Solaris

Solaris by Stanislav Lem

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Stanislav Lem

A book by Stanislav Lem

LEM, STANISLAW (Lem, Stanisław) - Polish science fiction writer. Born September 12, 1921 in Lvov. He died in Krakow on March 27, 2006 at the age of 85. Lem has achieved worldwide fame as a science fiction writer, many perceive him as a modern classic. But in the end, Lem`s prose is more of a philosophy taught to the reader in artistic images. He fills the hidden corners of human civilization with mercilessly bright and cold light of reason. Everything is questioned, down to the most simple and well-established truths. Lem`s main `enemy` is mental laziness, unwillingness to ponder the essence of things and the laws governing the universe. Another serious adversary is mental pride: we know a lot, so we know everything! - well, isn`t that a ridiculous prejudice? Perhaps this view of the world was facilitated by the education received by the writer. Before the outbreak of World War II, he studied at the Lviv Medical Institute, and completed his studies at the famous Jagiellonia...

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LEM, STANISLAW (Lem, Stanisław) - Polish science fiction writer. Born September 12, 1921 in Lvov. He died in Krakow on March 27, 2006 at the age of 85. Lem has achieved worldwide fame as a science fiction writer, many perceive him as a modern classic. But in the end, Lem`s prose is more of a philosophy taught to the reader in artistic images. He fills the hidden corners of human civilization with mercilessly bright and cold light of reason. Everything is questioned, down to the most simple and well-established truths. Lem`s main `enemy` is mental laziness, unwillingness to ponder the essence of things and the laws governing the universe. Another serious adversary is mental pride: we know a lot, so we know everything! - well, isn`t that a ridiculous prejudice? Perhaps this view of the world was facilitated by the education received by the writer. Before the outbreak of World War II, he studied at the Lviv Medical Institute, and completed his studies at the famous Jagiellonian University (Krakow) in the post-war years. Subsequently, he was a practicing physician for some time. And in the literature, he took a `medical` approach: any phenomenon, any idea, Dr. Lem dispassionately diagnoses, and then produces an `autopsy` with the firmness of a pathologist. This writer glorified Poland. But there is a bit of `polish` in his works. To a much greater extent, Lem is a `citizen of the world`. During the Second World War, he survived several years of fascist occupation, almost ended up in the ghetto, and participated in the resistance to the invaders. In 1980, he left Poland for almost ten years and traveled to plenty of Europe, seeing it as his `big homeland`. Meanwhile, the Poles were toughly divided into supporters and opponents of the communist regime. The pre-war mood prevailed in the country, it was expected that Soviet troops would enter the country. He returned to another Poland: communism in this state was losing its last positions. In the 1940s, his first science fiction stories and novellas were published. Since the 1950s, Stanislav Lem has been a professional writer who retired from medical work. Fame came to him quickly. For a quarter of a century, he created his best works - the real `Lem world`. The peak of the literary career of a science fiction writer is between 1951 and 1976. Subsequently, the classic forms of fictional storytelling clearly bored the master (although from time to time he returns to them). Already in the 1970s, he began to write works of unusual form, a kind of collections of naked ideas - scientific, critical, philosophical - which are completely devoid of a literary shell. These are `scripts of novels`, reviews of non-existent books, treatises made in the style of an intellectual game. The attention of millions of readers was attracted primarily by Lem`s space fiction. Under the sign of a `space odyssey` was created his first book - "Astronauts" (1951), which gained wide popularity. But another book, the novel Magellanic Cloud (1955), raised Stanislav Lem to the high pedestal of the recognized authority in the field of science fiction. During the 1950s-1960s, in the countries of the socialist camp, the question was acute: to show the population the coming paradise under the banners of communist ideology, to tell why the monstrous sacrifices were made in World War II, to explain what the ultimate goal of government reforms that destroyed the entire previous way of life was ... Large-scale utopian canvases appeared in the USSR, created by Ivan Efremov, Georgy Gurevich, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. Lem fulfilled the same task in the novel "The Magellanic Cloud": the first part of the novel is about the people of the future - honest, pure, blazing with creative fire; in the second part, the messengers of the Earth on a colossal starship bring communism to the aliens. But in "Astronauts" and "Magellanic Cloud" Lem is dry, academic, his talent goes through the stage of formation. Only in the late 1950s did he create one of his most beloved heroes - a reasonable, balanced and decent man, space pilot Pirks. It was in Pirx that for the first time the gift of Lem the artist manifested itself, a sad and romantic, very unlike Lem the thinker - a cold mockery, a `trepanator of reality`. For three decades, Pirx went from story to story. Lem showed with extraordinary clarity: having gone beyond the limits of the earth`s atmosphere, mankind does not get rid of its problems, but simply takes them out into space, and it will always need quiet smart `pirks` to stop people two steps away from a catastrophe. Readers fell in love with this hero, perhaps more than any other characters from the pen of the Polish science fiction writer. In the novel Return from the Stars (1961), Lem presented the reader with two eternally competing truths - the `truth of science` and the `truth of the offal`. On the one hand, the image of a man in the street who wants to defend himself from someone else`s aggression, to arrange himself and his family in life, is deprived of a daring craving for knowledge of the world, but is loyal to his loved ones and his home. On the other hand, there is the image of a heroic astronaut, a scientist who is