Bringing his twin gifts of scientific speculation and scathing satire to bear on that hapless planet, Earth, Lem sends his unlucky cosmonaut, Ijon Tichy, to the Eighth Futurological Congress. Caught up in local revolution, Tichy is shot and so critically wounded that he is flashfrozen to await a future cure.
©1974 The Continuum Publishing Corporation (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
First off, this was a good book, but I think one that I would have appreciated a lot more if I'd read it rather than listened to it. A lot of the latter part of the book contains words that Lem created and being able to see the words spelled out on the page and thus analyse them for the implied (and probably sarcastic) etymology would have added to the fun.
It did take me a little while to get into the mood for this book, the sarcasm is not so much tongue-in-cheek as tongue-through-cheek, it's not subtle. That said, once the introductions were complete and the main plot kicked in I enjoyed the story and the humour.
The story is told first-person, transitioning to a chunked diary-style format for the last third of the book and there were moments where I felt presages of the book Fiasco in the tone and style of the story-telling.
I want to stress that I had no issues with this particular recording, I thought it was well narrated by Mr Marantz and was free of distractions (music, chapter breaks, etc), I just think that the content would be better appreciated with a bit more time to linger on the words and a better idea of how things were spelled.
The audio books I get tend to be either 1) scifi or 2) things for my husband and me to listen to on long road trips--humor or history
Any one paragraph in this book could be an entire book unto itself. It reminded me of the blurbs on the front of the Onion newspaper (when there was a printed version) that directed you to the inside of the paper to read the full article—which did not exist. Many of these ideas are excruciatingly funny skewerings of modern Western culture. No system, service or symptom escapes Lem’s brilliant satire. The pharmaceutical industry is the most obvious foil, but Lem uses our propensity to believe there is a pill to cure everything to send up religion, government, academia, Big Agriculture, health care, marketing . . . the list goes on.
There are so many ideas in here, but not much of a plot. Still, one of the funniest and most original scifi books I have read in a long time. [I listened to this as an audio book read by David Maranz, who did an excellent job.]
Also cannot fail to recognize the brilliant translation work done here by Michael Kandel. I cannot imagine how difficult it was to translate this from Polish, with all the wordplay, made-up words, and still keep the humor intact. A bravura translation.
This is a very enjoyable quick book. There is so much packed into it that my interest never flagged. In fact, there are numerous ideas that could have generated at least short stories of their own, but they are only a part of this world.
I found myself thinking of many different novels that at least share an idea with this, enough so that I began to wonder how many authors and filmmakers perhaps read this and were influenced. There are moments like Stand on Zanzibar but crossed with Vonnegut. I thought of Inception, the Manual of Detection, Philip K. Dick, Matrix, with some Nabokovian wordplay tossed in.
Funny in places, thought provoking in others. For a novel written in 1971 (and translated In 1974) I thought there was a lot of great satire about the direction society was/is heading and it is surprisingly relevant to current society in many ways, and I think there are many serious cautionary items blended into the fabric of the world of the novel.
Here's one sample: Lubricrat: one who gives bribes. Derived from "greasing" of palms.
Tell me that's not applicable to our entire system of government, summed up in one word.
I'm not going to spoil anything, so have fun with it, I did.
Also, there's a movie coming soon, The Congress, which looks interesting, but from the movie blurb, it does not appear it will follow the novel. It may be they seized upon some element and developed something, we'll see. As I said, there are so many ideas which could easily be developed into some tangential story.
Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy.
I initially read this on my Kindle and enjoyed it immensely. It's a fun, feel-good type of book despite the dire futurological predictions. So, I recently decided I needed to listen to the audio version. The narration was just fine, thank goodness! So, here is my previous review.
"I must say I warily downloaded this book and put off reading it for some time. I thought it could be as bleak as the recent Russian sci-fi translation I read. I guess I didn't read the reviews carefully enough. This was one of the funniest books I ever read. Lem is brilliant, with such a sense of humor. There were parts where I had to close my Kindle, while I tried to get the guffaws under control. Luckily I was reading in bed and only my hubbie could see me.
While Lem is wonderfully creative and you could tell he had a great time penning this story, I was also blown away by the translator. This novel is so much about word play, and you could not tell it was written in a foreign language. It was impeccably translated and didn't suffer a bit. I can't wait to try more of Lem's books. While very funny and short, there was also a scary message here.
Even if you are not a sci-fi fan, you are in for a treat with this book. It would take anyone out of a reading slump or maybe even a deep depression. Get it and enjoy, now!"
Prepare yourself, read this when there are no distractions, you will need all your attention for this book. Pushes your vocabulary to another level! Very amusing at the same time. The author needs to be reintroduced to the library's of North America.
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