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The Futurological Congress: From the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy [Kindle Edition]

Stanislaw Lem
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Bringing his twin gifts of scientific speculation and scathing satire to bear on that hapless planet, Earth, Lem sends his unlucky cosmonaut, Ijon Tichy, to the Eighth Futurological Congress. Caught up in local revolution, Tichy is shot and so critically wounded that he is flashfrozen to await a future cure. Translated by Michael Kandel.

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The futurologists of the world have gathered at their Eighth World Congress at the Costa Rica Hilton to discuss the problem of overpopulation. Their deliberations, however, are interrupted by a revolution which the government attempts to quell with chemical weapons. The air and water are laden with "benignimizers" and other exotic drags which send futurologist Tichy careening into a hallucinatory tomorrow. Lem's view of the overcrowded future is original and disturbing. A pessimistic, mordantly funny book, well translated from the Polish by Michael Kandel. (Kirkus Reviews )

Language Notes

Text: English, Polish (translation)

Product Details

  • File Size: 236 KB
  • Print Length: 158 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0156340402
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; Reissue edition (October 28, 1985)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008IGK68O
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #43,817 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
57 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Word Is ... Unreal! December 22, 2000
Format:Paperback
Here I am sitting on a chair and pecking at a keyboard with a monitor and computer in front of me. At least I think so. But what if the sushi I had for lunch was spiked with a psychotropic drug that makes me believe that this typing at the keyboard activity is real? Especially when, in actual reality, I may be strung up stark naked and upside-down in a subterranean dungeon with rats gnawing at my vitals while happily thinking up what to write about Stanislaw Lem's greatest book, THE FUTUROLOGICAL CONGRESS.
The reason why I believe that some of the best sci-fi since WW2 came from Eastern Europe (Lem from Poland and Boris and Arkady Strugatsky from Russia) is that the mind set of communism was conducive toward what is referred to as "aesopic writing" (The term comes from Solzhenitsyn.) If you protested anything, you were regarded as a traitor to the state; but if you wrote fables as the Greek writer Aesop did which were not set in a particular unnamed repressive regime at a particular time, you might be able to get away with it scot free.
Lem had a field day by speculating on a congress who members are drugged into thinking they are drugged into acting as if they were drugged ... it goes on and on. The more or less classical beginning descends into multiple levels of questioning every level into reality, until even the most utterly solipsistic stance is questioned. By that time, you are either confused or, if you're like me, laughing your head off. As they say in another context, unreal!
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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece by a great master March 30, 1998
Format:Paperback
I have been for a long time a fan of the Stanislaw Lem works. I got acquainted with some of his novels (Solaris, Star Diaries and Eden) when I was a kid, and without any doubt the great master has shaped my world outlook. I have been lucky enough to be able to read the Lem's works in Russian (my native language), which is of course much closer to the original Polish than English. I have heard that the Lem's translations by Michel Kandel to English are simply great. Luckily enough he has also translated this book - the Futurological Congress, which I consider to be one of the best works written by Stanislaw Lem. Futurological Congress is a bright example of the great master's ability to combine "uncombinable": SF spirit, deep philosophy and inflammatory humor. I don't want to retell here the content of the book - it is immeasurably funnier to read the novel itself. I dare to rate the novel higher than for example the celebrated Rendezvous with Rama by A.Clark. The latter is unique in its detailed trustworthiness, but is left far behind by the Futurological Congress' spectrum of adventures for the reader's mind.
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24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Comical vision of a drugged-out dystopia June 23, 2002
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Written when Poland was under the grip of Communism, "The Futurological Congress" is a powerful parable of a totalitarian state that uses psychotropic drugs not only to subdue its citizens but also to make them believe things are better than they are. The first third of the book reads almost like an adventure story: Ijon Tichy is attending a convention of futurologists in Central America, when he and his colleagues are caught up in a bizarre coup d`etat. When Tichy's cryogenically frozen corpse is reanimated decades later, the entire overpopulated world is hooked on drugs.
Unlike most pieces of dystopian fiction, Lem's novel is funny and brainy rather than depressing and catastrophic, but it is still scarily prophetic. At times, though, the prose threatens to collapse into a pun-laden Physician's Desk Reference for the Year 2039: "they give the children throttlepops, then develop their character with opinionates, uncompromil, rebellium, allaying their passions with sordidan and practicol; no police, and who needs them when you have constabuline. . . ?" (These passages must have been a nightmare to translate and, remarkably, they never lose their fluency.) But Lem keeps the reader's interest by alternating his pharmocological laundry lists with clever plot twists and bizarre visions, and the novel's pace continuously accelerates until its frenzied, over-the-top climax.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Livin' the lap of luxury...maybe... October 17, 2002
Format:Paperback
This book will make you think of the world differently. I guarantee that you will question the value of subjectivity by the time you're done.
Lately, I've been asking friends to loan me books that changed their lives or that have found particularly noteworthy. I asked this in an attempt to broaden my reading background and also to learn more about my friends. I've always considered myself a science/speculative fiction fan but had never heard of Stanislaw Lem until this book was loaned to me. After this wonderful first experience, I will certainly be tracking down a few more copies of some of his other titles.

