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A Stanislaw Lem Reader Paperback – Nov 12 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 129 pages
  • Publisher: Northwestern University Press; 1 edition (Nov. 12 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081011495X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810114951
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 195 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,038,783 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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By Alex on April 11 2001
Format: Paperback
This slim volume isn't as much an introduction as a motley collection of interviews with Stanislav Lem, through which the author attempts to expose Lem's personal ideology. There is an overview of Lem's works - courtesy of the author, a pair of interviews (1992 and 1994), and a short essay written by Lem about his futurological masterpiece, "Summa Technologiae" (1964, essay written in 1991). The first problem the book runs into is that it's not particularly informative. I really hoped for a deeper analysis of Lem's works. In the interviews, Lem merely uses them to exemplify his beliefs. Furthemore, Lem himself comes off a bit patronizing and self-promoting. He repeatedly makes smug comments about his literary competition, several movements in philosophy, and a particular Polish critic who wrote an unduly scathing review of "Summa." Lastly, a good deal of the interviews become redundant. Lem's responses run long, and he manages to bring most to the followings few conclusions: the world can never be perfectly understood, or even fathomed; moderation is the safest philosophy - tertium datur; truth is in the eye of the beholder; language compromises any attempts at hard analysis; anyone who fails to believe that is misguided. Now that I think about it, Lem sounds very much like his GOLEM XIV. Nevertheless, he manages to make several interesting points about himself and his works: he proudly reiterates that he is most certainly not the alpha and omega of the European, or even Polish philosophical society; that his magnitude as a futurologist and philosopher is (mistakenly) overstated; and that his works are largely testing grounds for his evolving ideology.
The interviews portray Lem's faith in mankind as slight. He finds humanity as somewhat vain, and currently degenerating.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Nov. 4 2001
Format: Paperback
A lot of information for being approx. 150 pages as every single page contains pertinent content. (In other words, there is not one single wasted line or sentence.) Very strong writing with a nice flair as it focuses on the interdisciplinary side of Lem's novels, rather than being just an ordinary literary review. The interviews with Lem are also thought provoking; since it allows Lem's "voice" to be "heard". However, it is a little dense and at some points may be difficult to decipher exactly what the author or Lem is trying to say as both use vocabulary that is not quite "layman's terms". Still, overall it does give good insight to Lem and is a useful introduction to Lem's works. In addition, the author's focus (how literature interacts with science and society)is a breath of fresh air compared to what is usually circulating around in the guise of literary criticism!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 9 1999
Format: Paperback
I did not know anything about Lem before--this is a great and utterly challenging introduction to just about anything that Lem wrote about: contemporary culture, literature, science, philosophy. I admire the interviewer: it must have been a difficult task of arranging and editing (and translating) these talks. I read this book and bought a few Lem novels--what a treat! I recommend A Stanislaw Lem Reader to all who love literature and are of reflective nature.
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By A Customer on Sept. 30 1999
Format: Paperback
Recommended to all Lem scholars, science-fiction fans, literature lovers, and people who like to look beyond literature. I thoroughly enjoyed it even though it's not exactly Sunday reading.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
Another chapter on Lem April 25 2006
By George Patinki - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The book is unusual, no doubt, for a "reader;" actually it's hardly a Lem reader as such. It consists of a long critical introduction/analysis plus a couple of long interviews on everything under the sun and a translation of a major (and mordantly Lemian) piece on computers, virtual reality, and its ab/uses.

Much as I enjoyed it, I liked another chapter on Lem much more, this one is in another book by Swirski, From Lowbrow to Nobrow. Entire chapter six is on Lem's Chain of Chance, and it's brilliant, written more like a cross between philosophical journalism and a reader's guide, check it, it's a classic
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
Difficult but worthwhile... Nov. 4 2001
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A lot of information for being approx. 150 pages as every single page contains pertinent content. (In other words, there is not one single wasted line or sentence.) Very strong writing with a nice flair as it focuses on the interdisciplinary side of Lem's novels, rather than being just an ordinary literary review. The interviews with Lem are also thought provoking; since it allows Lem's "voice" to be "heard". However, it is a little dense and at some points may be difficult to decipher exactly what the author or Lem is trying to say as both use vocabulary that is not quite "layman's terms". Still, overall it does give good insight to Lem and is a useful introduction to Lem's works. In addition, the author's focus (how literature interacts with science and society)is a breath of fresh air compared to what is usually circulating around in the guise of literary criticism!
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Brilliant, challenging, innovative, thought-provoking... July 9 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I did not know anything about Lem before--this is a great and utterly challenging introduction to just about anything that Lem wrote about: contemporary culture, literature, science, philosophy. I admire the interviewer: it must have been a difficult task of arranging and editing (and translating) these talks. I read this book and bought a few Lem novels--what a treat! I recommend A Stanislaw Lem Reader to all who love literature and are of reflective nature.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
The man behind the books. April 11 2001
By Alex - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This slim volume isn't as much an introduction as a motley collection of interviews with Stanislav Lem, through which the author attempts to expose Lem's personal ideology. There is an overview of Lem's works - courtesy of the author, a pair of interviews (1992 and 1994), and a short essay written by Lem about his futurological masterpiece, "Summa Technologiae" (1964, essay written in 1991). The first problem the book runs into is that it's not particularly informative. I really hoped for a deeper analysis of Lem's works. In the interviews, Lem merely uses them to exemplify his beliefs. Furthemore, Lem himself comes off a bit patronizing and self-promoting. He repeatedly makes smug comments about his literary competition, several movements in philosophy, and a particular Polish critic who wrote an unduly scathing review of "Summa." Lastly, a good deal of the interviews become redundant. Lem's responses run long, and he manages to bring most to the followings few conclusions: the world can never be perfectly understood, or even fathomed; moderation is the safest philosophy - tertium datur; truth is in the eye of the beholder; language compromises any attempts at hard analysis; anyone who fails to believe that is misguided. Now that I think about it, Lem sounds very much like his GOLEM XIV. Nevertheless, he manages to make several interesting points about himself and his works: he proudly reiterates that he is most certainly not the alpha and omega of the European, or even Polish philosophical society; that his magnitude as a futurologist and philosopher is (mistakenly) overstated; and that his works are largely testing grounds for his evolving ideology.
The interviews portray Lem's faith in mankind as slight. He finds humanity as somewhat vain, and currently degenerating. An especially hard-hitting forecast of his predicts a deluge of information that will drown civilization. This examination of Lem's repeatedly frustrated attempts to bring the cosmic forces of logic to crack the tough nut of the Western civilization made me aware of just what I want from Lem as a reader: I want a book where mankind is awed and humiliated in numbers sufficient to produce a positive effect. I want the cosmos to teach man a lesson. I want an emergency exit.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Difficult but really eye-opening Sept. 29 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Recommended to all Lem scholars, science-fiction fans, literature lovers, and people who like to look beyond literature. I thoroughly enjoyed it even though it's not exactly Sunday reading.

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