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Golem XIV by Stanislaw Lem.
October 22, 2004 12:23 PM   Subscribe

Golem XIV by Stanislaw Lem.
posted by sonofsamiam (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Nice!

I picked up the book this is from at random one afternoon in the University library. When you start reading it, it is presented as a collection of Forewards to imaginary books, really a collection of short stories more than anything else. But by the time you get half way through the book, the coherent structure of the thing becomes apparent: The various forewards are from books on the rise of the science of Precognition and its effects. Most delightfully, there is one about a biologist growing presentient bacteria, and training them to write in english. And then another about the encyclopedias of the future, full of entries on things that have yet to happen. (Each entry accompanied by a probability of occurance.) And, of course, once the military starts developing war computers with the ability to see the future, everything goes to hell. Which is where Golem XIV comes in...

It's an awesome books, and I recommend it highly to anyone.
posted by kaibutsu at 1:40 PM on October 22, 2004


Thanks for this. Lem is a Genius. It almost feels like a conspiracy that he is not better-known and more widely-read.
posted by vacapinta at 2:52 PM on October 22, 2004


>It almost feels like a conspiracy that he is not better-known and more widely-read.

There's no conspiracy. For a long time Lem acted like a pretty big asshole towards US sci-fi authors, burned a lot of bridges,etc. He became unpopular enough that paying to translate and import his stuff was unprofitable.

His giant ego ruined his career. The linked page is nice to him, to say the least.

Its kinda the equivalant of Neal Stephenson one day announcing that Gibson, Sterling, et al are a bunch of hacks compared to his work, refusing to goto conventions, and dropping out of all sci-fi related communities.
posted by skallas at 3:38 PM on October 22, 2004


His giant ego ruined his career.

It's ruined?
posted by semmi at 7:37 PM on October 22, 2004


Not only did Stephenson denounce Gibson, he fought him (scroll down to question four) on several occasions.
posted by euphorb at 7:57 PM on October 22, 2004


the account of the stephenson v. gibson fights is awesome.
posted by juv3nal at 8:44 PM on October 22, 2004


Teeny, tiny minor MeTa comment. Sorry for the nitpick.
posted by stuart_s at 10:02 PM on October 22, 2004


Bruce Sterling has an excellent essay explaining Lem's history with the rest of the world's science fiction authors.

You're a kid from some podunk burg in Alabama.
[...]
Then one joyful day you discover the work of a
couple of writers. They're pretty well-known (for
foreigners), so their books are available even in your
little town. Their names are "Tolstoy" and
"Dostoevsky." Reading them, you realize: This is it!
It's the sign you've been waiting for! This is your
destiny-- to become a *Russian Novelist*!
[...]
Then, after years of steadily growing success,
strange mail arrives. It's from Russia! They've been
reading your stuff in translation, and you've been
chosen to join the Soviet Writers' Union! Swell! you
think. Of course, living in backwoods Alabama, it's
been a little tough finding editions of contemporary
Russian novelists. But heck, Tolstoy did his writing
years ago! By now those Russians must be writing like
nobody's business!
Then a shipment of modern Russian novels
arrives, a scattering of various stuff that has
managed to elude the redtape. You open 'em up and--
ohmiGod! It's . . . it's COMMUNISM! All this stupid
stereotyped garbage! About Red heroes ten feet tall,
and sturdy peasants cheering about their tractors, and
mothers giving sons to the Fatherland, and fathers
giving sons to the Motherland

posted by straight at 2:16 PM on October 23, 2004


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