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Tales of Pirx the Pilot by [Lem, Stanislaw]
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Tales of Pirx the Pilot Kindle Edition

4.3 out of 5 stars 22 customer reviews

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Length: 218 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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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: 804 KB
  • Print Length: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (November 30, 1990)
  • Publication Date: November 30, 1990
  • Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0077FC55Y
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #337,522 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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By A Customer on October 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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 and is just a great sci-fi story.
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Format: Paperback
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 was greatly relaxed. The _Tales_ are not the masterpieces of writing that you will see in _Solaris_ (1961), _His Master's Voice_ (1968), and _The Cyberiad_ (1974). But they are the sort of science fiction stories that-- on the surface, at least-- resemble Western science fiction stories.

We have five stories from early in the career of a young space cadet: "The Test," "The Conditioned Reflex," "On Patrol," "The Albatross," and "Termimus". Pirx is slightly chubby, given to daydreaming, is sometimes socially gauche, and is not above cheating or cutting corners. But his quick reflexes and his ability to think outside the box have managed to save his life and to solve a series of scientific puzzles. (On the other hand, we see the handsome, clever, cocky, know-it-all cadet hoist by his own petard in the very first tale.)

The stories-- especially the last four tales-- may be read as traditional hard science fiction tales. A puzzle or problem is presented and then fairly solved, with a scientific explanation. And it is all made solid through Lem's attention to detail. Here, for example, is one of his many panoramas of the lunar landscape:

A low-lying Sun, gaping like the Gates of Hell, was superimposing on the riot of rock below an anarchy of shadow, an eerie excrescence of black, conjuring behind every boulder a hellish shaft that seemed to lead straight to the Moon's interior.
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