Lem at Amazon

Stanislaw Lem at Amazon

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4.7142857142857 1 1 1 1 1 Rating 4.71 (14 Votes)

The collection of short stories "Bajki robotów" (The Tales of the Robots) was published in English in two volumes:  "Mortal Engines" and "The Cosmic Carnival of Stanislaw Lem".  

Readers who enjoyed The Cyberiad will also find this book very appealing.

Neil Barron, "Delap's F&SF Review"



Pyron invented the wire telegraph, and then he pulled the wire out so fine, it wasn't' there, and in this fashion he obtained the wireless... Later I visited the hospital wards.  I was introduced to an Old Testament computer that suffered from senility and couldn't' count up the ten commandments... what is attractive in Lem is his view of humanity not as as matter of organic life or biological development, but as a matter of freedom - even if it is a freedom we may not in fact be able to exercise.

Gore Vidal, "The New York Times Review of Books"


The Tale of Machine that Fought a Dragon

King Poleander Partobon, ruler of Cyberia, was a great warrior, and being an advocate of the methods of modern strategy, above all else he prized cybernetics as a military art. His kingdom swarmed with thinking machines, for Poleander put them everywhere he could. (...) On the planet cyberbosks of cybergorse rustled in the wind, cybercalliopes and cyberviols sang - but besides these civilian devices there were twice as many military, for the King was most bellicose.

(...) There was only this one problem, and it troubled him greatly, namely, that he had not a single adversary or enemy and no one in any way wished to invade his land, and thereby provide him with the opportunity to demonstrate his kingly and terrifying courage. (...) In the absence of genuine enemies and aggressors the King had his engineers build artificial ones, and against these he did battle, and always won. However (...) the subjects murmured when all too many cyberfoes had destroyed their settlements and towns (...) and the King wearied of the war games on the planet (...) decided to raise his sights. Now it was cosmic wars and sallies that he dreamed of.

(...) And so the royal engineers built on the Moon a splendid computer, which in turn was to create all manner of troops and self-firing gunnery. The King lost no time in testing the machine's prowess this way and that; at one point he ordered it - by telegraph - to execute a volt-vault electrosault: for he wanted to see if it was true, what his engineers had told him, that that machine could do anything. If can do anything, he thought, then let it do a flip. However the text of the telegram underwent a slight distortion and the machine received the order that it was to execute not an electrosault, but an electrosaur - and this it carried out as best it could.

Meanwhile the King conducted one more campaign, liberating some provinces of his realm seized by cyberknechts; he completely forgot about the order given the computer on the Moon, then suddenly giant boulders came hurtling down from there. (...) Fuming, he telegraphed the Moon computer at once, demanding an explanation. It didn't reply however, for it no longer was: the electrosaur had swallowed it and made it into its own tail.

Immediately the King dispatched an entire armed expedition to the Moon (...) to slay the dragon, but there was only some flashing, some rumbling, and then no more computer nor expedition; for the electrodragon wasn't pretend and wasn't pretending (...) and had moreover the worst of intentions regarding the kingdom and the King. (...)

The King thought and thought, but he saw no remedy. (...) To send machines was no good, for they would be lost, and to go himself was no better, for he was afraid. Suddenly the King heard, in the stillness of the night, the telegraph chattering from his royal bedchamber. (...) The King jumped up and ran to it, the apparatus meanwhile went tap-tap, tap-tap, and tapped out this telegram: THE DRAGON SAYS POLEANDER PARTOBON BETTER CLEAR OUT BECAUSE HE THE DRAGON INTENDS TO OCCUPY THE THRONE!

The King (...) ran down to the palace vaults, where stood the strategy machine, old and very wise. (...) He had not as yet consulted it, since prior to the rise and uprise of the electrodragon they had argued on the subject of a certain military operation; but now was not the time to think of that - his throne, his life was at stake!