cover image The Truth and Other Stories

The Truth and Other Stories

Stanislaw Lem, trans. from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones. MIT, $39.95 (344p) ISBN 978-0-262-04608-4

Nine of these 12 outstanding stories from international sci-fi superstar Lem (1921–2006) make their English-language debut in this treasure trove of a collection. Lem’s prose shines in suspenseful chase sequences (“The Hunt”) and dense philosophical tracts produced by artificial intelligences (“The Journal”) alike, with a dry wit that manages to fit comfortably alongside the flashes of cosmic horror in pieces like “Darkness and Mildew.” In the satiric social commentary “The Invasion,” Lem posits an alien invasion of Earth by billion-year-old seeds simply looking for a place to germinate, while in “Lymphater’s Formula,” the planet is doomed by humanity’s inexorable if unwitting efforts to replace itself. Readers with a wry outlook will find many kindred spirits among Lem’s protagonists, like the unorthodox robot priest of “An Enigma” who stoutly maintains that brains made of jelly can indeed think, in defiance of “the rigid opinion of the Holy Office.” This collection shows off Lem’s range and further solidifies his place in the speculative firmament. (Sept.)