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*3-488. Lem, Stanislaw (Poland). The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age. Seabury, 1974. Tr. by Michael Kandel of Cyberiada, 1967.

A delightful cycle of ingenious and humorous stories modeled on European fables about two robot “constructors,” timorous Trurl and vexatious Klapaucius, who build fabulous machines for pay and pride throughout the galaxy. Stories individually point up lessons, such as “The Fifth Sally (A), or Trurl's Prescription,” which satirizes bureaucracy, and “The Sixth Sally, or How Trurl and Klapaucius Created a Demon of the Second Kind to Defeat the Pirate Pugg,” which warns against the current information explosion. Collectively they demonstrate the retributory effects of the seven deadly sins despite the use of technology in their commission. The jargons of science, math, and technology permeate the stories, adding color and humor, as does the use of mechanical analogs of human behavior. Still, not truly myths of the age of science, as in Calvino's Cosmicomics [3-168]; rather, traditional sorcerer-vs.-client fables jazzed up with scientific terminology and treating science as magic, humans as machines, the future as the past. Outstanding translation; a carnival of words. Compare Bunch's Moderan [3-156].


3-489. Lem, Stanislaw (Poland). The Futurological Congress, from the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy. Seabury, 1974. Tr. by Michael Kandel of Ze wspomnien' Ijona Tichego, Kongres futurologiczny, 1971.

A satire on contemporary society, on professional futurists, and on “the sleeper wakes” utopias. Tichy goes to a convention of futurists held in the 100-story Costa Rica Hilton. Pointless terrorism abounds, and Tichy is caught up in a local rebellion and the countermeasures that unloose a flood of mind-altering drugs. In hallucinations, he is wounded repeatedly, frozen down, and awakes in the brave new world of the future where both good and evil come out of a pill bottle. Humor is an unsubtle as in Goulart's After Things Fell Apart [3-348], the violence as severe as in Brunner's The Sheep Look Up [3-140], though with little social insight.


3-490. Lem, Stanislaw (Poland). The Investigation. Seabury, 1974. Tr. by Adele Milch of 'Sledztwo, 1959.

Scotland Yard is confronted by the strange mystery of the dead moving and then walking away. Detective Gregory doubts it is supernatural and suspects the eccentric statistician, Sciss–for the phenomenon's pattern suggests either ghoulish human activity or the existence of natural phenomena undreamt of in our philosophy. Finally, Gregory confronts the latter with all its psychic consequences. The story's familiar setting and form provide contrast to its central theme: our limited understanding of and discomfort with the unknown. Compare Sloane's The Edge of Running Water [2-93].


3-491. Lem, Stanislaw (Poland). The Invincible. Seabury, 1973. Tr. by Wendayne Ackerman of Niezwyciezony, 1964.

The space ship Invincible lands on uninhabited Regis 111 to discover how its sister ship, the Condor, was defeated and its crew driven into infantile madness. It appears that abandoned machines have evolved through natural selection on Regis 111, giving rise to highly specialized mechanical life forms–which are beyond human efforts to defeat. Surface space opera with philosophical undercurrents. Compare Harrison's Deathworld [3-372].


3-492. Lem, Stanislaw (Poland). Memoirs Found in a Bathtub. Seabury, 1973. Tr. by Michael Kandel and Christine Rose of Pamietnik Znaleziony w wannie, 1971.

Satire on militarism, the cult of secrecy, and its resultant paranoia in closed systems. A paper-decaying epidemic has destroyed civilization, so the U.S. military builds a Third Pentagon in the Rockies to weather the crisis. Locked under stone, the autonomous complex comes to believe it still functions to control affairs. A young man is given a meaningless secret mission and becomes involved in pointless spy-counterspy activities leading to eventual self-destruction within the entombed labyrinth filled with technological gimmickry. Story eventually becomes overly complex and tedious. Compare Bass's Half Past Human [3-67].


*3-493. Lem, Stanislaw (Poland). Solaris. Walker, 1970. Tr. by Joanna Kilmartin and Steve Cox of Solaris, 1968.

Written in 1961. A planetwide ocean seems to have a life of its own as it twists itself into fantastic shapes and provides visions for Earth people to study. But its nature defies all Earth's ingenuity; a multitude of “solutions” are offered, none of which seem to fit. Man can interpret the truly alien only in their own limited terms. A fascinating and philosophical work, highly original. Compare Blish's A Case of Conscience [3-94] and Dick's Eye in the Sky [3-266].


