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4.23 of 5 stars 4.23  ·  rating details  ·  4,779 ratings  ·  240 reviews
Trurl and Klaupacius are constructor robots who try to out-invent each other. They travel to the far corners of the cosmos to take on freelance problem-solving jobs, with dire consequences for their employers.
Paperback, 261 pages
Published May 1988 by Alianza (first published 1965)
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One of the most brilliant pieces of translation I've ever come across. You can hardly believe that all these wonderful jokes and word-games weren't originally composed in English. I wish I knew some Polish, so that I could compare with the original.

The most impressive sequences, which have been widely quoted, come from the story where one of the inventors builds a machine that can write a poem to any specification, no matter how bizarre. "A poem about love, treachery, indomitable courage, on the...more
Sep 27, 2007 Seth rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
If you're only going to read one Lem in your life... medical help. There are several essential Lem books and stories.

And this is one of them. Both of them. Something like that. It's an essential Lem book of essential Lem stories.

The basic outline is simple: two robot inventors (they are robots and they invent robots... whether they invented themselves is indeed an open question) appear, one or the other or both, in some fashion, in a series of stories set in a universe of robots. The inve...more
3.5 stars. My first experience with Stanislaw Lem and it will certainly not be my last. The stories are very good (some are brilliant), but I believe they work better in small doses rather than one after the other. Nonetheless, a gifted writer.
Voss Foster
I first ran across The Cyberiad in desperation. It takes me next to no time to read books, so I quickly drained every last inch of our bookshelves by eighth grade, and the library had nothing.

My dear lord. Before I get into the writing itself, let's not forget the briliant translation, and this book would not be easy to translate, between alliterations, rhyming, and the sheerly brilliant nonsense (I use brilliant so much because one simply can't use that word enough when speaking of this book.),...more
I first came across Stanislaw Lem by way of an absolutely fantastic book called The Mind's I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul in which three of his short stories were featured. His stories touched on issues in philosophy, topics having to do with artificial intelligence, consciousness, physics, mathematics programming, and more. Upon reading these my thoughts were something along the lines of, "this is one of the most fabulous authors I've ever come across, how have I never heard of h...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I got to page 112, but honestly this is just not my thing. I loved Memoirs Found in a Bathtub, but somehow the circular storytelling employed in very short stories gets very repetitive. I don't find the humor funny or clever, it just feels like it is trying to hard. It smacks of Phantom Tollbooth or Hitchhiker's Guide, and these are just not my thing. Sorry, guess I'm going to lem* it. I was supposed to be on a podcast about it, but that's not going to happen!

I imagine that engineers really like...more
Not only did this book make me want to read everything that Lem has ever written, it also makes me want to buy everything Michael Kandel has ever translated.

One of the saddest things about becoming an adult is growing bored with most of the stories you loved as a child - the Jatakas, the Panchatantras, folk stories. Finding the Cyberiad is like rediscovering your childhood love of fables. This is a book I'm going to be coming back to many many times.

Kind of cartoonish fables with robots and kingdoms. All stories feature the same two 'constructors'. There's probably some social or political satire here that I'm not getting. I'm pretty sure I've read one of these stories in high school. I like to imagine it as animated in my head.

I've read all but the 2 long ones at the end.

The author is obviously a genius, but depth of characterization you will not get. If you're especially knowledgeable about math terms, this could be a treat for you. Ther...more
Michael R.
Originally I was just thrilled to find a SF book by an author actually in Poland. But, after I read the book, I was amazed. Still one of the funniest books I have ever read. Two competing robots (Trurl and Klaupacius) who try to out-invent each other, create some of the most wild constructs that anyone could ever imagine.

One being the machine Trurl creates that can make anthing that starts with the letter 'N'. Things really get wild when Klaupacius tests the machine by asking it to create 'nothi...more
Nate D
Apr 05, 2011 Nate D rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: gnostotron technicians
Recommended to Nate D by: turboservoserfs
Cybernetic fables, simultaneously very old and very new. At his best, Lem is playful and wise in the manner of certain Calvino. At his worst, he tales off into long strings of silly words and technobabble puns. As such, I had to take a few breaks, but ended up being well rewarded for my time: the later stories-within-stories-within-stories (a nested Arabian Nights, or rather a Sarragossa Manuscript) seem to really be making an attempt to interrogate the universe, and its observations are sad and...more
These names kick around while you get on with other bits of life: the names of authors you know you should probably have read by now. It's not a guilty thing, exactly - "Oh, Christ, I'm going to Hell because I haven't read enough Ray Bradbury!" - it's just an awareness that there is something out there that a lot of people think is awesome, and I haven't tried it. Mind you, I could say the same thing about both Ketamine and unicorn erotica, and indeed about unicorn erotica featuring Ketamine, an...more
Stephen Banks
Short form SciFi at it's best. Stanislaw Lem departs from his occasionally dour disposition (see: Solaris) with a series of very funny but also deeply philosophical "journeys" of a pair of Cybernetic engineers (Trurl and Klapacius). Each journey is a short story that stands alone, yet the whole collection is a complete consistent work. Lem uses absurdist plots and situations to poke fun at politics, religion, romance, war and even science.

