Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Stanisław Lem

The latest Google Doodle actually ups the ante for insane levels of size, complexity and involvement, especially as it celebrates the 60th anniversary of Stanisław Lem's first book, which seems like a rather obscure topic for so much work.

(I also discovered that only Russia got Mikhail Lomonosov's 300th birthday recently, and only Italy got one for Italo Calvino even as the whole world got the one for the creator of Gumby which as far as I know was never shown here. Oh well.)

So what can we take from Lem (other than "I want that toy cosmonaut!") of interest? His work features explorers discovering alien and evolutionary robotic cultures, with details like multiple ethnicities and classes in Eden.

How would the travellers deal with a planet taken over by evolving machines? Depends whether they were chasing them with laser eyes, of course. But in general as long as they aren't conquer-the-universe or dismantle-everything-for-parts they'd probably have an interesting viewpoint. And maybe a bunch of organics come down to abduct some to work for them...

And the living planet Solaris attempting to communicate (with little success) could translate into a thoughtful adventure which reveals a great deal about the travellers, or a haunted-spaceship runaround like Event Horizon for that matter.

But maybe the best Lem-related plot hook comes from Philip K. Dick, whose work he praised, but who suspected he was actually a pen name for a cabal of Russian scientists using SF to misdirect American scientific research along blind alleys...

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