Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Imaginary Magnitude” as Want to Read:
Imaginary Magnitude
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Imaginary Magnitude

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  554 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
These wickedly authentic introductions to twenty-first-century books preface tomes on teaching English to bacteria, using animated X-rays to create "pornograms," and analyzing computer-generated literature through the science of "bitistics." "Lem, a science fiction Bach, plays in this book a googleplex of variations on his basic themes" (New York Times Book Review). Transl ...more
Paperback, 248 pages
Published October 28th 1985 by Mariner Books (first published 1973)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Imaginary Magnitude, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Imaginary Magnitude

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jul 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Me flipa la idea de hacer un libro de prólogos de libros inventados (con prólogo del autor y prólogo de otro autor). Me ha encantado especialmente el prólogo/resumen de un libro en el que un pavo relata múltiples experimentos a través de los cuales enseña a las bacterias (más bien a su codigo genético) a mandar mensajes en inglés (que no a hablar). Muy delirante.
Jul 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Lo mejor de Borges con lo mejor de Lem.
Aaron Arnold
This was Stanislaw Lem's first collection of reviews of non-existent books, also known as "pseudepigraphy" because every stylistic tic clearly deserves its own distinct Greco-Latinate title. As with most disciples of Borges this student doesn't trump the master, but this was flawed even compared to A Perfect Vacuum, which I highly enjoyed.

The main problem was that though these pieces are "funny", in that they are usually written to parody various styles of writing, they're not typically actually
May 13, 2013 rated it liked it
-Un trabajo correcto, poco común y realizado por un gigante.-

Género. Ensayo (pero no del tipo habitual, queridos lectores, avisados quedan).

Lo que nos cuenta. También conocida como “Magnitud imaginaria” en otras ediciones, recopilación de supuestos prólogos a varias obras igualmente supuestas que tratan temas tan interesantes como la pornografía a través de los rayos-x, la comunicación con bacterias gracias a su disposición en las placas Petri, la literatura de diferentes géneros pero escrita p
Montse Gallardo
Jun 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Presentar los prólogos sin el libro al que preceden podría ser una antología curiosa; sin embargo, estos ni siquiera necesitan acompañar a un libro; tienen entidad en sí mismos. ¿No es una idea genial?

Ya el primer prólogo, el del liberador de prólogos, nos sitúa en esa faceta del absurdo de Lem que tanto me gusta. Llevar a lo más literal una idea que no tiene ningún sentido (pues ¿qué es un prólogo, sino aquello que abre el libro y que puedes saltarte sin alterar en absoluto la historia? ¿qué se
Brent Stansfield
The first half is stunningly funny but the second is a sober, academic lecture. In the first half, wordplay and ideaplay abound and the form of the book (a collection of introductions from books to be written in the future) is followed strictly. In the second half, he immediately abandons all of this. I'm happy to hear Lem describe how he thinks a different intelligence might relate to us since both Solaris and His Master's Voice end with that disappointingly unanswered question. But in the seco ...more
Víctor Sampayo
Aug 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
De entrada, Stanisław Lem muestra el hilo que guiará al lector a través de su extrañísimo libro Magnitud imaginaria (Wielkość urojona, 1973): hace un prólogo que habla del arte de hacer prólogos... ver reseña completa
Beatriz Chavarri
Interesante, pero imposible de leer, de allí el abandono. Entiendo el recurso de la literatura ficticia, pero simplemente no funciona en el caso de este libro de prólogos, que a mi juicio se queda en el virtuosismo técnico pero no emociona ni entretiene. Una pena.
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
PROGNOLINGUISTICS, a discipline dealing with the prognostic construction of languages of the future. Future languages may be constructed on the basis of the in-fosemic gradients revealed in them, and also thanks to the generative grammars and word makers of the Zwiebulin-Tschossnietz school (v. GENAGRAMMAR and WORD-MAKERS). Humans are incapable of predicting languages of the future independently; this is undertaken within the framework of the PROLINGEV (prognostication of linguistic evolution) p ...more
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This book of introductions, forewards, and excerpts from 21st Century books reveals the eclectic nature of Lem's genius. He begins with the introduction (to be written by Stanislaw Ertel) to Necrobes by Cezary Strzybisz. This isn't so much an introduction as a critique of the 139 reproductions of X-ray photographs of living human beings, their soft parts hovering around the skeletal structure like a ghostly presence. He can't help associating these images to the work of artists such as Holbein, ...more
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: sci-fi, read-in-2016
So I thought this was going to be a bunch of reviews/introductions to books that didn't exist. It sounded like a really cool idea and a good way for an author to use ideas that weren't really big enough to write a novel or even a short story about.

So that's how it started off and it was fun for the first 96 pages. Then the next 152 pages were about humans building a computer AI that was smarter than any human. I read the first 40 or so pages of the AI story but then gave up and skipped to the 2
Oct 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Lem himself wasn't keen on being grouped with most other Sci-fi writers and -as in one of the stories here collected- showed contempt towards the genre. I however find it difficult not to think of him and his works as science Fiction, and some of the very best.

He shows us here, if in a condensed and abstract way, one of the things science fiction should definitely be: a window to mankind and how it relates to itself. In this book, while being playful, dramatic, darkly humorous (and dense), he br
Jun 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
geez. i had read a few other collections of lem short stories, including The Cyberiad, and they were pretty quick and enjoyable, so i picked this up as a fill-in between book club meetings. it ended up being much more dry and dense than i expected. but i came around to it after a while, especially the last, longest story, about a military supercomputer that turns to philosophy. dark speculation about intelligence and evolution - a good companion to Solaris and Fiasco.
Uno de esos casos en los que debería decirle al libro "no eres tú, soy yo", porque a pesar de la puntuación que le he dado reconozco lo interesante de la premisa y tiene muy buena valoración entre los lectores. Además, tras haber disfrutado con los académicos ficticios de Borges y Flann O'Brien pensé que Magnitud imaginaria sería un libro que amaría de principio a fin y en cambio ha sido todo lo contrario.

