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The Cyberiad

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4.18  ·  Rating details ·  9,086 ratings  ·  549 reviews
A brilliantly funny collection of stories for the next age, from the celebrated author of Solaris. Ranging from the prophetic to the surreal, these stories demonstrate Stanislaw Lem's vast talent and remarkable ability to blend meaning and magic into a wholly entertaining and captivating work.
Paperback, 295 pages
Published December 16th 2002 by Harcourt (first published 1965)
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4.18  · 
Rating details
 ·  9,086 ratings  ·  549 reviews


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Manny
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
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Vit Babenco
Dec 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It all happened in days of yore, long before the invasion of cyberpunk… Cyborgs were merry and mischievous then… And they were cunningly inventive…
Next there was a boom, a puff of yellow smoke, and something came rocketing out, a form as blurry as a tornado and with the general consistency of a sandstorm; it arced through the air so fast that no one really got a good look at it anyway. Whatever it was flew a hundred paces or more and landed without a sound; the curtain that had been wrapped arou
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Seth
Aug 17, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
If you're only going to read one Lem in your life...
...seek 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
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Manuel Antão
Nov 06, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 1980
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.



The Laws of Thermodynamics: "The Cyberiad Stories" by Stanislaw Lem



(Original Review, 1980)



Some people’s complaint about "The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy" is reminiscent of a friend's complaint about Stanislaw Lem's "Cyberiad: Tales for a Cybernetic Age". He thought it was just a series of disconnected tales that were "everything that sf is ridiculed as being", petty, and demeaning. Then one day I snuck up on him and read him the st
...more
OD
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Stephen
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.
Jose Moa
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lem, science-fiction
Another masterwork of this brilliant writter.

Obviously i have read this work in spanish because this polish collection of tales is almost intranslatable,it is full of fun neologisms of all sort.
It is a extremely funny and satiric book,but also serious deep in almost all branches of philosophy,transhumanism and physics .
Lem builds a astounding medieval, cibernetic,mechanic world were he develops the adventures of two ciberetic beings ,the builders,Trul and Claupacius.
Below this apparently absurd
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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.),
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Greg
Oct 18, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Stephen Banks
Mar 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Nate D
Mar 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  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
Michael R.
Jun 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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
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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
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Josh
Nov 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Other reviews have acknowledged two critical points I’d like to reinforce.

1. This translation is fantastic. Lem makes his money off word play if The Cyberiad is any indicator, and how in the hell someone was able to work that in a polish to English translation is amazing.

2. These stories might be best consumed separately, rather than on the run.

This is at times a funny book. The story about the machine that makes poetry has a nice satirical spice. The femfatalatron and King Balereon were both a
...more
Melanti
Oct 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I had to pick just one word to describe Lem's fiction, it would be "experimental." All the books by him that I've read so far have been so incredibly different from one another - and often different from anything else I've read as well!

This particular book is a book of short stories about a pair of robots who run around the universe constructing other robots. In many places, it really reminds me of folklore trickster tales, in other places The Arabian Nights Entertainments, and in still other
...more
Toma
Feb 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: scifi, humor
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.
Veronika Sebechlebská
Pat a Mat po 2764 rokoch
Morgan
Dec 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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Taro
Overall, very funny. Though, as some stories did lag a bit, I was inclined to give this book a 3.5, maybe even a 3.7 . BUT, and this is a very big but, the translation is AMAZING and earns the book a whole star on its own. Lem is a great author but Michael Kandel is a genius. Math and philosophy jokes... restrictive poetry... restrictive poetic math joke - translated fluidly into English. I call shenanigans the only explanation is shenanigans.

