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The Chain of Chance

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  969 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Written in the style of a detective novel, The Chain of Chance is classic Lem: a combination of action, hard science, and philosophical investigation. An ex-astronaut is hired to look into the death of several wealthy businessmen. The authorities suspect a pattern, but neither the police nor a supercomputer enlisted for the investigation can crack the case.

On a trail lead
Paperback, 179 pages
Published March 28th 2000 by Northwestern University Press (first published 1976)
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3.72  · 
Rating details
 ·  969 ratings  ·  70 reviews

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Jun 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was my first Lem, and I picked it up "by chance" as it were, at a used book sale a few months ago. I don't usually read "speculative" fiction, but Lem is considered to be one of the genre's great masters, perhaps best known for "Solaris" which has twice been made into a film.

"The Chain of Chance" also riffs on the detective genre, featuring as its main character a paunchy middle-aged American former astronaut who is seeking to "solve" a series of unexplained and mysterious deaths of paunchy
"Solaris" was much stronger, but this story is a treat anyhow. More than anything, it emphasizes the power of thought and what deductive thinking can do, if in the "hands" of an intelligent man. The book is SF more through its proposition, than its execution, but it's nonetheless written beautifully and presents a strong lead character and an exciting plot line.
Sep 06, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: stanislaw-lem
Dedektiv üslubda yazardan oxuduğum ikinci kitab olan "Kör Talih" hadisələri qavramaqda bir müddət çətinlik çəkdiyim bir əsər oldu. Kitabın yarısından sonra tapmacanın hissələri yavaş- yavaş yerinə oturmağa başladı. "Soruşturma" əsərinə bənzər olaraq burda da Lem statistika elmindən, özünün tibbi bilikləri ilə zəngin təsvirlərə kimi geniş çərçivədə bir çox anlayış ilə romanı zənginləşdirib.

Roman əvvəllər kosmonavt olmuş birisinin İtaliyaya normal görünməyən ölümlər silsiləsini araşdırma məqsədil
Ümit Mutlu
Jan 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: foreign, fiction, whodunit
Lem'den acayip enteresan bir bilimsel Sherlock romanı. Aşırı sürükleyici ve tutarlı, bir yanıyla da şans faktörünü matematiksel olarak sorgulamalı.

Иван Величков
Звездичка надолу заради най-тромавото начало в историята на фантастичната и криминалната литература. Първите 60 страници ги четох три седмици, останалото изядох за три часа.
Застаряващ космонавт се навива да направи експеримент, с чиято помощ може да бъде разкрита верига от странни самоубийства на американци в Неапол. Експериментът се проваля, но той продължава към Париж, където един млад учен може да му помогне да свърже привидно случайните фактори около десетките случаи. Не успяват, но случая б
Alex Apetri
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Omul este alcătuit în mod nedemocratic. Centrul conștiinței, glasurile din stânga, din dreapta - toate alcătuiesc numai un parlament pictat, fiindcă sunt catacombe care-l zguduie."
Lukasz Pruski
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
The world mainly knows Stanislaw Lem as a science fiction writer. Wikipedia says that toward the end of the 20th century he was the most widely read science fiction writer in the world and that his books were translated from Polish into over 40 languages and sold over 45 million copies. His famous novel "Solaris" was adapted for movies three times. However, saying that Mr. Lem was a science fiction writer is akin to calling Thomas Jefferson an architect. Yes, Mr. Jefferson was quite an accomplis ...more
Plamena Nikolaeva
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
По стара традиция и това лято претършувах библиотеката на баба. Преглеждала съм я безброй пъти, но все си намирам нещо ново (за мен) и интересно. Така попаднах на "Сенна хрема". По принцип не обичам фантастика и досега не бях чела нищо от полски автор, така че се гмурнах без абсолютно никакви очаквания. Признавам, че ми тръгна малко мудно. Първите страници са някак хаотични, но не мистериозно и интригуващо, а скучно хаотични. Повествованието се води от първо лице единствено число. Читателят нами ...more
Nov 20, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
Everyone's familiar with the philosophical joke that if you give enough monkeys with typewriters enough time, one of them will eventually produce the complete works of William Shakespeare through sheer chance. But what's not discussed is the possibility that Shakespeare himself is one of those monkeys, and that the probability of some person, somewhere producing his works was just as high as it was for the monkeys.

