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Biography - Lem, Stanislaw (1921-2006)
Contemporary Authors Online - 2006 Gale Reference Team Word count: 4042.
Born September 12, 1921, in Lvov, Poland; died of heart failure, March 27, 2006, in Krakow, Poland; son of Samuel (a physician); married wife, Barbara (a roentgenologist), August, 1953; children: Tomek (son). Education: Studied medicine in Lvov, Poland, 1939-41, 1944- 46, and in Krakow, Poland, 1946-48. Memberships: PEN, Science Fiction Research Association, Science Fiction Writers, Polish Academy of Sciences, Polish Astronautic Society. Worked as garage mechanic during World War II; Jagellonian University, Krakow, Poland, assistant in "Science Circle," 1947-49; Zycie Nauki (monthly magazine; title means "The Life of Science"), editor, 1947-49; writer, 1949-2006. Teacher at University of Krakow. Citations from Polish Ministry of Culture, 1965 and 1973; Polish State Prize for literature, 1976; Austrian State Prize for foreign literature, 1985; Alfred Jurzykowski Foundation award, 1987; Kafka award, 1991. WRITINGS: IN ENGLISH TRANSLATION Dzienniki gwiazdowe (also see below; portions translated in Mortal Engines), Iskry, 1957, translation by Michael Kandel published as The Star Diaries, illustrated by the author, Seabury, 1976, translation by Joel Stern and Maria Swiecicka-Ziemianek published as Memoirs of a Space Traveler: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy, Harcourt, 1982. Czas nieutracony (novel; title means "Time Not Lost"), Volume 1: Szpital przemienienia, Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1957, translation by William Brand published as Hospital of the Transfiguration, Harcourt, 1988, Volume 2: Wsrod umarlych (title means "Among the Dead"), Volume III: Powrot (title means "Return"), 1957. Eden, Iskry, 1959, translation by Marc E. Heine published as Eden, Harcourt, 1989. Sledztwo, Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej, 1959 , translation by Adele Milch published as The Investigation, Seabury, 1974. Solaris, Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej, 1961 , French translation by Jean-Michel Jasiensko published as Solaris, Denoel, 1966, translation from the French edition by Joanna Kilmartin and Steve Cox published as Solaris, Walker &; Co., 1970, reprinted, Harcourt, 1987. Pamietnik znaleziony w wannie, Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1961, translation by Kandel and Christine Rose published as Memoirs Found in a Bathtub, Seabury, 1973. Powrot z gwiazd, Czytelnik, 1961, translation by Barbara Marszal and Frank Simpson published as Return from the Stars, Harcourt, 1980. Niezwyciezony i inne opowiadania, Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej, 1964, German translation by Roswitha Dietrich published as Der Unbesiegbare, Verlag Volk und Welt, 1967, translation from the German edition by Wendayne Ackerman published as The Invincible, Seabury, 1973. Bajki robotow (also see below; translation published in Mortal Engines; title means "Fables for Robots"), Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1964. Cyberiada, Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1965, translation by Kandel published as The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age, Seabury, 1974. Wysoki zamek (memoir), Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej, 1966, translation by Kandel
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translation by Elinor Ford and Kandel published as Peace on Earth. Wydawnictwo Literackie. Harcourt. Czytelnik. Noc ksiezycowa (title means "Lunar Night"). Pokoj na Ziemi. Filozofia prypadku: Literatura w swietle empirii (nonfiction. 1990. 2 of 7 3/4/11 7:15 PM . Seabury. Sezam i inne opowiadania (title means "Sesame and Other Stories"). 1981. Mortal Engines. edited by Franz Rottensteiner. Wydawnictwo Literackie.. 1977 . Oblok Magellana (title means "The Magellan Nebula").Biography . Golem XIV. Czytelnik. 1955. Dialogi (nonfiction. Harcourt. 1979. Harcourt. 1957. 1971. Fiasko. translations by Louis Iribarne published as Tales of Pirx the Pilot. 1994. Wielkosc urojona. Wydawnictwo Literackie. translation by Catherine S. 1966. 1987. Katar. 1985. Bezsennosc (title means "Insomnia"). 1984. 1971. Wydawnictwo Literackie. Iskry. Czytelnik. Opowiesci o pilocie Pirxie. Harcourt. 1959. 1986. Wydawnictwo Literackie. 1992. Iskry. 1975. Summa technologiae (nonfiction). Wydawnictwo Literackie. Glos pana. Wydawnictwo Literackie. Doskonala proznia. translation published as His Master's Voice. 1978. 1995. title means "The Philosophy of Chance: Literature Considered Empirically"). Tales of Prix the Pilot. 1962. translated by Kandel. Maska (also see below. 1973. 1987. 1951. edited by Peter Swirski. 1969. Czytelnik. Northwestern University Press. 1976. Wydawnictwo Literackie.cgi/MjcyI. published as Highcastle: A Remembrance. 1973. Iskry. Wydawnictwo Literackie. Wydawnictwo Literackie. title means "Science Fiction and Futurology"). 1979. Suplement (title means "Supplement").. Opowiadania (title means "Stories"). 1984. translation by Kandel published as A Perfect Vacuum. 1981. 1951. 1981. (With Roman Hussarski) Jacht Paradise (play). Harcourt. Harcourt. 