We know Stanislaw Lem, whether or not we consciously know that we do. He may only be recognised in the West as the author of the twice-filmed novel, Solaris, but the influence of his other work is legion. From computer games (The Sims was inspired by one of his short stories), to films (the red and blue pills of The Matrix owe much to his Futurological Congress); from the space comedies of Red Dwarf to the metaphysical satires of Douglas Adams... the presence of this masterly Polish writer can be traced far and wide. Nor was his genius confined to fiction. Lem's essays and pseudo-essays borne out of the military industrial tensions of the Cold War have outlived their original context and speak to the most current developments in virtual reality, nanotechnology, and artificial intelligence. To celebrate his name, as well as his vision, this anthology brings together writers, critics and scientists who continue to grapple with his concerns. British and Polish novelists join screenwriters, poets, computer engineers, and artists, to celebrate and explore Lem's legacy through short stories and essays - two literary forms that, as Lem knew well, can blend together to create something altogether new. As one of the barriers to Lem's fame was language, this book also features specially commissioned translations: three stories never to have appeared in English before. Lem was always ahead of us. It's time we caught up.
In this odd but engaging celebration of Polish SF great Stanislaw Lem (1921 2006), the editors have brought together three of Lem's previously untranslated fictions, ably translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones; 13 short stories written by others in imitation of Lem; and essays by noted critic Andy Sawyer and scientists Steve Furber, Sarah Davies, and Hod Lipson. Among the highlights are Lem's own "Darkness and Mildew," in which an elderly man has a dreamlike, chilling interaction with nanotechnology; Sarah Schofield's "Traces Remain," which concerns the takeover of a ruined Earth's moon colonies by their android servants; Ian Watson's "The Tale of Trurl and the Great TanGent," a satirical piece about two godlike entities who are hired to get rid of a sentient interstellar cloud of laughing gas; and Trevor Hoyle's drily witty "The 5-Sigma Certainty," in which a journalist asks a paranoid Philip K. Dick whether Lem is actually a committee. Lem has never been particularly popular in the U.S., in part for political reasons described in the book's introduction, but those who love his work will find much to admire.