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Return From The Stars (Helen and Kurt Wolff Books) [Kindle Edition]

Stanislaw Lem
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Hal Bregg is an astronaut who returns from a space mission in which only 10 biological years have passed for him, while 127 years have elapsed on earth. He finds that the earth has changed beyond recognition, filled with human beings who have been medically neutralized. How does an astronaut join a civilization that shuns risk? Translated by Barbara Marszal and Frank Simpson. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book

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: 1014 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (June 11, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008EEZ8F6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #377,533 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You can't go home again - or can you? October 25, 2006
This is a relatively contemplative work by Lem - he saved his blatant humor for other works. Instead, it's a relatively sober story about how thoroughly isolated one can be, even in the midst of a crowd.

The "one" in this case is Bregg, an astronaut returned from an interstellar misson. Perhaps he never hoped to be a hero upon return, but it never occurred to him that no one would care. In the hundred-plus years since his departure, humankind had remodeled itself into a people that could not understand why anyone would venture into space, after an era in which such trips were declared pointless expenses. The returning voyagers are welcomed by their gentle hosts, but largely ignored.

The first part of Lem's story imagines Bregg's utter disorientation in the physical world, filled with unfamiliar words, sounds, and sights; where even a wall isn't necessarily a wall. He's intelligent and adaptable, so moves on to the second level of disorientation: simply having no idea how to have a conversation when so very few concepts or values are shared. This isolation appears most clearly in his attempts at inimacy. Betrization, the process that made this world the gentle idyll that it is, makes him seem like a ravenous beast to the generation around him, an object of fear no matter what he does or says. The danger inherent in his un-betrizated state appeals to some, of course, but it's an appeal that Bregg does not want to hold. After a time, he finds a woman of this brave new world that can accept him. Then, the deepest level of his isolation surrounds him: he simplay has no place in this society. There is no need for his skills, no interest in the heroism and tragedy of his star travel, and no job that he's competent to do.
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lem himself October 15, 2006
For all those readers who may have difficulties penetrating the complexity of Lem's book, I would like to recommend a chapter in Peter Swirski's The Art and Science of S Lem which talks about Return From the Stars in a way that made me see this story from a startlingly different perspective that bears on the most intimate aspects of today's world. By the way, the Art and Science of S Lem is an international collection of essays in which everyone is bound to find something to their liking, also it includes a previously unpublished chapter by S Lem himself!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Also can be viewed as another of Lem's "Contact" novels January 14, 2006
The other reviews have rightly commented on this books concerns with gender relations. However, in the context of all of Lem's works it can also be viewed another way. "Solaris", "Fiasco", "Eden" and other books are about how alien a new world would appear to human eyes...a far deeper if more pessimistic vision than the typical science fiction where aliens are just funny looking people. Starting from this perspective "Return from the Stars" could be an account of how alien the future would appear. For example, in the beginning of the book the returnee wanders through a gigantic, many-levelled structure of moving ramps, trying simply to find his way out. After awhile the reader realizes Lem could be describing the experience of a medieval person dropped into a modern major airport.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Another impressive book by Lem, who is, in my mind, a top science fiction writer in any language. Return From the Stars proves this by staying away from formulas, relying instead on strong characters who actually are affected emotionally and psychologically by the futuristic world they live in. If anyhting, Lem is a writer concerned with characters, and ultimately with the heart of man and how it reacts to the world.
This book will speak to anyone who has had the experience of returning to a community from which one has been excluded for a number of years; be it a return from prison, repatriation or imigration, the experience of Bregg returning from the stars is symbolic of all of them. To those who never left a community and never returned to it later, the book will be a chance to see what returning from the stars might be like.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kindle edition badly edited January 10, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I quite enjoyed the story. Its somewhat dystopic vision of the future reminded me of Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

However, it's worth noting that the kindle edition has been very poorly edited.
It seemed to get worse and worse throughout the book - I didn't notice too many errors with the initial sample, but after that it was quite terrible.
Presumably the text was scanned in and then put through OCR and never checked. E.g. sue throughout the book in place of six, Ame in place of Arne at times, weird/missing punctuation, exam bed in place of examined, etc. Since this is sci-fi, it makes up new words for new devices, so at times it was a guessing game whether a word was a misspelled word or a made-up word spelled correctly...

