Stanisław Lem - Forum

English => Forum in English => Wątek zaczęty przez: peskanov w Kwiecień 20, 2005, 01:31:51 am

Tytuł: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: peskanov w Kwiecień 20, 2005, 01:31:51 am
I have read recently Fiasco. As every time I have read a Lem book, I have been totally impressed by it :)
I would like to ask your opinions about many parts of the book that are obscure to me. As there are many questions, I will post them gradually from time to time.
What meanings do you find in the small sub-tales found in Fiasco?
- The gold search.
- The giant ant colonies.

I am puzzled about the gold search tale, is quite large and complex but I can't extract any meaning from it.

The ants tale seems very sugestive of SETI's research for alien life. To reach the center of the ants kingdom, the enthomologist don't doubt to kill most ants and destroy their buildings. Once he reachs the center, he takes an object unknown to mankind and carry it home, but the object serves no purpose to us at all.
IMHO what Lem is trying to explain is that mankind has this childish anxiety about finding extraterrestial life, but this contact can not bring us anything especial because every life form builds it's own "micro-universe". Our needs and our objectives are purely created by chance, and are our exclusive property, probably not shared by other intelligent forms of life.
(An example: most priest would like to know if other planets have a saviour, a Christ, but the question would probably be meaningless).
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Kwiecień 21, 2005, 05:45:37 pm
In my opinion the gold search episode may be a sort of warning. Guilermo and Esteban die, because they don't understand, nor try to understand, to ,,mystery of Mazumac" - they seem eager for gold, and that's all. May it be the analogy for human striving to contact unearth intelligence: humanity does the effort to contact, but requires an answer on its own terms.
Or maybe I'm just seeing things :)

I admit I didn't pay much attention to the gold search story while reading Fiasco (that's why I had to re-read it before writing these words).

As for the ants (termites) the story again seems symbolic. So Your interpretation is quite nice; but may as well be another (nothing comes to my mind, though).

I don't think you picked up best examle (that saviour one) because in my opinion this is far more complex matter (I mean the relligion, and it's interpretation). Search for alien supermarket, or trying to speak with the president of their UN, would be more accurate.

Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: peskanov w Kwiecień 22, 2005, 01:28:22 pm
Your interpretation sounds reasonable. I am re-reading Fiasco right now, so maybe I will add something to this idea soon.
About the saviour example, I mentioned it because it's a real one. When people is asked about what does they expect from a extraterrestial contact, this is a common answer. Specially christian priests, of course. They want to know if their beliefs are confirmed by other intelligent species. After all, they consider their beliefs to be universal!
I think this is a perfect example of human myopia, although your example of requesting a reunion with a president could be a better one.
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Sternenfisch w Kwiecień 23, 2005, 09:47:56 pm
Greetings.
So you have read some of the most interesting Lem-Books.

The giant-ant colonies.
They had been a great miracle for me, but there are two theories, which I have got.

1. This should be a indirect way to proclaim the inhabitans of the quinta.
Lem won't explain them directly, and so he choose the indirect way. That's a way of psycho-analysis and could be wrong, naturally.
But I think Lem's thought was (please don't damn me, for saying I know what he think. :) I don't, but I try to construct )
"I can't describe an Alien, because if there will be a contact, my describe is surely wrong.
So I am not allowed to describe, if I won't fail."

These Story is maybe a symbol for the search for contact with extraterrestrial intelligence.
In the End, it fails, after all difficulties the box is empty.
A little bit negative, but perhaps right.
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: peskanov w Kwiecień 25, 2005, 06:04:34 pm
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In the End, it fails, after all difficulties the box is empty.

"The box is empty"; of course, this end is very explicit. Silly me, I missed it, thanks a lot for underlining this. :)

BTW, I have read the gold search tale again. But I don't see any special meaning, it just reads like a cautionary tale. I am sure the are more symbols related to the SETI search, but I did not find them...

Well, I will posting more questions about Fiasco in a near future. Hang there...
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Kwiecień 26, 2005, 02:56:02 am
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Y
I think this is a perfect example of human myopia,


Well, I regret to admit that the myopia is very common, when it comes to understanding religion; so Your example is still not any worse than mine. Of course I understand what You were trying to say.