1954. Harcourt. IN POLISH Astronauci (title means "The Astronauts"). Opowiadania wybrane (title means "Selected Stories"). Harcourt. portions translated in Mortal Engines. edited by Kandel. Wejscie na orbite (nonfiction. Harcourt. 1976. Biblioteka XXI Wieka. Continuum. Harcourt. Powtorka (title means "Repetition"). Microworlds: Writings on Science Fiction and Fantasy. translation by Marc E. 1986. 1979. Harcourt. Wydawnictwo Literackie. Wydawnictwo Literackie. reprinted. translation by Iribarne published as The Chain of Chance. and More Tales of Pirx the Pilot. Wydawnictwo Literackie. Wydawnictwo Literackie. A Stanislaw Lem Reader. 1997. title means "Getting into Orbit"). translation published in Imaginary Magnitude. Rozprawy i szkice (title means "Essays and Sketches").amazon. Wydawnictwo Literackie. 1968. 1976. title means "Dialogues"). Harcourt. title means "The Mask"). Harcourt. 1985. 1987. 1968. Seabury. Stanislaw (1921-2006) http://media-server. Ksiega robotow (title means "Book of Robots"). Wydawnictwo Literackie. Harcourt. Leach published as One Human Minute. 1963.Lem. Inwazja z Aldebarana (title means "Invasion from Aldebaran").com/exec/drm/amzproxy. Wydawnictwo Literackie. Iskry. The Cosmic Carnival of Stanislaw Lem: An Anthology of Entertaining Stories by the Modern Master of Science Fiction. Wydawnictwo Literackie. Ratujmy kosmos i inne opowiadania (title means "Let Us Save the Cosmos and Other Stories"). 1974. translation by Kandel. 1961. portions translated by Kandel and published as The Futurological Congress (From the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy). Heine published as Imaginary Magnitude (also see below). 1968. 1970. 1964. Czytelnik. Fantastyka i futurologia (nonfiction. Wydawnictwo Literackie. Wydawnictwo Literackie.
and he continued his studies when he could. Ogolna teoria dziur. Wydawnictwo Literackie. Ciemnosc i plesn (title means "Darkness and Mildew"). The work to which he committed himself was writing. Znak. and soon he was selling stories and essays to periodicals in Poland. however. 1998. Jewish by descent. Wydawnictwo Literackie. To quote Paul Delany in the New York Times Book Review. 1982. (With Stanislaw Beres) Rozmowy ze Stanislawem Lemem (title means "Conversations with Stanislaw Lem"). As he grew he indulged in flights of fancy. Stanislaw (1921-2006) http://media-server. Wydawnictwo Literackie. published in Polish in 1966 and in English translation in 1995. "Przekledaniec" (title means "Roly Poly"). 1999. during the Second World War. and certificates--that gave him the highest honors in his imaginary kingdom. Dziury w calym. Bomba Magabitowa. a thoughtful one--can lead to disaster. "Lem has now reached an all but unattainable position for an SF writer. he proved especially popular in both Germany and the Soviet Union. creating entire fictitious worlds and then outfitting himself with "papers"--passports. the insignificance of individual fate in the perspective of the species. Film Polski. diplomas. he and his family used forged documents to escape internment in the ghetto. where he has been regarded as a leading contemporary philosopher of science. 1981. Lem decided to study medicine as his father had.cgi/MjcyI. when he began military training. 3 of 7 3/4/11 7:15 PM . who plays in earnest with every concept of philosophy and physics. most widely translated science fiction writer outside the English-speaking world. Wydawn Znak. 1984. Lem decided not to practice medicine--he would have had to serve as an army doctor.com/exec/drm/amzproxy. Wydawnictwo Literackie.OTHER (Contributor) Science Fiction: A Collection of Critical Essays. Also author of screenplay. "He is recognized as one of the world's finest writers. These moments of chance salvation affected Lem profoundly. Northwestern University Press." Lem was raised in Lvov. Lem himself came within inches of capture by the Nazis when a soldier brushed him as he carried a concealed weapon for the Resistance. The Chain of Chance. the son of a prosperous doctor. Basic Books. from free will to probability theory." The circumstances of Lem's life predisposed him to a philosophical frame of mind. 1987. Poland." remarks Thomas Swick in the New York Times Book Review. As George Zebrowski notes in the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. 1997. Apokryfy.Lem. 1991. With more than twenty million books sold in some thirty-six languages. the ease with which a thoughtless move--but." New York Times columnist John Leonard calls Lem "a Jorge Luis Borges for the Space Age. Later. Znak. Wysoki Zamek: Wiersze Modzieancze. 1997. and he was in medical school when World War II began. "Sidelights" Polish author Stanislaw Lem was the best known." claims Zebrowski. Lem's books "are haunted by the whims of chance. is covered in his memoir Highcastle: A Remembrance. 1988. 2000. they have found their way into both his fiction and his nonfiction. 1976. Lem's stature as a deep thinker transcends the science fiction genre.. (Contributor) The Mind's Eye: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul. the elder Lem was recognized by a friend passing in the street who persuaded the commander to rescind the order. Lem earned international recognition.amazon. just as well.Biography . Before he was born. Prentice-Hall. Prowokacja (title means "Provocation"). Contributor to magazines in Europe and America. "An entire vanished world has been lovingly and quirkily recalled in these pages. When rule by the Soviet Union replaced Nazi occupation after the war. Wydawnictwo Literackie. He deliberately flunked his last examination and went to work helping to support his aging parents. his father narrowly escaped execution by firing squad--marching to his death. including New Yorker.. Wizja lokalna (title means "The Scene of the Crime"). Lem's life from his birth until 1935. Literackie.
