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One Human Minute

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Contains three essays--"One Human Minute," "The Upside-Down Revolution ," and "The World as Cataclysm"--from science fiction master Stanislaw Lem.

112 pages, Paperback

First published November 24, 1986

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About the author

Stanisław Lem

396 books3,521 followers
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 world.

His works explore philosophical themes; speculation on technology, the nature of intelligence, the impossibility of mutual communication and understanding, despair about human limitations and humankind's place in the universe. They are sometimes presented as fiction, but others are in the form of essays or philosophical books. Translations of his works are difficult and multiple translated versions of his works exist.

Lem became truly productive after 1956, when the de-Stalinization period led to the "Polish October", when Poland experienced an increase in freedom of speech. Between 1956 and 1968, Lem authored 17 books. His works were widely translated abroad (although mostly in the Eastern Bloc countries). In 1957 he published his first non-fiction, philosophical book, Dialogi (Dialogues), one of his two most famous philosophical texts along with Summa Technologiae (1964). The Summa is notable for being a unique analysis of prospective social, cybernetic, and biological advances. In this work, Lem discusses philosophical implications of technologies that were completely in the realm of science fiction then, but are gaining importance today—like, for instance, virtual reality and nanotechnology. Over the next few decades, he published many books, both science fiction and philosophical/futurological, although from the 1980s onwards he tended to concentrate on philosophical texts and essays.

He gained international fame for The Cyberiad, a series of humorous short stories from a mechanical universe ruled by robots, first published in English in 1974. His best-known novels include Solaris (1961), His Master's Voice (Głos pana, 1968), and the late Fiasco (Fiasko, 1987), expressing most strongly his major theme of the futility of mankind's attempts to comprehend the truly alien. Solaris was made into a film in 1972 by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky and won a Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1972; in 2002, Steven Soderbergh directed a Hollywood remake starring George Clooney.

He was the cousin of poet Marian Hemar.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 50 reviews
Profile Image for Claudia.
942 reviews507 followers
April 6, 2019
A collection of three essays, one a bit sci-fi, the others non-fiction, all written with a sharp eye, wit and irony. Great ideas and flow of thoughts and I realized that Lem can proudly stand among other visionaries like Asimov or Clarke. Furthermore, really interesting was the way chosen for exposition: all three are written as reviews for imaginary books.

One Human Minute – full of statistical data about all sorts of things you never thought of once in your life, such as:

”So, were all humanity taken and crowded together in one place, it would occupy three hundred billion liters, or a little less than a third of a cubic kilometer. It sounds like a lot. Yet the world's oceans hold 1,285 million cubic kilometers of water, so if all humanity – those five billion bodies – were cast into the ocean, the water level would rise less than a hundredth of a millimeter. A single splash, and Earth would be forever unpopulated.”

The Upside-Down Revolution – deals mostly with war and how the soldiers of the future, and not only, will look like:

”Nor should one consider it an accident that insects are generally much less susceptible to the lethal effects of radioactivity than the so-called higher animals, the vertebrates. Paleontology speaks unequivocally. A catastrophe that unleashed the destructive force of a global atomic war killed every one of the large animals but did little damage to the insects and did not touch the bacteria. This shows that the greater the destructive action of an elemental force or technological weapon, the smaller must a system be in order to survive it unharmed. Thus the atomic bomb demanded the dispersal not only of whole armies but also of individual soldiers. […]
So it was not humanoid automata that formed the new armies but synthetic insects (synsects) – ceramic microcrustacea, titanium annelids, and flying pseudo-hymenoptera with nerve centers made of arsenic compounds and with stingers of heavy, fissionable elements. Most of this "nonliving micropersonnel" could, at the first warning of an atomic attack, dig deep into the ground and then crawl out after the explosion, maintaining combat functions even in an environment glowing with terrible radioactivity, because these soldiers were not only microscopic but nonbiological. The flying synsect combined plane, pilot, and missile in one miniature whole. But the operating unit was the microarmy, which possessed superior combat effectiveness only as a whole (just as a colony of bees was an independent, surviving unit while a single bee was nothing).”


