Rus Articles Journal

Why Stanislav Lem disliked a fantasy? To Birthday of the writer

For most of people Stanislav Lem and remained the fantast, first of all the author of the “Solaris“ who is finally canonized in the environment of the intellectuals by A. Tarkovsky`s screen version. But I consider in some degree a duty to pay a tribute to the great Pole as to the thinker .

From interview with S. Lem, 2004:

“- One German encyclopedia calls you the philosopher. You philosopher? What will you tell concerning presence of philosophy at your novels?

- I believe, it is worth looking for deep sense in works of art though I quite realize a high risk and inevitability of the simplifications, mistakes and unintentional absurdity arising at such approach. The reason of my concerns, disappointments and confusion which still did not die away is in the fact that many consider philosophizing as boring and idle occupation. To be fond of philosophy, it is necessary to be fascinated by it, to learn to derive personal benefit from this occupation. Thirst for filosofstvovaniye has to be vigorous passion. Those to whom it feeling not familiarly, certainly, will be disappointed in some of my books“

Actually Lem`s philosophy is attractive first of all the fact that along with the thinker in him there lived the Artist. Versatility of interests of the writer together with flashing venomous humour distinguished its works from boring philosophical treatises at once. Be not under a delusion, Lem`s books - not easy reading matter, but devilishly entertaining!

In attempt to classify works of the Polish writer it was much broken copies and feathers - it too did not keep within “Procrustean bed“ of the directions and genres. Only one it is possible to claim with confidence - to the writer it was always extremely close in a genre scientifically - fantastic literature. Besides - Lem on the whole hated this genre, and spent several years, trying to call fantasts for responsibility.

Efforts were fruitless: Lem only angered producers of a fiction. Therefore and in the American Community of Scientific Fantasts (where it was accepted in 1973 and, probably, considered that do these a great honor) he was late not for long. For izgnaniyaiz communities article “Science fiction was the cause: a hopeless case with exceptions in which Lem called the American fantasy for 99% the usual “waste paper“ far both from science, and from the real literature. Lem did not remain is lonely: in protest the community was left also Ursula by Le the Head Department of the Penitentiary and Michael Murkok.

It is amusing that “exception“ in the article Lem called the fantast Filip Dick whose creativity he appreciated even in spite of the fact that Dick wrote paranoid letters to FBI in which proved that Lem actually does not exist. Like, actually under the sign “Lem“ creates the whole collective. Otherwise as it is possible to bring such mass of different and qualitative literature into world?

Fruitless “fight for quality“ and disappointment in science fiction (hereinafter - science fiction) had for Lem and more substantial effects - he gradually grew cold to this genre, and after 1960 - x years addressed it less frequently. And his fears entirely came true. The fantasy and remained peculiar vainglorious literary “ghetto“, finally grew to a body of mass culture, and exceptions of this rule both there was a little, and remained.

One more reason which forced Lem to leave a fantasy consisted in specifics of his creativity. It was already written above that Lem`s books cannot be brought under a common denominator, but I nevertheless will try. It seems to me, all his creativity - from purely fantastic “Invincible“ to philosophical futurology “The sum of technologies“ - pursues the same aim: modeling of the most various situations which our civilization, a peculiar designing of the future can face. And works of art were for the writer first of all method of direct approbation of dry theories (all of us perfectly know how they can be good on paper and as are awful, poor or powerless in the embodiment).

Here Lem also tries to present that will be with mankind at this or that succession of events, at collision with this or that opening what reefs wait for us in the future. As the true scientific fantast, he looks at mankind not only from within, but also from outside. Superficial anthropocentrism is alien to Lem initially. Let`s remember at least as at interplanetary conference on an occasion of acceptance of Earth in Space league of the nations it is quite difficult for Iyon Tikhy to prove that the mankind is really reasonable race. In “Fairy tales of robots“ robots look at the person (they call it “pale-tic“), as at a being exotic and very vile by sight. And in “Survey on the place“ the aliens who are gracefully “pollinating“ each other are horrified, having learned about a way of reproduction of people of Earth.

