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Ijon Tichy is an ordinary space traveler whose extraordinary curiosity leads him to the very fringes of science. Their plans are grandiose, the bargains they make too often Faustian, for the ends these scientists pursue concern humanity's greatest and most ancient obsessions: immortality, artificial intelligence, and top-of-the-line consumer items.
By turns philosophical, satirical, and absurd, Lem's stories follow Ijon's adventures as both an observer of--and participant in--strange experiments. Faulty time machines, intelligent washing machines, suicidal potatoes--Ijon Tichy navigates them all with common sense and in so doing shows why he endures as one of Lem's most popular characters.
The late Lem (1921 2006) demonstrates his mastery of satirical science fiction in this witty collection of six stories, first published in 1957, all of which are narrated by spacefarer Gulliver Ijon Tichy. "The Eighteenth Voyage," which opens the book, tells of a time-travel experiment to correct the anomalous creation of the universe with deeply flawed results. In "Professor A Do da," the closing tale, human civilization collapses when the digitization of information reaches explosive critical mass. The long, episodic "Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy" recounts Tichy's encounters with a succession of crackpot inventors who seek his financial support, and "Let Us Save the Universe" is a plea to protect galactic flora and fauna endangered by reckless cosmic tourism, delightfully illustrated with the author's own drawings. Much of the enjoyment of these stories derives from the rationales that Lem, who was a physician, provides for their most outlandish extrapolations. This classic collection will appeal to readers who like their science fiction light and effervescent.