The translation into English is phenomenal, keeping an i...more
I have to give this book an award for Best Chapter Title:

"The Fourth Sally, or How Trurl Built a Femfatalatron to Save Prince Pantagoon from the Pangs of Love, and How Later He Resorted to a Cannonade of Babies."

While the chapter on dragons is by far my favorite sally, mostly for the beginning theoretical explanations of how dragons cannot exist, except by bizarre partial probability equations. Ingenious.

As for Sally 1A, isn't it a bit bizarre that a robot builds the ultimate poetry machine, and...more
Jason Plein
There's a blurb on the back of the book comparing Lem to Borges, which is about right: there is a long section towards the end which is stories nested in stories nested in stories, one of which is a story about someone trapped in a labyrinth of dreams nested in dreams nested in dreams, and there's a story that is sort of a sillier, sci-fi version of Borges' story "The Immortals". What a comparison like that misses is just how silly and playful these stories are.
Emre Ergin
Bir bilimkurgu dehasına Binbir Gece Masalları okutursanız ne olur? Böyle bir ürün çıkar. Sinbad'ın Yedi Yolculuğu gibi, burada da ilk bölümler birinci, ikinci,...,yedinci yolculuk olarak adlandırılmış. Girişlerdeki genelden özele anlatılar, gerçi her masalda var, ama burada kime özenildiği çok belirgin. Kral Genius'un hikâye anlatan robotları adlı masalda, Binbir Gece Masallarının dünya edebiyatına katkısı olan çerçeve tekniği, en ham haliyle kullanılmış. Benzerlik âşikâr.

Aden ve Solaris'te yaza...more
Read this at least 5 times. Probably the best book (at least in its genre) I've read. Extremely funny and witty. With all the made up words and rhyming poems etc. must have been a nightmare to translators (I read the Finnish translation). I only wish I knew Polish so that I could read this in the original language.
I want to start off by saying that I rarely enjoy reading short fiction. I find it hard to commit or give a damn and I just want to get it all over most people would feel about a common household chore. So many are nothing more than whispers of plots involving under-developed, overly-melodramatic characters that will be left behind after 20 pages, so why bother. Others seem to serve as nothing more than an author's literary masturbation (trademarked, not to be used without written pe...more
Giacomo Boccardo
L'unico altro libro di Lem che abbia letto è Solaris e posso dirvi tranquillamente che non sembrano frutto della stessa persona: Solaris è un romanzo profondo, complesso e pieno di interrogativi circa la natura dell'uomo per i quali l'autore non fornisce risposta alcuna. Diversamente, Cyberiade è un'antologia di racconti che narrano, principalmente, le incredibili avventure dei due inventori Trurl e Klapaucius, sottoforma di storie che rasentano, talora, lo stile fiabesco.

Il contenuto fantascien...more
Ren the Unclean
This book is pretty weird. It is basically a bunch of short stories where a couple of robots who can construct anything solve various problems by constructing things. The first couple were interesting, but I just got sick of them by the end.

