First Monday

FM reviews


Lem on Earth, just in time: A review of Stanislaw Lem at MIT Press by Edward J. Valauskas


Hospital of the TransfigurationHighcastle A RemembranceThe Invincible
Stanisław Lem.
Hospital of the Transfiguration.
Translated by William Brand.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2020.
paper, 232 pp., ISBN 978–0–262–53849–7, $US17.95.
MIT Press:
Stanisław Lem.
Highcastle: A Remembrance.
Translated by Michael Kandel.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2020.
paper, 152 pp., ISBN 978–0–262–53846–6, $US17.95.
MIT Press:
Stanisław Lem.
The Invincible.
Translated by Bill Johnston.
Foreword by N. Katherine Hayles.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2020.
paper, 240 pp., ISBN 978–0–262–53847–3, $US17.95.
MIT Press:
Return from the Stars His Masters Voice Memoirs of a Space Traveler
Stanisław Lem.
Return from the Stars.
Translated by Barbara Marszal and Frank Simpson.
Foreword by Simon Ings.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2020.
paper, 312 pp., ISBN 978–0–262–53848–0, $US17.95.
MIT Press:
Stanisław Lem.
His Master’s Voice.
Translated by Michael Kandel.
Foreword by Seth Shostak.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2020.
paper, 280 pp., ISBN 978–0–262–53845–9, $US17.95.
MIT Press:
Stanisław Lem.
Memoirs of a Space Traveler: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy.
Translated by Joel Stern, Maria Swiecicka-Ziemianek, and Antonia Lloyd-Jones.
Foreword by Elizabeth Bear.
Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2020.
paper, 200 pp., ISBN 978–0–262–53850–3, $US17.95.
MIT Press:



There are good writers, engaging and able to tell a story. But then there are special, memorable writers, those who make their work personal. Their words invoke memories, which fuse irreversibly with their inventions. Lem las always been a catalyst for this welding of this reader’s imagination with his tales, magically embedded in my hippocampus and cortex.

Thank you, MIT Press for bringing Lem back to Earth, especially now. We need Stanisław more than ever. I only hope these six books are just the start of Lem’s oeuvre with MIT Press. For some Lem aficionados, this initial offering may seem slightly eclectic. Where’s Solaris? or Fables for Robots (better known to some as Mortal Engines in translation)? I look forward to shelves of Lem with the distinctive MIT Press logo on the spine, next to other, older printings issued in my youth from Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Seabury Press, and, naturally, Wydawnictwo Literackie.

Close readers of Lem need not focus too much on the introductions in four of the six volumes, which provided to this reader less insight and more aggravation. Obviously, some of the authors of these forewords would have been aided by a careful study of Lem and Peter Swirski’s A Stanislaw Lem reader (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, 1997; still in print, ISBN 0-8101-1495-X). Lem’s comments in his extensive interview in that slim tome would have negated some of the ponderous nonsense in advance of the MIT Press versions. Any student of Lem would be wise to examine A Stanislaw Lem reader; perhaps MIT Press could bundle copies of it with future orders for the entire Lem opera under the Cambridge label.

Teaching with Lem

I’ve always regretted not teaching a class on robotic ethics or morals of intelligent agents or even algorithmic diplomacy. If I had, I would have used many of Stanisław Lem’s works as required texts. Lem’s reappearance under the impressive imprimatur of the MIT Press perhaps will lead Lem to appear on more syllabi, becoming required reading in this century of the robot. Watch out, Alexa!

However, Lem has always been much more than just a guide to life in a world surrounded by robots and code. The opening range of Lem’s works from MIT Press proves it.

Now don’t get me wrong. Lem’s robots are entertaining. They are not smartass, smarmy, alcoholic robots, say like Bender, Matt Groening and David X. Cohen’s metal comedian from the 30th century. Nor are they criminally paranoic, like Arthur C. Clarke’s HAL 9000. Lem’s machinic characters, such as the masterful Trurl and Klapaucius, are witty, intelligent, insightful, deific. Perhaps just a little too competitive. I would much prefer the companionship of Trurl and Klapaucius over most humanoids and related carbon-based lifeforms, but that’s just my misanthropic opinion.

