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Tales of Pirx the Pilot [Kindle Edition]

Stanislaw Lem , Louis Iribarne
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

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Book Description

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

Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Polish

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: 1105 KB
  • Print Length: 218 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0156881500
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reprint edition (November 30, 1990)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0077FC55Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #334,317 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oddly Fascinating Space Adventures January 21, 2002
This collection of stories by Lem is based around a chubby cadet by the name of Pirx. The character is plucky and gets into all sorts of fixes. I found the first short story the most surprising and fun to read. It's most vivid antagonist are two insects, and it's wildly creative. Another very good story is this one about a robot re-living over and over the last few hours before the death of an entire ship (this was before Pirx's time). A very haunting tale. Overall, a great collection!
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The standard by which 'hard' sf should be judged August 4, 1997
By A Customer
By intelligently (and often humorously) deflating many conventions and cliches of sf, the author reminds us that it is, first and foremost, a literature of ideas and not an escapist genre. In this collection of short stories, we follow protagonist Pirx through his training as a cadet and go along with him on a few routine space flights, most of them plagued by red tape. Lem seems to almost take glee in de-glamorizing space travel, but the fact remains that something about it fascinates and terrifies us, as it does his character Pirx. The truth of the matter, as the author so deftly illustrates in these tales, is that space is a void. The only thing that makes it come alive as a place of adventure or peril is the human imagination, which puts our hero Pirx in more jeopardy than any naturally occuring dangers. _Tales of Pirx the Pilot_ ranks as a top-notch book because, like all good sf, it does not allow a reader to run away from reality but makes one confront it thoughtfully
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Real Deal October 17, 1999
Lem's Pirx is compelling and cool. The science is barely fictional and always thought provoking. The plots, however, are a little more predictable than the sequel. If you're going to read one of these, I'd recommend "More".
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Space travel is routinely dangerous March 31, 2009
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.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, thoughtful short stories March 17, 1999
Tales of Pirx the Pilot, and More Tales of Pirx the pilot are two excellent sci-fi books! What is unique is that there is such a strong psychological edge to them. And the fact that Pirx is such an everyman - kind of unsure of himself, and from the outside, unassuming and apparently not especially competent. But Lem does something amazing with Pirx - with each story, he gains experience, confidence, cynicism, and most importantly, judgement and wisdom. Make sure to read the Pirx books, as well as The Invincible, and Solaris.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a down to earth collection about space travel November 7, 1998
By A Customer
Lem is a master of making fantastic situations seem ordinary. "Tales of Pirx the Pilot" is no exception. Pirx could very well be any one of us and that is one of the things that makes this collection great. We can all relate to Pirx as he stumbles among the stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pirx not quite such a nice guy August 20, 2006
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.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Where Machines Go Wrong
Stanislaw Lem's _Tales of pirx the Pilot_ (1968, trans. Louis Iribane 1979) comes from lem's period of productivity, during which the deStalininazation of Poland, when censorship... Read more
Published 15 months ago by Paul Camp
4.0 out of 5 stars I love these stories.
I love these stories. I have to admit that I am very partial. I was born and raised in Poland. Lem has been my favorite SF author from the beginning and he still is. Read more
Published 18 months ago by apjaworski
1.0 out of 5 stars Not my thing
I found this book boring and did not even finish it. The plot was too well hidden, and the characters seemed shallow to me. I should read the sample next time. Read more
Published on May 26, 2013 by mrrn
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Story No Matter How Old
I am a big fan of Lem. Although many of the inside references to conditions in communist Poland have disappeared with the exit of the Communist Party, the book is full of sly humor... Read more
Published on April 19, 2013 by sillybilly312
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Stories
This is more a series of short stories than a novel, but each is an amusing tale of man and technology that anyone with an appreciation of computers will enjoy. Read more
Published on April 17, 2013 by P. Murawski
3.0 out of 5 stars Short stories about an interesting pilot
Pirx the pilot is not Tom Cruise from Top Gun, he's not an astronaut cut from the same cloth as NASA alumni, he's a pilot cadet at first taking his qualification exams and has some... Read more
Published on January 23, 2013 by Paul Fields
3.0 out of 5 stars industrial age scifi
Nuclear driven spaceships figure largely in this series of short stories about cadet, later pilot, Pirx. Read more
Published on June 1, 2012 by maarten
5.0 out of 5 stars SF classics
The tales of Pirx is an example of how a good scince fiction can be written without involving time travel, space warp, extra space dimentions, wars with aliens and other... Read more
Published on April 1, 2012 by Chris
5.0 out of 5 stars subversive science fiction
one of his many social satires and critiques
masquerading as science fiction! superb!
Published on June 17, 2010 by M. sullivan
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... Read more
Published on February 5, 2010 by Robert Burns
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