The World as Cataclysm - on how the Universe was created through destruction:

”Where there is No One – therefore no feelings, friendly or hostile, no love or hate – there are also no intentions. The Universe, being neither a Person nor the work of any Person, cannot be accused of bias in its action: it simply is what it is and does what it does. What it does is create, again and again, by destroying.”

I wasn’t impressed by Solaris, neither by Cyberiade, but this little volume made me look for other of his works.
Profile Image for Evan.
125 reviews35 followers
October 23, 2008
These aren't stories, or even essays: they are secular sermons, similar in effect perhaps like the ones people in the Renaissance attended for education and entertainment, and Lem is like a secular divine. He considers the human place in the universe, between life and death, and entwined in the drama of civilization. Just marvelous.
Profile Image for Ebru Çökmez.
189 reviews31 followers
August 6, 2022
Lem üç kitap için önsöz yazmış. İnsanın Bir Dakikasi, Tersine Evrim, Dünya: bir Afet Bölgesi

Bu kitapların yazılmamış olması, yani hayal ürünü, kurgu olmasınin hiç önemi yok. Bu kitaplar ne de olsa Lem dehasını okuyucu ile buluşturmaya yarayacak aracılar.

Önsözlerde, bir insan dakikasına dair oluşturulabilecek türlü çeşit istatistiki varsayım, makineleşmenin sonuçlarına, savaşlara, evrenimizin oluşumuna, yokoluşuna vb. dair akıl yürütmeler var.

Çok çok iyi.
Profile Image for Özgür.
41 reviews4 followers
Read
December 9, 2020
Lem’in hayat hikayesini anlatıp sizleri sıkmayacağım. Daha önce farklı yayınevlerinde çıkmış ve yine hakettiği değeri görememişti.
Alfa bu konuda biraz daha iyi ve sağlam adımlarla yazarın külliyatına ayrı bir seri çıkardı ve uzun zamandır ben ve benim gibi bekleyenlerini çok sevindirip 8 kitabı çok kısa bir sürede yayınladı devamını da aynı hızla çıkaracak gibi görünüyor.
Ancak burada iki büyük sorun karşımıza çıkıyor. Birincisi yazarın kitapları anadili olan Lehçe’den değil ingilizceden çevriliyor. Lehçe’den kaliteli çeviri yapabilecek kişi sayısı çok az bunu kabul edebilirim ancak böyle bir yazarın külliyatında keşke anadilden çeviri görseydik. İkinci sorun ise yine çeviri ile alakalı, yayınevi biraz daha kolaya kaçıp eski çevirileri üstünden ufak editörlüklerle yayınlıyor. Ve sanırım benim bu kitabın çoğu yerinde cümlelere takılmamın sebebi de buydu.
Her şeyden öte kitabın ismi “İnsanın Bir Dakikası” değil “Bir İnsan Dakikası” olmalıydı zira ilk öykü/deneme aslında insanların " bir dakikada yaptığı şeyleri" anlatan bir kitap yazma üzerine kurulu. “İnsanın bir dakikası” daha vurucu kabul ediyorum ancak yazarın yazdığı başlığın ve öykünün karşılığı bu değildi.
İnsanın bir dakikası kitabın üstündekinde açıklama “Roman” olmasına rağmen aslında yazarın denemelerini içeriyor. Genel olarak bazı cümlelere çok takılmış olsam da okunmasını engelleyecek kadar büyük yapı hataları görmedim. Ancak özellikle anlam konusunda hatalar mevcut. Örneğin bir bölümde “Lord” olan tanrı kelimesini “Gökteki Babamız” şeklinde çevirmiş çevirmen, aynı şekilde bir yerde İncil’den alıntı yapılmış bir ayetin yazar “yarısını” koymuş ancak çevirmen bu yarım olmasın diye ayetin kalan kısmını da tamamlamış.
Evet, çeviri konusunda kesinlikle beğendiğimi söyleyemeyeceğim. Alfa’nın özellikle bu kitabın bir sonraki baskılarında editörlüğüne biraz daha dikkat etmesini umuyorum.
Bu konular dışında kitabın öykülerini ve kendisini sevdim. Yıllar önce okumuş çok da hatırlamıyordum, Bunca zaman sonra tekrar okuyabilmek güzel. Alfa’ya yine bunun için bile ne kadar teşekkür etsem az.
Profile Image for 0rkun.
130 reviews28 followers
October 29, 2015
Kitap değil, bir deneyim aslında bu. Okuduğum en ilginç deneyimdi diyebilirim o yüzden.