but he's far too subtle to conclude that technology makes no difference. New York Times Book Review contributor Philip Jose Farmer believes that Lem "has no equal in his literary explorations of machines and their physical and philosophical potentialities. a book that explores a favorite Lem theme--man's inadequacies in an alien environment." Very few of Lem's numerous stories. thinking ocean on the planet Solaris. but they don't change people. Lem as a genre in which an original mind could still express itself with relative freedom." Lem told the Washington Post. "As science fiction of the highest order.." Lem's artistic freedom has developed slowly.. Having lived through the horrors of a World War. and his books . His characters are almost always victims of clumsiness. When he writes allegories of the Cold War. In response the being somehow creates physical manifestations based on the humans' most submerged psychological traumas. Hence the novel becomes a study of humanity's inability to comprehend the nature of vastly different intelligences." Critics find Lem's outlook bleak--in The Nation." Lem's forays into future worlds included not only alien life forms but also advanced technology-cyborgs and computers with vast capabilities that nevertheless reflect the foibles of their creators. depict improvements in the human condition. "science fiction appealed to Mr.. they are very threatening texts indeed. but there is this wonderful world that could evoke in a certain sense the communist utopia. Lem first reached a number of Western readers with the novel Solaris. "My first two books--which I now never release for reprinting--there's nothing Communist Party about them.. both of which concern confrontation between humans and phenomena they cannot comprehend. psychological vulnerability. free of the nuclear threat. and they show contempt for those too lazy to pay heed. The account of a scientific expedition sent to study a huge.." Although he became dissatisfied with them in time.." Lem's tales suggest that humanity and technology are locked into a symbiotic relationship that can amplify the consequences of good and evil. The theme he stresses in most of his work is that machines will someday be as human as Homo sapiens and perhaps superior to him." according to Stanislaw Baranczak in the New Republic. then. It extends the reach of human folly and restricts the human imagination to those things that mechanisms make possible.. and as examples of surreally barbed wit. A similar theme appears in Lem's novels The Invincible and Fiasco. According to Voice Literary Supplement reviewer David Berreby.. "Now I won't allow them to be republished because I simply stopped believing in the utopia." writes Delany. "Books such as Solaris and Fiasco do more than present intellectual arguments about the universe in an unmistakably Central European voice. As Adam Mars-Jones puts it in the Times Literary Supplement. Mr.Lem. "he is exploring recognisable human possibilities. are probably more popular in the Soviet Union than in the United States. and however far into the universe he extends his speculations. Lem has an almost Dickensian genius for vividly realizing the tragedy and comedy of future machines. his earliest fiction was "fashioned more or less along the obligatory ideological lines of its time.com/exec/drm/amzproxy. Lem's early novels helped to establish his reputation. We go out into the universe only to meet ourselves and fight with ourselves.cgi/MjcyI. but the morals are terrestrial." writes John Clute in the Times Literary Supplement. the death of one of his androids or computers actually wrings sorrow from the reader.Biography .." Zebrowski concludes that Lem "realistically shows us what it would be like to come face to face with genuine `differentness'--an alien non-human system or being which is beyond our understanding. "In postwar Poland. The settings may be cosmic. the author "doesn't believe technology can change human nature.. crackpot ambition.amazon. however far Lem extrapolates into the future. his viewpoint is that of a spectator rather than a partisan. thereby assuring an audience--and a Polish publisher--for his subsequent work. They demand attentive reading. Frustrated by their inability to communicate with the inscrutable liquid mass.. not surprisingly. Kurt Vonnegut called the author "a master of utterly 4 of 7 3/4/11 7:15 PM ..." Berreby concludes: "The new tools of relentlessly advancing science change what people can do. Lem wrote several novels depicting a rosy future of one-world government. the researchers bombard it with radiation. Stanislaw (1921-2006) http://media-server. the novel describes the paranoia and fear of the unknown to which the researchers succumb. or incompetence.
