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The Cyberiad Paperback – December 16, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 90 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Stanislaw Lem may be the most famous science fiction writer you've never heard of ... [this] collection of stories may go some way to redressing that ... The linguistic inventiveness is extraordinary ... Lem has created a curious world in which robots and rockets rub shoulders with kings, dragons, witches and pirates Independent on Sunday A Jorge Luis Borges for the Space Age New York Times --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English, Polish (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Harvest Books; 1 edition (December 16, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156027593
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156027595
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (90 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #844,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By GeoX on January 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
Imagine a mixture of Borges, Calvino, Saint-Exupéry, Pynchon, Douglas Adams, Samuel Beckett, L. Frank Baum, Dr. Seuss, Lewis Caroll, and perhaps a little Philip K. Dick. That's what this is like, sort of. It is a collection of stories, some profound, others 'merely' entertaining, written by a man who was clearly drunk on sheer linguistic exuberance. The sheer virtuosity of the language is breathtaking: the book is packed to the gills with puns, rhymes, nonsense words, and general verbal japery. Huge amounts of credit must of course go to the translator, Michael Kandel, on this score. I wish the book included translation notes; he must have had to rebuild innumerable language formations from scratch in order to make them work--and work dazzlingly well--in English. Particularly impressive in this regard are 'The Fifth Sally (A), or Trurl's Prescription,' a delightful bit of frippery driven almost entirely by verbal dexterity; and an extraordinary mathematical love poem related in 'The First Sally (A), or Trurl's Electric Bard.' The centerpiece of the collection, however, must surely be the 'Tale of the Three Storytelling Machines of King Genius,' which, as you would expect, includes a flurry of internal stories, some of which in turn have stories inside them. One of these internal stories, that of Mymosh the Self-Begotten, is in my opinion the book's highlight. If Sam Beckett had turned his hand to science fiction, this is what he would have written. It's as strange and unsettling as any of Sam's short novels. Finally, some mention must be made of the highly stylized illustrations by Daniel Mroz scattered throughout the book; they complement the action to perfection.
Lem is clearly having fun with The Cyberiad, and it's contagious.
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Format: Paperback
More than anyone else, Stanislaw Lem
understands the unique potential of the Science Fiction
genre. His
depictions of non-human intelligences, whether alien or
artificial, are consistently compelling. His insight into
humanity and our role in the Cosmos is unmatched (at least
among SF authors). As far as I can tell, Lem has never
written a bad book, and his reservoir of fresh ideas is
limitless.

However, this is a review of a book, not an author :-),
so...

I have read and enjoyed most of Lem's work, but I still go
back and re-read The Cyberiad every year or so. I always
hope to find something new, and I am never disappointed. It
amazes me to see how many of the deepest ideas from Lem's
other books are echoed somewhere in these stories. And
their style is Lem's best: The futuristic "fable", mixing
intellectual slapstick, brilliant wordplay, and deep
philosophy as only Lem can.

I guarantee The Cyberiad will make you laugh hard and think
harder. What more could you want from your reading?
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Format: Paperback
First, the Cyberiad is an absolute hoot. It works on the highest literary levels with humor and insight. My only complaint is that Lem didn't write more of these cyber fables (I've got almost everything he's written that's been translated over the years and he's written quite a lot in this vein nd IT IS NOT ENOUGH - I WANT MORE!!). He's probably most famous for his book Solaris which I found an intriguing bore (personal taste only and could be a bad translation since I don't read in his native Polish). People who read Solaris as their first Lem book will find little in common with the Cyberiad. I avoided Lem for years because I pegged him as the author of Solaris and didn't realize what a virtuoso author he was. He will never win the Nobel because he's been stamped as a "Science Fiction" writer, sort of like Vonnegut, Le Guin, and Philip K. Dick are/were. He's different from all of them ... Read Solaris, The Invincible, and the Cyberiad and you'll see the range of his skills (good and bad). An aside: I was astounded when my 9 year old picked up the Cyberiad and read it obviously not getting a lot of the finer points) and then asked if he could find more books about Trurl and friends. He thought it was one of the funniest things he's read (and he likes the Harry Potter books also). Now, I wouldn't recommend Lem to most 9 year olds ...
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Format: Paperback
I have head the great opportunity to read this novel in both English and Polish - Lem's native tongue. It contains great word play, clever ideas, and the ability to make you wonder about the limitless value of the world.
Greatly written prose in both languages - the translator into English deserves much credit. When you read it, you will taste every word and find it synonymous with fresh rasberries with whipped cream and chunks of pistachio nuts (or whatever floats your boat).
The Cyberiad is a mixture of humor parallel to one exhibited in the creations of Julio Cortazar and Douglas Adams. To ponder the existence of things as well as the presence of the most common objects is Lem's domain. Although I do not usually like to provide quotations for take out of context, they do not mean much, this one provides a great example of Lem's clever style:
"Everyone knows that dragons don't exist. But while this simplistic formulation may satisfy the layman, it does not suffice for the scientific mind. The School of Higher Neantical Nillity is in fact wholly unconcerned with what does exist. Indeed, the banality of existence has been so amply demonstrated, there is no need for us to discuss it any further here. The brilliant Cerebron, attacking the problem analytically, discovered three distinct kinds of dragon: the mythical, the chimerical, and the purely hypothetical. They were all, one might say, nonexistent, but each nonexisted in an entirely different way ... "
In addition, if you as a reader know anything about the social attitudes of the late 70's in Poland, you will find this book to be a weird and exciting commentary on the Polish people of that particular period.
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