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Memoirs Found in a Bathtub

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,026 Ratings  ·  139 Reviews
The year is 3149, and a vast paper destroying blight-papyralysis-has obliterated much of the planet's written history. However, these rare memoirs, preserved for centuries in a volcanic rock, record the strange life of a man trapped in a hermetically sealed underground community. Translated by Michael Kandel and Christine Rose.
Published November 25th 2009 by Audible Frontiers (first published 1961)
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May 17, 2012 Ania rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mad people, gay stories,
Recommended to Ania by: polish people who rated it as best Lem book
Shelves: favorites, polish
Madness... it's ALL madness.

I imagine all fans of this book to look something like this:
The question now becomes, am I a fan?

I really don't know how to rate this book. After finishing this book I wanted to chuck it out the window. "2 days wasted!" I thought. Nothing but madness and more madness.... Then today more of it made sense, by of course, not making sense. (you're picturing the crazy cat as my face now, aren't you?)

I do understand the book however, and I suppose this is why I am writing t
Dee Dee
Aug 31, 2007 Dee Dee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Esoterica
This book blew my mind. I had to scream after I put it down! It is the story of a man who doesn't know his mission, who is on the outside of an inside joke. Everything is in code, even the code is in code, and everybody is a double, triple, quadruple or more agent. Or maybe they just make up their jobs and go about doing them-there is no way to know.

This book is a tragedy in the sense that it is a comedy about someone who ultimately fails. In comedy, the hero always succeeds at the end, in greek
Alan Marchant
Kafka on Prozac

Memoirs Found in a Bathtub by Stanslaw Lem follows the adventures of an agent-in-training as he wanders in search of a mission through the vast bureaucracy of a purposeless intelligence agency.

The agent is anonymous. But we can call him K - because the story, the style, and the absurdist message are drawn directly from Kafka (esp. The castle]. K is an everyman, and his agency is an allegory for society. Ostensibly, the agency is the post-apocalyptic remnant of America, but it feel
Jackfruit Goldthwait
this book is fucked up. i don't usually say that about books but this one is wicked fucked up. i listened to an audiobook version that left the introduction out and that made it even weirder. basically this dude comes into existence in a cold war era underground government bunker and has to find out what his mission is but he's stuck in the place that drives you mad from that asterix movie so he just runs around for a while trying to navigate the insane mazes of political intrigue before realizi ...more
This book has a reputation since it was the book that one of the owners of the Sword and laser group abandoned. Since that time, abandoning a book has been known as 'Leming' it within that group.

It's a Stanislaw Lem book, so yes it's a bit (okay, a lot) strange. The protagonist in this book finds himself trapped in a large military building where bureaucracy and paranoia run amok. He spends a lot of time trying to get his orders and instructions about his mission, but everything is in code and o
Mar 04, 2009 Toby rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Memoirs Found in a Bathtub combines biting satire with Carollian absurdity to brilliant effect.

Follow the confused and paranoia-driven encounters of a government agent as he navigates the exaggeratedly complex and ridiculous set of codes and regulations enforced by the other inhabitants of the edifice known simply as The Building. He is on a mission, but no one has told him what the mission actually is yet.

The introduction to the novel sets the context: Something brought back on a space flight
Jan 06, 2013 Nico rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Readers
I adored this piece from start to finish. Lem (or his translators) have a grasp on prose that wows and flows. This absurdist satire had me laughing and cringing throughout as the nearly 40-year-old piece rings true as a bell to contemporary themes of espionage, privacy, and deception. The story attempts to detail the complex interworking of an institution so mired in secrecy and insecurity that trust, truth, and deception swirl together in a miasma of confusion and paranoia such that any occurre ...more
Carla Remy
Apr 05, 2013 Carla Remy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This is the most dreamlike book I ever remember reading. Or nightmare like. A study in bureaucracy and paranoia. Including coded camouflage and artificial body parts and much much more. My American paperback is from 1971 but apparently the original is from 1961.
Apr 10, 2011 Hank rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As a kid, I read and reread Lem's science fiction short story collection Tales of Pirx the Pilot. In fact, I'd say that book, along with Heinlein's Green Hills of Earth, really cemented my love for science fiction. To this day, I prefer that style - character and story-driven, with just enough tech babble to make it spacey. That was my only exposure to Lem, although I did know that he was a highly respected author in several genres.

Because of my love for Pirx, I really looked forward to picking
Jul 16, 2012 Alterjess rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sword-laser
This is a wonderful little book, though it is clearly not for everyone (Sword & Laser folk, you know what I'm talking about).