." writes Peter S. coupled with an unblinded realism about the nature of the species. "In spite of the scientific authority that informs even the lightest of these near-parables. played out there by self-adapting machines so that no humans are hurt in the process. Beagle in the New York Times Book Review. "Lem's international reputation rests on two qualities rarely found together in one mortal: he is both a superb literary fantasist. and many of his conventional stories offer philosophical speculation and technical data. and a literary practitioner who was compelled to craft high-quality work. will remain. and death. and cybernetics. Stanislaw (1921-2006) http://media-server. Paradoxically. humanity has defused the danger of battle but has kept the war-game fun of it. a recurring Lem hero. Lem is by training a scientist. Tichy's right hemisphere knows details about the machines' plans but is unable to articulate them (verbal prowess being centered in the left hemisphere).cgi/MjcyI. strange thought. a storyteller who felt that science fiction implies an obligation to verisimilitude.." observes Paul Gray in Time.amazon. the fable or fairy tale.. "I am trying not to limit the meaning of the name of this category of writing but rather to expand it. The result is a darkly comic vision of the future in which Lem is able to explore his trademark theme of technological advancement amid humanity's tendency toward self-destruction. and his books are widely reviewed for discerning mainstream audiences. he might have written it like this. If. Samuel Beckett had written science fiction. however. engineering. prophetic understanding of what the human being is going to have to learn and become merely to survive. However." As the author himself put it in an essay for the Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series. Furthermore. appalled by all that an insane humanity may yet survive to do. bound by the same laws of pain. "Lem is a moralist and (rare in the genre) a stylist. Thus. not only builds castles in the air. "Those who have read any of .com/exec/drm/amzproxy. to the moon to investigate." Pessimistic or hopeful..Biography .." That expansion of science fiction into literary and philosophical terrain has become a Lem trademark." Bloomsbury Review contributor J. terminal pessimism.Lem." Baranczak concludes: "Lem is one of those writers who is interested more in the essential immutability of human existence than in any superficial evolution that history may provide. The author also enjoys experimenting with form. Lem's numerous books know that even the most timeworn subject can be the occasion for fresh surprises. Washington Post correspondent Jackson Diehl observes that Lem advances a view of man "as a creature unable to find a stable place in the universe or control the consequences of accelerating technological advances. grafting one field onto another to populate whole new realms of possibility.. their immediate appeal grows out of the sensibility behind them. Lem . "As well as provoking in a purely intellectual sense. "Every Lem story is haunted by a passionate. [Lem] soars out into dizzy flights of speculation. and a knowledgeable philosopher of the means and meanings of technology. Thus. . Lem's works abound in subtle philosophy and sociology. love." Lem was therefore a philosopher concerned with the moral and ethical consequences of advancing technology. and his books reveal an up-to-date knowledge of medicine." writes Giles Foden in the Times Literary Supplement. he also provides meticulous blueprints and rationales for their construction. but he comes back having been subjected to a mind-altering operation by the machines: they have given him a callotomy. no matter what space suits we wear or what utopias we build. which depicts an Earth on which war has been banished to the moon. he visualizes the future only to find more proof of his suspicion that human fate has remained. darkly comic or ironic. Tichy's left side is in constant battle with his right. communications.. The governments send Ijon Tichy. Delany writes: "Starting at the very edge of current theories of artificial intelligence. Madison Davis declares that with his romantic attitude 5 of 7 3/4/11 7:15 PM . His works have appeared in the New Yorker." An example of Lem's guiding philosophy of human nature is evident in Peace on Earth.." Literary critics have noted that Lem's work resembles that favorite European genre. cosmology and nuclear strategy. several of his works offer "book reviews" or "introductions" to books that will be written in the future. this convenient solution to war is threatened when the world's governments begin to suspect that the moon-bound machines are preparing to invade Earth on their own. deconnecting his brain's two hemispheres.