In Stanislaw Lem's The Chain of Chance, we're presented with a bipolar murder mys
Christian West
Jun 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-book
What an odd book. An American ex-astronaut investigates a series of seemingly unrelated deaths in Italy by trying to replicate the events that are similar between them all and then spends some time in France with a computing expert.
The text was very dense, and the first fifth of the book was confusing for quite a while, but overall I enjoyed it quite a lot. It's like a detective story, but instead of investigating an actual murder, the story investigates whether the deaths were accidental or not
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

+ El estilo de la prosa.
+ Las situaciones narradas.
+ La presencia de la ciencia.
+ La historia tiene enganche.
+ Los personajes están bien planteados.
+ Buenas descripciones...


- ...que pueden resultar algo pesadas.

Un 8'5.
Oskar Swierad
It's a mock crime story, where the crime is connected to areas typically reserved for science-fiction - medicine, mathematics, science in general. This idea is interesting, as well as the ending. The story, though, was boring until maybe the last 1/3 of the book.
Aug 17, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Just wow.
Jul 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
El primer libro de Lem que leo, y la verdad no me dejó decepcionado. Esta novela es de ese tipo de obras a las que uno debe acercarse sin expectativas de ningún tipo, porque Lem dedica la totalidad de sus casi doscientas páginas para destrozar toda expectativa. Aunque es muy breve (dos días de lectura es más que suficiente) a veces resulta densa, pero me parece que esa es la idea: el lector siente la misma confusión de los encargados de investigar las extrañas muertes de una docena de extranjero ...more
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was ok
I was somewhat underwhelmed. The first section of the book sucked me in: Why is this guy doing these odd things? What is his "mission?" I thought I was going to be in for an absorbing, asynchronous story where the beginning only makes sense at the end in an elegant circular tale.

And then there was 50-odd pages of straight-up exposition. It was like a script for Dragnet, or the backstory for a CSI script. And then the explanation of the mystery is given away. Then the protagonist goes through som
Dec 23, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
1/10. Media de los 12 libros leídos del autor : 4/10

Autor polaco que se metió entre los grandes del género (eso decía la crítica) pero a que a mí nunca me gustó mucho salvo dos libros suyos : Relatos del piloto Pirx y Ciberíada

Este libro policíaco con toque de CF tuvo bastante fama pero a mi nada de nada, oye.
Siento decir que, esperándome mucho de mi primera novela de Lem, no me ha parecido una buena lectura. La estructura es caótica y carece de fluidez y claridad en varios pasajes de la narración, sobretodo en las primeras páginas. Además, creo que la transmisión de la información al lector no llega a ser lo suficientemente cómoda para introducirse en la historia.
Milan Pohl
Dec 22, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fajn detektivka lehce říznutá vědeckofantastickým žánrem. Většinu klíčových okolností případu nezjistí sám hrdina, ale jsou mu takříkajíc naservírovány pod nos, navíc ve velkých balících; nicméně už jenom kvůli Lemovu poutavému stylu a zajímavému námětu tahle knížka stojí za přečtení.
Aug 21, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
May 13, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
dull fiction
Adam Sznajder
Jun 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mind-blowing detective story with probability as the main character. Must read!
Michael Battaglia
In Pynchon's "Gravity's Rainbow" there was a sequence that noted that the worst fear of a paranoid wasn't that all their fears were true and everyone really was out to get them, but just the opposite: that nothing at all was connected and the universe is just a string of random coincidences that we superimpose a kind of purpose onto to make ourselves feel better.