If there had been classes in Lem-founded robotic ethos ages ago, perhaps we would not have had all of the problems we suffer today with most social media, with their emphasis on profits, revenues, and shareholders over civility, decency, reason, and proper commonsense.

Two of Lem’s books in this welcome batch from MIT Press reveal more about Lem in a historical, autobiographical way. He is not just a master of meta-robots and alien landscapes. I am referring to two books especially in this opening salvo from MIT Press, Highcastle and Hospital of the Transfiguration. Hospital was a surprise to me, having been swayed away from its pages by a misguided review decades ago [1].

Hospital examines in detail a psychiatric institution in Poland within months of the very start of World War II after the German invasion, the depressing spring of 1940. As one might guess, Hospital does not end well for the patients or staff, given the occupiers’ lack of patience for the mentally ill — according to official policy (the infamous Aktion T4) [2].

The main character of Hospital, Stefan Trzyniecki, became a member of the medical staff at a rustic mental institution through an almost random series of events, originating at a funeral and a chance encounter with an old classmate, Staszek [3].

This work brought back to the surface a flood of childhood memories. The opening funeral of Stefan’s uncle Leszek Trzyniecki reminded me of clumsy first experiences of a funeral as a ten-year-old.

I was given a day away from my parochial school to attend a funeral at Saint Kevin’s on the far south industrialized part of Chicago. The ceremony was for a relative that I barely knew. The last rites were proceeding at their usual pace when I was called to small chapel for an unexpected emergency. I was needed to act as a pallbearer at the last second, given the sudden evaporation of certain scheduled parties for those duties. It was in the hearse on the way to the cemetery that it was explained to me that the deceased had been, in the neighborhood, persona non grata since certain events occurred on Sunday, May 30, 1937 [4]. The deceased had crossed picket lines during a strike on the very day when members of the Chicago police killed 10 strikers. Ostracized and identified as a scab, the recently departed once thriving life in a close-knit ethnic community collapsed into alcoholism and isolation from his peers. The significance of this funeral decades after the horrific 1937 strike came into even sharper focus when I noticed the presence of a number of Chicago police, in uniform and not, at Saint Kevin’s as well as at the cemetery, funeral reception, and luncheon at a local restaurant. As one plainclothes officer explained to me over lunch, locals carried grudges for quite a long time, passed from one generation to the next, like cherished heirlooms.

The opening scenes of Stefan dealing with his uncle and family brought back fresh recollections of my first and only experiences as an emergency pallbearer for a remote relative, once part of a diverse immigrant community working in the hellish interiors of steel factories. There was a thin layer of reddish flue dust on everything in that southside neighborhood, carried away from blast furnaces, even on clothing and skin. Huge coke ovens filled the air with a very telltale but indelible stink from coal tar, creosote, and other components of bituminous coal. The stage for my first funeral and my unexpected involvement as part of the cast was not all that different from strike-torn 1937.

I found the actual descriptions of the fictional Hospital of the Transfiguration remarkably detailed, accurate, and haunting. As a child, in the 1950s and 1960s, I made weekly trips on Sundays to a state mental facility to visit my mother. There was not much difference in the medical and psychiatric staff, patients, and facilities from my experiences and those of the Lem’s imaginary Hospital of the Transfiguration in 1940 Poland. I was particularly taken by the portrait that Lem painted of one patient, Sekułowski. The interaction of the apparent Renaissance man Sekułowski and Stefan was remarkable, providing a window on Polish intelligentsia at that particular historic moment as Poland was transformed into Lebensraum. To quote one of the Hospital’s odd staff, Sister Gonzaga, “Sekułowski is worse than a madman. He’s a comedian.” [5]

Sekułowski and Stefan discussed, throughout Hospital, a wide range of topics. Sekułowski never considered himself an ‘inmate’ at the institution (oh, I’ve heard that on many occasions on my Sunday excursions). Rather he regarded the hospital as a retreat where he worked on various creative projects without the distractions of urban life and the demands as a self-perceived cultural icon, best known for his most important opus entitled Reflections on state-building.