Kitap 3 ayrı kısımdan oluşuyor. Özellikle ilk iki bölüm için konuşacak olursam Lem'in aklına hayran kalmamak elde değil.
Profile Image for Aaron Arnold.
428 reviews127 followers
January 1, 2020
The final entry in Lem's pseudoepigraphy trilogy, One Human Minute collects the title review and two other writings relating to non-existent books together. While it's still no A Perfect Vacuum, this volume has clearer ideas and a more pleasant writing style than Imaginary Magnitude. It's hard to tell how much difference the translation makes; perhaps Catherine Leach was simply working with stronger material than Marc Heine was given for Imaginary Magnitude, while Michael Kandel somehow always gets the good Lem volumes to rework into English. At the very least, there are no drudgerous pieces like "Golem XIV", or much of Summa Technologiae, so even though these essays might seem a bit dry and could benefit from being placed in a narrative, even second-tier Lem is still good stuff.



- "One Human Minute". Imagine the Guinness Book of Records, but the "records" part is literal - the eponymous chronicle is a statistical abstract of various measures of the sum total of the human condition during a single minute of one day. Interestingly, we are not told exactly when the select minute occurred, so presumably it was a representative day in 1988, when the fictitious volume was published. From births to deaths to sexual encounters, the review explores how encountering data presented like changes the experience, as Stalin's line about how "one death is a tragedy, a million is a statistic" is turned on its head. It's like an extended riff on that scene in the movie Amélie when she wonders how many couples in Paris are having an orgasm at that moment, and it's striking how different seeing the full measure of a single life is from seeing a lifespan's worth of minute slices from the equivalent number of different individuals.
- "The Upside-Down Revolution". In the 21st century, advances in military hardware will transform warfare yet again; stockpiles of overwhelming nuclear force have rendered the prospect of great clashes of tanks and planes and warships obsolete, and so the strategic deployment of great swarms of computerized insects, which have far more subtle effects, will be paramount, as will encouraging their evolution to stay one step ahead of the enemy. Lem is really good at working out of the complex game-theoretic logic of war strategy, and this reminded me a lot of his novel Fiasco, so much so that I wish he had turned this book review into a narrative short story. Some ideas work well on the page but don't work in movie form (the philosophical ruminations on the impossibility of truly knowing alien life in Solaris is a great example), but sometimes you see the opposite idea: instead of dryly describing the likely effects of autonomous swarms of nanobots on warfare, why not have Pirx the Pilot try to fight off an attack of one?
- "The World As Cataclysm". Lem argues with our framing of the Fermi Paradox (which he does not explicitly name) for 30 pages, insisting that our understanding of many of the variables involved is so poor that instead of trying to figure out why intelligent life did happen on Earth, it would be more edifying to figure out which disasters caused it to not happen everywhere else we see. Lem is basically arguing that we should import the distinction between risk and uncertainty from finance (the former is quantifiable whereas the latter is not) into models of the probability of intelligent life, so that we don't waste our time searching in parts of the galaxy out in the fringes or too near to the core, or elsewhere afflicted with catastrophe. Lem writes with his typical bubble-bursting remorselessness (again keeping Solaris in mind, I always get the impression that he would really hate optimistic shows like Star Trek that blithely depict humanity palling around with friendly alien life), yet I found myself wishing for the humor of Roger Lowenstein, who memorably summed up the crucial risk vs uncertainty distinction for me in When Genius Failed, his history of the hedge fund Long-Term Capital Management:

The problem with the math is that it adorned with certitude events that were inherently uncertain. "You take Monica Lewinsky, who walks into Clinton's office with a pizza. You have no idea where that's going to go," Conseco's Max Bublitz, who had declined to invest in Long-Term noted. "Yet if you apply math to it, you come up with a thirty-eight percent chance she's going to go down on him. It looks great, but it's all a guess".

Lem is constantly reminding the reader how much of science fiction is just a guess, and it's a valuable service.
Profile Image for KristenR.
314 reviews60 followers
October 25, 2014
This volume had 3 essays, each with an interesting concept.

