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The Star Diaries: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy

(Ijon Tichy #1)

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4.27  ·  Rating details ·  6,083 ratings  ·  254 reviews
Ijon Tichy, Lem's Candide of the Cosmos, encounters bizarre civilizations and creatures in space that serve to satirize science, the rational mind, theology, and other icons of human pride. Line drawings by the Author. Translated by Michael Kandel. A Helen and Kurt Wolff Book
Paperback, 286 pages
Published June 26th 1985 by Mariner Books (first published 1971)
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Average rating 4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,083 ratings  ·  254 reviews


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Bill Kerwin
May 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction

Although Solaris is Stanislaw Lem’s most esteemed work, I believe The Star Diaries—the contemporaneous memoirs of star-pilot Ijon Tichy—to be a better representative of his genius, for it is ambitious in scope, inventive, and often profound.

The Star Diaries, a series of interplanetary adventures ranging in size from mere vignette to long novella, was written over a period of twenty years, and therefore--no surprise!—these pieces vary considerably in seriousness and depth, moving from the playful to the satiric and/>The
...more
Glenn Russell


Bold adventurer Ijon Tichy zooms across the universe in his midget rocket ship as if zipping around Poland (Stanislaw Lem’s home country) in a midget racing car. Are we talking here about another Flash Gordon or Hans Solo? Hardly. Ijon is more like your prototypical college math instructor with his skinny tie, wrinkled shirt, corduroy pants, scuffed up loafers and nerd eyeglasses held together by tape. But, it must be admitted, Ijon Tichy keeps a level head as he deals with a string of challenge
...more
7jane
Feb 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I need to reread this to review the book properly, but I know I liked it a lot, and even made a (view spoiler) out of one story, just for fun. Since I read it first in Finnish, the English reading experience will no doubt feel different :)
Susan Budd
Aug 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Stanislaw Lem is an author I should have discovered decades ago. You’d think that somewhere between Wells and Stapledon, Asimov and Clarke, Bradbury and Vonnegut, I’d have come across Lem. But I didn’t. I might have seen some excerpts in The Mind’s I, but that was long after I stopped reading sci-fi and started my studies in philosophy. Then last year I discovered Lem and he single-handedly renewed my interest in sci-fi.

The Star Diaries is the fifth book I’ve read so far. The others are (in order read)/>The
...more
Jeannette Nikolova
Also available on the WondrousBooks blog.

What a fantastic book! One of the best ones that I have read this year!!! If you have not read it, and I assume that is the situation, I highly recommend it!

"I sat at my desk today, to write, and the chair said to me: 'What a strange world this is!"

I will put this bluntly: I am highly aware that the English speaking world generally neglects the literature of the rest of the world, which is the idea behind the Reading the World challenge to begin with. I am also aware that among the worl

it!
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Charles Dee Mitchell
Feb 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mid-century-sf
The morning I started reading this edition of Lem’s Star Diaries, I got about a hundred pages into it. When I put it down, I felt like I had over-indulged at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Each of Ijon Tichy’s intergalactic adventures in the 23rd century comes so packed with jokes, adventure, word play, hairsbreadth escapes, satire, and sophisticated scientific and philosophical speculation, they are best absorbed one at a time. They are going to all run together in the end, leaving the reader as dizzy as L ...more
Denis
Apr 05, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hardcover, library
This was good fun. I read "Solaris", saw the two versions of the movie, one Russian and the other, American starring Mr. Clooney. My impression based on that was that he was serious, very philosophical and very trippy as well. This book was initially unexpected as it was very humorous, but yet, it had all the elements mentioned about Solaris. It is a different type satirical humour than that of Vonnagut Jr. but on par. This book was equally smart, clever, very funny and introspective all at once ...more
Michelle
Jan 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
The Star Diaries really defy comparison with anything I have read before. Although the dry humor I expect from Eastern European fiction is there, the story lines and philosophical wanderings are idiosyncratic in the extreme.

Lem's diarist Ijon Tichy is a starship pilot, galactic explorer and self-styled diplomat whose adventures around the universe lead him into frequent philosophical and religious discussions and even more frequent menace to his strange-by-comparison-to-aliens earthl
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Jeanne
Apr 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Jeanne by: Roger Peet
I had seen "Solaris" waaay back in college I think. Beautiful, but slowly paced, and this was a time that I slept through bits of a lot of movies. So I was thinking that this series of "journeys" of Ijon Tichy written by the author of Solaris (which I haven't read) would be serious and dry.

