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One Human Minute

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  494 ratings  ·  42 reviews
Contains three essays--"One Human Minute," "The Upside-Down Revolution ," and "The World as Cataclysm"--from science fiction master Stanislaw Lem.
Paperback, 112 pages
Published November 24th 1986 by Mariner Books
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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 huma
Manuel Antão
May 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, 2018
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

“Every minute, 34.2 million men and women copulate. Only 5.7 percent of all intercourse results in fertilization, but the combined ejaculate, at a volume of forty-five thousand litters a minute, contains 1,990 billion (with deviations in the last decimal place) living spermatozoa. The same number of female eggs could be fertilized sixty times an hour with a minimal ratio of one spermatozoon to one egg, in which impossible case three mi
Oct 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Aaron Arnold
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 g ...more
Jun 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
xray iris
Oct 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fifties
profoundly interesting. 100% will reread.
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
Closer in imaginative endeavor to Le Guin's Always Coming Home (an archaeology of a culture that maybe one day will have existed along the coast of Northern California), these three short pieces begin with a review of a book that hasn't been written, and in so doing weighs matters of human disconnection and experience in Lem's sharp, bitter, and deliciously humorous fashion. A delight, one that, as a reader, one must work for. ...more
May 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I stumbled on this trawling the stacks at college. Absolutely one of my favorite books of all time.
Evan Fillon
Sep 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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.
Oct 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, read-in-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 ...more
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 em ...more
Jan 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 Catacl
Mar 29, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of Borges, Calvino, P.K. Dick
Recommended to Dee by: Lem recommends itself to lovers of strange and intellectual work
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.
Rich Meyer
Dec 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-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.
André Bernhardt
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 ...
Peter Dunn
Jan 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
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….
Jan 24, 2019 rated it it was ok
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.
May 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: humans, statisticians
Recommended to Kate by: PG 7158 L39 A25 1986
Shelves: tempo, essays
"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."
Dave Quam
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. ...more
Jonathan Hockey
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
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. ...more
Feb 06, 2019 rated it liked it
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. ...more
May 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely adore Lems works. His descriptions can transport anyone away to alien planets and alternate dimensions.
One Human Minute by Stanislaw Lem (1986)
Mar 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Lem writes wonderful reviews of books that don't exist. I'm still amazed to hear that they are making a film of this one. I'm curious as to the plot. ...more
Aug 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition!
John Rachel
Sep 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Better than LSD for expanding human consciousness. A work of genius.
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Only Lem could make you see the world this way. A must read.
Sep 07, 2014 rated it liked it
This book is composed of book reviews of 3 books that have not been written. Good ideas here, but read like some professor's lecture notes. ...more
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: library
The content is amazing, as is usual for Lem. Unfortunately, this Kindle conversion is sloppy and error-ridden.
Christian Schwoerke
May 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
One Human Minute comprises three essays displaying Lem’s profound and ironic intellect. The first essay is a mock book review of a compendious volume called “One Human Minute,” which is likened to a sort of Guinness Book of World Records, except that instead of the marvelous it is composed of everything mundane and representative of human beings. What’s ironic is that the abstraction into tables and statistics leaches out any intellect, spirit, or greatness in humanity.

The second essay begins w
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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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