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Forum in English / SOLARIS and SPHERE
« dnia: Kwietnia 26, 2011, 07:36:05 pm »
As some of you probably know, Michael Crichton (who has been compared to Lem by the author of the Vitrifax Lem site on the topic of "the pleasures of made-up science") wrote SPHERE, a novel with a few similarities with SOLARIS. Richard Ellis, author of THE SEARCH FOR THE GIANT SQUID and MONSTERS OF THE SEA, descibed SPHERE as "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea meets 2001 meets Alien," while Roger Ebert, who watched the film version of SPHERE, called it a watered down version of SOLARIS (it's something when an American critic can tell when mainstream science-fiction borrows from high-brow science-fiction, especially Lem's fiction). How Crichton created a work with SOLARIS-like aspects, I don't know, but I do see that there are similarities, even though one book is a cerebral study of humanity's relationship to the unknowable, and the other book is a thriller with a similar theme in mind, but relies more on thrills and suspense nonetheless.

                                Both books take place a specially designed stations
 Characters from both books have repressed problems which are manifested by an alien thing.
                                   Both stories take place in watery environments.
However, in SPHERE  (which takes place in the middle of the Pacific ocean in a spaceship from the future, and not on a water planet), the scientists are incredibly petty, and the Sphere unfortunately manifests everything a person can imagine, including their fears, but only if that person manages to open the Sphere and enter it. With SOLARIS, the planet only manifest one particular person from a visitor's repressed memory. The abilities of Solaris are evidently more emotionally straining than the Sphere's, yet I admit that my favorite part of SPHERE is when a giant squid is manifested from one of the fears of Harry the mathematician. (I'm attracted to sea monster stories with plenty of imagination, but most sea monster books, mainly by Peter Benchley and Steve Alten, are pulp science fiction. I want to someday take the Lemian approach to sea monster stories, by writing the giant squid equivalent of THE STAR DIARIES).  Even though some of the characters from SOLARIS are rather egotistical and patronizing, SPHERE's characters behave like they shouldn't belong in the scientific field. Their pettiness, as I've mentioned before, consists of pseudo-scientific ambitions, efficient weapon discoveries, suspicions of racism and sexism, and severe levels of persecusion complex. I still like both books side by side, but I wonder how much Lem might have improved SPHERE with his own writing, even if it is sort of a watered-down horror version of the superior SOLARIS. While Crichton does tend to take himself a bit seriously, Lem is more sharply satirical than Crichton is, and Lem's satire always has a serious intent.

What are your thoughts, Solarists?

Forum in English / THE STAR DIARIES As Adapted into a Series of Short Films
« dnia: Kwietnia 26, 2011, 07:03:21 pm »
While it would be interesting to see THE STAR DIARIES adapted into a full length movie, personally, I would rather prefer THE STAR DIARIES being adapted into an avante-garde Polish  series of short films, or long films, kind of like THE DECOLOGUE (a series of ten film which I need to see at some point). I would also want to prefer to do a straight adaptation, because Lem deserves an adaptation that directly translates his science-fiction to film. On the other particulars would require some more imagination. What do you think, Lem fans?

Forum in English / Why Didn't/Hasn't Michael Kandel Translate(d) SOLARIS?
« dnia: Października 08, 2010, 09:36:40 pm »
There's a thought that naggs me like a stone inside my shoe,
          Why didn't Michael Kandel translate SOLARIS? I know that there is an effort from Lem fans trying to encourage Kandel to translate the book properly, but why didn't he do it? Was it because he wasn't commissioned to do one? Was it because he found the other Lem books he translated to be more interesting than SOLARIS? Was it because it was already translated, even though it was a double and indirect translation? Why didn't he set the record straight by showing American audiences how SOLARIS is supposed to be translated?

(On a separate note, why did the translators chose the French edition of SOLARIS? Was it because it was more poetic, and they liked French better?)

         Back to Kandel, could it be that he hasn't attempted to translate it because he had no interest in it? Does this website keep a tab on Michael Kandel, and try to communicate with him just to see if he is interested?

        I wish that Kandel could publish a book on how to translate Polish books from his experience translating Lem (since Lem, as I've understood, uses a great deal of words which he borrowed and invented, and integrated into his own language), that way I could translate myself! (For private scholarly purposes, that is. No risk to infringe on copyright.)

Forum in English / Guidelines For Lem-Inspired Stories?
« dnia: Sierpnia 04, 2010, 12:37:10 am »
The Dragon has emerged from Nothingness again,

In the opinion of the most devoted Lem fans on Solaris Station: What are the guidelines to writing fiction (or science fiction) in the vein of Stanislaw Lem? More specifically: what are the steps required to write stories that are like Stanislaw Lem's?

