Public Service Announcement: Cheap Lem

cyberiad

The cover of the relevant edition. The spine is green and black.

I don’t know how widespread this is, but the Borders near my apartment is having some huge sales right now.  I went in there this weekend, and on a table covered in boxes of what I assume is overstock there was a box full of attractive copies of Stanislaw Lem’s The Cyberiad, priced at $4.00 each.  This book is a favorite of my childhood, and one of those special books that remains just as compelling as an adult.  It is a series of related stories about a wacky distant future in which all life is cybernetic life, and largely follows the exploits of two “constructors,” Trurl and Klapaucius, who have the technical expertise to, given enough time, build a machine to do absolutely anything.  Their adventures are always entertaining (the chapter in which Trurl builds a machine to write poetry is one of the funniest pieces of short fiction I know about, and fabulous for reading aloud), and frequently deeply thought provoking as well.  It is easy to agree with the New York Times blurb on the back of this edition which proclaims “Mr. Lem is a Jorge Luis Borges for the Space Age.”  Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennett included two stories from The Cyberiad in their anthology The Mind’s I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul.  And as if the humor and philosophy weren’t enough, there is also so much clever wordplay that it is hard to believe that it was originally written in Polish.  It’s a book I recommend to people and give away copies of with some regularity, and for four bucks it is a steal.

2 Comments

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  1. Is this the one you read to us from on the way to WisCon? I really liked that story.

  2. It is. My edition had a different cover, but all the contents are the same.

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