Sin embargo los múltiples prólogos me aburrieron un mundo y la historia sobre la literatura
Mar 04, 2014 rated it liked it
A book of two halves. The first a collection of fake introductions to fake books and the second an extended sampling of a fake book. The first half was much easier to appreciate than to enjoy. Each introduction has a solid idea at the kernel and some clever wordplay, but the author's commitment to masquerade as science makes for dry, jargon-dense text.

The second, more cohesive half was much more enjoyable for me. It builds an interesting narrative and holds a genuinely interesting (still rather
Dec 15, 2011 rated it liked it
Imaginary Magnitude is an anthology of introductions to fictional books. It's a delightful conceit that largely serves as a vehicle for Stanislaw Lem to ruminate on the nature of art and life. These ruminations oscillate between being lively and being very dry, but they are absolutely shot through with the level of imagination promised by the book's framing concept. Readers looking for narrative should consider skipping this book for risk of finding the long-winded essays a disappointment. All o ...more
Tim Sharp
Apr 07, 2016 rated it liked it
What begins as a playfully Borgesian series of introductions to fictional books takes a sharp left turn and morphs into a wide-ranging treatise on artificial intelligence and the evolutionary destiny of the mind. Not as light on its feet as Cyberiad or A Perfect Vacuum, and lacking the deeper characterisation of works such as Solaris or His Master's Voice, this is still an entertaining ride with Lem's usual caustic and intellectually omnivorous techno-philosophy interwoven throughout.
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Just the concept itself is intriguing - introductions to books which have not been written yet. A fictional exegesis on the nature of introductions. Must read this again! My copy is awash with particolored highlighter. Read this as an undergraduate, all too eager to find meaning in it. If i remember correctly the crux of the book is about a supercomputer gone sentient named Golem that stops talking to humans eventually.
Apr 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This one was challenging, most of the time enjoyably, but also a bit overwhelmingly when the hard science went really deep. But as usual, Lem's miraculous ability to render truly heady stuff into deeply engaging, thought-provoking entertainment leaves me feeling like I've been bootstrapped into a higher state of awareness. But if you're new to Lem, start elsewhere.
Jul 27, 2013 rated it liked it
This is a book of introductions to imaginary books (to be published in the future). A lot of word-play, a lot of ideas, a lot of speculation about intelligence and consciousness, plus some really nice insights about evolution.

I hate to rate a book by Lem as low as three stars, but unfortunately, I found that this book dragged at least as often as it enlivened.

Jul 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own, favorites
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 10, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: e-book, sci-fi, anthology, 2015
Interesting, but really, really, really dry.

It did contain one line that sums up Lem's overall philosophy in a nutshell:
Every creature that is not of your species is intelligible to you only to the extent to which it can be humanized.
Jan 14, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
Thought provoking if a bit hard to get through. Various stories about AIs that are lecturing us. Ahead of its time by an incredible amount.
Jan 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
I need to read this again, because the essays about evolution and the nature of artificial intelligence have stuck with me.
Nov 02, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Ara sıra iyi fikir cımbızlasam da okuması zorlayıcı, sıkıcı, fazla tekno-junk bir kitaptı.
Apr 12, 2014 rated it did not like it
A collection of introductions!
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Imaginary reviews of nonexistent technical books. One of the best 'from the AI's perspective' pieces ever written in the very last piece.
Jan 04, 2017 rated it liked it
You get a sense of how creative and fantastical the author can be, even in this translation from its original Polish.
Irmak Ertuna-howison
Dec 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
a humorous work of lem's major themes: anthropomorphism, consciousness, and possibility of communication. it's captivating as usual.
Anthony Discenza
rated it really liked it
Jan 26, 2008
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Overnight to Many Distant Cities
  • The Collected Writings Of Ambrose Bierce
  • Imaginary Lives
  • The Book of the Unknown: Tales of the Thirty-six
  • Who Killed John F. Kennedy? (Lose Your Own Adventure #1)
  • A Child Again
  • The Deep Zoo
  • A Collapse of Horses
  • Bats Out of Hell
  • The Various Lives of Keats and Chapman: Including The Brother
  • Store of the Worlds: The Stories of Robert Sheckley
  • Thus Were Their Faces: Selected Short Stories
  • The Secret of Evil
  • The Temple of Iconoclasts
  • A Touch of Strange
  • The Warren Commission Report: The Official Report of the President's Commission on the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy
  • The Decapitated Chicken and Other Stories
  • Nosferatu
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
More about Stanisław Lem...

Share This Book

“Only a hundred years ago the idea that an order might arise without a personal Author appeared so nonsensical to you that it inspired seemingly absurd jokes, like the one about the pack of monkeys hammering away at typewriters until the Encyclopedia Britannica emerged. I recommend that you devote some of your free time to compiling an anthology of just such jokes, which amused your forebears as pure nonsense but now turn out to be parables of Nature.” 6 likes
“... da la impresión de que cuando en un contexto literario se habla de inteligencia, parece que se está tratando de transformar la pulsión creativa en un algoritmo matemático. es como si la habilidad discursiva, la potencia analítica, el rigor lógico, la capacidad de abstracción, todas esas potencialidades humanas, fueran inservibles para la escritura, más conectada con la sensibilidad, la capacidad de observación, con la inteligencia emocional y, ahora sí, con el hábil manejo de las palabras.” 0 likes
More quotes…