So long, Stanisław Lem

March 27, 2006

Stanisław Lem, great Polish author of literatury fantastyczny, has died in Krakow at age 84. His science fiction, written while living under communism, was wonderfully different from the general mode in the West, focusing on humanistic aspects of technology and our concepts of the future. He also had an amazing sense of humor. Unfortunately his obits seem to focus on his writing a book filmed by Stephen Soderbergh.

In his honor, here is where I suggest starting if you want to discover Lem:

  • Nobody can go wrong with The Cyberiad, tales of robot colleagues plying their trade across the galaxy and discovering that “from strawberries under torture, one may extract all sorts of things.”
  • If you are a mathematician (or, better, if you know a couple but aren’t one yourself), you can try His Master’s Voice.
  • If you frequently worry about the end of the world, why not read The Futurological Congress?
  • What about the self-destructive yet irresistable logic of militarization? Fiasco is for you.
  • If you are in a more Borgesian mood, A Perfect Vacuum reviews books that don’t exist, that generally couldn’t be written, and that you’d probably not want to read anyway.

You can, of course, read Solaris, although contrary to what filmmakers would have you believe, it is not about the redeeming power of love; if anything, it is about the impossibility of communication, a slightly different topic.

Dziękuje, i do widzenia.

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2 Responses to “So long, Stanisław Lem”

  1. Matt R. Says:

    And here I thought filmmakers would have me believe Solaris is about long drives through Moscow. Well, at least one filmmaker.

  2. Matt R. Says:

    Also, your title makes me think “Novelists may come and novelists may go and never change your point of view…”

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