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About Stanislaw Lem
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"A brilliant mind with a hearty appetite for science, philosophy and literature."
("The New York Times Book Review")
The novel has been translated into over forty languages and sold several million copies. This is the first English translation directly from the original.
Bringing his twin gifts of scientific speculation and scathing satire to bear on that hapless planet, Earth, Polish author Stanislaw Lem sends his unlucky cosmonaut, Ijon Tichy, to the Eighth Futurological Congress in Costa Rica to discuss the overpopulation problem. Caught up in local revolution, Tichy is shot and so critically wounded that he is flashfrozen to await a cure. But when he awakens in 2039, he is faced with a future unlike any that the Congress could have ever imagined. Translated by Michael Kandel.
“A vision of Earth’s future where the authorities dose the population with ‘psychemicals’ to make life in a desperately over-populated world worth living.” —The Boston Globe
“Lem’s view of the overcrowded future is original and disturbing. A pessimistic, mordantly funny book.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Lem writes with a humor underlined by his commentary on the way the world is.” —SF Site
By pure chance, scientists detect a signal from space that may be communication from rational beings. How can people of Earth understand this message, knowing nothing about the senders—even whether or not they exist? Written as the memoir of a mathematician who participates in the government project (code name: His Master's Voice) attempting to decode what seems to be a message from outer space, this classic novel shows scientists grappling with fundamental questions about the nature of reality, the confines of knowledge, the limitations of the human mind, and the ethics of military-sponsored scientific research.
Six explorers—the Captain, Doctor, Engineer, Chemist, Physicist, and Cyberneticist—crash land on a beautiful but strange planet, fourth from another sun. The landscape is bizarre, hosting acrid deserts, hissing trees, and thick spiderlike vegetation. But it is the signs of humanity that are most puzzling. In a labyrinth of plant-shaped buildings are dead ends, passageways, domes, vaulted ceilings, and giant statues. And everywhere there are images of death: mass graves, bodies in ditches and wells, clusters of egglike structures filled with skeletons.
Something is wrong with the inhabitants of Eden. But as the crew unlocks the secrets of this twisted society, the most haunting fact they must face is how similar it is to their own.
The Chicago Tribune lauded Stanislaw Lem as “not only a marvelous spinner of tales of the fantastic but also a challenging philosopher of the meanings and ramifications of technology.” Eden stands as a timeless and powerful examination of the conflict between human nature, human discovery, and all-too-human flaws.
The Hermes explorer ship represents the epitome of Earth’s excellence: a peaceful mission sent forth to make first contact with an alien civilization, and to use the expansive space technology developed by humanity to seek new worlds, friendships, and alliances. But what its crew discovers on the planet Quinta is nothing like they had hoped. Locked in a seemingly endless cold war among themselves, the Quintans are uncommunicative and violent, refusing any discourse—except for the firing of deadly weapons.
The crew of the Hermes is determined to accomplish what they had set out to do. But the cost of learning the secrets hidden on the silent surface of Quinta may be grave.
Stark, startling, and insightful, Fiasco has been praised by Publishers Weekly as “one of Lem’s best novels.” It is classic, thought-provoking hard science fiction, as prescient today as when it was first written.
Set in the not-too-distant future, when space flight has evolved to the point where humanity is ready to colonize the solar system, Tales of Pirx the Pilot follows one somewhat-hapless explorer as he struggles though his training as a cadet, his career as a pilot, and his tenure as captain of a merchant ship.
In these collected stories, Pirx stumbles his way through various exploits: traveling to the moon; battling mechanical malfunctions; encountering robots; and confronting questions of ambition, evolution, exploration, experimentation, and the nature of humanity itself. And in classic Pirx fashion, he faces down each dilemma with charm, curiosity, courage, and intuition.
These early works by revered speculative fiction author Stanislaw Lem are filled with both the sharp insight for which he is known and a childlike innocence, making them an entertaining and thought-provoking read for science fiction fans of all ages.
The year is 3149, and a vast paper destroying blight—papyralysis—has obliterated much of the planet’s written history. Fortunately, these rare memoirs, preserved for centuries in a volcanic rock, record the strange life of a man trapped in a hermetically sealed underground community . . .
From the Kafka Prize–winning author of Solaris, this is an entertaining and thought-provoking blend of politics, philosophy, humor, and science fiction.
Translated by Michael Kandel and Christine Rose
In the grand tradition of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, Stanisław Lem's The Invincible tells the story of a space cruiser sent to an obscure planet to determine the fate of a sister spaceship whose communication with Earth has abruptly ceased. Landing on the planet Regis III, navigator Rohan and his crew discover a form of life that has apparently evolved from autonomous, self-replicating machines—perhaps the survivors of a “robot war.” Rohan and his men are forced to confront the classic quandary: what course of action can humanity take once it has reached the limits of its knowledge? In The Invincible, Lem has his characters confront the inexplicable and the bizarre: the problem that lies just beyond analytical reach.
These are the stories of Trurl and Klapaucius, master inventors and engineers known as “constructors,” who have created marvels for kingdoms. Friends and rivals, they are constantly outdoing and challenging each other to reveal the next great evolution in cybernetics, and the exploits of these brilliant men are nothing short of incredible.
From tales of love, in which a robotic prince must woo a robotic princess enchanted by pleasures of true flesh, to epics of battle, in which the heroic constructors must use their considerable wit to outsmart a monarch obsessed with hunting, to examinations of humanity, wherein Trurl and Klapaucius must confront the limits of their skills and the meaning of true perfection, these stories are rich with profound questions, unimaginable marvels, and remarkable feats.
Hailed as “the most completely successful of [Lem’s] books,” The Cyberiad is an outrageously funny and incomparably wise collection of short stories, taking an insightful look at mechanics, technology, invention, and human ambition (The Boston Globe).
Stanisław Lem's Return from the Stars recounts the experiences of Hal Bregg, an astronaut who returns from an exploratory mission that lasted ten years—although because of time dilation, 127 years have passed on Earth. Bregg finds a society that he hardly recognizes, in which danger has been eradicated. Children are “betrizated” to remove all aggression and violence—a process that also removes all impulse to take risks and explore. The people of Earth view Bregg and his crew as “resuscitated Neanderthals,” and pressure them to undergo betrization. Bregg has serious difficulty in navigating the new social mores.
While Lem's depiction of a risk-free society is bleak, he does not portray Bregg and his fellow astronauts as heroes. Indeed, faced with no opposition to his aggression, Bregg behaves abominably. He is faced with a choice: leave Earth again and hope to return to a different society in several hundred years, or stay on Earth and learn to be content. With Return from the Stars, Lem shows the shifting boundaries between utopia and dystopia.
Vacation is supposed to be relaxing. But while traveling in Naples, several American tourists die in a most macabre and unusual way: committing suicide in a fit of madness. The cases are too similar to be coincidental, and the prevailing theory soon assumes that a serial poisoner is on the loose.
Called in to investigate, and stem the rash of death before it becomes an epidemic, is a former astronaut from the States. As he follows the path of the last victim, he is confronted with a mystery that proves the truth is always stranger than fiction—and that we are all casualties of fortune in the end.
Called “a Jorge Luis Borges for the Space Age, who plays in earnest with every concept of philosophy and physics, from free will to probability theory,” Stanislaw Lem now tackles the suspense genre with his famed intensity and intelligence, weaving a taut and enigmatic tale as only a great novelist can (The New York Times Book Review).