Book Review: THE CYBERIAD

PrintE-mail Written by Michael Noble

The Cyberiad Review

REVIEW: THE CYBERIAD – FABLES FOR THE CYBERNETIC AGE / AUTHOR: STANISLAW LEM / PUBLISHER: PENGUIN MODERN CLASSICS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

In the west, Stanislaw Lem is probably still best known for the adaptations of his works – chiefly Solaris, made for the screen no fewer than three times. The narrowness of his reputation is a shame as his work stands among the very best of science fiction.

Of that very best is The Cyberiad, a collection of fifteen stories that describe the (mis)adventures of Trurl and Klapaucius, two ‘Constructors’ of dazzling inventiveness who create mind-boggling machines to amuse themselves and antagonise one another. They inhabit a bizarre world that fuses a feudal system with interplanetary travel and combines science fiction creativity with the fiat of ancient fables.

The collection is subtitled ‘Fables for the Cybernetic Age’, a descriptor that becomes more familiarly appropriate with every turn of the page. The Cyberiad is the softest of soft SF, with precious little concern for the mechanics of invention or indeed for the hard psychology of the impact of technology on human lives. Instead, it reads more like a treasure trove of twentieth century fairy tales, with background details reduced to the barest minimum required to serve as a vehicle for the cautionary (and occasionally violent) tales within.

The presence of capricious monarchs and Blytonesque names such as A Machine To Grant Your Every Wish adds texture to the fairy tale quality but the second part of that subtitle, ‘the Cybernetic Age’ is no less important. Hints, sometimes heavy, are given to the time and space in which Lem crafted his tales. One story concerns a planet on which two powerful and opposing forces face one another. Each is oppressive of its people, but one mounts its tyranny coldly, by removing all penalties but death and ‘nationalising high treason’. That state’s foe, led by an ‘autocrat libertarian’, decrees ‘Universal Happiness’, subjugating his people through amusement. It’s an allegory that should be no less lost on Lem’s modern readers than it was on those who devoured his pages at the height of the Cold War and this collection remains as compelling to twenty-first century eyes as it did to his original readers.



Suggested Articles:
With impeccable timing comes this new biography of George Lucas, perhaps the most important geek ico
The Language of Dying tells the story of a woman taking care of her father, who is in the final stag
For Jim Sturges Jnr. life is tough. Distinctly average in every way, he is regularly bullied by the
BBC Books has republished the three novels which began the Doctor Who literary phenomenon back in th
scroll back to top

Comments  

 
0 #1 Arthur J. Marr 2016-11-01 18:56
new sequel to Cyberiad --- new constructors, new stores, but names changed to be a step ahead of intergalactic copyright law!


https://www.scribd.com/document/317370297/Cyberiad-Squared-Fables-for-the-Information-Age
Quote
 

Add comment

Security code
Refresh

Other articles in Book Reviews

GEORGE LUCAS: A LIFE 08 December 2016

THE LANGUAGE OF DYING 08 December 2016

TROLLHUNTERS 08 December 2016

DOCTOR WHO BBC BOOK REISSUES 07 December 2016

IN CALABRIA 03 December 2016

PURGED 03 December 2016

AN A-Z OF CUMBRIA AND THE LAKE DISTRICT ON FILM 29 November 2016

THOUGHT X: FICTIONS AND HYPOTHETICALS 29 November 2016

BATMAN: A CELEBRATION OF THE CLASSIC TV SERIES 25 November 2016

FINK ANGEL: LEGACY 22 November 2016

- Entire Category -

Sign up today!
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner
Banner

Notice: Undefined index: sub_content in D:\inetpub\wwwroot\modules\mod_yt_content_slideshowii\tmpl\theme4.php on line 144
Notice: Undefined index: sub_content in D:\inetpub\wwwroot\modules\mod_yt_content_slideshowii\tmpl\theme4.php on line 144
Notice: Undefined index: sub_content in D:\inetpub\wwwroot\modules\mod_yt_content_slideshowii\tmpl\theme4.php on line 144
Notice: Undefined index: sub_content in D:\inetpub\wwwroot\modules\mod_yt_content_slideshowii\tmpl\theme4.php on line 144