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The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  8,355 Ratings  ·  472 Reviews
This is the 1st Avon printing.
Cover Artist: Daniel Mroz

Trurl and Klaupacius are constructor robots who try to out-invent each other. They travel to the far corners of the cosmos to take on freelance problem-solving jobs, with dire consequences for their employers. “The most completely successful of his books... here Lem comes closest to inventing a real universe” (Boston G
Paperback, #27201, 236 pages
Published 1976 by Avon (first published 1965)
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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
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... 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
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
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.),
Michael R.
Jun 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
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
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  ·  review of another edition
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
Jose Moa
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction, lem
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
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
Feb 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 27, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sandy Parsons
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
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 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
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
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
Jason Plein
Jan 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
The Final Song
Sep 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lasers-n-sheet
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
Paul ataua
I love Lem’s longer works and came to “The Cyberiad” following classics like ‘Solaris’, ‘The Invincible’, and ‘His Master’s Voice’ . Sadly, I was disappointed with this selection. The stories, following two inventors, are at times clever and sometimes vaguely humorous, but neither of those qualities endeared me to them. The creation of a machine that can create anything that starts with the letter N was a high point, but it was pretty much downhill from there on.
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Now I wonder why on Earth this book couldn't be a masterpiece of all the greatest science fiction in one's life time? May this be popular to the mainstream and shape the culture with wisdom, humors and altruism? or becoming the legend is too much to behold by the community that once used to discourage Stanislaw Lem because of his notorious insensible Communism reputation? I don't know the answers while being in awe by its utter brillience
Dec 09, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Doceniam zabawę konwencją, doceniam humor, a przede wszystkim doceniam ubranie w lekką formę tak wielu poważnych wątków. "Cyberiada" niewątpliwie zmusza do myślenia! Z przykrością muszę jednak stwierdzić, że po raz pierwszy książka Lema tak mnie wymęczyła. Zważywszy na wyżej wymienione zalety, samą mnie to trochę dziwi. Podejrzewam, że problem tkwi w silnej stylizacji języka - dla mnie zdecydowanie ciężkostrawnej.
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
William Leight
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was not what I had expected at all. I had thought of Lem as a very serious writer, but I don't think I have ever read a book with more nerdy jokes: there are so many I fear that readers lacking a background in mathematics and/or physics will be missing out. For instance, Klapaucius and Trurl's third sally begins with an extended and very funny riff on the idea of probabilistic dragons. Presumably, any reader who is more or less aware that in modern physics many things are not determini ...more

Kind of cartoonish fables with robots and kingdoms. All stories feature the same two 'constructors'. There's probably some social or political satire here that I'm not getting. I'm pretty sure I've read one of these stories in high school. I like to imagine it as animated in my head.

I've read all but the 2 long ones at the end.

The author is obviously a genius, but depth of characterization you will not get. If you're especially knowledgeable about math terms, this could be a treat for you. Ther
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.
Sep 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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.
Barb S.
Jul 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was brilliant and funny and philosophically deep. I had to consume it in small doses! It is basically space robot fables. I can't wait to read more from Lem.
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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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“ is easy not to believe in monsters, considerably more difficult to escape their dread and loathsome clutches.” 16 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!”
More quotes…