Monday, March 27, 2006

Stanislaw Lem, RIP

The great science fiction writer is dead at 84. He wrote Solaris most famously, but I'm captivated by The Cyberiad. Some stories are available here, or at your favorite bookstore.

His writing (in Michael Kandel's excellent translation) his elegant and witty, never dull and never preachy, even when he touches on issues of our world. His universe of journeymen robot constructors is fun, adventurous and entirely human.

Here is one passage from the Tale of the Three Storytelling Robots:

There are legends, as you know, that speak of a race of paleface, who concocted robotkind out of a test tube, though anyone with a grain of sense knows this to be a foul lie. … For in the Beginning there was naught but Formless Darkness, and in the Darkness, Magneticity, which moved the atoms, and whirling atom struck whirling atom, and Current was thus created, and the First Light … from which the stars were kindled, and then the planets cooled, and in their cores the breath of Sacred Statisticality gave rise to microscopic Protomechanoans, which begat Proteromechanoids, which begat the Primitive Mechanisms. These could not yet calculate, nor scarcely put two and two together, but thanks to Evolution and Natural Subtraction they soon multiplied and produced Omnistats, which gave birth to the Servostat, the Missing Clink, and from it came our progenitor, Automatus Sapiens.
He will be missed.