As for re-reading Fiasco, I am currently re-re-re-reading Solaris, maybe Fiasco will come around soon :)
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Kwiecień 26, 2005, 03:01:10 am
This box is empty as the quest towards ant colony's center was. As is any quest, which is not an exploration, but an attempt to acquire something without knowing what it is.  
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: peskanov w Kwiecień 26, 2005, 06:49:35 pm
Let's talk about other questions regarding Fiasco.
One of the most intriguing characters in Fiasco is father Arago (I am not sure of the name in the English translation).
Some persons suggest father Arago was created by Lem remenbering his old friendship with Karol Wotjyla.
Is there any similarity beween Arago behaviour and Wojtyla thinking?

Lem has been quite harsh towards christianism, so it's surprising to see that Arago is the most compassionate character of the lot.
IMHO Lem uses the figure of Arago to state that, as rationalism is necessarily limited, mankind needs also a good dose of ethics based on humility.
What do you think?
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Kwiecień 27, 2005, 03:19:38 am
Well that would be right, more: it agrees with Wojtyla's view (which can be cheked in "Fides et Ratio", published by John Paul II).  Intelect is (as written therein)  a great value, but is limited to certain extent, and without any support it tends to stray.
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Sternenfisch w Kwiecień 27, 2005, 07:49:57 pm
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Intelect is (as written therein)  a great value, but is limited to certain extent, and without any support it tends to stray.


You think it is, like written there, Terminus?
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: peskanov w Kwiecień 30, 2005, 12:50:33 am
Thanks for the info, Terminus.
I am reading "Fides et ratio", and to be fair I don't see a clear relation between Arago and Wojtyla. The problem is that Arago talks very briefly along the book, so I can't get a clear image of his thinking.
I didn't know Wojtyla was so much into philosophy, I guess this could be the main common interest  between Lem and Wojtyla.
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Maj 01, 2005, 03:34:34 am
No doubt Wojtyla was a great philosopher. His conclusions were very profound. I am not sure about Arago and what he thinks, I just noticed one similarity.

Cheers.

Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Maj 01, 2005, 03:35:53 am
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You think it is, like written there, Terminus?


Don't worry, Sogo nobody says You stray::)






Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: NEXUS6 w Maj 02, 2005, 03:27:02 am
Peskanov, were you get this information from, about friendship between Lem and Wojtyla? I never find nowere anything like this ??? I was suspected this possibility (the same town of living), but never had real piece of information.
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: peskanov w Maj 03, 2005, 02:18:11 am
I read about it in several small biographies, like this one:
http://underpear.gyuvetch.bg/lem/bathww97.htm

However, I still have to read a good biographic book about Lem. I will buy "Highcastle" or "S. Lem reader", sooner or later. Maybe Lem mentions Wojtyla there...
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: peskanov w Maj 03, 2005, 02:22:05 am
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No doubt Wojtyla was a great philosopher. His conclusions were very profound.

If "Fides et ratio" is a good example of his philosophy, I disagree with you. Lots of faith but lacking analysis...   ;)
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: peskanov w Maj 21, 2005, 01:16:55 pm
More mysteries about Fiasco.
In Quinta's moon, a huge underground complex exists to fuel an eternal, fast moving, plasma flame. It also seems an artificial atmosphere is created, made by inert gases. The flame radiates 1 billion joules; if I am not wrong, this is not a very strong energy source; it is comparable to a modern nuclear plant.

I don't think the mistery is explained in any part of the book. I thinked it's maybe related to the ice ring surrounding Quinta. Maybe a device to heat the ring from time to time to accelerate rainfalling...But it's to small and too far, so I am still puzzled about it.

Any idea?
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Terminus w Maj 23, 2005, 02:35:52 am
Melting ice in space to cause rainfalls? Well, that's pretty difficult, with 0 Kelvins 'onboard' ::) (I mean absolute zero in the vacuum).

But You know, be Your theory true or not, You seem to be one of the few people here, who try to explain numerous mechanisms discovered among Lem's creations... and for that I'm sincerily grateful  ;)  

Besides, it proves You know "Fiasco" really good... I, myself, remember, that there was some moon, which was eventually destroyed... ehm... and that's about all ::)

Cheers
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: peskanov w Maj 25, 2005, 02:05:38 pm
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Melting ice in space to cause rainfalls? Well, that's pretty difficult, with 0 Kelvins 'onboard'  (I mean absolute zero in the vacuum).

