel across the Milky Way at beyond the speed of light. The beacons are built to be robust. They never fail. At least, they aren't supposed to. Learn more
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The first two pieces describe a book of X-ray pornography and another about bacteria trained not only in language, but in foretelling future events. These apply Lem's straight-faced humor to the entire genre of over-intellectual intros, which sometimes seem almost parodies in themselves. The next pseudo-intro welcomes the reader to a study of writings by computer intelligences. Lem uses this vehicle to speculate on the ways that machine minds might differ from our own, and on the gaps that seem sure to arise between our differing kinds of thought processes.
That chapter turns out to be a bridge toward a series of lectures delivered by one of those electronic thinkers. As this second half of the book progresses the dry humor dries up, replaced with a genuine sense of wonder. What would constitute growth or personal (if I may use the word) development for such beings? Would any points of intersection with human experience even remain?
I suspect that Lem put more into this book than his translator was able to extract. Golem's discussion of thinking about thinking echoes Goedel's famous theorem on the limits to the knowable, something I'm sure lay within Lem's range but possibly not in the translator's. I can't complain though. The translation, on the whole, comes across as lively and engaging, and seems to preserve a lot of the wordplay that the original must have contained. The original Polish is a closed book to me, so I'm grateful to see Lem's work in English at all.
Enough existential stuff to keep one thinking for a while. Lem (as Golem XIV) is above us. We are barely able to understand his thoughts. It is our fault, not his.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Sure, clunky sci fi - (iron girders in far out space?) But Lemm was on to something. The idea of an alien intelligence, so utterly alien to us that it is incomprehensible to us. Read morePublished 11 months ago by D. J. Leedham
Although each selection is interesting, GOLEM XIV is the read of choice here.
In keeping with the theme of the volume, included are a foreword, introduction, lectures to... Read more
"Golem XIV" alone is worth the price of admission. One of the world's greatest science fiction writers at his genre-transcending best.Published 19 months ago by Jack Forster
The communicating, and prognostic, bacteria piece was interesting, and the future telling encyclopedia was very interesting and funny, but the bulk of the book is the story of the... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Amazonian
I'm a big fan of some of Lem's work (Cyberiad, Fiasco, Star Diaries, etc..) but I find him to be at his best when storytelling. Read morePublished on October 8, 2013 by D. Cuddihy
No so good as A Perfect Vacuum, Imaginary Magnitude is nevertheless a very interesting books. I love comments on imaginary books, an in this field Stanislaw Lem is a master. Read morePublished on September 30, 2008 by Lamberto García del Cid
"Imaginary Magnitude"'s value as entertaining literature is essentially nil. Only occasionally does it lapse into readability - otherwise it is an undiluted philosophical... Read morePublished on April 7, 2001 by Alex