This premise is good, which is why I read the book, but Lem doesn't really do much with it or explore very many interesting themes. Every story basically comes down to, literally, Deus Ex Machina. The first couple of times it is interesting, but by the end of...more
Stephen Curran
Before this, my only previous encounter with Stanislaw Lem was by means of Andrei Tarkovsky's long, strange, serious (and brilliant) film version of Solaris, so it was a surprise to find that The Cyberiad is so full of cartoonish inventiveness. Sometimes the author comes across like a modern day Voltaire: King Ferocitus's Theory of Universal Happiness brings Dr Pangloss's Optimism to mind; the cosmic planet-hopping of Klapaucius and Trurl is reminiscent of Megamegas. What this book lacks is Volt...more
Alan Marchant
A very lighthearted allegory about the foibles of enlightened human reason as represented by two peripatetic robots, Trurl and Klapaucius. Lem is at his best with the pseudoscientific wordplay. The translator (Michael Kandel) deserves high praise for unobtrusively maintaining the playful mix of references (scientific, philosophical, cultural, sexual, etc) in this English version.
Barb S.
This was brilliant and funny and philosophically deep. I had to consume it in small doses! It is basically space robot fables. I can't wait to read more from Lem.
Peter Dunn
Quirky just isn’t sufficient a word to describe Stanislaw Lem. There has got to be better adjective and it’s probably in his original Polish. That brings me to one of the best features of this particular Lem book. The translator has obviously gone to significant pains to find ways of working with the original Polish preserving, or finding the best alternative to, the great many puns that litter the book. They also seamlessly recreate in English the linguistic traps that drive many of the stories...more
George Ramos
Thank goodness this wasn't the first book by Stanislaw Lem I read, I would have dropped him as an author immediately. This is a collection of vaguely humorous sci-fi stories that are heavy on science and math but somehow manage to be studies in absurdity. The author's intellect shines on every page, and the translation is AMAZING, but really, the stories are quite silly and are only loosely connected. You don't read this book looking for intricate plotting or character development, etc. Instead,...more
I tell myself I should wait to review this fully until I'm in a more culturally-inclusive mood, but by default I'm in a culturally-inclusive mood, so that means I told myself to wait until I'm more awake. After all, I'm not that different on such little sleep, and I've been learning Farsi, Hindi, and French presently. I am not sorry I stayed up so late to watch A Clockwork Orange, for I think my half-awake perception added to the fun.
Did I mean I intended to wait until my accepted cultures inclu...more
Paul A. Mascazzini
I´m trying to find some words to describe this books... Some of them that linger in my head are: Awesome, so funny, deep, hilarious, sadly funny.

Fine, I don't have a word to describe this book, so just can say... It was one of the best books I've ever read.

Why? I find in Lem a multifaceted writer. He is known for being one of the best sci-fi writers, but the first novel of him which captivated me was "Hospital of the Transfiguration", a great historical fiction and Philosophic novel. In this ot...more
Kate Sherrod
Imagine Crow T. Robot and Tom Servo roaming the galaxy at will, enacting vast Platonic thought experiments while exercising nearly godlike creative powers. Toss in a whole lot of whimsy and wordplay and just a dash of dizzying scientific speculation and you might have some idea of what Trurl and Klapaucius, the weird heroes of Stanislaw Lem's Cyberiad are like.

The book is utterly charming.

There is not an overarching narrative per se; rather a series of "sallies" in which the duo enact different...more
I have been a sort of cult follower of SL's since reading "Memoirs Found in a Bathtub" sometime back in the 90's, but I had not heard of this book until a review of satiric/humurous sci-fi titles. I am *so* glad now that I did.

This book is brilliant. In some sense it is the cyber-robotic precursor to the Tick-tock of current steampunk, but it is so very, very much more than that. There is a love affair with words, philosophic and mathematical concepts in such brilliant, beautiful and som...more
This book has a great joke--or several, if you'll accept variations on a theme! Typically alliterative obfuscations and miscommunications of plausibly-sciencey techno-babble. It's a good joke, and coupled with logical puzzles and amusing god-like protagonists makes for some funny tales, but I found the overall lack of cohesion (story) difficult to maintain interest in... a typical problem I find in compilations of short stories.

There are a couple odd things about the book, things I did not notic...more
I thought it was good - the stories were entertaining. Lots of math and science discussion in some, which went completely over my head, of course. lol. And one of the reviews on the back was saying something about how Lem covered all these different topics like sociology, etc., and... I was pretty much just focused on the story, so unless it was really blatant, I probably missed it.
I liked his work a lot better now than I liked reading "Trurls' Machine" in high school. I don't think it was on...more
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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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“ is easy not to believe in monsters, considerably more difficult to escape their dread and loathsome clutches.” 7 likes
“Come, let us hasten to a higher plane
Where dyads tread the fairy fields of Venn,
Their indices bedecked from one to n
Commingled in an endless Markov chain!

I'll grant thee random access to my heart,
Thou'lt tell me all the constants of thy love;
And so we two shall all love's lemmas prove,
And in our bound partition never part.

Cancel me not — for what then shall remain?
Abscissas some mantissas, modules, modes,
A root or two, a torus and a node:
The inverse of my verse, a null domain.

- Love and Tensor Algebra”
More quotes…