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Memoirs Found in a Bathtub

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  1,776 ratings  ·  117 reviews
Perhaps best described as a utopian farce, this fantastic novel is written in the form of an unfinished journal discovered some 1200 years in the future. These memoirs record the adventures of a man trapped in a structure known as The Building, and entrusted with a mission whose purpose is a mystery to him. His attempts to track down his orders, culminating in the despair ...more
Hardcover, 188 pages
Published January 28th 1973 by Seabury Press (first published 1961)
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May 17, 2012 Ania rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  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 4 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
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
‘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
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
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
Jan 06, 2013 Nico rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
Meghan Fidler
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.
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).
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
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.
(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
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
Carla Remy
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.
Tom Lange
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.
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.
I just can't finish this damn book...I gave it a good try, made it three-quarters of the way, but I just can't read any more. It starts with a awesome intro, explaining how the memoirs were found, sets up things for a kick-butt novel...then falls flat. No point to anything that happens, and that's the point...I guess...apparently Lem had alot to say about certain forms of government, well and good. But I can't take endless pages of no real story. 15 or 20 thousand words would have been streching ...more
Every Lem book I've read has a different director. This one was the Brothers Quay.
Δεν είναι το κλασικό βιβλίο επιστημονικής φαντασίας, σαν σκηνικό έχουμε το Συγκρότημα που είναι ένα πολυόροφο, δαιδαλώδες, γεμάτο χιλιάδες διαδρόμους, πόρτες, δωμάτια και γραφεία, κτίριο, και το οποίο είναι κάτω από το έδαφος, θυμίζει αυτά τα τεράστια δημόσια κτίρια σε δυστοπικές κοινωνίες, κάπως έτσι τέλος πάντων.

Η όλη εξιστόρηση είναι σε πρώτο πρόσωπο, με πρωταγωνιστή έναν ανώνυμο άντρα που είναι νέος στο επάγγελμα του πράκτορα και θέλει να μάθει ποια είναι η αποστολή την οποία υποτίθεται του
Bernie Gourley
If you enjoyed Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, which is to say you like gallows humor that scoffs at the folly of thinking of “bureaucratic logic” as anything other than an oxymoron, then Stanislaw Lem’s Memoirs Found in a Bathtub will be right up your alley. The premise is that future archeologists are trying to decipher what happened to humanity from a dearth of remaining documentation. One of the best and most extensive of these records is the memoirs of a bureaucrat telling of his experience in a ...more
I actually think the prologue is the best part of the book. It built my expectations up so much that I was at a loss when the first chapter began.

There's earth, laid to waste by its people's dependence on paper... and there's people that came after and their futile attempts to preserve history, science, literature that became lost when the space bug came and ate up all the paper. Another Dark Age came, and it was a long time before mankind drew himself from his long sleep.

The premises: An third
Felix Zilich
Агент приходит к себе на работу в военное министрество, чтобы получить новое Задание. Он знает, что на этот раз его ждет Секретное Задание Невероятной Важности. Все на его работе знают, что Агента ждет Секретное Задание Невероятной Важности, но никто не может сказать ему, в чем именно оно заключается. Каждый новый бюрократ, с которым сталкивается Агент, пытается это сделать, но каждый раз терпит фиаско. Один умирает от инфаркта, второй – кончает с собой, третий – посылает его в церковь, четверты ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Nov 23, 2008 Jenny (Reading Envy) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jenny (Reading Envy) by: Sword and Laser Book Club - Tom Merritt
I keep seeing comments various places that "Lem is like Kafka." I've never read Kafka. I felt I should make that clear before diving into any sort of opinion, but I'll add it to my list.

This book brings up many more questions than answers. My biggest one pertains to the narrator. Is he reliable? Throughout what we read, he is being taught that everything is code, and symbolic, and that everyone is a triple agent (or more, the wonders of illogical math). So is what we're reading anything close to
Similar in some respects to PKD's The Zap Gun, what with the actual lack of "over there" enemy. Scary, in a sense, what with the paranoia, the endless corridors and white offices of the Building, the coded coded coded code and the sheer maniacal absurdity of the espionage that occurs for no reason whatsoever. Unforgivingly strange in some places. Yes, okay, there is a Kafka-esque nightmarishness to the whole thing.

What I find really interesting, thought, is where the memoirs (which we never see
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SO this is a Sci-fi version of Kafka's The Castle? 4 13 Jul 04, 2013 02:16PM  
The Sword and Laser: Memoirs Found in a Bathtub $1.99 today 12 123 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
More about Stanisław Lem...
Solaris The Cyberiad The Futurological Congress: From the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy Tales of Pirx the Pilot The Star Diaries: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy

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