5-30. Lem, Stanislaw (Poland). Phantastik und Futurologie, I and II. Frankfurt/Main: Insel Verlag, 1977, 1980. German tr. of Fantastyka i Futurologia (1970).

Despite its title, this is a book about SF, not fantasy, and its Western variety only. It is also no history but a morphological, sociological (the weakest part, although not quite as vapid as Stableford's sociology of SF), structural, linguistic, and, above all, philosophical examination of SF, so stimulating and original (if somewhat jerky and terminologically often inexact) that it will infuriate many readers of SF. It has been rightly said that Lem, despite some brilliant analyses of particular works and literary techniques, is not interested in literature at all; his main concern is with the structure of the real world, not with the structure of the literary work, despite frequent and furious polemics with structuralism. He takes SF–and futurology as well, but this is only a side issue in his book, again despite the title–to task for ignoring or misrepresenting urgent problems of the future, for example, the development of computers, genetic engineering, and the ethical and philosophical horizons of civilization in general. His book is a passionate search for meaning in the universe and in literature, decrying the merely playful aspects of fiction (for example, the time-travel stories of SF, the catastrophe theme, or SF's frivolous treatment of metaphysical questions). Lem's book is not an academic theory and history of the genre like Suvin's Metamorphoses of Science Fiction [8-66], and unlike Suvin he is, of course, no Marxist critic, but rather an old-fashioned and elitist European intellectual with a firm belief in the necessity of cultural, moral, and intellectual values. He criticizes SF for its lack of philosophical depth and moral responsibility, not for an absence of particular political beliefs or dogmas. Sample chapters have appeared in translation in Science-Fiction Studies.


8-35. Ketterer, David (Canada). New Worlds for Old: The Apocalyptic Imagination, Science Fiction, and American Literature. Anchor Press/Doubleday, Indiana University Press, 1974.

Both a study of American literature and an analysis of SF, the book insists on the centrality of the apocalyptic vision in both American literature in general and SF in particular. Le Guin, Lem, Vonnegut, Poe, Twain, Melville, London, and Bellamy are among the authors whose works are examined in this scholarly study, parts of which were published earlier as articles. Ketterer is best when his analysis is linked to specific texts.


8-53. Parrinder, Patrick (U.K.). Science Fiction: Its Criticism and Teaching. Methuen, 1980. New Accents series.

Following the introductory chapter discussing various definitions of SF are chapters discussing its sociology (as product, as social document, and as a message to its audience), and SF viewed as romance, as fable, and as epic. Chapter 6 analyzes the use of language in SF to generate verisimilitude and novelty and shows through many examples how linguistic devices are used. Lem's Solaris [3-493] is analyzed as romance, fable, epic, and parody. The concluding chapter is a perceptive study of the teaching of SF, emphasizing its philosophical dimension rather than mechanical aspects. Notes, excellent annotated bibliography, index. A clearly written, well-argued critical analysis, it should be especially valuable to an academic readership or the more serious reader.


9-34. Gillespie, Bruce (Australia), ed. Philip K. Dick: Electric Shepherd. Norstrilia Press, 1975.

Dick is one of the most idiosyncratic and complex writers SF has produced, and he and his works have been the subjects of many essays, including almost all of the March 1975 issue of Science-Fiction Studies [13-34]. The pieces in this 106-page paperback appeared originally in Science Fiction Commentary, the best of the Australian fanzines [13-31], edited by Gillespie, who wrote three of these essays. Dick contributes two letters and his 1972 Vancouver speech, “The Android and the Human.” Lem's “Science Fiction: A Hopeless Case–with Exceptions” praises Dick. Fred Patten provides a useful but now somewhat dated bibliography of Dick's stories, 1952-1973. A useful brief survey. A forthcoming volume in Taplinger's Writers of the 21st Century will be devoted to Dick.


Anatomy of Wonder: A Critical Guide to Science Fiction: Second Edition. – New York; London: R.R.Bowker Company, 1981. – P. 234-235, 396-397, 539, 543, 556-557.

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© 1981 Barron Neil, текст