One Human Minute: Lem has styled this piece as a book review...of a book that hasn't been written. One Human Minute is apparently a Guinness Book of World Records that is completely mundane, yet also amped up on steroids. Imagine a book that is full of tables upon tables and graphs and charts about everything that happens on earth per minute. How many babies are born, how many people get struck by lightning, how many people are tortured by electricity, how many orgasms are achieved per minute...

Definitely a philosophical piece, but seemed to be musing about the depravity of the human race. I'm not sure if I missed the point.


The Upside-Down Revolution: The evolution of military and warfare...written under the premise that the author has a history book from the future and publishes it in the present as science fiction. I lost interest partway through this one.

The World as Cataclysm: I have a fascination with astrophysics. I am fully aware that the bulk of it goes over my head and I have near zero retention, but that doesn't stop me from reading/watching anything on the subject that is remotely geared towards the layman. Simply Fascinating. This piece goes into the probabilities of extraterrestrial life. I don't know what Stanislaw Lem's qualifications are, but as I was reading this I was nodding...uh huh, that makes sense...hmmm, I sense a little research project on Lem.

Profile Image for Kaan.
275 reviews48 followers
October 2, 2022
3 tane yazılmamış kitap hakkında eleştiri var kitabın içinde. Derleme gibi yapıyor, ilginç bir yöntem. Buna karşın çeşitli bilimsel çalışmalar açıklanıyor, kitabın belki de %20-30'una falan kurgu diyebiliriz ancak. Ama hem kolay okunuyor hem de bağlandığı yerdeki fikirler iyi. Ordu yerine robot böcekler istihdam eden bir dünya, kurmaca açısından güzel bir fikir.
Profile Image for Cengiz Aytun.
Author 6 books15 followers
April 28, 2020
Kendimce geliştirdiğimi sandığım (aaahhh aaah) bazı fikirleri Stanislav Lem'in kaleminden hem de böyle güzel bir üslupla okumak muhteşem bir duygu. Kitabı 1978'de yazmış olması da işin cabası. Lem'in 40 yıl önce geldiği noktaya gelmeye çalışıyoruz vesselam.
Gelecekteki (21.yy) bir eleştirmenin üç hayali kitap üzerine yazılmış yine hayali eleştirilerinde bugünden çok şey buldum. Ciddi ciddi yazılmış bu eleştirilerde gömülü hiciv bazen komik bazen de hüzün verici. Lem'in başyapıtlarından birisi olduğunu düşünüyorum. E-kitabını okumuştum. Şimdi kitap formatında alıp yeniden alıp okumak istiyorum. O derece yani.
Profile Image for Divya.
84 reviews9 followers
July 20, 2021
4.5/5. It is a set of three brilliant essays. The first essay is “one human minute” in which, the author reviews a book that has been published in the future. This book supposedly contains what every single human being is doing in a minute of their life. It is a postmodern essay that had lots of thought provoking little snippets that delighted me and frustrated me in equal measure. The second essay is “upside down evolution”. This was also very good and it talks about the military strategies that can appear in the next century. The third essay is the one I found most interesting and it talks about the origin of the existence of human beings and earth itself and deals with the possibility of intelligent life forms existing elsewhere in the universe. It talks about the requirement of destruction for creation to exist and has a lot of thought provoking philosophy thrown in as a bonus. The writing is top notch. Every other sentence blows you away! I would recommend it to anyone interested in science fiction and postmodernism and any kind of unconventional writing! I loved it.
August 14, 2017
Lemin bu kitabı dünyadakı insanların bir dəqiqə ərzindəki, ya da təbiətdə bir dəqiqədə baş verənlərin, məsələn: bir dəqiqədə nə qədər şimşək çaxması və s. kimi statistik məlumatların toplandığı irihəcmli bir əsər olan "İnsanın bir dəqiqəsi" kitabını tanıtması ilə başlayır. Yazar zamanla həmin kitabın tənqidinə keçir. Belə bir kitab isə, ümumiyyətlə, heç var olmayıb. Lem var olmayan bir kitabın, bu kitabın məğzi ilə yanaşı yaşadığımız sistemin reklam və populyar mədəniyyətini, müasirləşən dünyadakı gərəksizliklərin tənqidi ilə qarşımıza çıxır. Kitabdan bir parça (Lemin əsəri, xəyali olandan deyil):
"Herkesin bildiği üzere, yayımcıları bir kitabın yayımlanması kadar korkutan bir şey yoktur. Çünki genelde var olan zamansızlığa, ihtiyaç ötesi kitap bolluğuna ve reklamcılığın kusursuzluğuna bağlı olarak Lem yasası şöyle der: "Kimse okumuyor, okusa da anlamıyor, anlasa bile unutuveriyor." Yeni Ütopya olarak reklam, günümüzde el üstünde tutulmaktadır. (Tabii biz kamuoyu araştırmalarının yalancısıyız.) Her gün korkunç ve sıkıcı şeyler izleriz televizyonlarımızda. Birbirine hırlayan politikacıların, dünyanın dört bir bucağında türlü nedenlerle ölmüş insanların cesetlerinin, kimsenin ne olup bittiğini anlamadığı (çünki yalnız okuduklarımızı değil, seyrettiklerimizi de unuturuz) bitmek bilmeyen dizilerin ardından, reklamlar imdadımıza yetişerek içimize biraz olsun su serper. Cennet diye bir yer kaldıysa, onu bulabileceğimiz tek yer reklamlar."

