Irreconcilable Truths of Our Evolution: On Stanisław Lem’s The Truth and Other Stories

1960s: Days of Rage

“One cannot overstate how profoundly our relationship with computers has changed since the mid-twentieth century. Once upon a time, the notion of a mechanical brain was as alien as the notion of, well, an alien. Similar to research of extraterrestrial life, there were then a few elite scientists, sequestered in institutions, who were better informed to predict what an encounter with a mechanical brain might entail than the general population, for whom such a concept was nothing more than fantasy. Stanisław Lem was of that class. Son of a doctor, he studied medicine until his transition to literature. As a newcomer to Lem’s copious body of work, what surprised me most about this collection of previously untranslated stories was how, with very little attention to character development, he manages to render this scientific class with as much fidelity as their fields of inquiry. I expected their curiosity and ambition, even…

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