There’s clues of Sekułowski’s importance in their first encounter, under the supervision of Staszek. Here’s part of their dialogue [6]:

[Sekułowski]: “It seems to me that we have no more knowledge of our bodies than of the most distant star,” the poet said quietly.

[Stefan]: “But we are discovering the laws that govern the body.”

[Sekułowski]: “Not until the majority of biological theses have their antitheses. Scientific theory is intellectual chewing gum.”

and later in the same conversation ...

[Sekułowski]: “And who, according to you, is close?”

[Stefan]: “Well, your parents, for instance.”

[Sekułowski]: “Mommy and Daddy know best?” Sekułowski asked. “Parents are supposed to be close? Why not the coelacanth? After all, your biology teaches us that they are the first link in the chain of evolution, so why shouldn’t intimacy extend to the whole family, lizards included? Do you know anyone who ever conceived a child with a warm thought to its future intellectual life?”

Ah lovely. Reminded of many childhood conversations on Sunday afternoons.

But what is madness? Who was really ‘mad’ in Hospital of the Transfiguration? This novel was so powerful for me because I asked those same questions as a youth every Sunday. Many times, I was convinced that the inmates were clearly saner, far more than their caretakers and occasional visitors.

As Sekułowski pointed out: “We should not be afraid of the word ‘madness.’ Let me tell you that I can perform acts that seem mad in order to manifest freedom.” [7]

Were the German invaders ‘mad’? It was suspected that the visitors from the West were simply going to solve the problem by murdering all of the mentally ill. Again, Sekułowski noted breathlessly: “They say there are about twenty million lunatics in the world. What they need is a slogan that can unite them — there’s going to be a holy war.” [8]

So the inmates may, or may not be, ‘mad’; the visiting Germans were certainly ‘mad’ since chaos, destruction, and death were their contributions to 1940 Polish society. The medical staff — what was their ‘condition’?

In the hospital, at the top of the heap as a scientist and medical professional appeared neurosurgeon Dr. Orybald Kauters. At one point in the book, Stefan visited Dr. Kauters’ residence. Orybald’s wife Amelia accidentally knocked a small book to the floor. Retrieving it, Stefan reacted to the famous physician commentary’s on the tome: “Beautiful binding, isn’t it? Skin from the inside of a woman’s thigh.” Dr. Kauters snatched the volume away from Stefan, with no further explanation for his interest in anthropodermic bibliopegy. Amelia added then “My husband has a funny sense of humor. ... But it’s so soft. Look. Touch it.” [9]

As Sekułowski later observed: “Insane asylums have always distilled the spirit of the age.” [10]

One of the few seemingly sane characters was also the most prominent woman in the novel, Dr. Nosilewska, in charge of institutionalized women. Described as a “charged battery of femininity,” [11] Nosilewska introduced Stefan to life inside the ward and the diversity of life and mind behind locked doors and padded cells. Dr. Nosilewska seemed to be a paradigm of normalcy. As I, following Stefan, tried to understand her, I began to wonder if her appearance as normal was really pathologic — notions raised in Erich Fromm’s (2010) The pathology of normalcy [12] or even Freud’s Psychopathology of Everyday Life (Zur Psychopathologie des Alltagslebens) [13].

In the end, it was Dr. Nosilewska’s normalcy and incredible calm that rescued Stefan from the German destruction and transformation of the hospital in Bierzyniec. They were the apparent sole survivors. In the end, Nosilewska gave much of herself to Stefan to rescue him, pulling him from the edge of an emotional and psychological precipice [14].

Hospital of the Transfiguration was obviously, for many personal reasons, the most moving of all of the books released by MIT Press. It represents the first part of a trilogy, called Czas nieutracony, which has not been available completely in translation. We can only hope that MIT Press will eventually make the remaining volumes in the trilogy available in English. How could the Press resist the second volume, Among the Dead, the story of a math prodigy, saved in plain sight during the War by his mentor Professor Wieleniecki in a automobile repair shop?

