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Earthly expedition tries to communicate with the civilization of the remote planet Quinta, however these attempts fail because Quintians avoid contact at all cost.  Lem ingeniously equipped his Astronauts with adequate technology, but it did not help them realize the everlasting dream of humanity of exchanging experiences with brothers in reason.  Hence strangeness remains  - as always with Lem – inscrutable, and people remain wrapped for eternity in their mythologies.  “Fiasco”, the last novel by Lem, bitter and pessimistic, summarizes the most important traits of his writing.

5.00 out of 5 based on 3 ratings3 user reviews.
Hard science fiction Reviewed by Philip Challinor on . How hard can you take it? Fiasco is the fourth and most pessimistic of Lem's "contact" novels (after Eden, The Invincible and Solaris). Humanity undertakes its first interstellar voyage in the hope of making contact with the inhabitants of the planet Quinta, but the aliens won't play ball and all the scientists can do, as usual, is present various theories which achieve little, nothing, or worse than nothing. The basic problem is a simple one (and a recurrent Lem theme): how can human beings hope to recognize, let alone understand or talk to, creatures which are wholly different in their biological and technological heritage? There's a good deal of technical discussion, concerning both the possibilities of contact and the workings of interstellar travel, which might prove difficult going; but if you stick with it the paradoxes are delightful, though hardly encouraging; and the descriptive passages are as good as anything in Solaris. The opening chapter is a stunning jou!rney through a literally titanic landscape, and although it might at first seem rather loosely related to the rest of the book, its perspective on the "heroic" protagonist is vital to the ending - another set-piece in a beautifully evoked alien landscape, this time on Quinta. Heroism, even human-ness itself, when confronted with the alien, is not just an irrelevance (as it is to varying degrees in the three previous books) but a deadly liability. Even now that it can resurrect the dead and travel to the stars, humanity still can't see outside itself. The expedition, though a miracle of human endeavour, is a fiasco. But Fiasco is a hard, ironic, sometimes breathtaking triumph. Philip Challinor Rating: 5 5
The Choral Call Of The Hydraulics Reviewed by Charles M Britzman on . Walked into this one with Eden, Return From The Stars, Solaris, Cyberiad and most of the Pirx stories under my belt. After reading Fiasco, I researched Lem on the Web, for the first time, just to get to know this extaordinary man and his career better. I found out that I not only learn from him, I also learn just from reading about him. I believe this novel, Lem's last, contains his finest effort of all. The playfulness and leitmotifs of some of his other work are absent, but we get a sober treatment of just how a voyage of several light years could be carried out, and a cautionary tale about expectations,self delusion and just how alien alien can get. The first chapter, that some other reviewers found boring, I found to be written in the style of his Pirx stories, with one event leading to the next, and with our pilot Parvis' viewpoint featured. No deep concepts, no long, involved conversations - just an adventure story prequel to the Quinta voyage. For example, the six-page description of Parvis taking control of the fusion-powered Digla is a fascinating and satisfying tour de force of traditional hard scifi. I climbed into the control harness as if I was Parvis, while I renewed my deep love of Lem's evocative prose (see title of this review). For me, the first chapter was a wonderful return to seeing the future through the eyes of a very bright and capable 'regular' guy; an everyday hero. It is also a last look at humanity before we make our first massive interspecies blunder. The remainder of 'Fiasco' is, in my opinion, the blueprint, the highest court of appeal, for ALL hard science fiction. 'Fiasco' isn't fiction with a scientific theme; it is fiction about science. As was said in one essay I read about Lem,unlike other authors, that became skilled at giving the appearance of science to their stories,Lem gives the appearance of actual research. The theory, physics and the philosophy of his science are expounded upon in conversations and books being read by characters in the story (during the subjective 6 year journey to Quinta). We learn about things right along with the resurrected pilot Tempe. The ideas and discussions here breathe the fourth dimension of speculative fiction into your mind as you read, and give insight into the responsibility that goes along with being a science fiction author (or should). Truly, you are not just entertained; you are enlightened and expanded and filled with the enormity of this mission and all of it's implications, and those of any similar missions you ever read about in the future. In 'Fiasco', Lem also introduces a new technique of interstellar travel - made possible by something he calls the Holenbach Interval, and employed using 'Sidereal Engineering'. Einstein's speed limit is observed, but instead of playing tricks with distance or velocity, starship Eurydice's 8 supercomputers ping a black hole with a very large explosive charge, creating a momentary assymetrical resonance reaction in the topology of gravity waves surrounding it. Within them, time runs backwards, creating a haven that, if successfully entered, allows only two weeks of shiptime to elapse for 3 years of galactic time - the time during which the Hermes makes it's fateful encounter with Quinta. If there is a core competency, and serious responsibility, associated with speculative fiction, it is meaningful prognosis. 'Fiasco' may seem to drag at times, but if you remember your roots as a science fiction buff, and let Lem take you on this journey, you will be rewarded with the kind of wonder that persists in your mind long after you finish the book, powered by the ideas and considerations Lem so beautifully presents. Rating: 5 5
That is a really beautiful review. Thanks Reviewed by Silviu Gherman on . That's about all I had to say. I'm reading Fiasco now. Rating: 5 5