ready to pay with his own and someone else`s life for new grains of knowledge, but at the same time, unable to truly love, fleeing from personal psychological problems to the ends of the earth. Lem presents the arguments of both sides (in artistic form) honestly and with extraordinary scrupulousness. Who is right? Or maybe both sides? Are ordinary people without scientists and scientists without ordinary people possible? An admirer of reason, Stanislav Lem perfectly understood the limitations of his capabilities. In the early story "The Rat in the Maze," he painted a grim picture for enthusiastic fanatics of contact with aliens: the human mind is too weak and limited to establish a dialogue with a dying alien. In the novel "Invincible" (1954), all the power of technical progress of earthlings is defeated in the battle with a cybernetic quasi-organism. The very fact of rescuing the crew of an earthly spaceship, equipped with the latest science, is based on luck: people were simply not paid much attention, some were killed, some were driven mad, the best technology was spoiled, but the aliens were not particularly noticed. You should never rely on strength, even science, - there will always be greater strength ... In the semi-mystical, very dark novel "Investigation" (1959), representatives of science, together with the police, show complete powerlessness in the face of the mystery of a series of sudden resurrections. The cold bodies of the dead leave the morgue, a whole team of smart people is struggling with the questions of how and why this happens, but cannot answer them. The book ends, but the riddle remains a mystery. The novel Solaris (1961) is considered the pinnacle of Lem`s work. In it, a colossal, motley collection of knowledge of human science turns out to be powerless and useless when a drop of conscience and a drop of love are required. Solaris shows the author`s attitude to the problem of the boundaries set for cognition, the limitations for the human mind. People can build spaceships, rapidly develop the sphere of scientific knowledge, accumulating whole oceans of facts. But there are at least two positions that cannot be learned to the last limit. This is, firstly, God (or something godlike, giving the highest sanction to all that exists). And, secondly, the person himself. The colossal amount of knowledge collected by scientists over several centuries cannot be applied to self-knowledge. And if it were possible, would a person agree to solve his internal problems with the help of the prescriptions of science? Unlikely. Lem is a great master of posing unsolvable questions, formulating global problems. But he very rarely gives answers to them. At best, it tells how to behave as an individual and humanity as a whole, so as not to look like a complete idiot (several billion complete idiots) when faced with such questions and problems. Yes, one must think, one must predict, one must resort to the help of the intellect. But as soon as a person is affirmed in the opinion that he has managed to find the ultimate truth, eternal and unshakable, Lem immediately subjects him to ridicule. And his laughter is merciless. Peru Stanislav Lem owns several cycles of humorous fiction, united by common heroes. Two beloved couples play the role of a kind of entertainer, guides in his paradoxical ideas. The first of them is the space walker Iyon Tikhy and Professor Tarantoga. The second is the great cybernetic inventors Trurl and Klapaucius. The eccentricities of robots are only an excuse to show the absurdity and illogicality of the structure of human society, highlight scientific dead ends, demonstrate the awkwardness of mass literature. One of Lem`s best works, and perhaps the most terrifying, is the fantastic detective Runny Nose (1976). One by one, several middle-aged wealthy lovers of Italian resorts go mad and commit suicide. To find the mysterious killer, a private detective agency set up a `mock operation`. A man was sent to Italy who is as close as possible to the victims. He had to visit the places where they lived, had fun and died. As a result, it turned out that all suicides became depressed under the influence of chemicals contained in completely harmless (separately) items - a baldness remedy, candied almonds, cheap wine, etc. The world is becoming extremely uncomfortable and unmanageable. It contains threats that are completely impossible to predict. Modernity was built by the "elderly rich white men", claiming to the world what is dear to them. But in the second half of the 20th century. reality escaped from their control and began to destroy themselves. “Humanity has multiplied and condensed so much,” argues one of the heroes of the story Runny nose, “that the laws by which atoms exist begin to influence it. Each atom ... moves chaotically, but it is chaos that gives rise to a certain order. ` Lem was one of the first to feel the cold breath of the future, bursting from the third millennium into the supposedly comfortable world of modern reality, based on physical and mathematical concepts, deceptive political science and banking. He warns: humanity has built a house in which all comforts can be denied at any time. Several films have been made based on Lem`s works. The novel "Solaris" was filmed several times - in particular, by the director A. Tarkovsky. In the USSR, the film "Inquiry of the Pilot Pirks" was also popular, based on the story "Inquiry" from the cycle "Stories about the Pilot Pirks". Lem also became the author of significant scientific works. In particular, all over the world, specialists in predicting the future within the framework of science - futurology - know the fundamental, very significant volume of the work of Stanislav Lem "Science Fiction and Futurology" (1970). In an earlier book, The Sum of Technology (1964), the science fiction writer himself acts as a practicing futurist. He is trying to outline the routes for the development of modern civilization, bearing in mind that it will preserve the technogenic basis in the future. Finally, his culturological work "The Philosophy of Chance" (1968) is widely known. The last decades of Lem`s work have been marked by a predominant interest in philosophy, sociology, methodology, and not in fiction. However, his name is primarily associated with science fiction. Stanislaw Lem`s official website - lem.pl (English, Polish, German)