Highcastle was a self-admitted incomplete memoir about Lem’s youth as the son of a physician between the wars in in Lwów, Poland (now known as Lviv in Ukraine). Lem introduced a theme early in this work, the notion of the incompleteness of memory [15].

We all have imperfect memories. There are blanks in our neurons, whole periods lost forever, for various reasons — trauma, ignorance, stupidity, inexperience, senility, invention.

Lem emphasizes his notions of the incompleteness of experience and knowledge, a meta-theme that reappears in many of these MIT Press imprints. Lem as a youth in Highcastle searched for information in all the wrong places, like forbidden libraries of German medical and anatomical texts [16] (referenced as well in Hospital of the Transfiguration in the possession of none other than eventual heroine Dr. Nosilewska, where Lem noted that “She was busy copying out data from a large German anatomy textbook. The green ink staining her fingertips made her look girlish.” [17]).

This larger meta-theme of incomplete as well as overabundant information appears repeatedly in The Invincible, Return from the Stars, His Master’s Voice, and Memoirs of a Space Traveler.

Lem noted in A Stanislaw Lem reader that:

“The informational deluge in the scientific — and humanistic — disciplines is a very real and palpable problem. I have often compared myself to a man who, although himself not actively participating in scientific research, still tries to keep up with it. He finds himself in the situation of a passenger who not only faces the spectre of the train leaving the station without him, but also must choose from a vast number of trains, all of which are taking off in different directions. The very fact that I have in my study a pile of unread journals is a sure sign that I have already exceeded the quantitative threshold of information that I can digest.” [18]


“I have stacks of unopened deliveries from the magazine New Science, which arrive to my address as regularly as a metronome, one a week, fifty-two a year. I decided to cancel my subscription— I am simply unable to keep up. Paradoxically, an excess of information can paralyze as effectively as its absence. In order to cope with it, one would have to employ dozens of experts as a kind of ‘information filter’.” [19]

Lem is not alone.

Charles Perrow commented, several years before Lem:

“I require libraries to hide most of the literature so that I will not become delirious from the want of time and wit to pursue it all. There is just too much material. The problem is not access, it is the reverse, containment.” [20]


“I try not read anything until I have three times been pressed to do so by reputable sources. There are countless articles that people have pressed upon me as vital or brilliant or decisive that I have not read. I have not read them because my network does not turn up two other people who, in person or in print, share that judgment. Think how effective this device is in reducing one’s ‘must read’ list by perhaps 80 to 90 percent.” [21]

In The Invincible, Earthlings visited an obscure, unremarkable planet called Regis III only to encounter swarms of intelligent microrobots. Much of the novel described the efforts of the crew of the Invincible to understand the demise of the crew of the Condor. Due to a lack of appropriate knowledge and experience with swarm behavior and locust-like robots, the education of Invincible’s astronauts was painful and usually deadly. The sophisticated machines understood well the electronics of nerves and memories and easily erased, nay brainwashed, any organic threat. Yet they were simple in their appearance, though very complex in the aggregate:

“Each had a perfectly symmetrical tripartite shape that resembled the letter Y, with three pointed arms joined around at a thicker central node, black as coal in direct light, while in indirect light they shimmered dark blue and dark green, like the abdomens of certain terrestrial insects that are composed of multiple tiny surfaces like the facets of a cut diamond. In their innards they contained a microscopic structure that never varied. Its components, several hundred times smaller than a grain of sand, constituted a sort of central nervous system in which semi-autonomous subsystems could be distinguished.

The smaller part, which occupied the inside the arms of the Y, oversaw the movements of the insect, which in the microcrystalline structure of those arms possessed something along the lines of a universal rechargeable battery cum energy transformer. Depending on how the microcrystals were compressed, they former either an electrical field or a magnetic one, or alternating force fields that could heat the central part to a relatively high temperature, at which times the accumulated heat radiated outwards unidirectionally. The movement of the air that gave rise to, a kind of recoil, allowed the thing to rise up and move in any direction. An individual crystal didn’t so much fly as drift in the air; during laboratory experiments at least it was not capable of precisely directing its own flight. Whereas when it joined with others by touching the tips of their arms together, it created an aggregate that had greater aerodynamic capabilities the more numerous it became.