I was right and wrong. The subject matter of spaceship navigator Tichy's voyages are plenty serious and related with the driest of humor. Many of the convolutions of time and space involve Tichy, full wel
...more
Cărăşălu
Jan 27, 2017 rated it liked it
I didn't enjoy it as much as expected. Maybe I read it too late. Maybe what was original, witty, creative and imaginative at the time of the book's writing is now part of your ordinary modern sci-fi menu. Most of all, The Star Diaries reminded me of Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the difference being that Lem's Diaries are not a proper novel, but a collection of short stories. Most of them are meant to be comical and satirize prevalent sci-fi tropes like time travel. Despi ...more
Chris Fellows
Mar 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Before Arthur Dent, there was Ijon Tichy.

Before our civilisation disappeared into its own navel, there were the Dichoticans. And before we started to prattle about 'Singularities' the robot monks of Dichotica had already looked unflinchingly into that abyss.

Before we ceased to create science fiction, there was this book showing us the sort of thing we could be creating instead.

Cheryl
Sep 25, 2016 marked it as xx-dnf-skim-reference  ·  review of another edition
Struggled through about 2/3 before giving up. I think I'll finally get around to reading Gulliver's Travels instead.
Kristel
The Star Diaries by Stanislav Lem is a group of short stories that the author wrote over a time period from 1950s and expanded and reissued in 1971. The stories are travel logs of space traveler, Ijon Tichy and translated by Michael Kandel from the polish in 1976. The Introduction and Introduction to the Expanded Edition are really a part of the book as well and not truly Introductions as can be gatthered from "The press tells us that Tichy used a ghost-writer, or that he never even existed, his ...more
Ram
Dec 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humor, sci-fi
A collection of the unexpected adventures of the famous spaceman Ijon Tichy.

Tichy encounters a variety of strange problems in his travels and solves them in ways that are certainly unconventional. The book excels in absurd writing, full of original ideas and various inventions.

The book, is composed of short stories, all related to his solo voyages in space.
Most of the stories are excellent, some a bit tedious.

My favorites were

"The Eighth Voyage", in w
...more
Barak
Mar 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars.

A brilliant and hilarious (I find) parody, emblematic of the "Speculative Fiction" Genre, but where the word "Speculative" actually denotes what it's meant to. This is one of the best philosophical Sci-Fi works I have ever read (or rather re-read), and certainly the most original.

When I was reading it decades ago I completely missed all the allusions and references to philosophy and history, which were so clear to me - thus hugely entertaining - now.

...more
Calzean
This is a unique book for a sci-fi. Each chapter describes one of the voyages of Ijon Tichy's intergalactic adventures in the 23rd century. The stories are a mixture of futuristic crystal-balling, deadpan humour, discussions on religion, satirical insights into the results of man's constant search for perfection, the dangers of technology and more satire on government bureaucracy and their use of fear to control the population. It is a book of genius.
I really like the Eighth Voyage, which
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Nihal Vrana
After Olaf Stapledon, Stanislaw Lem is my favourite Science-fiction writer. This collection of short stories is considerably weaker than his other works. Lem was a genius for sure, but he was not a comedy genius (drawing neither), the Douglas Adams-like nature of these stories does not really suit well with the gist of his ideas.

