104 The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age, Stanislaw Lem

The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age, Stanislaw Lem, Trans. by Michael Kandel, Avon, 1976, ISBN 0-380-0517-4, $1.50, 236 pp.

The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age, Stanislaw Lem, Trans. by Michael Kandel, Avon, 1976, ISBN 0-380-0517-4, $1.50, 236 pp.

A recommendation from Hypatia at Alexandria Digital Library, I was initially wary of this book. As a teenager, I tried to read something by Lem (The Tales of Prix the Pilot or something like that?), and was completely unimpressed. But as soon as I started this book, I found myself both pleased and attentive. Pleased, because it touched the humor in me in much the same way that Douglas Adams did in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (and, as much as I love that book, this is high praise). In places, I wondered if maybe Adams had read Lem and decided to do him one better, for many of the set pieces in Hitchhiker seem to be exaggerated and elongated versions of some of the thrown-off bits here. And I was attentive, because I started to follow how the stories were constructed–how Lem built these fables from the simple beginnings of his two robot constructors into a long, elaborate study of what it means to be an inventor in a world that combines feudal elements and modern technology (i.e., somewhat similar to our own, if you bunny-hop over to the world next door). Funny, almost to the laugh-out-loud level, and very, very interesting.

[Finished September 1999]

Comments are closed.