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The Invincible

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4.16  ·  Rating details ·  6,998 ratings  ·  432 reviews
A classic science fiction thriller by the author of "Solaris" — for the first time translated directly from the original. A starship from Earth is challenged by a mysterious hostile intelligence. ...more
Kindle Edition, 162 pages
Published February 21st 2014 by Pro Auctore Wojciech Zemek (first published 1964)
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Boris There is similarity in that there is a mystery surrounding the demise of a prior exploratory mission, possibly (but not obviously) due to an alien pre…moreThere is similarity in that there is a mystery surrounding the demise of a prior exploratory mission, possibly (but not obviously) due to an alien presence on the planet. There is also some similarity in how Lem addresses the human failing of hubris, which is similarly addressed in the Alien series. However, the central concepts or story are very different.(less)
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Mario the lone bookwolf
It´s important to know one´s sci-fi tropes on rescue and search missions with seemingly invincible human spaceships. It could help to avoid foreseeable debacles.

Some of the most fascinating sci-fi plot devices are united to one of Lem´s more action and tech focused than philosophical and funny novels, dealing with elements such as:

Nanotechnology in the form of the big, unknown, difficult to understand enemy nobody deems even possible, I don´t know if this is one of the first or the first kind o
...more
Thomas Beekers
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This science fiction tale by Stanislaw Lem is easily missed or dismissed as just a space romp, but it is much more than that. A crew land their gigantic, overbuilt and overpowered "Invincible" starship on a planet, trying to find out what happened to the previous starship that landed here. Soon they find out mankind with all their technology is not as Invincible as they'd hoped, and a "mystery" story begins as they try to find out what it is that lives on this planet. The latter part of the book ...more
Stuart
The Invicible: Early classic encounter with a swarm intelligence
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature

Stanislaw Lem was a Polish SF author, one of the most famous and successful writers outside the English language world, selling over 45 million copies in 40+ languages over five decades from the 1950s, but mainly in Eastern European communist bloc countries such as Poland, Germany, and the Soviet Union. However, despite his success he had a rocky relationship with the United States SF community
...more
Bradley
Feb 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2021-shelf, sci-fi
This is a very surprising classic SF tale that reads as if it had been informed by years of modern SF including not only a standard planetary expedition, but swarm-intelligence, nanobots -- with an almost Stargate feel -- while being utterly serious and thoughtful about all the kinds of alien life they might encounter.

The big question is pretty simple, however.

When was this written? According to the postscript: 1961-2.

No matter how you look at this, this book is WELL ahead of its time, which is
...more
Ivana Books Are Magic
What a fascinating read this book is! Simply ideal for a science fiction reader that enjoys thought-provoking novels. The Invincible is filled with so many interesting philosophical and scientific concepts that are still relevant. This is the third novel by Lem that I read (you might have noticed that I have been binge reading Lem this year).

The novel is named after a space ship that takes a crew to a surface of a planet they haven't visited before, but the title might have additional significa
...more
Aleksandar Trapara
Luckily, I read the book in Serbian translation which was fairly good, so I didn't have to bother about it having been originally translated into German and then into English.

Brilliant little book and such a sad story. It aroused so many conflicting emotions in me. At one point, I was infuriated by the crew's insistence on staying on Regis III and meddling with its ecosystem, and yet I was so startled when their plan to use the Cyclops backfired on them. Once again, Lem successfully sets out the
...more
P.E.
HOMEOSTASIS

The story :
Spaceship The Invincible is sent on unexplored planet Regis III to investigate on the unexplained silence of the crew of the Condor spaceship, sent there before. As they begin the searching, they discover neither amphibians nor land animals. Flora and fauna are found to stick to the oceans, as though they were wary of the continents...


My thoughts :
I particularly appreciate how you are made to discover the geology, the biosphere, the Condor wreck, little by little. This
...more
Jamie
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"How many extraordinary phenomena like this, so foreign to human comprehension, might lie concealed in space? Do we need to travel everywhere, bringing destructive power on our ships, so as to smash anything that runs counter to our understanding?"

Fascinating, chilling and totally original first contact thriller set in deep space. Lem was an amazing out-of-the-box thinker, imaging aliens and alien concepts that go far beyond what most people can fathom. Aliens that are so different they're nearl
...more
Lauren
THE INVINCIBLE by Stanisław Lem, tr. from the Polish by Bill Johnston. 1964/2006 (Eng).

