Stanislaw Lem dies

Having been preoccupied with other things lately I have just had a chance to look at last weeks news and realsied that sadly Stanislaw Lem died on Tuesday (28 March).

A truly amazing man, and he had a wonderful "innings" aged 84 when he died. Solaris is a fantasitic book. I've read a little bit about Lem and I find his concepts fascinating. Definitely one of modern histories great scientist/philosophers/authors, and perhaps one of the few people who are so at ease with both art and science.

Born in Poland and coming from Jewish descent Lems family managed to avoid the Nazi's at the outbreak of war. Although this interupted his medical studies he learnt to "hack" German vehicles to render them useless in a way that it wouldn't be immediately discovered. He also worked with the resistance movements.

After the war he began writing pulp thrillers and poems to earn his keep.

Always a non-conformist, Lem was sickened by the communist distortion of biology and dismissal of cybernetics as "a false capitalist science".

He wrote naturalistic novels initially but increasingly turned to science fiction as a way of avoiding censure by the authorities. although his initial work was criticised as being oversimplistic and utopian efforts, Eden (1959), Solaris (1961) were met with better reception by critics.

I actually also like both the (1971) Tarkovsky and (2002) Soderbergh film versions of Solaris, very different interpretations of the book. But again we return to the age old debate about whether film interpretations (particularly Soderbergh's remake) are necessary. Do they ruin the legacy of some fantastic pieces of writing? Personally, I probably wouldn't have even known about Lem if it wasn't for the film interpretations. I'm sure there are many out there like me.

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