By Stanislaw Lem (translated by Bill Johnston)
The Polish author Stanislaw Lem was one of the true giants of SF, but his works have often been hard to track down in good English-language versions. It was a signal event then when MIT Press recently acquired the English rights to six Lem titles, which they have now brought out in a series with some fresh translations, great cover art, and new introductions. I hope we’ll soon see more!
The Invincible, which is one of the initial six, is characteristic of Lem’s SF, telling the story of a spaceship sent to investigate the disappearance of a previous ship on Regis III. Exploring the planet, they discover an advanced case of “inanimate evolution”: a vast swarm of tiny mechanical “flies” that appears inimical to all forms of life.
But is the hive a form of life itself? Is it intelligent, or only following instinctual programming? One of Lem’s great themes is the impossibility of communicating with creatures that are incomprehensibly other, giving many of his books a profound and abiding sense of mystery that teases us well past the final page.
4 thoughts on “The Invincible”
I have an Ace paperback of this book, a 1973 English translation of the 1967 German translation of the original novel, in Polish. Thanks for letting me know about the MIT editions — I hope they are Polish-to-English. The Polish-to-English Solaris was better than the old Polish-to-French-to-English version I originally read.
Yes, I’ve read a few of these titles now from MIT and I’ve really liked all of them. This one is actually translated by Bill Johnston, who did the Polish-to-English Solaris you mention.
I see His Master’s Voice is one of these. I just read that a couple years ago. It’s Michael Kandel’s Polish-to-English translation, same as MIT’s.
My ebook has the same cover illustration as MIT’s but the colors are different. The publisher is Pro Auctore Wojciech Zemek. I guess MIT acquired the rights from them and have added a new introduction.
There is no MIT edition of Fiasco, which I also have in ebook form. Another Michael Kandel translation,
done in ’87. The publisher is Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
I think that’s right. As you know, the rights to Lem’s stuff are hopelessly complicated. I was hoping MIT would be doing everything eventually.