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A Stanislaw LEM Reader
Contributor(s): Swirski, Peter (Editor)

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ISBN: 081011495X     ISBN-13: 9780810114951
Publisher: Northwestern University Press
OUR PRICE: $21.95  

Binding Type: Paperback - See All Available Formats & Editions
Published: November 1997

Annotation: In The Lem Reader, Peter Swirski has assembled an in-depth and insightful collection of writings by and about, and interviews with, one of the most fascinating writers of the twentieth century.

Stanislaw Lem has a large and devoted following. Best known for his work in science fiction -- his novels and short stories have been translated into over forty languages and have sold over twenty-five million copies -- Lem is also a prolific writer of nonfiction monographs. Though not widely available in English, Lem's extensive studies of literary and contemporary culture, and of philosophy, rhetoric, and social theory, have been widely read and analyzed in their original Polish and in German and Russian translations.

The Lem Reader forms an introduction to Lem's nonfiction oeuvre: it includes two interviews conducted with Lem, as well as a fascinating introductory essay by Swirski and an essay by Lem himself, "Thirty Years Later", in which he discusses the predictions he has made in his extensive philosophical works. Chief among the works discussed is Lem's Summa Technologiae (1964), in which Lem presents a series of wide-ranging prognoses on the social, cultural, and technological destiny of our civilization. Lem also analyzes the cognitive parallels, aesthetic differences, and shared social responsibilities of the science of futurology and the literary genre of science fiction. Included are a complete bibliography of Lem's works in English and Polish, and a bibliography of critical sources.

Anyone interested in Lem's provocative and uncompromising view of literature's role in the contemporary cultural environment, in Lem's opinions about his own fiction, and about the relation ofliterature to science and technology, will be fascinated by this eclectic collection.

Click for more in this series: Rethinking Theory (Paperback)

Additional Information
BISAC Categories:
- Biography & Autobiography | Literary Figures
Dewey: B
LCCN: 97023102
Series: Rethinking Theory (Paperback)
Physical Information: 0.45" H x 5.61" W x 8.51" (0.43 lbs) 129 pages
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.

Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 1997 August #4)
With books translated into 40 languages, sales of more than 25 million copies (some seven million in Eastern Europe) and over 20 titles in print with Harcourt, Brace, Polish-born Lem is one of the best-selling unknown writers of science fiction in the U.S. Swirski, a lecturer at Montreal's McGill University, is a sympathetic and admiring reader of such books as Pirx the Pilot and Summa Technologiae. He begins with an overview of Lem's writing (both fiction and nonfiction), much of which is cerebral and imbued with a Swiftian despair that distinguishes it from the more optimistic strain of Anglo-American SF. Two interviews are separated by Lem's own 1991 essay in which he surveys in detail 30 years of his earlier prognoses, most of which is contained in nonfiction never translated into English. Outside of Jules Verne, no foreign SF writer has gained real recognition in this country and Lem, who stopped writing fiction in 1988, is no different. It probably wasn't helped by the contentious cancellation of his honorary membership in the SF Writers Association in 1976, caused in large part by Lem's harsh dismissal of most of the genre. Swirski is content to elucidate rather than evaluate Lem's ideas, which are often fascinating, even when presented in a somewhat Olympian manner. The book is not disfigured by the clotted prose favored by many academics, but most, save Lem buffs, will find this short reader fairly heavy going. A better introduction to Lem's thought is his 1985 collection of 10 essays, Microworlds: Writings on Science Fiction and Fantasy. (Oct.) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews
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