Each crystal could link with three others; it was also able to attach the tip of one of its arms to the central node of another crystal, thus making possible a multilayered construction for the growing assemblages. Joining together did not have to involve actual touching, for it was enough to bring the tips close together for the magnetic field they created to hold the entire formation in equilibrium. Once it comprised a certain number of insects, the aggregate began to demonstrate numerous regularities, depending on external stimuli, it was capable of changing direction, shape, structure, frequency of internal impulses. When these altered in a particular way the poles reversed and instead of attracting the agglomerations separated into individual crystals and scattered.

As well as a system controlling their movements, each black crystal contained a second network of connections, or rather a portion of one, for this system seemed to constitute part of some greater whole. The overarching whole, that probably arose only when a huge number of elements joined together, was the actual motor driving the actions of the cloud. At this point, however, the scientists’ knowledge was exhausted. They knew nothing of capabilities of growth in the higher-level systems, and the question of their ‘intelligence’ was especially unclear.” [22]

Clearly, hubris, due to a lack of information, on the part of humans makes them fail to realize the danger of these machinic creatures en masse, until it was too late. Only three years separated the first appearance of Solaris in 1961 and The Invincible in 1964. Both novels share much in common with philosophical approaches of the failure of humanoids to realize the dangerous limitations of their world views in a universe with many deadly surprises.

Human limitations

Hal Bregg suffered from ‘informational’ distress as an astronaut returning from a long absence from Earth, in Return from the Stars. What would it be like to take a really long space trip — 25 light years away or a decade measured in your time — while over a century passed on your home planet? There was much to admire in this work, especially with its preternatural development of digital libraries, electronic books, and tablets, almost as we know them today. But all of this information at his fingertips never gave Bregg insight into betrization — a process to eliminate violence and aggression in the human psyche. As a result, even the most basic human interactions for Bregg were completely different, for him as well as those around him. As might be expected, Hal tried to escape to an isolated paradise on that future Earth, only to confront his non-neutered demons by falling in love with Eri. Return from the Stars was never intended as a simple love story. It finely illustrated the dangers of human engineering, the unexpected consequences of good intentions.

The interpretation of alien information was the theme of His Master’s Voice, an insightful exploration of hubris at the highest political and scientific levels, defeated by petty, toady human troubles combined with a serious lack of imagination and commonsense.

On one level, I delighted in the realism of His Master’s Voice in presenting life inside a well-funded, enormous scientific project. There was much in this book that reminded me of my time at the sadly defunct and somewhat forgotten Superconducting Super Collider (SSC).

Scientists and non-scientists at the Project (in Lem’s fictional project and as I discovered at the SSC) were internally differentiated:

“But friction between the humanists and the natural scientists of the Project was the order of the day. The former we called ‘elves,’ the latter ‘dwarves.’ ... But this rivalry could not very well take any productive form if our anthropologists, psychologists, and psychoanalysts, as well as the philosophers, refused to make use of the data as raw material for their research. Thus, whenever there was a seminar given in one of the ‘elf’ sections, someone would write on the bulletin-board announcement, next to the title of the topic, the letters SF for ‘science fiction.’ Unfortunately, this childish graffiti humor had justification in the barrenness of those sessions.” [23]


“Visitors from the outside were called by us not VIPS but ‘Feebs,’ for ‘feeble-minded.’ The pejorative was coined not so much to express the general opinion regarding the mental prowess of our illustrious guests, but simply because we had no end of trouble when problems typical of the Project needed to be explained to people who did not know the professional language of science.” [24]

The frustration of deciphering a neutrino signal from light years away was revealed repeatedly in commentary by mathematician Peter Hogarth throughout this novel, as in:

