Inspection at the Scene of the Crime
"Inspection at the Scene of the Crime" is one of the most original of Lem's novels. At first glance a political satire, best understood by the witnesses of the cold war, "Inspection..." is a serious intellectual attempt at creating a model of a future civilization. How to secure an equilibrium, safety and – for individuals – a meaning of existence? What technology should replace Nature or God? How to address the emptiness and suffering that even this protective, but "cold" and impersonal technology cannot remove from the life of planet's inhabitants? Ijon Tichy, getting to know the remote Encja, seeks answer to these questions – and many others.
Lem is both a polymath and a virtuoso storyteller and stylist. Put them together and they add up to a genius... He has been steadily producing fiction that follows the arcs and depths of his learning and a bewildering labyrinth of moods and attitudes. Like his protagonists, loners virtually to a man, his fiction seems at a distance from the daily cares and passions, and conveys the sense of a mind hovering above the boundaries of the human condition: now mordant, now droll, now arcane, now folksy, now skeptical, now haunted and always paradoxical. Yet his imagination is so powerful and pure that no matter what world he creates it is immediately convincing because of its concreteness and plentitude, the intimacy and authority with which it is occupied... read Lem for yourself. He is a major writer, and one of the deep spirits of our age.
Theodore Solotaroff "The New York Times Book Review"