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Stanislaw Lem: Philosopher of the Future brings a welter of unknown elements of Lem’s life, career, and literary legacy to light. Part One traces the context of his cultural influence, telling the story of one of the greatest writers and thinkers of the century. It includes a comprehensive critical overview of Lem’s literary and philosophical oeuvre which comprises not only the classics like Solaris, but his untranslated first novels, realistic prose, experimental works, volumes of nonfiction, latter-day metafiction, as well as the final twenty years of polemics and essays. The critical and interpretive Part Two examines a range of Lem’s novels with a view to examining the intellectual vistas they open up before us. It focuses on several of Lem’s major but less studied books. “Game, Set, Lem” uses game theory to shed light on his arguably most surreal novel, the Kafkaesque and claustrophobic Memoirs Found in a Bathtub (1961). “Betrization Is the Worst Solution… Except for All Others” takes a close look at the quasi-utopia of Return From the Stars (1961) and at the concept of ethical cleansing and mandatory de-aggression. “Errare Humanum Est” focuses on the popular science thriller The Invincible (1964) in the context of evolution. “A Beachbook for Intellectuals” is a critical fugue on Lem’s medical thriller cum crime mystery, The Chain of Chance (1976). Stanislaw Lem: Philosopher of the Future closes with a two-part coda. “Fiasco” recapitulates and reflects on the literary and cognitive themes of Lem’s farewell novel, and “Happy End of the World!” reviews The Blink of an Eye, Lem’s farewell book of analyses and prognoses from the cusp of our millennium.
Stanislaw Lem (2000): "Peter Swirski, a brilliant literary critic and a superb translator, deserves wide recognition as a scholar in American and Polish literatures".
Michael Kandel: Peter Swirski's book is impressive: it demonstrates a grasp of a very large body of knowledge... Swirski conveys Lem thoroughly yet in the most entertaining way. This marriage of the heavy and the light, the profound and the playful, is a great achievement and mirrors the Polish master."
Nicholas Ruddick (University of Regina): "An indispensable contribution to Lem studies. No critic is ever likely to do a better job of summarizing Lem's entire oeuvre and meting out cognitive justice to this philosopher of the future than Swirski."
Joseph Carroll: "Swirski knows more about Lem than any scholar alive."
Jaakko Hintikka: "The work of every philosopher and scientist is a journey into the future in which we know more than we did yesterday. What unites them is the belief in the power of imagination which allows us sometimes to penetrate some of the deep mysteries of the world. Whether the reader will classify Peter Swirski's book as literary or philosophical is less relevant than the possible futures, some genuinely unsettling, which, if he is right, are waiting for us just around the corner from today."
COGITO ERGO LEM A Hard Nut to Crack—Pas de Deux—The Blink of the Cosmic Eye
PART I: BIOGRAPHY
CHAPTER 1. LIFE AND TIMES A Master of Thrills and Chills—The Reading of This Book Is Good for You—Renaissance Polymath—Lemberg—Highcastle—Well Over 180—Operation Barbarossa—Jan Donabidowicz—Lvov to Cracow—Social Parasite—The Genre In Which I Write—Borges for the Space Age—A Writing Consortium—Wissenschaftskolleg—Away From the Typewriter—On the Sidelines—Encyclopedic Oracle
CHAPTER 2. IN THE KALEIDOSCOPE OF BOOKS Ariadne’s Thread—The New World of Adventure—The Other Inner Planet—Different Face—Allegorical Pen—SimCity—Hylas and Philonous—The Tricky Relation—The Golden Phase—A Happy Ending—Ammer-Ka—Out Yonder In Space—Dicty—The Seat of His Pants—Of Extraterrestrial Origin—A Critical Point—Cat’s Cradle— Hypertrophic Trends—Hoary Fallacy—Homo Rationis Capax—Der Völkermord—The Thanatos Syndrome—After the Last Goosebump Has Vanished—The Entire Human Race—Trompe l’Oeil—LEM!—My Farewell—Moratorium—The World According to Lem—Man and Machine
PART II: ESSAYS
CHAPTER 3. GAME, SET, LEM Ariadne’s Thread—Cold War Hysteria—The Third Pentagon—Nuclear-age Quixote—The Lottery in Babylon—I-Guess-What-You-Guess-What-I-Guess—Barnaby the Scrivener—Whoops! Apocalypse!—The Mission—Minimax/Maximin—The Mission Game—Subjective Rationality—The Collusion Game—Dead Men Don’t Tell Lies—An Allegorical Everyman—The Decipherment of Linear B
CHAPTER 4. BETRIZATION IS THE WORST SOLUTION… EXCEPT FOR ALL OTHERS Time Machine—Word Become Flesh—Defanging the Human Beast—La bête humaine—The Hobbesian Premise—It Can’t Happen Here—50-50—Bennett, Trimaldi and Zakharov—The Technological Grail—Less Than Human—Chihuahuas in Eden—Nietzschean Superman—Droids, Borgs, and Bots—One for the Old Generation, One for the New—D-i-s-a-s-t-e-r
CHAPTER 5. ERRARE HUMANUM EST The Invincible Has Landed—Models of Inquiry—From Literature to Biterature—The Alien as Alien—Knowledge and Metaknowledge—Regis III—Part of the Landscape—Nature Plays Fair—Ch. I., Ch. Ph., Ch. T., Ch. B.—Omnia Vincit Armor—Dictyostelium discoideum—Overzealous Carpenters—The Infallible
CHAPTER 6. A BEACHBOOK FOR INTELLECTUALS A Novel of Ideas—Gun for Hire—Whodunit with Probability as the Butler—The Devil’s Parody of the Movies—The Locked Room—Terrorism Is Not a Hardware Issue—Good Cop, Bad Cop—The Garden of Earthly Delights—You, Me, Pulsars, and the Page You’re Reading—Ladykillers—Hero or Not?—Runny Nose—A Writer for All Reasons
PART III: CODA
CHAPTER 7. FIASCO You’ll See the Quintans—The War of the Worlds—Intelligent and Electronic—Let’s Do It Our Way—Mark Tempe—The Digla—Crystal Ball—To Make a Long Story Short CHAPTER 8. HAPPY END OF THE WORLD! The Blink of an Eye—Glow-In-the-Dark Monkeys—Cerebroproteinal Neuroprocessor—Encyclopedia of Ignorance
STANISLAW LEM: BOOKS