'What use to a being that lives beneath a sun are jewels of gas and silver stars of ice?'
From a giant of twentieth-century science fiction, these four miniature space epics feature crazy inventors, surreal worlds, robot kings and madcap machines.
Penguin Modern: fifty new books celebrating the pioneering spirit of the iconic Penguin Modern Classics series, with each one offering a concentrated hit of its contemporary, international flavour. Here are authors ranging from Kathy Acker to James Baldwin, Truman Capote to Stanislaw Lem and George Orwell to Shirley Jackson; essays radical and inspiring; poems moving and disturbing; stories surreal and fabulous; taking us from the deep South to modern Japan, New York's underground scene to the farthest reaches of outer space.
'A giant of twentieth-century science fiction' Guardian
'This Room Guaranteed BOMB-FREE. From the Management'
Hapless cosmonaut Ijon Tichy has been sent back to earth to attend the Eighth Futurological Congress in smog-bound, overpopulated Costa Rica, holed up with an assortment of scientists in a luxury hotel (fully equipped with tear gas sprinklers in case things get out of hand). But when an unfortunate incident occurs involving a revolution and hallucinogenic drugs in the water supply, Tichy finds himself shot, frozen and thawed out in a future beyond anything he could ever have imagined.
'A virtuoso storyteller ... a Jorge Luis Borges for the Space Age' The New York Times
'He was a robot-hypochondriac. On his squeaking cart he carried a complete set of spare parts.'
A freighter pilot leads a manhunt across the Moon for a robot gone berserk; a shapeshifting assassin falls in love with the man she's programmed to kill; a paranoid King converts his kingdom into his artificial mind, but his dreams rebel. These stories range from surreal fables that satirically turn the fairy tale on its head, to longer works including the man vs. robot thriller, 'The Hunt', and possibly fiction's strangest love story, 'The Mask'. InMortal Engines Stanislaw Lem lays bare humanity's clash with machines, masterfully exploring science fiction's furthest frontiers.
A Jorge Luis Borges for the Space Age - The New York Times
Stanislaw Lem's set of short stories, written over a period of twenty years, all feature the adventures of space traveller Ijon Tichy and recount him spinning in time-warps, spying on robots, encountering bizarre civilizations and creatures in space and being hopelessly lost in a forest of supernovae. This is a philosophical satire on technology, theology, intelligence and human nature from one of the greatest of science fiction writers
A charming, mind-bending and anarchic book of imagined civilizations
'Most cosmic civilizations long for things, in the depths of their souls, they would never openly admit to...'
Trurl and Klapaucius are 'constructors' - they travel around the universe creating machines of astonishing inventiveness and power and visiting a bewildering variety of violent, peculiar and morose civilizations. The Cyberiad is oddly reminiscent of Gulliver's Travels, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Phantom Tollbooth and Alice in Wonderland. Charming, mind-bending and anarchic, it is perhaps Lem's greatest work. This edition includes all of Daniel Mroz's hallucinatory original illustrations.
Stanislaw Lem (1921-2006) was born in Lviv, then part of Poland. He is probably the most original and influential European science-fiction writer since H.G. Wells. Best known in the West for Tarkovsky's film of his novel Solaris, Lem wrote novels and stories that have been published all over the world. He is credited with anticipating in his writing artificial reality, e-books and nano-technology. His most famous works include The Cyberiad, Mortal Engines, The Star Diaries, The Futurological Congress, Tales of Pirx the Pilot and Solaris.