What's the problem with that? The sun manages to heat the earth through a large large vacuum...It's a problem of absortion of radiation, although I reckon ice is highly reflective.
The question is that the flame is mobile, and the only reason I can imagine for this is moving it to heat different parts of the ring. But as I said, the energy seems quite low to make any effect on the ring.
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But You know, be Your theory true or not, You seem to be one of the few people here, who try to explain numerous mechanisms discovered among Lem's creations... and for that I'm sincerily grateful

Thanks, I read Fiasco very recently but I use to re-read the books I like most, which means I have read all my Lem's books several times. :)
Sadly there is few people active in this forum, it seems the Polish side sees all the action. I will have to desist trying to make people comment on Fiasco.
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Besides, it proves You know "Fiasco" really good... I, myself, remember, that there was some moon, which was eventually destroyed... ehm... and that's about all

It's certainly the most "hard SF" book I have read from Lem, along with "The invincible". I guess most people who liked "Cyberiad" or the Tichy tales, dislike hard sf. In my case, I like all Lem's styles with the exception of "The investigation" and "The chain of chance".
One of the most interesting aspects of Fiasco is the thinking about the SETI program, imo the best you can find in SF.
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Sternenfisch w Maj 25, 2005, 06:08:55 pm
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Any idea?


The Plasma he used a time before.
In his first SF-Book "The Astronauts" or "Planet of Death"
some space-traders had been buzzed from a black plasma, rinning out between the stones.
It was formally used to produce energy for a huge gravitation manipulating machine.
It was senseless, after his creators disappeared.

With the plasma on the moon of the quinta it is maybe some of this kind.
Maybe they had been a time on the moon, a base in the space or so.
And this was their relict, which they led lay their, because shutting down were to much work.

From the other side, it sounded (maybe german translation  got a influence in this way) like an temple.
A mythically Sense in this senseless thing, just spiing fire.
An old temple of the formally.

The only message seemed (for all of his works, except those with Tjchy):

As usually, Lem let destroy it, because it means something.
He just let survive some, which could think about the senselessnes of all
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: peskanov w Maj 28, 2005, 09:33:17 pm
Thank you very much for the reference Sogo; I have not read "The Astronauts", I think it has not been translated to English.
It's interesting, because in fact this is one the hypothesis mentioned in Fiasco: some kind of religious monument. Now that you told me that idea was used in other of his books, I feel more confident that's the correct answer.
A huge, eternal, moving flame as a religious monument. How puzzling :)
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Sternenfisch w Maj 31, 2005, 09:47:24 pm
Some strange kind of religiousity we can find in much of Lem's Works. In "Pamietnik" (in the German Version its written under the german title, I think it should be the original polish) he describe what an allmight may think.
He relates it in the end, but I think to be patient with the readers, while he put the allmight into an moon, in which a machine growed.
The A.I. created his own little worlds inside.
Funny, see God playing.

In "Guest in Space", he let, in the end, our main-person, and some other on a meteor, to build a space-station.
It was not really necessary, because the planet, they aimed for contact was not far.
But they did it, and it was another ruin, a mark for the exploration of space.
Somewhere else he led a spacestation, full with frosted dead cold-war-americans flow through space.
The space-travellers found them, at a time, where wars only knowed by books.
Some other symbol.

Religious in some strange kind, maybe the endlessness of the universe is his ambivalence of god.
But thats only thought-plays, no one knows it, just Lem himself.
Tytuł: Re: Fiasco
Wiadomość wysłana przez: Ronald_Zajac w Lipiec 05, 2006, 10:07:50 pm
Greetings,

I have been intrigued by your discussion of Fiasco, having just finished the book (in English translation) today. Pardon me for arriving at this discussion a little late.

I agree that Father Arago is the conscience of the book and was quite moved, as a Catholic, at the way Lem included his perspective in the book though his own world view was atheistic.

I have three questions about the book. (WARNING: For those who are still reading it for the first time, there are plot spoilers ahead):

1) Given how Lem, both in Fiasco and especially in Solaris, expounds repeatedly on the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of contact between two biologically different intelligent species, I was more than a little surprised to discover that suddenly, in the late chapters of Fiasco, the Quintans are able to send messages to the Hermes that can translate into lines of computerized text.

I thought at first this was Deus translating the Quintans' equivalent of the Hermes' "Cartoon," but this seems implausible. How do you explain this sudden unexplained breakthrough in communication?

2) Tempe's death at the end clearly mirrors his misadventure in Birnam Wood: he was excessively adventurous and wandered a little too far. However:

a) Could not his spacesuit have been equipped with some sort of device allowing for emergency communication outside the vehicle?

b) Would not the Quintans have fired back a message at the Hermes warning them that their emissary had literally "crossed the line" and they are no longer responsible for his fate?

Minor quibbles, perhaps, in an otherwise superb novel.

Cheers,

Ronald Zajac,
Canada