One other thing is the character of Ijon Tichy. He might be the most non-existent character in the history of literature. I have read hundreds of pages about
...more
Useresu
Jul 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I can only be ashamed of myself passing by this genial stories in high school by one of the best writer of my country, bah - the world! However the timing may be perfect as often you'll find things coming from the past to save your future. I recently started to loose hope for sci-fi genre and looking for older books to rediscover the roots. Lem is universal and beyond time...and funny!
Btw - the story with electronic brains in chests? - now I know who did Wachowsky's ripped off to make Matrix ;)
Bbrown
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it
The Star Diaries is yet another work demonstrating Lem’s impressive range as an author. In this collection’s tales, many of which can be described as “slapstick,” Lem tackles history, philosophy, religion, and of course science, with tongue planted firmly in cheek throughout. We experience these many farces through the protagonist Ijon Tichy, who is a bit genre savvy but not at all actually savvy (try keeping track of how many times he’s imprisoned). The voice that Lem gives Tichy unifies these ...more
Jennifer Abdo
Apr 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
I wouldn't consider myself a sci fi fan, but this author, like Capek's War With the Newts, has very good points in religion, philosophy, politics, human nature to illustrate. There are dizzying time travel loops, odd creatures and machines, fascinating customs like squamp hunting, like in many sci fi novels no doubt. This one didn't really endear itself to me until the 21st voyage, I have to say, where there is a discussion about God and Satan as dizzying as the recursive time travel loops are t ...more
Steve
Jul 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I love this collection of short-stories about the adventures of astronaut-adventurer Ijon Tichy. The stories are often Swiftian and usually very funny. My favorite involves Tichy in a time-loop in which he argues with a series of past and future selves to try to repair his space-ship. It is an early exploration of themes that are played out more fully in The Time Traveler's Wife. Great summer reading: it's funny and playful but still thought-provoking.
Gui
May 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audiobook
I didn't expect to like this book so much but this has everything I want in a sci-fi book. This is a collection of stories following Ijon Tichy's adventures across the galaxy. I loved the one about the mutant potatoes: "Thus far observations show that man has mashed potatoes millions of times, but it is not inconceivable that one time in a billion the situation could reverse itself, that a potato could mash a man." People in Poland must really like this one, too.
Travis Dixon
Aug 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Really struggling to get more than a few chapters into this one.

Finding the narrative quite disconnected, (more so than illuminatus! trilogy) to the point where I can't build a model of the characters, universe or concepts, and therefore can't engage with the book.

The prose doesn't particularly enthrall me either
Ola Banasińska
Apr 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant, witty take on random philosophical concepts, sprinkled with some truly original (at the time at least) science fiction - I love Lem! (when he doesn't make his main character get angry at everyone and everything all the time, that is)
Chris
May 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
Humorous. Similar to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but more thought-provoking and less random. (Slav 117- Univ Sophomore)
Kevin
Aug 21, 2014 rated it really liked it
I wish more SF was this intelligent and funny.
James F
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf, fantasy, world
There is, perhaps appropriately, a certain confusion about the chronology of this book. The translator's afterword, which seems to be "straight", unlike the Introduction which is written from within the world of the book, says that it contains the original 1957 stories in addition to some written later in the 1960s and 1970. The stories are in the order of the numbered "voyages", which does not correspond to the order in which they were written. The translator lists the order in which they were ...more
Jenny Dahl Bakken
Aug 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is brilliant in so many ways - it’s great satire, making fun of humanity’s self-importance and belief that we must be the only intelligent species. The main character, Ijon Tichy, is flawed in many ways and also vain and quite self-centered. Sometimes philosophical, sometimes dark, very often funny, this book is a sci-fi classic - raising questions as to what it means to be human, in its own way criticizing religion and showing us the absurdity of our own civilization through the lens ...more
Yannis
Sep 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Though not a short story collection per se, it's actually stories about the travels of Tichy. Some of them are 5 star material. You could make a 5 star book out of every single one of them! Some aren't that great but still they are pretty damn good and make overall for a great book. Amazing ideas, the hero is fun but it kinda has the same issues as most short stories collections/anthologies out there. Not much development, the plot is too fast etc etc. But I would recommend this book both to eve ...more
Rachel Cordasco
Nov 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My review on sfintranslation.com

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Sci-Fi Group Book...: The Star Diaries: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy 16 14 Oct 12, 2019 08:48PM  
Speculative Ficti...: (Review) The Star Diaries 1 8 Nov 24, 2017 10:42AM  
Is anyone familiar with a particular story? 1 11 Jan 20, 2016 12:21AM  

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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 world.

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Other books in the series

Ijon Tichy (5 books)
  • Memoirs of a Space Traveler: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy
  • The Futurological Congress: From the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy
  • Peace on Earth
  • Wizja Lokalna
“The semanticists maintained that everything depends on how you interpret the words “potato,” “is” and “moving.” Since the key here is the operational copula “is,” one must examine “is” rigorously. Whereupon they set to work on an Encyclopedia of Cosmic Semasiology, devoting the first four volumes to a discussion of the operational referents of “is.” The neopositivists maintained that it is not clusters of potatoes one directly perceives, but clusters of sensory impressions. Then, employing symbolic logic, they created terms for “cluster of impressions” and “cluster of potatoes,” devised a special calculus of propositions all in algebraic signs and after using up several seas of ink reached the mathematically precise and absolutely undeniable conclusion that 0=0.” 5 likes
“A world compelled to good alone is as much a shrine to compulsion as a world compelled to evil only.

The Twenty-first Voyage”
4 likes
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