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Stanislaw Lem

Fiction: Science Fiction; Fantasy

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Stanislaw Lem
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Titles to Look Out For:
[in by date of publication with each entry dated to earliest edition. Each listing includes later editions and printings]
1967. The Invincible
1971. Memoirs Found in a Bathtub
1971. The Futurological Congress
1971. The Star Diaries, a.k.a Memoirs of a Space Traveller


About the Author:
Stanislaw Lem was born on 12th September 1921 in Lvov, Poland and at the time of publication lived with his family in Krakow. During the German occupation of Poland in World War Two, he worked as a mechanic and took part in the Resistance; also training in medicine in the period of 1939-1941 at Lemberg and from 1945-1948 at Krakow. During this turbulent decade (the 1940s) he also took up writing seriously and became one of Europe's most prolific and articulate writers, as well as being the co-founder of the Polish astronomical society and a member of the Polish Cybernetics Association. His books, translated into almost thirty languages range from novels to parody, philosophy and literary criticism. In 1973, he was awarded the Nebula Award

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1976, Penguin, pbk
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  • The Invincible [top]
    The original Polish edition 'Niezwyezony' was published by Wydawnietwo, Cracow
    German edition published in 1967 in East Berlin by Verlag Volk und Welt
    Translated from the German into English by Wendayne Ackerman
    English translation published in 1973 in Great Britain by Sidgwick & Jackson
    Published in 1976 in Great Britain by Penguin Books in paperback, 187pp, ISBN 0140038531

Storyline: A heavy cruiser, an armed interstellar space ship called 'Invincible' lands on the planet Regis III which seems uninhabited and bleak, to investigate the loss of its sister ship, Condor. During the investigation, the crew finds evidence of a form of quasi-life, born through evolution of autonomous, self-replicating machines, apparently left behind by an alien civilization which had inhabited the planet a very long time ago. The crew speculate that a kind of evolution must have taken place under the selection pressures of inter-robot conflict, with the only surviving form being swarms of minuscule, insect-like micromachines. Individually, or in small groups, they are quite harmless and capable of only very simple behaviour.

But, when they feel threatened, they assemble into huge clouds, are able to travel at a high speed and can even to climb to the top of troposphere. These swarms display complex behavior arising from self-organization and can incapacitate any intelligent threat by a powerful surge of electromagnetic interference.

This is what happened to the crew of the Condor - they suffered a complete memory erasure as a consequence of attacks from these "clouds". Invincible's crew comes to the decision that the must mount an escalating series of attacks on the perceived enemy, but this is fruitless and pointless and they come to recognize the futility of their efforts. The robotic "fauna", dubbed necrosphere are such an integral part of the planet's ecology that it would require a disruption on a planetary scale (such as a nuclear winter) to destroy them

Lem, Stanislaw. 'Memoirs Found in a Bathtub', published in September 1976 in the United States by Avon in paperback, 192pp, ISBN 0380004569. Condition: very good with a tiny tiny hole in the front cover near the top which penetrates through the next few pages (hardly noticeable). Price: £3.85, not including post & packing (which is £2.80 for UK buyers, more for overseas customers)
1976, Avon, pbk
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  • Memoirs Found in a Bathtub [top]
    First published in Poland as 'Pamietnik znaleziony w wannie' by Wydawnietwo Literackie, Cracow, in 1971 and translated by Michael Kandel and Christine Rose (Christine Rose's work by arrangement with Forrest J. Ackerman)
    First published in September 1976 in the United States by Avon in paperback, 192pp, ISBN 0380004569. Avon No. 29959. Original price when first sold: $1.50

Storyline: Far in the future, a young man wanders pointlessly in the designed destiny of a vast underground labyrinth - the final stronghold of the American Pentagon.

Entrusted with a mission, its purpose unknown, he finds his only refuge from the insidious tentacles of surveillance and red tape...in a bathroom. There in his journal, he struggles to make some sense of the "random" energies of "the building"...

"Who is the enemy?"
"Is there an enemy?"
"Are all his actions preordained?"
"Is the outside world a myth?"

In 'Memoirs Found in a Bathtub', Stanislaw Lem projects a future America where a Uranian virus threatens the destruction of all paper. The final stronghold of the "papyrocracy" is the hermetically sealed underground structure known only as "The Building". Its labyrinthine net of corridors is a world of complete subterfuge - with polygraphy mittens, bugged percolators, and microphone pillows. Into the clockwork precision of this vestigial Pentagon plunges a young wanderer, unaware of the self-devouring complex of espionage that is a way of life, the rhythm of The Building

Lem, Stanislaw. 'The Futurological Congress' published in 1977 in Great Britain in 1977 by First Futura Publications in paperback, 149pp, ISBN 0860079287. Price: £2.99, not including post and packing (which is £2.80 for UK buyers, more for overseas customers)
1977, Futura, pbk
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  • The Futurological Congress [top]
    First published in 1971 in Poland as Ze Wspommen Ijona Tichego. Kongress Futurologiczny in Bezsennosc and by Wydawnictwo Literackie
    English Translation Copyright, The Seabury Press, 1974
    First published in 1975 in Great Britain by Martin Secker and Warburg
    Published in 1977 in Great Britain in paperback by First Futura Publications, 149pp, ISBN 0860079287

Storyline: Back from space and hardly recovered from space-lag (which makes jet-lag seem positively pleasant in comparison), Tichy finds himself volunteered as a delegate to a conference on the population explosion. What does he know about the explosion, except how to help it along? Then, housed in the 116-storey conference hotel, he begins to notice odd things about his immediate environment, and finds himself uncovering a state of affairs which he would really prefer to know nothing about

Lew, Stanislaw. 'The Star Diaries', published in 1978 in Great Britain by Futura, in paperback, 275pp, ISBN 0708870007. Condition: very good, well looked-after. Price: £3.99, not including p&p, which is Amazon UK's standard charge (currently £2.80 for UK buyers, more for overseas customers)
1978, Futura, pbk
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  • The Star Diaries [top]
    Published in 1971 in Poland under the title Dzienniki Gwiazdowe by Czytelnik, Warsaw, in 1971
    First published in 1976 in Great Britain by Martin Secker & Warburg Ltd. English translation copyright 1976 by The Seabury Press, Inc.
    Published in 1978 in Great Britain by Futura in paperback, 275pp, ISBN 0708870007

Storyline: Cosmonaut, time-traveller and battered hero of The Futurological Congress, ljon Tichy makes his triumphant return, recording a dazzling array of voyages in time and space. Caught in a time-warp, pleading a shaky case for humanity and the intergalactic United Nations, spying ineptly on a planet whose robot inhabitants speak a grubby version of Chaucerian English, Tichy's diaries are bizarre, unpredictable, frantic, and sometimes deeply disturbing. About the author: author of Solaris, and one of Europe's most popular, prolific and articulate writers. His work has been translated into thirty languages

 



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