Nick Petrie Series

Stanislaw Lem Books In Order

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Publication Order of From the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy Books

The Star Diaries / Memoirs of a Space Traveler (1957)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Memoirs Found in a Bathtub (1961)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Futurological Congress (1971)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Peace on Earth (1987)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Hospital of the Transfiguration (1955)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Investigation (1958)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Eden (1959)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Return from the Stars (1961)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Solaris (1961)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Invincible (1964)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Highcastle (1966)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
His Master's Voice (1968)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Imaginary Magnitude (1973)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Chain of Chance (1976)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Fiasco (1986)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Short Stories/Novellas

The Inquest (1968)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Mask (1976)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Seventh Voyage (2019)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Collections

Tales of Pirx the Pilot (1961)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Mortal Engines (1964)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Cyberiad (1965)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
More Tales of Pirx the Pilot (1968)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
A Perfect Vacuum (1971)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Cosmic Carnival (1981)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
One Human Minute (1986)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Three Electroknights (2018)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Truth and Other Stories (2021)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

Dialogues (1957)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Summa Technologiae (1964)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Microworlds (1984)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Publication Order of Anthologies

Antigrav(1975)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Spells of Enchantment: The Wondrous Fairy Tales of Western Culture(1991)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction(2010)Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Stanislaw Lem was one of the most respected science fiction authors that did not come from an English speaking country. He is best known for the likes of “Solaris” “The Cyberia” and “Tales of Pirx the Pilot.” Offering deep commentaries on the human condition, he was more than just a storyteller as he was deemed a futurist and forward-looking thinker that put forth his thoughts in a satirical tone. His work was very different in content and style from that of his contemporaries in the West as it was shaped by the influence of the place and time he lived in. While Stanislaw disparaged Western science fiction and was expelled from the Science Fiction Writers Association, he remained a popular author all across the globe. He published his most popular novel Solaris in 1961 and the novel went on to command a large readership in the Soviet Union and the US. With his novels so popular, Lem sold more than 27 million copies and his works were translated into more than 41 languages. The novel Solaris was made into a feature film that ran in theaters in both the Soviet Union and the US. As one of the most popular authors of his time, his works explored themes of the impossibility of understanding and mutual communication, despair about humankind’s place in the universe, the nature of intelligence, speculation on technology and despair about human limitations. His wrote most of his works as fiction though some are philosophical novels while others are essays.

Stanislaw Lem was born in Lviv in Poland in 1921 to a Jewish family though he never was religious. In fact, he was a strong believer in the arbitrariness of life and this is reflected in the themes of his novels. In “Highcastle” his memoir, he said that he never knew when he came to the realization that he existed though once he did he had a fear that he could have just as easily not have existed or been an inanimate object such as a stick or a lower animal such as a snail. This was perhaps because of his family experiences that had to live in the twentieth-century upheavals in Europe. He was born to an otolaryngologist and his interest in his father’s medical books combined with a love for fantasy helped the author develop a knack of rich descriptions. He enjoyed reading science fiction works from the likes of Jules Verne and H.G. Wells and these were a great influence on his future work. After graduating from high school, he enrolled in college to become a doctor but his city was soon overall by Soviet and then German troops and being Jewish, the family was suddenly in grave danger. He had to quit medical school and worked as an auto mechanic and welder in a German-owned scrap yard. After the war, Stanislaw Lem moved to Poland and since he never finished medical school, he survived writing poetry for a Catholic weekly and pulp fiction for magazines. Almost by accident, he got into science fiction after he had a talk with a publisher over the lack of Polish science fiction. Within a week, he had a book contract and by 1951 he had his first work “Astronauts” published. He has never looked back since.

Lem become very productive post-1956 when Poland had more freedom of speech following de-Stalinization. In the twelve years between 1956 and 1968, he wrote seventeen works that were widely translated particularly in the Eastern Bloc countries. “Dialogues” his first philosophical non-fiction work was published in 1957 and went on to become one of his best known philosophical works alongside the 1964 published “Summa Technologiae.” The book “Summa” was noted for its unique perspectives on prospective biological, cybernetic, and social advances. He discussed the philosophical consequences of advanced technologies that were then science fiction but have now become real such as nanotechnology and virtual reality. Over the following decades, he published a lot of futurological/philosophical and science fiction works although from the 80s he decided to concentrate on philosophical essays and texts. Stanislaw gained a lot of popularity with the 1974 published “The Cyberiad” that was a collection of humorous short stories set in a mechanical world controlled by robots. His theme of the futility of humankind’s attempts to understand what is alien was best expressed in the novels “Fiasko,” “His Master’s Voice” and “Solaris.” “Solaris” was made into a film by Andrei Tarkovsky the Russian director in1972 and won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.

“Solaris” which is Stanislaw Lem’s most popular work has a conventional premise similar to that of many science fiction works. A bunch of scientists are on a remote and small planetary research station where they are charged with the analysis of alien life. But they soon begin to suspect that they are under threat from some unknown forces. Lem comes at it from a very unique perspective that is composed of three aspects; he treats the premise from a detailed, nuanced and philosophical perspective; he writes of a unique threat as the scientists have to face up to guilty pasts that show up as lifelike simulacra; lastly the planet Solaris has one sentient life form that is the planetary ocean. Kris Kelvin the psychologist arrives at the base station to find everything in total disorder. Sartorius and Snow seem withdrawn and suspicious while Gibarian recently took his own life. Kelvin gets down to work researching the history of the planet and the sentient ocean, including how humans have attempted to communicate with the intelligence that lies beneath the waves. His research gets him to thinking but he gets his moment of epiphany on what the remaining scientists know when Rheya a visitor arrives. It is bizarre since she was his girlfriend that took her own life years ago.

Stanislaw Lem’s 1987 novel “Peace on Earth” is a thought-provoking and enjoyable read. It is a combination of an essay on the future of our species and human nature and an adventure science fiction novel. The story is set in the future where the planet Earth has been disarmed and demilitarized with the arms race moving to the moon. On the moon, planet machines that are robots with self-optimizing software have evolved to become highly dangerous killing machines. The Lunar Agency had been responsible for supervising the robots but soon loses control of everything happening on the lunar surface. They have failed in sending reconnaissance mission and now have to call upon Ijon Tichy to try to save the planet from the machines that have taken a life of their own. Ijon manages to travel to the moon and completes his mission. But during his time on the moon, he was callotomized and hence he comes back with two brains that are not in harmony with each other.

“The Investigation” by Stanislaw Lem is a twist on the British mystery. Bodies have been repositioning themselves at the rural morgue but then they start moving and walking away from their graves. There is talk of aliens but there is no evidence to support the theory. In the search for a deranged perpetrator, Scotland Yard calls in Harvey Sciss an eccentric and brilliant statistician who works alongside Lieutenant Gregory one of the best British intelligence agents at their disposal. According to Sciss, this is a combination of a scientific study and a metaphysical puzzle rather than a criminal investigation. For Sciss who may be a little insane, this is the kind of thing he lives for though Lt Gregory is increasingly ill at ease and frustrated though he is dedicated to police work. Gregory’s efforts to remain calm in the face of his bizarre living arrangements, the bizarre crimes and the behavior of his fellow agents make for a humorous thread that Lem expertly weaves.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Stanislaw Lem

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