“By the same token, the meaning of a telegram that we send does not stand in any one-to-one relation with the electromagnetic waves of the wireless telegraph.” [25]


“From a chemical analysis of the ink with which a letter is written to us, we will never deduce the intellectual attributes of the writer.” [26]

In the end, His Master’s Voice exhibited grimly the stupidity and conceit of humans, bending information to dangerous ends. I was repeatedly reminded of a specific scene in Stanley Kubrick’s interpretation of Clarke’s 2001, where the Monolith appeared suddenly among simians. Those apes eventually arrived at a point in their evolution to discover a second Monolith — Tycho Magnetic Anomaly One — on the Moon. A third Monolith, orbiting Jupiter, was eventually reached, acting as a cosmic gateway. As in 2001, humans in His Master’s Voice were repeatedly confused and ignorant of the meaning of communications from an obviously superior civilization.

Finally, Memoirs of a Space Traveler took an amusing turn to Lem’s notions of information and its misuse. Encounters with mad scientists in these stories made Rotwang and his robotic Maschinenmensch, in Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), appear as charlatans. Rotwang’s metal Maria would have been used by Lem’s characters for spare parts, at best. In Memoirs, some scientists were just ignorant of the simple logical consequences of their inventions, such as Molteris and his time machine.

I was particularly taken by the eventualities caused by rival washing machine manufacturers Newton and Snodgrass. Quickly, in heated competition washing robots became sexual simulacra:

“Snodgrass decided, in the face of imminent ruin, to take a revolutionary step. Buying up the appropriate rights and licenses from interested parties for a sum of one million dollars, he constructed, for bachelors, a washing machine endowed with the proportions of the renowned sexpot Mayne Jansfield, in platinum, and another, the Curlie McShane model, in black. Sales immediately jumped 87 percent.” [27]

Naturally, Congress was forced to intervene in order to create formal national policies governing robots:

“Congress strove to keep up with this furious pace of development and to curb it with legislation. Senator Groggs deprived intelligence appliances of their right to acquire real estate. Congressman Caropka, of their copyright in the area of the fine arts — which, again, led to a rash of abuses, since creative washers began hiring less talented, albeit human writers, in order to use their names in publishing essays, novels, dramas, etc. Finally, the MacFlacon-Clumbkin-Ramphorney-Hemmling-Piaffki-Snow-Juarez-Swennson-Iskowitz-Groggs-Javor-Sacks-Holloway-LeBlanc Act stated that intelligent machines could not be their own property but belonged only to the human who had acquired or constructed them, and that their progeny were likewise the property of said owner(s). It was generally believed that the law now covered all contingencies and would prevent situations that could not be resolved legally. It was an open secret, of course, that wealthy electro-brains, having made their fortune in stock-market speculation or occasionally in outright skullduggery, continued to prosper by concealing their maneuverings behind fictitious, supposedly human companies or corporations. There were already many people who, for material gain, rented their identities to intelligent machines, not to mention those hired by electronic millionaires: as living secretaries, servants, mechanics, and even laundresses and accountants.” [28]

You may already have guessed the success of those legal and political efforts.

In this century, sexbots at least are not news. Lem confirmed and time proved Georges Bernanos correct when Bernanos wrote: “Il y aura toujours plus à gagner à satisfaire les vices de l’homme que ses besoins.” (“There’s more to be gained from satisfying human vices rather than human needs.”) [29]

In a recent BBC News story:

“A US-based firm, Realrobitix, has posted a video marketing its Harmony robot for between $8,000 and $10,000. It is a life-sized doll which can blink and move its eyes and neck, and also its lips as it talks. Speaking with a Scottish accent, the mannequin says, ‘if you play your cards right you will have some pleasure and fun coming your way’. And the firm’s founder and CEO, Matt McMullen explains that Harmony has AI that enables ‘her’ to develop a relationship with the owner. ‘She is going to remember things about you, your likes, your dislikes and your experiences,’ says Mr McMullen.” [30]

Not even Lem, with his macabre humor, predicted that in Memoirs of a Space Traveler.


