- Paperback: 336 pages
- Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (March 15, 1988)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0156306301
- ISBN-13: 978-0156306300
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 57 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #310,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Fiasco 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Text: English, Polish (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Top customer reviews
I believe this novel, Lem's last, contains his finest effort of all. The playfulness and leitmotifs of some of his other work are absent, but we get a sober treatment of just how a voyage of hundreds of light years could be carried out, without a magical 'warp drive', and a cautionary tale about expectations,self delusion and just how alien alien can get. The first chapter, that some other reviewers found boring, I found to be written in the style of his Pirx stories, with one event leading to the next, and with our pilot Parvis' viewpoint featured. No deep concepts, no long, involved conversations - just an adventure story prequel to the Quinta voyage. For example, the six-page description of Parvis taking control of the fusion-powered Digla is a fascinating and satisfying tour de force of traditional hard scifi. I climbed into the control harness as if I was Parvis, while I renewed my deep love of Lem's evocative prose (see title of this review). The first chapter takes place on the moon Titan, and depicts the workaday world of our thoroughly conquered Solar system, while informing us that Pirx has disappeared on a Digla operation, and a spaceman very much like Pirx sets out in another one to find him. Lem's mixture of hard science fiction with lyrical description is pure catnip for readers with hungry imaginations. You aren't merely wowed by all the mecha; you enter into the joy of it.
The remainder of 'Fiasco' is, in my opinion, the blueprint, the highest court of appeal, for ALL hard science fiction. 'Fiasco' isn't fiction with a scientific theme; it is fiction about science. As was pointed out in an essay by Matt McIrvin, unlike other authors, that became skilled at giving the appearance of science to their stories(e.g. Michael Crichton), Lem gives the appearance of actual research. The theory, physics and the philosophy of his science are expounded upon in conversations and books being read by characters in the story (during the subjective 6 year journey to Quinta). We learn about things right along with the resurrected pilot Tempe, who may be Pirx, or may be Parvis. (Tip: have your Latin/English translation dictionary handy as you read "Fiasco". At several points in various dialogues, characters resort to Latin to make or embellish or clarify a point; yet another learning opportunity for Lem fans.)
In 'Fiasco', Lem also introduces a new technique of interstellar travel - made possible by something he calls the Holenbach Interval, and employed using 'Sidereal Engineering'. The spacecraft and the mission itself were designed specifically for a journey to Quinta, taking advantage of both the relative proximity of a black hole to the Zeta system (Quinta's star)and of mankind's recent development of gravity control using raw power applied via the Holenbach effect. Einstein's speed limit is observed, but instead of playing tricks with distance or velocity, starship Eurydice's 18 supercomputers ping the black hole with a very large "sidereal" gravity bomb, creating a momentary assymetrical resonance reaction in the topology of gravity waves surrounding it. Within them, time runs backwards, creating a haven that, if successfully entered, allows only two weeks of shiptime to elapse for one and one-half years of galactic time - the time during which the Hermes makes its fateful encounter with Quinta. The Eurydice, The Hermes, Quinta, and Earth all have different reference frames in this scheme, which has the purpose of minimizing the effects of time dilation ; in effect, turning back the journey's clock. One of my favorite quotes from the book : "Physics, my friend, is a narrow path drawn across a gulf that the human imagination cannot grasp. It is a set of answers to certain questions that we put to the world, and the world supplies answers on the condition that we will not then ask it other questions, questions shouted out by common sense. And common sense? It is that which is understood by an intelligence using senses no different than those of a baboon."
The ideas and discussions here breathe the fourth dimension of speculative fiction into your mind as you read, and give insight into the responsibility that goes along with being a science fiction author (or should). Truly, you are not just entertained; you are enlightened and expanded and filled with the enormity of this mission and all of its implications, and those of any similar missions you may read about in the future.
If there is a core competency, and serious responsibility, associated with speculative fiction, it is meaningful prognosis. With fiction becoming fact on a near-daily basis, speculative fiction is the only literature we can turn to for imaginative exploration of technologies and rank profiteering masquerading as "progress" ahead of the time someone is trying to push them on us. "Fiasco" is about another aspect of this - exploring the idea that technology plus the best of intentions carried out by trained and educated and compassionate people can still pave the road to Hell, because we perceive the universe with "senses no different than those of a baboon".
Stanislaw Lem took a dim view of American scifi writers, considering them, for the most part, to be purveyors of kitsch. I can understand his opinion, but I do not share it. I have had too many transcendent moments, with the likes of Heinlein, Silverberg and Bester - to lump them in with Lem's dismissive labeling. But Lem's assertion of the serious nature of speculative fiction is well taken, and I truly honor his memory, and the genius of his writing.
At times, Lem can be very technical about machinery and science, but his ideas are so well though out it amazes me. It is obvious he didn't just sit down and dash off a novel that began with a great premise. He has thought out the story and its ramifications in depth and this must be appreciated. I found this book entertaining but also very disturbing. As it progressed, it evoked emotions of anger in me, for what was happening. It was truly believable and that made it all the more troublesome.
Strongly recommended for fans of serious science fiction.
In Kafka, characters cope with an intrinsically ambiguous world by imposing their own flawed and inconsistent interpretations on it. In Lem's stories, the world is not intrinsically ambiguous -- it's just too complex and too "alien" for humans to cope with. It is a theme throughout Lem's books that our minds are simply not up to the challenge of understanding even a small part of our experiences, and that we will get ourselves in terrible trouble if we don't own up to our intellectual limitations. In the best case scenario, despair and resignation set in as the protagonists continue to stumble. In the worst case, they are too proud to own up to the fact that they're not equipped to understand what's happening, and they cause a terrible disaster. The title of this book gives you a pretty good indication of what kind of characters Lem gives us here.
Most recent customer reviews
Read it again and again and it's so amazing and detailed in many aspects and conflicts that arise from the...Read more