#ReadtheWorld21 📍Poland
#ScifiJuly

Finally made my way to Lem! He's been on my "meaning to get to" list for about a decade, I'd heard many good things about his philosophical and hard science fiction style.

I got the Lem ball rolling with this 1964 work, about the crew of The Invincible, a research vessel on a reconnaissance mission to find their sister ship The Condor, lost on the planet Regis III. And what they
...more
Mark
Apr 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf
The starship Condor never returned after landing on Regis III, so its sister ship Invincible is dispatched on a rescue mission. The sf portions are classic 60s hard science fiction, a gradual exploration of an alien planet and the threat that defeated the first crew. However what I really love is the sparse but effective characterization of the Invicible's crew. From the beginning there is an undercurrent of tension implying that the crew has been together in space a little too long. There is th ...more
Andrea
Dec 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf-fantasy
One of my favourite Lem novels, it possible worries me that it is one of those with the least amount of quirky strangeness and the most predictable plot arc. Two of my favourite quotes:

Man -- he saw in a flash of insight -- had not yet reached the true pinnacle; he had not yet appropriated that galactocentric idea, praised since antiquity, whose real meaning could not consist in searching only for similar beings and learning to understand them, but rather in refraining from interfering with alie
...more
Daveski
May 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Really fantastic classic sci-fi. The only other novel by Lem that I've read is Solaris, which is something I'm trying to fix. This one is a more straightforward adventure story, where a spaceship and its crew are investigating an unexplored planet where a previous craft had disappeared. The "inhabitants" of the planet are so alien that they aren't even "alive" by the standards of man, and the most interesting parts of the novel are the attempts to study and understand them. Lem explores the idea ...more
Mathew
May 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Easily one of Lem's best novels, tense and gripping — I found myself reading it at 3AM because I wanted to know what would happen next. Cinematic, would make a good SF movie. Unusually rich characterization for Lem, too. Boggles my mind that it had no available direct English translation until this year. ...more
Ed Erwin
Nov 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sf, book-club
Lem's books are hit-or-miss for me, and this one is a solid hit. He writes in a variety of styles, but this book is a fairly strait-forward space adventure story that gets tense near the end. It doesn't feel dated, though there are a few small anachronisms (like a ticking wristwatch), and no female characters. It could be made into a decent modern film, and is in fact being made into a video game.

I read the recent translation from MIT Press. Earlier English versions were translated from a German
...more
Katya
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With this book Lem is at his best. This is not only a SciFi book about a stellar cruiser crew investigating a mysterious disaster that befell the other starship on Regis 3. It is a contemplation on human nature as well as envisioning of other, non-human types of consciousness. In Invincible Lem continues the theme he had started in Solaris - he contemplates on the limits of human cognition and principal unknowability of the world. I was fascinated by Lem's unrestrained imagination in describing ...more
Tara
Mar 31, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: buddy-reads
“Not everything everywhere is for us...”

3.5 stars. Quite intriguing on a conceptual level, but the actual execution left something to be desired. Except for the (view spoiler)

That was flawless.

Buddy read with Pal Extraordinaire 3/29/20.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>
...more
Tim
Aug 24, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an aggressively detailed book - everything is written with a militarist's precision. Characters aren't so much built as dissected with a cold laser. But Lem uses this to create an epic, ominous and authentic world and to ask questions about the nature of humanity that are rare in the science-fiction genre. It's a fascinating book, but not gripping nor emotionally involving. ...more
Tracey
Checked out The Invincible by Stanislaw Lem as my November Amazon Prime Lending Library book... Lem is an author I feel I should have read as a SF fan, so am finally getting around to his works.

Is it just me, or is naming your starship Invincible kinda asking for it? Especially when you're heading toward an apparently lifeless planet on which another ship has already disappeared?