Oh, we need Lem — more than ever. As Lem observed in A Stanisław Lem reader:

“To write a book is nothing. To make others read it, this is a true art.” [31]

If you have never read Lem, start with these amazing six titles now available from MIT Press. If you had read Lem decades ago like me, revisit him; it will be like seeing an old, familiar friend, ready to open your eyes and mind like he did so long ago. Lem is the perfect mental medicine for these days and nights of pestilence and woe, a tonic like no other. — Edward J. Valauskas, Chief Editor and Founder, First Monday. End of article



1. Wanda Urbanska, 1988. “An insane asylum serves as setting for the early Lem,” Chicago Tribune (23 October), at

2. See, for example, “Euthanasia program,” at

3.Lem, 2020. Hospital, p. 35: “Staszek perked up and seemed about to say something, when suddenly he stopped, his eyes wide, and his face lit up. ‘Stefan, listen! I just thought it right now, and his face lit up. ... Listen, why. Don’t you come to work at the asylum? Why not? It’s a good place, you’d get some specialization, you know the area here, it would be quiet, interesting work, and you’d have plenty of time to do research — I remember you always wanted to do research.’

‘Me? The asylum?’ Stefan asked inn amazement. ‘Just like that? I only came here for the funeral, you know. But it really doesn’t matter to me ...’”

4. See, for example, Roger Bylee, 2011. “Memorial Day Massacre of 1937 offers stark reminder: Media usual side with corporations, police,” In These Times (31 May), at

5. Lem, 2020. Hospital, p. 85.

6. Lem, 2020. Hospital, pp. 57–58.

7. Lem, 2020. Hospital, p. 63.

8. Lem, 2020. Hospital, p. 75.

9. Lem, 2020. Hospital, p. 79.

10. Lem, 2020. Hospital, p. 132.

11. Lem, 2020. Hospital, p. 141.

12. Erich Fromm, 2010. The pathology of normalcy. Riverdale, N.Y.: American Mental Health Foundation Books (Originally published in 1964 by Harper & Row as The heart of man: Its genius for good and evil).

13. Sigmund Freud, 1904. Zur Psychopathologie des Alltagslebens. Berlin: S. Karger, and in many English translations such Sigmund Freud, 2003. The psychopathology of everyday life. Translated by Anthea Bell. New York: Penguin Books.

14. Lem, 2020. Hospital, pp. 219–221.

15. Lem, 2020. Highcastle, p. [vii]..

16. Lem, 2020. Highcastle, pp. 11–12.

17. Lem, 2020. Hospital, p. 97.

18. Stanislaw Lem and Peter Swirski, 1997. A Stanisław Lem reader. Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern University Press, p. 51.

19. A Stanisław Lem reader, p. 41.

20. Charles Perrow, 1989. “On not using libraries,” In: Humanists at work: Papers presented at a symposium held at The University of Illinois at Chicago On April 27–28, 1989. Chicago: University Library, University of Illinois at Chicago, p. 29.

21. Perrow, 1989, pp. 32–33.

22. Lem, 2020, Invincible, pp. 142–144.

23. Lem, 2020, His Master’s Voice, p. 87.

24. Lem, 2020, His Master’s Voice, p. 131.

25. Lem, 2020, His Master’s Voice, p. 133.

26. Lem, 2020, His Master’s Voice, p. 136.

27. Lem, 2020, Memoirs of a Space Traveler, p. 83.

28. Lem, 2020, Memoirs of a Space Traveler, pp. 87–88.

29. I highly recommend Georges Bernanos, 1947. La France contre les robots. Paris: Robert Laffont, especially pp. 177–222.

30. Pallab Ghosh, 2020. “Sex robots may cause psychological damage,” BBC News (15 February), at

31. A Stanisław Lem reader, p. 31.

Copyright © 2020, Edward J. Valauskas. All Rights Reserved.

Lem on Earth, just in time: A review of Stanisław Lem at MIT Press
by Edward J. Valauskas.
First Monday, Volume 25, Number 8 - 3 August 2020