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Memoirs Found in a Bathtub [Kindle Edition]

Stanislaw Lem
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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.


Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, Polish (translation)

About the Author

Stanislaw Lem is the most widely translated and best known science fiction author writing outside of the English language. Winner of the Kafka Prize, he is a contributor to many magazines, including the New Yorker, and he is the author of numerous works, including Solaris.

Product Details

  • File Size: 788 KB
  • Print Length: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (July 18, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008R2JK1S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #222,194 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
(32)
3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
65 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beware of the Complexity April 23, 1999
Format:Paperback
Not for the casual reader, this devilishly complicated book will have you stumped in the end. So unless you wish to re-read it (in order to finally figure out what it was all about) don't bother with this one. But for those of you searching for that rare book that leaves you wondering and puzzled for days, weeks, years... well, this is it. From the brilliant mind of the best Polish sci-fi writer comes a satire and a comment on those wonderful societies of ours (take your pick: socialism, communism, etc.) and the methods of their tyranny.
The plot is simple: An innocent, foolishly loyal aspiring agent enters his new occupation only to find out that those in power have plans of their own (which he just can't discover). Searching the confines of a "Building", a futuristic military-like establishment hidden underground, he seeks his mission, his purpose and the meaning of his existence. Ultimately, all those disappear before his eyes and turn into code. This skillfully written tale where not one word lacks meaning or purpose (or does it?) attempts to understand methods of population control. Could it be that political systems have, are and will rule their population through skillful semantics-control? (think NEWSPEAK) Lem posits that political rhetoric color not only our judgment but also our ability to perceive the world around us. Concentrating on the cold war tension between the US and CCCP, Lem explores systems which convert all their resources and their entire populations to one task: the destruction of the enemy. To accomplish their goal, they convert the minds of their subject.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Needs a lot of thought, but well worth the effort. October 12, 2001
Format:Paperback
This is a wonderful book. Superficially it makes no sense. Events follow one another in an unending jumble that leaves you completely befuddled. The story is about a secret agent who is new on the job and is trying haplessly to discover what his real mission is supposed to be. However everyone he meets leads him in a different direction and the Building (Pentagon 3, which is entirely isolated from the rest of the world) is brimming with double, triple and quadruple agents.
With a book like this, what you get out of it depends to a large extent on what you bring to it. Aside from all the political satire, to me this book was about how people build explanations - how the mind reacts to a steady stream of sensory impressions which can be very noisy and confusing. To illustrate - I was at the scene where he is in the bathroom, shaving, while there is someone else dressed similarly to him, sleeping next to the bathtub. As the narrator shaves, he is going over the events of the recent past, trying to make sense out of them. He builds one paranoid theory after another, convinced that the whole building (i.e. the whole world) is against him, is out to get him. While reading this I was thinking - This guy is going crazy. No sane person would think this way. But the events dont make sense either. Maybe what is really happening is that he is caught in some sort of time loop, and the person sleeping next to the bathtub is he, from the past or the future!
At this point I stopped and burst out laughing because my theory was so much more preposterous than the ones the narrator was constructing! (yes, I read too much sf!). But the question of course is - if you are trying to make sense out of the world, how do you know which explanation to accept?
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
By Alex
Format:Paperback
Like most Lem's works, "Memoirs Found in a Bathtub" defies ready classification. It is hardly a work of science fiction, unless you consider the inexhaustible amount of office supplies the Building goes through in the course of the novel. It makes do with but a rudiment of plot. And, of course, it is absolutely brilliant.
"Pentagon 3" is a concrete bullet stuck in the teeth of the Rockies. Walled off from the rest of the world by three miles of rock, it served as civilized mankind's last refuge in the face of an alien paper-devouring agent that has reduced the global culture of the twentieth century to embers. "Pentagon 3" existed for seventy-two years until a slight shift in the volcanic strata burst its cement envelope and flooded the innards with magma, preserving building's contents for posterity. A millennium later, this derelict is excavated and explored. One of the more interesting finds happens to be an almost perfectly preserved wad of a substance called "papyr", which apparently served for recording data. "Memoirs Found in a Bathtub" is the perfect transcript of these ancient texts, humanity's only glance into the heart of a bygone age.
The Building is a mysterious realm of double, triple, and quadruple agents, unmaskings and concealed microphones, infinitely meaningless passwords and rows of identical offices, containing no less identical secretaries. Here, everyone speaks in code, and every bit of sewage is hand-sifted in corresponding facilities. Don't be surprised to find metallic flies floating in your coffee: they're just trying to distract you from noticing the less obvious devices. What is the building's modus operandi?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good book but bad OCR on Kindle version
Other reviewers give a range of opinions on the writing that will probably give a good enough description of the style of the writing, so I will simply note that I side with those... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Leo Siefert
3.0 out of 5 stars Waiting for Godot on an Acid Trip
This book is creatively exhausting. It's cleaver and very frustrating. As I read the book, I wondered what kind of mad genius would come up with this setting, these characters,... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Ron Johnson
1.0 out of 5 stars Two thumbs down :-(
I found this book stupid, not much of a story-line. The reason I chose it was because my Grandma kept mail in her bathtub 50 years ago, made me think of her. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Tina Gallagher
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I'm a big Lem fan, but I found this novel really disappointing. "The Cyberiad" is funnier, "His Master's Voice" is more mind-bending, "Chain of Chance" has... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars memoirs found in a bath tub
The story didn't go any where. It was confusing, and didn't seemed to have a point or direction. I was very interested in the story line , but just didn't deliver
Published 6 months ago by rogerd
5.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff
A really strange neat book. Not sure what to say exactly, other than that reading it made me keep buying more of his books as they came up on daily deals.
Published 15 months ago by Voice of Reason
5.0 out of 5 stars Alice in Wonderland for Spies
...or, Hotel California for double and triple agents.

This book will leave you thinking, wondering, questioning; as lost as the wise and foolish protagonist, mighty and... Read more
Published 16 months ago by Bryan R. Olson
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow
I read a lot! but I don't normally read science fiction. What moved me to purchase this book, kindle addition? I don't know but I'm glad I did. Read more
Published 16 months ago by LBC
1.0 out of 5 stars sendup of bureaucracy
I couldn't finish it. Bureaucracy begins as an objective way to make fundamentally subjective decisions. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Sharon E. Neufeld
3.0 out of 5 stars Very Kafkaesque
I not too sure what this is about. My guess is that the reader is meant to empathize with the protagonist. Read more
Published 16 months ago by D. Lockwood
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More About the Author

Stanislaw Lem is the most widely translated and best known science fiction author writing outside of the English language. Winner of the Kafka Prize, he is a contributor to many magazines, including the New Yorker, and he is the author of numerous works, including Solaris.

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