However, if you are a fan of Lem's other work, this will almost certainly delight you. It reminded me strongly of a short story out of The Cyberiad, and also of the TV series The Prisoner (original, please, not the AMC remake).

The framing device makes it science fiction (the title is literal, a far-future historian discovers the memoir in a bathtub in some ruins), but
Sep 09, 2011 Hadrian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A labyrinth of a book, a twisted gnarl of agents, double agents, codes and flies in the coffee. A look at the paranoia of a bygone age.
Feb 14, 2015 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘Memoirs Found in a Bathtub’ is a strange novel, but its strangeness feels somehow familiar. It reminded me of Ishiguro’s The Unconsoled, Kadare’s The Palace of Dreams, the Terry Gilliam film ‘Brazil’, and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. It would probably also remind me of Kafka’s The Trial, if I’d read it. (I am going to - the library’s copy never seems to be on the shelf!) First published in 1971, Lem’s novel is an unsettling satire on the Cold War, in which an intellige ...more
Jeff Crompton
Apr 27, 2013 Jeff Crompton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stanislaw Lem wrote science fiction, but he wasn't really a "science fiction" writer in the commonly accepted sense of the term. Science fiction was the medium Lem chose to explore the ideas and themes which interested him. Memoirs Found in a Bathtub is supposedly a manuscript from sometime in our future, found even further in the future, which describes life in the Third Pentagon, known to the narrator only as "the Building." But it's obvious that the plot, such as it is, is not really what Lem ...more
Nov 23, 2015 Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lem does it again!..... everything "Brazil" should have ben, what "kafkaesque" bitches want to be but can't possibly know it.....
As I have seen in the shapes of his other novels, this one trudges along slowly---a quick read, but still trudging. At the end tho, Lem hits you with everything he's got, and when he does.... wowie!!!

Frustrated, as you can sense when reading that the original Polish has a great deal more puns and double-meanings, humorous and thematically significant play-on-words whic
Jun 18, 2015 Annelie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is interesting to say the least. I have never been the BIGGEST fan of his work, but I always keep going back to his books!!! They are simply spectacular. As this is my dad's favorite book, and in my opinion Stanislaw Lem's best work, I think it deserves 4.5 stars (but I can't actually give it that, can I?). Anyway, it takes place in Stanislaw Lem's dystopian future ( as usual), and depicts a government with immense power. No one is really sure HOW to live, and how to operate. People ar ...more
Thomas Hayes
I work for a large organization going through a lot of difficult changes and I found the book fascinating. The atmosphere of confusion, political jockeying, and organized chaos that exists in any bureaucracy is perfectly described and yet well camouflaged within the framework the prologue establishes. Communication between two people, sharing a common thought or emotion, is a miracle and this novel is a wonderful examination of how that process is a near impossibility. The odds are incredibly st ...more
Meghan Fidler
Jan 07, 2014 Meghan Fidler rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lem has created the ultimate espionage world, an enclosed system where papers guarded from a mysterious space-born plight become the crazed focus of insanely guarded non-secrets.
"Memoirs found in a bathtub" brilliantly captures the emotion of the cold-war, for readers looking for a book to disturb their mental stability need look no further.
Luis Lapham
Mar 14, 2016 Luis Lapham rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Luis Fernando Lapham Cárdenas
Profesor Jubilado
21 de febrero de 2016

Reseña Libro: Memorias encontradas en una bañera
Por Stanislaw Lem, editorial Brugurera, 1979, 222 páginas Barcelona España

Stanislaw Lem es un autor polaco de ciencia ficción caracterizado por un tono satírico y filosófico, nacido en 1929 y fallecido en 2006. Sus libros, siempre de corte filosófico, exploran las nuevas tecnologías y su efecto en la comunicación y la comprensión entre seres racionales.