With that said, let's go watch one of Lem's characters try to solve a mystery! Ha-hah!

I came to Lem mostly through his more SF oriented
Oct 26, 2016 rated it really liked it

Dziedzictwo Lema, to coś wspaniałego w polskiej kulturze, czego sami nie jesteśmy w stanie niestety właściwie zagospodarować. Szkoda, że Lema w szkole poznajemy jedynie jako autora "jakichśtam" bajek s-f, ni to dla dzieci, ni to dla dorosłych - przynajmniej takie wrażenie sprawia dla wielu młodych polaków.

W zasadzie to jeden z niewielu autorów, który w swoim pokoleniu potrafił wybić się na tle innych znakomitym połączeniem kreowania świata przyszłości i analizy społecznej, socjologicznych
Jul 12, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, sci-fi
An ex-astronaut, some would say washed-up ex-astronaut, has turned detective in this novel, in which a number of men of a similar background and physique have all died in the same area. Our narrator (who I don't think is ever fully named) is involved in the investigation to try and solve the mystery.

There is a sort of 'feel' to East European/Russian novels (SF or not) that I've read of this period and The Chain of Chance fits into it. The book feels very impersonal, especially in the early secti
Felix Zilich
Dec 19, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cyberpunk
Несколько американских туристов погибает во время путешествия по Италии. Cценарий каждой смерти полностью совпадает со всеми остальными: депрессия, полное безумие, отчаянное самоубийств. Американские спецслужбы уверены, все погибшие стали жертвами эксперименте над новым химическим оружием. Для расследования этого преступления они решают послать в Европу своего человека, который повторил бы путь всех погибших и попытался выследить преступников. Им становится бывший американский астронавт. Человек ...more
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
A fun, clever and satisfying "mystery science fiction" read about an American astronaut-turned-detective looking into the mysterious deaths of several middle-aged men who were vacationing in Naples, near Mt Vesuvius. It is a little confusing and slow during the first few pages, but really picks up -- the world is a bit futuristic, yet Old World (since it's set in various European cities). The writing is part noir, part Ian Fleming, part Agatha Christie and part Camus. The science leans more towa ...more
Hákon Gunnarsson
I can't say I really liked The Chain of Chance. For some reason I found it a heavy and slow read. It may be because I just didn't like the style it is written in, or maybe it is just heavy going. No matter why I had so much trouble with this novel, I got through it in the end and I'm glad I did.

It is a memorable novel. You see, I like mysteries, and this is one of the most unusual one I remember. Lem takes a genre that is a bit set in its way and turns it into something entirely different, but
Jan 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
I don't want to blame the writing for me being unable to finish "Chain of Chance". I want to blame the historical romance mindset that carried over from the book before. I want to blame that I was stressed and unable to focus, or that I was too tired. I want to make excuses, but I just can't. The basic premise of the book sounds interesting and accomplished its task as plot hook to draw me in. However, once within the folds of the story, I couldn't stay interested for very long. My mental images ...more
Aug 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
It had been a long time since I'd read one of Lem's novels, and as I got deeper into The Chain of Chance, I was afraid that I had not chosen a good one. The middle of the book is a vast core-dump of facts relating to the strange deaths of various people visiting Naples who had all died in a way peculiar to how they lived. The hero, who goes by the name of one of the victims, Adams, is a washed-out American astronaut who tries to call forth the same circumstances that led to the deaths and in so ...more
Txe Polon
En resumidas cuentas, una novela de desarrollo irregular. Tras un inicio in medias res bastante estimulante, ocurre un raro episodio que en realidad poco tendrá que ver con el resto de la novela, que muestra una estructura caótica y desordenada. La investigación se desmenuza por partes aunque de forma algo torpe, puesto que la técnica del "te cuento del tirón todo lo que sé" no resulta ser la mejor: habría resultado más interesante vivir el desarrollo de la investigación. Pero luego llega ese ab ...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