But on to the text. Cyberiad the hilarious tales of
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Gabriella
Stories: A mix of good, boring, thought-provoking, and bad.
Main characters: Seldom comedic. A bit whiney. Emotionally uninvesting.
Writing: Okay at first, but very annoying by the end. I lost interest after the writing structure started to become more and more ridiculous and hard to read/understand. By trying to be creative, it basically seemed like he used a math or science term and added a couple letters to the end of it to make it sound latin. It felt very forced and unimaginative. A couple of
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Sandy Parsons
Apr 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Have you ever wanted to hug a book and kiss its cover, reserve a special place on your bookshelf so you can look forward to reading it again? This is a unique book. It's funny and smart philosophical science fiction, which isn't for everyone, but if you fall into that demographic, it's the archetype. I've had it on my 'to read' list for a long time, but bumped it up after listening to a podcast interview with David X. Cohen of Futurama. He didn't say explicitly it was an inspiration, but I notic ...more
P.E.
Apr 24, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
Est-ce que la traduction a amoché le recueil ? Dans mon souvenir, lire chaque nouvelle était fastidieux, dans une plus ou moins grande mesure...

Dommage, parce que les thèmes ont de quoi intéresser :
L'appétit de savoir
Les probabilités
La robotique...
Le tout dans un univers futuriste aux accents de moyen-âge plutôt uniques !


Parents de papier :
H2G2 The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
Spacewanderer
Oct 22, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 with...like 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
Jason Plein
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Maciej Bliziński
Jun 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
It starts off as a series of cute and amusing stories featuring ridiculously human robots. But soon, you realize you're reading and thinking, what is happiness?

When you progress through the book, stories become longer and more involved.

I really like the tension between Trurl and Klapaucius, who are both brilliant constructors and friends, but who compete against each other.
Aaron
Sep 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
This is no doubt a masterpiece of literature. Not just in the Sci-fi genera but of books in general.

The fun with the language cannot be compared to anything I have every read. Trurl and Klapauciaus will have you laughing the whole way through all their journeys.

The Cyberiad is best read in sections as the the shtick can get old if consumed all at once.
Alan Marchant
Sep 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comedy, fiction, sci-fi
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.
Karl Hallbjörnsson
Nov 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
incredible work of art. brain candy.
The Final Song ❀
Recommended for: mechanical organisms with a sense of humor in their tube brains and desire for cyber fairy tails

Not recommended for: palefaces with organic functions
Callum McAllister
Jun 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I bought this literally for the cover and also the fact that someone else I knew bought without me knowing, on a whim, another book by him days before, making me feel as thought my instinct was right. So I had no expectations at all, which is a nice way to read a book.

As I found out, it's a collection of fables, mostly centring around two robot constructors (in both senses - they are robots and construct robots) and their near omnipotent dabbling in a strange feudalistic, oppressive, robot unive
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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
“...it is easy not to believe in monsters, considerably more difficult to escape their dread and loathsome clutches.” 18 likes
“Certainly not! I didn't build a machine to solve ridiculous crossword puzzles! That's hack work, not Great Art! Just give it a topic, any topic, as difficult as you like..."
Klapaucius thought, and thought some more. Finally he nodded and said:
"Very well. Let's have a love poem, lyrical, pastoral, and expressed in the language of pure mathematics. Tensor algebra mainly, with a little topology and higher calculus, if need be. But with feeling, you understand, and in the cybernetic spirit."
"Love and tensor algebra?" Have you taken leave of your senses?" Trurl began, but stopped, for his electronic bard was already declaiming:

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!

Come, every frustum longs to be a cone,
And every vector dreams of matrices.
Hark to the gentle gradient of the breeze:
It whispers of a more ergodic zone.

In Reimann, Hilbert or in Banach space
Let superscripts and subscripts go their ways.
Our asymptotes no longer out of phase,
We shall encounter, counting, face to face.

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 bound partition never part.

For what did Cauchy know, or Christoffel,
Or Fourier, or any Boole or Euler,
Wielding their compasses, their pens and rulers,
Of thy supernal sinusoidal spell?

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.

Ellipse of bliss, converge, O lips divine!
The product of our scalars is defined!
Cyberiad draws nigh, and the skew mind
Cuts capers like a happy haversine.

I see the eigenvalue in thine eye,
I hear the tender tensor in thy sigh.
Bernoulli would have been content to die,
Had he but known such a^2 cos 2 phi!”
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