Yazarın kitabda bununla birlikdə daha iki xəyali kitabın tənqidi də cəmlənib; silahlanma yarışının gələcəyinə dair Lemin düşüncələrinin əks olunduğu "Əks təkamül" hissəsi və kainatın geniş miqyasındakı xaotiklik, başqa sistemlərdə həyatın varlığı, daha doğrusu, var olması ehtimalı barədə "Fəlakətlər bölgəsi dünya" hissəsi. Üçüncüdən bir parça:
"Evrendeki uygarlıkların dağılımı, şans eseri değilse ve gözlemlenebilir olsa bile bilmediğimiz bazı astro- fiziksel koşullarca belirleniyorsa, yani dünya dışı uygarlıklar tesadüfi bir dağılımın ürünü değilse, herhangi bir uygarlığın konumuyla içinde yer aldığı yıldız çevresi arasındaki bağ güçlendikçe, bizim onunla bağlantı kurma şansımız da azalacaktır. Başka bir uygarlığın varlığını gösteren astronomik olarak gözlemlenebilir olguların varlığı olasılığını a priori olarak geçersiz sayamayız. Sonuç olarak, CETI programı astro- fiziksel bilgimizin geçici olduğunu kabul ederek yeni bilgilere yer açmalıdır, çünki yeni keşifler CETI' nin en köklü ve geleneksel varsayımlarını etkileyip değiştirecektir."
Profile Image for Zach.
253 reviews9 followers
December 23, 2021
From what I've read, this is Lem at his most sober, serious, secular and sciencey. Although a short volume, the three essays included in this collection are heady to handle. Lem demands the reader's studious attention. And while there is much to snag the dedicated reader's interest, Lem does not encase his ideas with his usual fictive flare. Indeed, these are essays, not stories.

In "One Human Minute", Lem gets in your face about all the mind-boggling shit that occurs in one minute on Earth--the number of deaths and births, the gallons of blood pumped or semen ejaculated--you name it. We're all aware on some deep level of the sheer size of human activity, but putting it on the page measured in minutes really forces a startling perspective. Lem dives right into the thick of what this perspective might or should mean.

"The Upside-Down Evolution" is the essay version of Lem's final Ijon Tichy novel Peace of Earth. In both the essay and the novel, Lem explains why warfare will inevitably progress to smaller and smaller implements, until nanotech is the rule, and natural disasters are indistinguishable from calculated assaults. As technology progresses, I think it's pretty hard to argue that smaller is better. This brings to mind the hideous cloud on Regis III in The Invincible. . . .

Last, in "The World as Cataclysm", Lem puts his foot down on the fact that creation and destruction are inextricably interlinked. Whether on a galactic scale (such as the explosion of stars making possible the birth of planets by neighbouring stars) or a planetary scale (such as the annihilation of a massive meteorite paving the way for the rise of homo sapiens), Lem maintains that the world as we know it owes its existence to various, violent catastrophes.