Su obra es amplia y comienza
aisha hashmi
Feb 25, 2016 aisha hashmi rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Uhm, there are no words. I got the audio book from a friend who was laughing hysterically when she said I should listen to it, and that should have been the first clue... First off-putting was the scientific manner the book is read... I see a little man in a white suit standing in front of a class droning on and on, making me sleepy... It is completely unable to follow but being the person I am I gave it a fighting chance. I gave up. Came back to it the next day. Gave up after twenty minutes. Ca ...more
Nov 21, 2013 Ethan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
This is a seriously weird book, but I liked it. It's not as profound as Solaris, not quite as funny as The Cyberiad, and has less of a plot than The Futurological Congress. The absurd bureaucracy is really funny, but it does occasionally get old, which I suppose is part of the point. Everybody's spying on everybody and nobody's quite sure who they're working for, which makes for an amusing premise as well as a meditation on the paranoia of the Cold War (and maybe today).
Jul 15, 2015 Sara rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, satire, mystery
Stanislaw Lem's Memoirs Found in a Bathtub is a parable of deconstruction, where all meaning is lost in intrigue. Our hero is the author of one of the last written manuscripts on earth, after a great blight destroyed nearly all written history. His body, and his memoir as a newly recruited spy in the Building are found in a bathtub. The story follows his mishaps as he tries to discover what his orders are, and what his mission means. As the ages have passed, the last vestiges of Capitalism are h ...more
Howard Meyer
May 16, 2016 Howard Meyer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Memoirs Found in a Bathtub by Stanislaw Lem is an interesting science fiction book that was written in the 60s at the height of the fear of the cold war. The book talks about a man who is an undercover agent who is stuck in the deep dark recesses of a military base that is underground. The people in the book are all not to be trusted, and it is a strange turn of events where this man has to make his way out of where he is. It is scary because no one wants to be in that situation, and it is real ...more
Jan 23, 2016 Lkmd rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm quite baffled, puzzled. As a matter of fact, while reading this book, I felt very much like its protagonist: I didn't have a single clue what is going on. Lem constructs story of a man trapped in mysterious Edifice, controlled by not-so-well organized structure, which seems to be only interested in controlling people actions and thoughts: everyone is spying on everyone, treachery is multi-dimensional ( triplets, quadruplets, quintets ), ( "what's marriage: smallest spying cell" ). No one dar ...more
Dec 22, 2013 Tara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this is like bleaching your mind a few times and then putting it through the wringer and then beating it with a stick after. And yet... it's completely compelling and I couldn't stop reading it. Memoirs Found in a Bathtub is one of those books that requires time after reading to just let things settle before even remotely making sense. But totally worth it.
Tony Clavelli
This book is kind of a mess, and outside of some of the clues that started to piece together into what almost looked like cutting social commentary, it fell flat.

It begins with a view of the world from way in the future, looking back on a paper-driven apocalypse, in a funny, sort of clueless representation of the world. I liked where we were going, but then that part doesn't ultimately matter much, as we spend most of the novel in the Building, hanging out with our narrator, a spy on a special m
Oct 29, 2007 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(written 5/01)

Alex told me to check out Lem so I picked this out randomly. At first it seemed to be wandering along with no point... but this is Life, right? Once I realized that the Building was Life (around p. 100) I got much more out of the book.

"Hey, he Building, hey!
What makes the Building stay?
The Antibuilding makes it stay!
James F
Feb 04, 2015 James F rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, fantasy, world
Another novel by Lem, one of the most literary of science fiction writers (nominated for the Neustadt Prize in 1988). The Memoirs are a brilliant satire, set in the last years of the Pre-Chaotic Era, before the collapse of Ammer-Ka and its bizarre religion of Kaap-eh-Taal. The unnamed protagonist is summoned to the Third Pentagon, and entrusted with a highly secret Mission -- except that no one will tell him what it is. The book records his Kafkaesque quest to discover his instructions and under ...more
Dec 20, 2015 Bbrown rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
With Lem, you never know what you're going to get- you sit down with what sounds like a science fiction book, but will it actually be one of those, or something completely different? Make no mistake, besides the frame narrative this isn't so much a work of science fiction as it is Lem's take on Kafka.

It's a shame too, for two reasons: first, I was looking for a science fiction book and not Kafkaesque metafiction, and Second, the frame narrative sets up a very intriguing setting. Besides establis
Tom Lange
Jul 17, 2014 Tom Lange rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This very well could be the worst book I have ever read. To be fair, the epilogue was a flat out 5 stars that got me hooked. Problem is it had little to do with the rest of the book and it ended up being a big let down. From chapter 1 on it is a confusing mess who's purpose is to be confusing. It is sorta like an entire novel of being stuck at the Mad Hatters table for the whole book. I kept hoping it would pay off for some crazy ending to make it worth sitting through. So much for that idea. I ...more
How'd this Polish guy so thoroughly skewer American military-industrial-paranoiac reality? This was my introduction to Lem. No wonder I'm hooked.
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SO this is a Sci-fi version of Kafka's The Castle? 4 15 Jul 04, 2013 02:16PM  
The Sword and Laser: Memoirs Found in a Bathtub $1.99 today 12 125 Feb 08, 2013 10:27AM  
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Stanisław Lem (staˈɲiswaf lɛm) was a Polish science fiction, philosophical and satirical writer of Jewish descent. His books have been translated into 41 languages and have sold over 27 million copies. He is perhaps best known as the author of Solaris, which has twice been made into a feature film. In 1976, Theodore Sturgeon claimed that Lem was the most widely read science-fiction writer in the w ...more
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