This book embodies everything that good science fiction should be - using the future to teach us more about our present. "The Futurological Congress" is a heavily layered book that relies on the reader to engage the storyline and draw parallels to the present day. The text (in translation) is spare enough to be clear and move the plot along rapidly, while also being satirical and comical at the same time.
I don't want to go into the plot in too much depth since folks before me have already done an admirable job in that regard, but suffice it to say that reality becomes almost immediately problematized and you will not be able to figure out what is fact or fiction within the world of the book (not that it matters). Ijon Tichy, the main character, goes to attend a conference called the "Futurological Congress", where all sorts of folks discuss the future directions of humanity. During the conference, a popular revolution places the scientists in danger. Drugged by the hotel water supply, hallucinating hotel guests hide out in the sewer. It gets more insane from there...
If you like Philip K. Dick's more mindbending works like "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch" or "Ubik," you will love this one by Lem. At a scant 150 pages, you'll truck right on through it and then wonder whether you actually read it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Futurological Congress - the book and the movie
Although they share the same name, the movie's second half is loosly following the books plot. if you liked the movie, I do suggest you to read the book:
I found the bookd to... Read more
Published 7 months ago by ori keren
5.0 out of 5 stars Talk about playing mind games...
I'm skipping synopsis--it's been well done. This book is fabulous! Some of the best satirical humor I've ever read. Talk about playing mind games with the reader! Read more
Published 8 months ago by Teresa Cypher
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring
This book is sporadically amusing. It reminds me of "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" and may have been written under the influence of the same mood altering... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Herbert M Allen
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic
This book is a barrage of deranged ideas that challenges you to keep up with it. It's far-out, funny and frighteningly schizophrenic. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Mr Bounce
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This book shot up to my top five novels of all time. Although relatively short in length it definitely has a great pace to it and it's one of the more interesting stories I've ever... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Sami
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting exploration into reality
Though written in 1985, it still remains current. I really enjoyed the exploration and perceptions brought forth by the author. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
1.0 out of 5 stars Too stupid to finish
I've always thought one of the big divides among people is those who find the three stooges amusing and those who find the three stooges stupid. Read more
Published 14 months ago by checkers
3.0 out of 5 stars Cute!
This is a book I finished in two days! It is well-written and has a good pace. The best characteristic though is that, in my opinion, the story is so cutely naive and far fetched... Read more
Published 18 months ago by George
5.0 out of 5 stars Hysterically funny
The Futurological Congress was the first Lem I read (thank you Amazon!), and I what I got was far from what I expected, as my exposure to Lem consisted of having seen both Solaris... Read more
Published 18 months ago by drabauer
5.0 out of 5 stars The Futurological Congress
This is a delightfully surreal book. I have just recently discovered Lem and I find that each one of his books that I have read so far is refreshing, at times hilarious, and yet... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Anna
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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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