Perhaps a little on the dry side, but man is Lem the goat.
Profile Image for nks.
176 reviews9 followers
January 24, 2019
The first essay, "One Human Minute," was amusing, but the pretense lost its potential for humor long before the essay ended.

The second essay, "The Upside-Down Revolution ," was the strongest of the collection, and the one whose ideas I found most interesting.

The final essay, "The World as Cataclysm," was dull and overly scientific, though it had a few moments of truly beautiful writing on the subject of cataclysm and the formation of life.
Profile Image for Jen.
6 reviews1 follower
October 2, 2010
I stumbled on this trawling the stacks at college. Absolutely one of my favorite books of all time.
Profile Image for Evan Fillon.
14 reviews
September 5, 2014
Highly recommended. Terrifying and funny, something I could really feel exercising fun parts of my brain/imagination. I want a friend to read this so we can talk about it.
January 17, 2023
Lem'in zihninden çıkan ve onun tarafından kaleme alınan her düşüncenin yaşamı ve evreni anlamak adına çok değerli olduğunu düşünüyorum. Bu kitap da bunu kanıtlayan eserlerinden biri. Kitapta üç farklı denemesi yer alıyor.
İlk denemesinde modern teknolojiye atfettiği "uygarlığın fotoğrafını çekme" benzetmesini güzel bir anlatımla ortaya koyuyor. Günlük yaşamın rutini içerisinde farkına varamadığımız meseleleri vurucu bir dil kullanarak ifade ediyor. İnsan için yaptığı "yaşayan bir ruh, üzerinde dört işlem yapılamayacak bir varlık" tanımı beni çok etkiledi.
İkinci denemesinde siyaset, sanat, teknoloji, cinsellik başta olmak üzere pek çok konuyu harmanlayarak ortaya çıkardığı bir düşünceler bütünü yer alıyor. Özellikle yeni teknolojilerin yüksek ilgi gördüğü dönemde bu teknolojilerin nasıl ve hangi amaçlarla kullandığına değiniyor. Bu değinişi salt gerçeklik üzerinden değil de ilk denemede olduğu gibi distopik bir evren üzerinden anlatıyor.
Son denemesi ise insanı evrendeki yerine dair uzun sorgulamalara götürebilecek bir derinlik taşıyor. İlk deneme hikâye gibi ilerlediği için diğer ikisinde didaktik anlatımın ağır basmasını biraz yadırgamıştım ve bu da kitabı ara vererek okumama neden oldu. Fakat kitabın sonunda böylesinin daha iyi olduğuna karar verdim, çünkü kitabın değeri akıcı bir okuma sunmasından çok ortaya koyduğu ve üzerine durup düşünülmesi gereken fikirlerden ileri geliyor.
Profile Image for Shane.
1,198 reviews17 followers
October 16, 2010
Read this a couple weeks ago but forgot to post it. Lem is insane (as usual). The first "story" is about a book that is similar to an almanac except that it contains statistics on EVERYTHING that happens on the earth every minute. Then there's one on Aliens and the probability which I thought was really cool because I always say, "With so many stars there has to be other life." But he starts doing the math on the conditions under which life arose here and you start to lose hope. The other story is about a future earth where computers take over everything (it's not a nice place) which was also pretty cool. So it was quick, enjoyable and educational all around.

More like 3.5 stars. Lem rocks! (or rocked actually because he's not around anymore.)
Profile Image for Robert.
460 reviews2 followers
June 17, 2019
Three book reviews. The 1st review is of a book that does not exist, the 2nd review is of a book from the future (ca. 2100), & the 3rd review is of a genre of books still to be written. The 1st review is of a reference book collecting a minute's worth of data for all of humanity. The 2nd review is of a book of military science from the future, when all war is made by nanobots. The 3rd review, dealing with the search for extraterrestrial life from the perspective of calculating the odds of the emergence of intelligence elsewhere in the milky way, is the densest & the hardest read. Lem has a dim view of humanity & a dark sense of humor, so it's both surprising and completely unsurprising that he looked down upon his fellow sci-fi authors with whom he shared so much.
Profile Image for Scott.
406 reviews2 followers
January 3, 2017
The title track "one human minute" reminds me of a Borges story. It's about a book that describes all human experience on earth over the course of 1 minute and the philosophy behind such a book and how dark and disturbing it would be - right now, every minute of every day - thousands of people are being tortured, thousands are taking their last breath.

