This book is an interesting read and fun, too. Keep in mind that it was written and published in 1960s, so it must have been one of the early books thThis book is an interesting read and fun, too. Keep in mind that it was written and published in 1960s, so it must have been one of the early books that offered futuristic vision of our society. It's amusing to read about technologies that we have now embraced and integrated into our lives. It is also interesting to take a look at the money free society that Lem has created. It is something that people are willing to talk about nowadays.
Lem's vision is not quite positive though, as carefree and violence free the life on planet Earth in his book appears, it is only so because of a medical intervention. Through some kind of vaccination people's aggressive and violent predilections are destroyed. The robots have taken over all mundane and service related tasks. Amazing technology makes transportation and travel very easy. The author contrasts this seemingly docile, risk-averse society with the past represented by a returning astronaut, who arrives after more than hundred and twenty years had passed, to his home planet, and of course can't recognize it. To his regret all the sacrifice involved in space exploration has been forgotten and noone greets him as a hero. He is seen as a potential trouble maker, someone who needs help adjusting and can be expected to not be able to do it successfully.
It is a pessimistic book in many ways, despite the hero's choice to immerse himself in this new life and to make himself at home where he starts all over as a complete stranger. The pessimism is of course expressed in the author's vision of the society that cannot transform itself into a peaceful community without medical intervention in the human beings. Such society of course isn't viable, we can only guess that suppressed violent tendencies will assert themselves sooner or later. They will simply be transferred to the machines, that are authorized to performed tasks no humans will want to do. There is a chilling scene in which the hero stumbles upon a storage room full of discarded robots, this scene could be a potential beginning for a number of new books. They were written later, of course....more