S. Lem “The eighth travel of Iyon Tikhy“: to

“- the Worthy representative of Tarrakaniya, recommending the candidate of the so-called Homo sapiens, or to be more exact, - the typical representative carnivorous! - oderzhimets, did not mention in the recommendation the word “protein“, including its indecent. Undoubtedly, it causes associations on which decencies do not allow me to expatiate. However, availability even of such construction material does not dishonor. Not in protein business, High Council! … Even carnivorousness cannot be charged to anybody as it arose during natural evolution. But … if it has to do it (shouts: “Should not! Start up spinach eats!“) if, I speak, has to owing to tragic hereditary burdening, then he is obliged to absorb the blood-stained victim in alarm, secretly, in the holes and in the most dark back streets of caves, tormented by a remorse, despair and hope that sometime it will manage to it to be exempted from burden of these continuous murders. Unfortunately, the bottle-fed baby acts not this way! He meanly disgraces remains, beats and lards, smothers and extinguishes them, being amused that, and only then absorbs them on public feeding, among jumps of naked females of the look because it kindles its taste to carrion …“

S. Lem “Survey on the place“:

People of Earth are degenerates of the Nature.

In love at them the weight

takes That place where the outcome finds

Metabolic process. Having learned

where These ill-fated sufferers look for an ideal


On all Universe is old and small

In despair broke fingers“.

But most of all interested the writer as the person will behave or mankind (these are not absolutely adequate concepts) at a meeting with new or at all Unknown. Lem, judging by his works, far did not divide the optimistic concept of Ivan Efremov that the alien reason surely has to be similar to us.

Besides, contact can be in general impossible or be shown in extremely unexpected (and from it even more unclear) forms. So in the story “Eden“ (1959) the crew of a terrestrial spaceship faces a civilization of dvutel on which planet something is created from our point of view terrible (people of Earth find a set of corpses). But Lem lets know that adequately it is impossible to estimate the events because neither its reasons, nor an essence are unclear. Of course, it is possible to put “annihilator“ on use and to restore justice, according to our understanding, of course. But all trouble is that the characters of the story of understand nothing , they deal not with people and rescue, in actual fact, most likely will be the next crime.

But dvutela though something are similar to us. And what to tell about seemingly as the reasonable ocean which is completely covering the planet the Solaris? This ocean, certainly, reacts to invasion of people, generating quite reasonable phantoms, but these phantoms are designed from human memory and again - it is impossible to understand what occurs - contact, check or just indifferent “reflection of reflection“?

But also here something similar is observed at least on contact, there is a hope for further understanding. However in 1964 - ohm (in three years after “Solaris“) Lem publishes the story “Invincible“ where people of Earth face absolutely indifferent, alien and dangerous phenomenon - an organized form lifeless matters - packs of the metal crumb killing all on the way. And though the main character manages to survive, he comes back to the ship with knowledge that “not all exists for us also not everywhere“, and attempts to destroy such “enemy“, are useless and senseless to revenge it for the dead - the enemy has no evil will and to revenge there is actually, actually, nobody. It is necessary just to leave the planet such what it is …

Having come to so pessimistic conclusions, the writer loses interest in a problem of Contact and begins to pay the most part of attention to ways of development of a terrestrial civilization. Lem, in fact, invents the term “futurology“, and in the global work “Sum of Technologies“ (1964) for the first time carefully tries to predict where can turn on mankind of technology of the future. Many forecasts made by Lem in his works nowadays do not seem fantastic any more. So, apprehended by masses as revelation the idea of the sensational movie “Matrix“ is actually to a limit the simplified statement of the ideas introduced by the writer quarter of the century back in the story “Futurological Congress“. Only in “Congress“ the phantom reality was created by chemical hallucinogens (we will remember trends of that era - hippie, an acid), and in “Matrix“ - computer system.