“Eden”, written in 1959, opens the period of Lem's mature science-fiction. What makes us read this book with interest today? Certainly author's exceptional imagination plays an important role here; rich visions of planetary culture and nature are presented with just the right amount of suspense. Hence, we get to know the mysterious planet step by step – with a tension that naturally accompanies all real history of exploration. Political system of the planet must have reminded readers of Orwell's visions, particularly in the 1950s. Yet the most important issue seems the skepticism with respect to the possibility of mutual comprehension: the very difference of respective technologies prevents newcomers and locals from understanding each other.
Because of miscalculation, the craft dipped too low and hit the atmosphere with an earsplitting scream. Lying flat in their bunks, the men could hear the dampers being crushed. The front screens showed flame and went black; the cushion of incandescent gas at the bow was too much for the outside cameras. The control room filled with the stench of hot rubber. Under the force of the deceleration, the men temporarily lost their vision, their hearing. This was the end...
Lem avoids the tedious trap of hard sci-fi by granting equal time to the philosophical aspects of his alien worlds and his thought provoking and lyrical prose has prompted some critics to call him "science fiction's James Joyce". (...) His ideas are impeccable and his pacing - though complex - is captivating. In an age when ludicrous aliens are usually seen being pummeled by the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger it's encouraging that a tale over 30-years-old can come from overseas and introduce so many new ideas. It's a shame American audiences don't call for translation of Lem's works sooner.
Robert Errera, Lakeland Today