Upside Down Evolution is about warfare and its future (which is really prophetic considering it was written in the early 80s)

The World As Cataclysm gets into the question of why - if there are so many other stars and planets out there - haven't we found any evidence of other civilizations? By far the best of the three.
Profile Image for Dee.
62 reviews1 follower
August 20, 2008
I feel that everyone must read a couple of this author's works. If for no other reason than to be edu-muh-cated a bit. The fact is science fiction is not merely fun or entertainyly thought provoking, but sometimes there are non-genre works which may still be described as science fiction. I suggest that this very odd little book is such a work.

Lem writes some EXCELLENT science fiction genre works but some of his pieces do deserve much closer reading.
Profile Image for Rich Meyer.
Author 56 books57 followers
December 9, 2014
An interesting trio of science fiction-tinged essays by one of the great science fiction writers. The title refers to one about a book that covers what happens on the planet every minute, and how the book is updated and computerized until it becomes a power unto itself. The other essays follow the search for intelligent life and the chances for finding it, and a look at the history of warfare from the point-of-view of a book from 2150, and manages to make some pretty accurate predictions.
Profile Image for André Bernhardt.
257 reviews12 followers
January 15, 2018
Within the English edition there should be three stories within the book in German there is only "Eine Minute der Menschheit".
It´s an awesome review of a fictional book that does not exist - surprise. Written in 1983 it is suprisingly fun (and a very short read tbh) and up to date even today but I guess that is what you expect from a SF author. Loved it!

ps.: Read it the first time 15 years ago and sadly forgot about it afterwards ...
Profile Image for Peter Dunn.
473 reviews21 followers
January 21, 2018
In 1986 Lem produced these three reviews of yet to be written books. One Human Minute takes data in a dance into a Wikipedia like inhuman minute; the Upside Down Evolution easily takes in what actual early 21st warfare became and will make you paranoid about what else might, or might not, be warfare; The World as Cataclysm speculates on how much we owe to past disasters and our place in a heartless universe of recurring cataclysm. Not bad for 100 pages written decades ago….
Profile Image for Diego.
469 reviews3 followers
May 20, 2012
Un recuento de todo el mundo en 1 minuto, una sátira estadística repleta de datos de que hacemos cada humano en un solo minuto en el mundo, como evolucionamos o involucionamos tal vez a una sociedad donde las computadoras piensan y los hombres no, donde todo la existencia de este universo o otros no es mas que una serie de estadísticas de incertidumbre de Heisenberg.
Profile Image for Kate.
1,175 reviews
June 23, 2014
"No one reads; if someone does read, he doesn't understand; if he understands, he immediately forgets."

"Everyone knows that this Arcadia is inaccessible, but its glow is effective nevertheless."

"To the eternally shooting geyser of semen this edition has added the river of milk that flows from the breasts of women all over the world into the mouths of infants."
Profile Image for Dave Quam.
21 reviews3 followers
September 17, 2017
The first collection of Lem's Fictitious literature pieces I've finished so far, though quite a bit different than A Perfect Vacuum, Imaginary Magnitude ect. Three essays on psycho statistics, insect warfare, and Fermi Paradox coincidences told though reviews of books that don't exist. Crazy, brilliant, and fucking hilarious, essential reading for all sci-fi freaks.
Profile Image for Jonathan Hockey.
Author 2 books14 followers
October 6, 2018
Quite disappointed with this one. I was expecting more intelligent and cutting satire, instead it was mainly just his own views and understanding of science with no satire at all. I could see this appealing to younger readers, some of the science was indeed interesting, but I didn't read this for some lectures on science. I read it for some intelligent satire, and it was simply lacking this.
Profile Image for Emile.
273 reviews
February 7, 2019
This is an interesting read here, ~30 years later. I think I prefer Lem's sillier stuff, like the Cyberiad. Of the three essays in this I enjoyed the title one best, I think. He comes across just a bit crotchety-old-man in all of them though.
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