Stanislaw Lem

Stanislaw Lem was WriterDoc


Stanisław Herman[2] Lem (Polish pronunciation: [staˈɲiswaf ˈlɛm]; 12 September 1921 – 27 March 2006) was a Polish writer of science fiction, philosophy, and satire, and a trained physician. Lem’s books have been translated into forty-one languages and have sold over forty-five million copies.[3][4] From the 1950s to 2000s, he published many books, both science fiction and philosophical/futurological. He is best known as the author of the 1961 novel Solaris, which has been made into a feature film three times. In 1976, Theodore Sturgeon wrote that Lem was the most widely read science-fiction writer in the world.[5]


Lem’s works explore philosophical themes through speculation on technology, the nature of intelligence, the impossibility of mutual communication and understanding, despair about human limitations, and humanity’s place in the universe. They are sometimes presented as fiction, but others are in the form of essays or philosophical books.

Translations of his works are difficult due to passages with elaborate word formation, alien or robotic poetry, and puns.

During that time around 1941-45, Lem earned a living as a car mechanic and welder,[7] and occasionally stole the munitions from storehouses (to which he had access as an employee of a German company) to pass it to Polish resistance. [15]

Lem made his literary debut in 1946 with a number of works of different genres, including poetry as well as a science fiction novel The Man from Mars (Człowiek z Marsa) serialized in Nowy Świat Przygód (pl) (New World of Adventures).[7] Between 1948 and 1950 Lem was working as a scientific research assistant at the Jagiellonian University, and published a number of short stories, poems, reviews and similar works, particularly at Tygodnik Powszechny.[16] In 1951, he published his first book, The Astronauts (Astronauci).[7] In 1953 he met and married (civil marriage) Barbara Leśniak, a medical student.[17] Their church marriage ceremony was performed in February, 1954.[7] In 1954, he published a short story anthology, Sesame and other stories (Sezam i inne opowiadania (pl)).[7] The following year, 1955, saw the publication of another science fiction novel, The Magellanic Cloud (Obłok Magellana).[7]


During the era of Stalinism, which had begun in Poland in the late ’40s, all published works had to be directly approved by the communist regime. Thus Astronauci was not, in fact, the first novel Lem finished, just the first that made it past the censors.[7] Going by the date of finished manuscript, Lem’s first book was a partly autobiographical novella Hospital of the Transfiguration (Szpital Przemienienia), finished in 1948.[7] It would be published seven years later, in 1955, as a trilogy under a title Czas nieutracony (Time Not Lost).[7] The experience of trying to push Czas.. through the censors was one of the major reasons Lem decided to focus on the less-censored genre of science fiction.[16] Nonetheless, most of Lem’s works published in the 1950s also contain—forced upon him by the censors and editors—various references to socialist realism as well as the “glorious future of communism”.[16][18] Lem later criticized several of his early pieces as compromised by the ideological pressure.[7]

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