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The Star Diaries Paperback – June 26, 1985


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The Star Diaries + The Futurological Congress: From the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books (June 26, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156849054
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156849050
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #169,132 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

The Polish sf writer's Star Diaries is a crazy-quilt collection of pieces written, according to Kandel, "over a period of twenty years" and published in 1971. They present the voyages of Ijon Tichy, an incomparable and apparently indestructible fathead who is to the future what J. Wesley Smith (of the immortal cartoon "Through History With...") was to the past. Tichy bumbles and stumbles around the cosmos running out of gas between stars, sneaking around in cybernetic drag on a planet of mad robots, trying to duplicate himself (in a tail-chasing time loop near a "gravitational vortex") long enough to do a two-man rudder repair job, botching up the course of human events in a history-salvaging operation. Lem veers between joyous slapstick, freewheeling satire, and insanely involuted logical paradoxes - with surprisingly serious excursions into issues of will and faith. Funny, unexpected, tantalizing. (Kirkus Reviews)

Language Notes

Text: English, Polish (translation)

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.

Customer Reviews

I'm very disappointed in the lack of quality control.
cdale77
If so, I would insist that that has to be one of the ten greatest science fiction books ever published.
Robert Moore
I consider this Lem's finest work and I'm so glad it was translated into English!
Anita Simpson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Robert Moore HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 14, 1998
Format: Paperback
My understanding is that the three books featuring space traveller Ijon Tichy were originally published in Polish in a single volume (THE FUTUROLOGICAL CONGRESS, THE STAR DIARIES, and MEMOIRS OF A SPACE TRAVELLER). If so, I would insist that that has to be one of the ten greatest science fiction books ever published. The highpoint of the Tichy tales is THE FUTUROLOGICAL CONGRESS, which is published as a separate book in English, but the stories in THE STAR DIARIES are very nearly as good (the remnants were published in the MEMOIRS). Essential reading. They come across as some demonic blend of Italo Calvino, Escher, and Groucho Marx. Most sci-fi writing is deeply derivative from previous writers, but Stanislaw Lem is possibly the most original sci-fi writer of the past forty years. I am one of those who believe that Lem should have received serious consideration for a Nobel Prize.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Vahania63 on May 14, 2005
Format: Paperback
The best book from Ijon Tichy series. The set of stories is the best I read from this series. The stories, written in various years, show how diverse Lem is. Some of the themes he touches here are very serious, e.g.planet with the 'water cult', planet with 'no identity' people, religious monk/robots, etc. Some are masterpieces of sci-fi humor (multiplication of Tichy on the ship is just the best), some are just a simple fun (twentieth voyage with the attempt to fix the past from the future with the outcome that anything significant that happened to the human race is because of mistakes in trying to fix the history). Highly recommended to anyone (not only sci-fi fans). And by the way - it is totally different from 'Solaris'.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Nina Shishkoff on January 10, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you like Lem, this is one of his best. It's not really science fiction, it's the discharge of neurons in a fireworks display.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 25, 1999
Format: Paperback
joe missed the point of this one. Since when are Lem's stories plot-driven? Some books even lack a story line altogether (which, of course, does not lessen their impact). The 20th Voyage is a wonderful satire on the scientific endeavor and mistaken human superiority and is very carefully constructed - it takes a few reading to realize that the time loop makes perfect sense and actually says a bit about the future of humanity. These stories aren't brain candy but rather sophisticated. Therefore, don't expect a thrill-rides, but idea-driven tales.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Alex on February 14, 2001
Format: Paperback
"The Star Diaries" cannot be easily classified, probably because of its varied content. In any case, this isn't science fiction. This is philosophical satire, although it isn't clear what precisely it satirizes. The theme isn't consistent. The book is intended as a recollection of a spacefarer's unbelievable journeys, with each story being a separate adventure. Each is numbered, but the enumeration contains gaps, and, in any case, the numerical order isn't the chronological (the chronological order is 22, 23, 25, 11, 12, 13, 14, 7, 8, 28, 20, 21).
If one does read the stories in the chronological order, a certain evolution becomes clear: the earlier stories are light-hearted social satire with Ijon Tichy as the book's extremely close-minded but nevertheless courteous and polite hero romping about on alien planets ("Due to the retardation of the passage of time, my sneeze lasted five days and five nights, and when Tarantoga again opened the little door, he found me nearly unconscious with exhaustion", 12th Journey); but with each new journey the reader is bound to notice that the backgrounds begin to become more and more Earthlike, the cheerful pseudo-sci-fi camouflage is dropped, and Ijon himself becomes a convention designed to deliver the plot's message. Some of these later journeys begin to drag quite impressively (20 bored me to tears - especially when I realized that it's a direct copy of a shorter story in the "Further Reminiscences"), but from time to time deliver an incredibly potent message (13 and 21 being the most prominent examples - both dealing with personal freedoms).
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on November 17, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If Borges had written "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy," it might have resembled "The Star Diaries." Not really a novel, this hit-and-miss collection (mostly hits) features randomly ordered and thematically unlinked space journeys by Ijon Tichy, who also stars in the far more accessible "Futorological Congress."

Even though it's not a long book, "The Star Diaries" is best enjoyed in small doses. Some of the more lighthearted tales resemble the best Monty Python skits (and are just as hysterical). In the Seventh Voyage, for example, Tichy gets caught in time loops which causes multiple versions of himself to encounter one another. "That Friday me by now was the Saturday me and perhaps was suddenly knocking about somewhere in the vicinity of Sunday, while this Friday me inside the spacesuit had only recently been the Thursday me, into which same Thursday me I myself had been transformed at midnight." By the end of the chapter, the spaceship is so crowded with Ijon Tichys that they can barely move around.

Other stories tend more towards historical parody or philosophical commentary. The allusions run so fast and thick that these (particularly the Twentieth and Twenty-First Voyages) pay rereading, and even then I found myself puzzling over some of the references. The themes and plots of these tales most resemble Borges's cabalistic fables (it would be interesting to know if Borges was an influence) and, although they are absorbing in their own right, I don't think Lem's stories are as rewarding as Borges's fiction--but then again, Borges doesn?t demand as much of his reader.
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