While the characters are pretty much one-dimensional standins, that's not what this novel is about. Rather, it's an
...more
Wendelle
a chilling suspenseful/ horrific story set in space. The mission Invincible is sent to discover what happened to a previous ship Condor that had stopped communications after landing on a planet. With superb discipline, the author, Stanislaw Lem, lets one horrific detail drip out to the investigating mission (and to the reader) after another in a suspenseful buildup of existential fear. Why do the native fauna exhibit fear of human-sent machines, despite the expectation that they've never seen ma ...more
Plamen Nenchev
Stanislaw Lem tends to be unrivalled when it comes to philosophical insights into first contact with alien intelligence. Unfortunately, as philosophising for Lem often tends to spill over into over-philosophising, this usually comes at the expense of accessibility and readability. The Invincible is a rare and rather successful exception to this, which makes it an excellent introduction to Lem for novice readers. And even if the underlying theme is the same as in a number of Lem's other works – m ...more
Oleksandr Zholud
This is an old style SF first contact novel from the most famous XX century SF writer Stanisław Lem. The English title is The Invincible and it is available in translation. I read is as a part of monthly reading for November 2020 at Speculative Fiction in Translation group.

The story starts with the space cruiser the Invincible sent to a planet Regis III to find out what has happened to its sister-ship Condor, which landed there some times ago and in a few days after landing stopped all communic
...more
Hugo
Jul 23, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This book has a very interesting concept, the necroevolution, an evolution of inorganic beigns, that were abandoned on planet Regis III by their creators. The plot is fluid and keeps in with the expectative by his unusual concept that in the sci-fi tradition is viewed in a very original way. There is normally life in other planets as organic and semi-rational beings. (view spoiler) ...more
Sam
Jun 09, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A space ship lands on a mysterious, but apparently deserted planet. The mysterious part is that an earlier ship had landed there, but somehow was destroyed by an unknown assailant and unknown method. As they investigate the planet, they learn the truth about a mechanical evolution of unthinking, but deadly machines.

As with most Lem books, there is both a strong component of scientific, philosophical ideas; on the nature of evolution, and the immense gap between different types of intelligence an
...more
Van Choojitarom
Another rip-roaring space adventure from Lem; like "Eden," "Fiasco" or "Solaris" Lem's astronauts boldly go through a glass darkly to thrilling encounters with insanity, meaninglessness, all-too human motives and the sheer unintelligibility of the universe on anthropomorphic terms. For Lem, the problem is never the horror of unfamiliar alien intelligence; it's that the encounter reveals to us how little we mean by the word "intelligence." Something for the Spinozist in all of us.
...more
Piotr
Feb 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Not the first and certainly not the last one book from Lem. Again - not just a space opera or a slasher. A book that brings our brains to work. And that I always look for when relaching for SF. At the same time there will always be a question - did it grew old. Well you got to check on your own! :) -
Roger
Nov 10, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A short, raw, tight novel from Lem, dealing, in his inimitable manner, with an investigation of a ruined spaceship on a planet that holds a truly disturbing secret. One of Lem's best, this is true Verne-style futurizing. ...more
Kate Hawkins
I feel that it’s necessary to begin this review with a disclaimer that, with extra time to research, I have found many people that have said the particular translation of this book that I read was rather poor. This is something that could have easily led to cause some of the issues that I have with the book but certainly not all of them, and certainly not the major ones, thus I stand by my review.

For the most part, Goodreads has been very good to me in regards to the books that it has recommende
...more
Goran
Nov 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read the brand new MIT Press translation. Very happy to see Lem's books finally getting some decent translations, after the many "Polish > shitty French translation > shitty English translations" releases we've had throughout the years. Definitely planning on picking more of them up-- if you like Lem, be sure to check it out, because they've done over ten books in their initial batch I believe, with more planned.

This was my third Lem after Solaris and The Cyberiad, both excellent works. This
...more
Antti Värtö
There are old books that still feel fresh, as though they could've been written today. And there are old books that were perhaps good in their day, but now are hopelessly out of touch and irrelevant to a modern reader. But most old books are like Invincible: they feel old-fashioned, even though there's really not anything wrong with them.

This is a space exploration mystery that feels very nostalgic to a middle-aged guy like me. The dialogue is wooden, the characters (all male, by the way) are mo
...more
Sudeep Agarwal
Sep 18, 2015 rated it liked it
I really liked the hard science. The philosophical undertones dealing with human perception of life and evolution as well as the said and unsaid reasons behind every decision made in the book is very impressive and thought provocative.

Lem tried very hard to make the reader visualise the fictional planet, and he succeeded. Unfortunately, I was a bit lost in the description. I thought it could have done with fewer descriptions as this did not seem to be the focus. But it made sense later as it ga
...more
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Speculative Ficti...: November 2020: The Invincible (spoilers) 14 16 Nov 18, 2020 10:16PM  
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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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