In one place they even managed to mix up the order of two consecutive pages, so it breaks off in the middle of a sentence to skip a page ahead, then jumps back. Extremely confusing when you first get to it, so watch out for it.

It's still mostly readable and understandable, but the poor editing is extremely distracting.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Society's blessing or damnation? February 12, 2001
This book is one of Lem's most serious works he ever wrote. His creativity is unique even among best science fiction (and any novelist)of all. All of his books have a deep concern for the future of humanity, this one , though, deals with some matters without the satirical humor he perfected so well (even as far as to create his own linguistic style). There are many new futuristic terms in this one, they are very clear and well understood, and nonetheless meaningful. Awe inspiring richness of the vision creator's future world gives the book the artistic quality of a Bosh's painting while deeply analizing the course which the future society might take. And its course is technological advancement, beyond anything today's modern science can offer. Molecular engineering, massive global sociogenetic alterations to the human body and mind, virtual reality that is all too real, holography, anti gravity are only a few of the many possibilities studied very closely here. This book is together a warning and a moral study of the genesis of the human race. Lem warns of the consequences these ultra - technological trends might bring to human mind and behavior, as well as the enviroment, tries to understand the importance of the individual's free choice and self governed social developement. The book's underlying sadeness is a substitute for a crititical exclamation. A complete literal masterpiece, flawlessly executed, from a genius of the genre. Only a person with a limited imagination can pass it off and ignore it's value. As a native Pole I have had the unoubtful pleasure of reading both the original and the translation and, here are kudos to the translator - I would say it is 99% accurate. I have been reading Stanislaw Lem for the past 20 years since I was barely 10 years old, his books have had a deep impact on my thinking and helped me to find my place among others of this troubled planet, beautiful and precious all the same...
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars like a future reality
My Hungarian wife has read this novell in several languages and it is one of her favorits. I was not disapointed.
Published 12 months ago by Gerald L. Collatz
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Masterpiece from Stanislav Lem
Lem is almost certainly one of the most amazing intellectually gifted writers I have had the pleasure to read. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Dan S. Tong
5.0 out of 5 stars A powerful story about isolation and alienation
I'm a fan of Lem, and I'd have to say this has become one of my favorite works by him. The way the isolation and alienation felt by the main character is conveyed is wonderfully... Read more
Published 18 months ago by N. Burd
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent novel, but Kindle edition full of errors.
I am a Lem fan from way back and this book has always been one of my favorites. Of course, there is very little plot and the characterizations are not deep. Read more
Published 19 months ago by soyuz
4.0 out of 5 stars Return from the stars - now what?
This is the first of Lem's books that I've read and it certainly won't be the last. This book has made me a fan. Read more
Published 22 months ago by G. P. Thomas
3.0 out of 5 stars Hard to get into.
Hard to get into the book and story line. Punctuation and wording took away from the ability to understand what the book was really trying to get across.
Published on April 21, 2013 by karen lary
2.0 out of 5 stars botched scan job
Say yo uare going to convert a paper book to a digital version. You run OCR on it. Then you at least run spell check, right? Maybe even read part of it? Wrong! Read more
Published on March 9, 2013 by David Robertus
5.0 out of 5 stars Feedback
Again I do not like the way we have to leave feedback on Amazon website now. Please go back to the old way.
This seller is highly recommended!
Published on February 26, 2013 by Tracy Dreer
1.0 out of 5 stars What the heck is this suppose to be?
I'm not one to write reviews, however "Return From The Stars" is fantastically bad and I feel compelled to give fair warning. Read more
Published on February 16, 2013 by B. Bachman
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting question; less interesting answer
What would it be like for a present day traveler to live on an Earth that has been "fast-forwarded" 127 years into the future? Read more
Published on February 12, 2013 by F. Moyer
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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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