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the Complete Review
the complete review - science / literary essays

A Stanislaw Lem Reader

Peter Swirski

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To purchase A Stanislaw Lem Reader

Title: A Stanislaw Lem Reader
Author: Peter Swirski
Genre: Science/Essays/Interview
Written: 1997
Length: 117 pages
Original in: Polish and English
Availability: A Stanislaw Lem Reader - US
A Stanislaw Lem Reader - UK
A Stanislaw Lem Reader - Canada

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Our Assessment:

B- : useful bits and pieces, but does not do justice to a man worthy of a great deal more attention

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
Extrapolation A- Summer/1998 Gary Hubbell
Publishers Weekly B 25/8/1997 .
Science Fict. Studies . 11/1998 I. Csicsery-Ronay Jr.

  Review Consensus:

  Decent short if somewhat demanding introduction.

  From the Reviews:
  • "(...) if the purpose of science fiction is to provoke thought rather than merely entertain, then A Stanislaw Lem Reader is well worth the reader's time and effort." - Gary Hubbell, Extrapolation

  • "Swirski is content to elucidate rather than evaluate Lem's ideas, which are often fascinating, even when presented in a somewhat Olympian manner." - Publishers Weekly

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       We feel ambivalent about this Northwestern U. Press book. We are pleased by the effort to provide much-needed information about Polish author Lem -- one of the most important writers of the second half of the twentieth century -- to an English-speaking audience. We are grateful for the enormously useful bibliography. And the book does have two interviews with Lem and one essay by him, always welcome. And there is also a critical essay by this Swirski guy. There's the rub: the Swirski guy. Knowledgeable, and Polish speaking, he sounds like a man for the job. He's not. How these interviews pale when compared to the Stanislaw Beres book, Conversations with Stanislaw Lem (not available in English).
       The critical introduction is a useful overview, but Swirski also does not present the man entirely adequately. And the Lem essay, a review, 30 years after the fact, of part of his also untranslated Summa, is also a questionable choice -- interesting certainly, but so removed from a context that American readers (who have had no opportunity of reading the brilliant Summa) can appreciate that clearly another, more accessible choice would have been preferable. Nevertheless: there are no other introductions to the author in English readily available, and these few pieces are useful. Reluctantly recommended. If only they had translated the Beres book .....

       (We also agree with the Publishers Weekly review that Lem's own collection of essays, Microworlds, offers a better general introduction to his ideas.)

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