Kliatt. 1979. November 11. February 10. New Republic. 1979. February 9. July. not a body politic.. Volume 8. 1977. November 26. 1986. p. June 5. June. Gale. July 31..Biography . I write about what is happening. October. 1977. August. 1985. 1996. 150. June 7. Gale. 1979. Nation. 1979. Partisan Review. 1979. "I've always believed in science. 1986. 1982. 1982. 96. 1994. spring. Library Journal. May 13. July 13." FURTHER READINGS ABOUT THE AUTHOR: BOOKS Contemporary Authors Autobiography Series. March 11. Vintage Books. J. April 2. who acknowledge him as a major artist. 1995. 1984. Fact. p. 1979. Davis. Time. September 2. Detroit News. 1990. Chicago Tribune Book World. 1986. p. Madison. March 24. in my own terms. 1978. 1986. 1980. 1988. 1982. April 8. July.cgi/MjcyI. June 1. February 26. 1978. February 9. November. 6 of 7 3/4/11 7:15 PM . 1983. 165. New Yorker. Science-Fiction Studies. 39. towards art. 1978. 18. 14. May. 1984. He seems to be regarded by Polish authorities as a kind of international cultural showpiece. Starmont House (Washington). yet he retains the respect of both dissident writers and western critics." Washington Post correspondent Jackson Diehl notes that the author "has avoided confrontation with Polish governments. 1977. 1982. November 17. p. 1983. Volume 1. 1971. February 26. Contemporary Literary Criticism. November 7. September 5.com/exec/drm/amzproxy. 1984. Lem "challenges himself constantly in search of the new. September 19. 1983. 1989. December. p. p. 1987.. March 19. 1986. 1982. Times Literary Supplement. Updike. p. December 5. New Statesman. September 17.. July 6. exempted from the normal constraints of East Bloc life in tacit exchange for his retention of citizenship. May 12. "I have always resisted the label of science fiction. but I write about the real world. May. November 7. June. New York Review of Books.. 1984. January 30. 1995. 1979. 1989. 1979. 1996. 1983. New York Times. 1975. 14. 462. 1980. he feels that his work confronts the human condition on a global basis--the human race as a species. June 8. 1979. 1976. rather. 1985. June 30. 1987. If the reader takes the active role Lem demands. February 11. 1988. New York Times Book Review. 1990. 1987. October 16. February 17. 1994. April. Bloomsbury Review. Publishers Weekly. February. reading can take on the quality of conversation with a unique character whose writings should be more appreciated. only in my own way. May 20. Hugging the Shore: Essays and Criticism. Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. 1986. September 17.. 1995. 1980. Books Abroad. Volume 15. 1980. Stanislaw (1921-2006) http://media-server. December 27. p.amazon. March 3." Lem does not see himself as apolitical.. December 4. August 29. February 7. March 7. 40. July. John. 1976. 1980. Stanislaw Lem. 1985. 1985. 1985.Lem. October 30. September 8. September 8.. 1982. 1980. June 1. Newsweek. May 25. 1981. January 7. Science Fiction and Fantasy Book Review. January 22." he told the Washington Post. p. April 8. PERIODICALS Analog Science Fiction &. p. Discover. 1985. 1996.. 1984. p. 1974. 1996. January 29. 1984. 167. February 8.. p. 62. Los Angeles Times Book Review. summer. 1983. 40. March 20. October 1. Volume 40..
1989. Voice Literary Supplement. Stanislaw (1921-2006) Author: Gale Reference Team Publication: Contemporary Authors Online (Biography) Date: 2006 Publisher: Thomson Gale 7 of 7 3/4/11 7:15 PM . Tribune Books (Chicago). October 30.amazon. 1983. summer. World Literature Today. p. 1988.Lem. 1987. June. 1978. 1985. 1988.Biography . 1989. winter. October 23. July 12.com/exec/drm/amzproxy. April 24. Village Voice. 27. Washington Post. Washington Post Book World. 1987..cgi/MjcyI. 1995.. 1977. June 23. * Citation Details Title: Biography . Stanislaw (1921-2006) http://media-server. 1983. May 16. autumn. February 28. February 24. 1982. July 11. 1987. 1980.Lem. February 27.
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