Forum in English / LEMIAN criticism of DUNE?
« dnia: Czerwca 07, 2009, 10:50:25 pm »
Greetings. I am the new member currently under the title of Dragon of Improbability. Since I am new here, there are probably many questions that I have about Lem. I know that Lem wrote literary criticism about Heinlein and Philip K. Dick's science-fiction, but did he ever write any criticism about Frank Herbert's DUNE? I enjoy Lem's literary criticism, of both regular fiction and science fiction, but I am surprised that I haven't seen any criticisms by him of Herbert or the DUNE books. Has he ever written a criticism of DUNE, or ever read DUNE?

Forum in English / EDEN and HALF-LIFE
« dnia: Czerwca 06, 2009, 07:47:55 pm »
Hello, Scribes of Lem, I am Dragon of Improbability, and I am excited by the chance I have now to talk to other Lem fans.

First, I want to begin by discussing the book EDEN, and even though Lem and others believe it's not very good (the idea was great, but the writing in my English translation is basic), for some reason the book had an indirect influence on the game HALF-LIFE.
For those of you who have never heard of HALF-LIFE, or who value books over games, let me explain. HALF-LIFE was a computer game from 1998 which was about an accident which took place in a scientific American facility in the state of New Mexico. The main character, a college physicist, Gordon Freeman, an intelligent geek who was responsible for the accident, but not responsible for the consequences of the experiment, tries to survive a facility overun by the most bizarre creatures imaginable: Head-crabs, Hound-eyes, Bull-squids, Maw-men, Vortigaunts, Tentacles, and Air Barnacles (creatures attached to the ceiling whose tongues wait to grab unsuspecting scientists).

The scientists of HALF-LIFE seem Lemian in their tremendous egos, childish imaturity, cowardice, and probably even social stupidity (This is all you fault, Trurl!) Later on, it's discovered these creatures came from another dimension which composes of planets known as The Border Worlds. The world you end up being teleported is Xen, and, like the planet of Eden, it is a strange world, with organic light posts that recoil and turn off if you approach them, large vegetation which could harm you if you are too close, the planet appears to operate with biotechnology, and just like the politics and anthropology of Eden, which puzzle the protagonists excessively, so does the customs and processes of Xen. The Border World creatures, especially Gonarch (the Big Momma) and the Nihilanth, do have the appearances that would make you think they were doublers.

Half-Life 2  tries to explain what the Border Worlds are in a more mysterious fashion, but I wish the game was written by a more Lemian inspired science-fiction writer, but not everyone has heard of Lem in the gaming world.

Also, do you remember when the scientists were horrified by the thought of the Doublers manufacturing members of their species? Well, in HALF-LIFE, a Xenian factory is manufacturing barrels of Alien Grunts, who were overseen by the Xen masters, the cerebral and extremely dangerous watchers of Xen.

I was bothered by how simplisitic the scientific group's approach to the planet was, since there were obviously conflicts on the planet that they didin't understand, and kept thinking they were trying to help. My favorite scene in the book is when they walk into the dark cave to try to contact the doublers, and whole crowd of Doubler people gang upon them, beat them up, and then leave.

 HALF-LIFE owes more to Stephen King's horror fiction, maybe some Michael Crichton, and of course, DOOM, a science-fiction horror game phenomena that I can only imagine Lem rewriting, or even satirizing, to convey his own points about PC gaming, religious matters, the science of the Phobos moon, and most especially, the complicated science of Hell (the imps have to oil the rocket launcher of the cyberdemon daily in order to prevent it from jamming and to protect his image as an unforgivable cyborg demon).

In some ways, the images in Lem's book about skeletons in eggs sound like precursor to H.R. Giger's alien drawings, though Giger was more influenced by his own experience and Lovecraft than Lem.  I would like to see either him or the art designers of HALF-LIFE illustrate EDEN, a much more up-to-date English translation of EDEN, even though is simpler than FIASCO (which I've read is a masterful Lemian piece).

In fact, it would be interesting if a independent non-profit gamer were to create a HALF-LIFE like game based off of EDEN, but it won't be a shooting game, it would be a game that would try to render every part of the book into a scripted sequence, and maybe even enhance the story with additional consequences, if the player further interfered with the hierarchy of the planet. It would be something to be able to convey the Doublers in a gaming world, though I would really want to see them drawn.

 A lot of science-fiction games would be smarter with Lemian imagination and consequences, even in this decade.


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