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Stanislaw Lem

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.
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Solaris: Can we communicate with an alien sentient ocean?

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Solaris by Stanislaw Lem

Solaris is an amazing little novel with a colorful history. First written in 1961 by Stanislaw Lem in Polish, it was then made into a two-part Russian TV series in 1968, before being made into a feature film by famous Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972. It only reached English publication in 1970 in a Polish-to-French-to-English translation. And just when you thought it had faded from attention, both James Cameron and Steven Soderbergh expressed interest in doing a remake, with Soderbergh getting the nod in 2002 because Cameron was busy with other movies. Finally, a direct Polish-to-English translation by Bill Johnston was made available as an ebook and audiobook in 2011. In my case, I saw the Tarkovsky film back in 1995, watched the Soderbergh film in 2002, finally read the 1970 translation in 2013, and listened to the audiobook version in 2015.... Read More

Film Reviews: Two versions of Solaris

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The Novel Solaris was written in 1961 by Stanislaw Lem in Polish before being made into a feature film by famous Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972. Four decades later, both James Cameron and Steven Soderbergh expressed interest in doing a remake, with Soderbergh getting the nod in 2002 because Cameron was busy with other movies. I saw the Tarkovsky film in 1995 and the Soderbergh film in 2002.

The planet Solaris is covered by a single, massive ocean, and after its initial discovery scientists begin to observe unusual movements and formations in the ocean. The story centers on a small group of scientists on Solaris Station, a research station that revolves around the planet Solaris. It opens with psychologist Kris Kelvin arriving on Solaris Station to check on the three scientists stationed there. Nobody comes to greet... Read More

The Cyberiad: The joy of reading

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The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem

“Mighty King, here is a story, a nest of stories, with cabinets and cupboards, about Trurl the constructor and his wonderfully nonlinear adventures.”

I can think of no better introduction to Stanislaw Lem’s 1967 The Cyberiad (Cyberiada in the original Polish) than the line above taken from the text. Capturing the atmosphere of storytelling, the quirky, entirely singular imagination behind it, and the meta-human perspective suffusing every word, thought, and concept innate to the stories, the quote is a mini-excerpt of one of the most timeless, creative, and insightful collections science fiction has ever produced. There is nothing like the constructors Trurl and Klaupacius in literature, and never will be.

With imagination oozing off the pages and pooling on the floor, ... Read More

The Futurological Congress: An endlessly imaginative novel

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The Futurological Congress by Stanislaw Lem

Numerous are the stories in science fiction in which populations have been brainwashed to believe an ideal, most often the opposite of what we hold dear. A sub-genre in itself, advertisements have been used (The Space Merchants), narcotics (The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch), propaganda (We), technology (Brave New World), emotions (The Giver), totalitarian control ( Read More