The Truth and Other Stories
340 pp., 6 x 9 in,
- Published: September 14, 2021
- Published: September 13, 2022
- Published: September 14, 2021
Twelve stories by science fiction master Stanisław Lem, nine of them never before published in English.
Of these twelve short stories by science fiction master Stanisław Lem, only three have previously appeared in English, making this the first “new” book of fiction by Lem since the late 1980s. The stories display the full range of Lem's intense curiosity about scientific ideas as well as his sardonic approach to human nature, presenting as multifarious a collection of mad scientists as any reader could wish for. Many of these stories feature artificial intelligences or artificial life forms, long a Lem preoccupation; some feature quite insane theories of cosmology or evolution. All are thought provoking and scathingly funny.
Written from 1956 to 1993, the stories are arranged in chronological order. In the title story, “The Truth,” a scientist in an insane asylum theorizes that the sun is alive; “The Journal” appears to be an account by an omnipotent being describing the creation of infinite universes—until, in a classic Lem twist, it turns out to be no such thing; in “An Enigma,” beings debate whether offspring can be created without advanced degrees and design templates. Other stories feature a computer that can predict the future by 137 seconds, matter-destroying spores, a hunt in which the prey is a robot, and an electronic brain eager to go on the lam. These stories are peak Lem, exploring ideas and themes that resonate throughout his writing.
“The Truth and Other Stories makes a giant addition to the Lem shelf. It's both a terrific entry point for the Lem-curious and an astonishing gift to those Lem fanatics who'd foolishly imagined we'd already read the entirety of this promiscuous, prescient, and centrifugal genius.”
Jonathan Lethem, author of As She Climbed Across the Table
“A delirious AI that dreams simulated universes, a hunted robot on the run, the bending trajectories of lonely interstellar voyages, the mathematical pursuit of superintelligence: through some of his major narrative themes, Lem masterfully reflects on cognition, otherness, and human ingenuity.”
Matilde Marcolli, Robert F. Christy Professor of Mathematics and Computing and Mathematical Sciences, California Institute of Technology; author of Lumen Naturae: Visions of the Abstract in Art and Mathematics
“I have read Lem all my life. He formed me as a reader and as a writer. He freed my imagination and shaped my sense of humor. I know many of his stories almost by heart. If I had to take a suitcase of books to a desert island, they would definitely include Stanisław Lem.”
Olga Tokarczuk, 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature; author of Flights and Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
“Any new book by Stanisław Lem is a cause for celebration. His novel Solaris ranks among the finest science fiction novels ever written, and his short fiction is outstanding. This new collection belongs on the shelf of any serious science fiction reader.”
Jonathan Strahan, World Fantasy Award winning editor and multiple Hugo Award nominee
The Truth and Other Stories, a new collection of Lem's previously untranslated stories, shows that even the 'scatterings from his workshop,' as Kim Stanley Robinson puts it in his foreword, could outstrip a typical writer's lifetime of creation.
The New York Times Book Review
[A] a brilliant introduction to Lem's science fiction. In its pages one can find him testing out multiple styles and themes, from the quirky to the seriously philosophical. All its tales are incubators, growing and playing with ideas that would eventually become the mainstay of his novels and treatises... More than half a century ago, Stanislaw Lem gazed into the future and saw, rather than rockets or ray guns, the evolution of the synthetic mind and the humans creating it. Thanks to these translations, English-language readers can share in his vision—long after he first imagined the internet and its thinking machines.
The Wall Street Journal
[Lem's] tales from the period [the late 1950s]—several of which have been adeptly translated by Antonia Lloyd-Jones in M.I.T. Press's new collection The Truth and Other Stories—feature silicon minds that can't be distinguished from human ones, extraterrestrials with an uncanny interest in mimesis, and the idea that our universe was created by imperfect gods as a sort of joke.
The New Yorker
As our world changes faster than we can make sense of it, Lem's prescient imagination shows the power of science fiction for peering into the future.