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Monday, July 5, 2021

FiascoFiasco by Stanisław Lem
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Stanislaw Lem is a treasure in the SF field. This Polish SF writer had a long career and an extremely sharp mind that consistently outperformed just about anyone in sheer wit, complexity, and depth of ideas, and truly thought-provoking intellectual tales.

You know, intellectual tales that happen to have resurrected racing pilots on Titan, shipboard computers that aren't constrained by Asimov laws but are truly on the path of interdependence with humanity, and situations that shatter the concept of Star Trek's preponderance of the Prime Directive.

Please don't mistake me here. This particular novel goes well beyond the call of any SFnal duty by giving us a first contact scenario with us reaching an alien world that NEVER becomes cliche. Indeed, Lem is fully exhaustive in great hart-SF science, complex and rich Game Theory analysis, and even very thoughtful philosophical backtracking and out-of-the-box thinking.

I RARELY see any science fiction go this out of its way to explore the REAL complications of communications and warfare while consistently sitting us in the center of our own humanity, immersing us so deeply in ourselves that we are trapped by not only our logic and our instrumentality, but we're trapped by our own biology.

Sound like a good philosophical premise? Especially when it is housed in a great story that seems so perfectly rational -- and truly horrific -- that the philosophy is subsumed deeply within the tale until it jumps out at us and tears us to shreds?

Let's just say that this is up there with some of my absolute favorites. Hard-SF by a true master of SF.

It happens to be his last novel, but for anyone who has had the pleasure to read his Solaris, know that it might very well be better, too.

That's saying a lot. Solaris is one of the best grandmaster SF's out there.

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