Sunday, 7 May 2017

"The Star Diaries" by Stanislaw Lem

Year of Publication:  1971
Number of Pages:  338
Genre:  Science-fiction, satire

This is a collection of linked short stories detailing the adventures of accident-prone astronaut Ijon Tichy as he explores time and space, dealing with time paradoxes, clones, aliens, hostile robots, malfunctioning matter-transmitters, attempts to "fix" human history, and killer potatoes.

Polish author Stanislaw Lem is possibly best known for his 1962 novel Solaris which was filmed by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972, and by Steven Soderbergh in 2002.  Lem wrote the Ijon Tichy short stories over a period of twenty years, and only some of them are published in The Star Diaries.  Reading them you can see how Lem moved from playful, humorous science-fiction, to deeper, philosophical fiction.  The stories are inventive, absurd, philosophical, heavily satirical and sometimes very funny.  It deals with some serious themes such as the nature of existence.  Some people may be put off by the long philosophical and theological discussions in the book, but there is enough hilarious invention to make it worth while.  

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