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Bringing his twin gifts of scientific speculation and scathing satire to bear on that hapless planet, Earth, Lem sends his unlucky cosmonaut, Ijon Tichy, to the Eighth Futurological Congress. Caught up in local revolution, Tichy is shot and so critically wounded that he is flashfrozen to await a future cure. Translated by Michael Kandel.


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Bringing his twin gifts of scientific speculation and scathing satire to bear on that hapless planet, Earth, Lem sends his unlucky cosmonaut, Ijon Tichy, to the Eighth Futurological Congress. Caught up in local revolution, Tichy is shot and so critically wounded that he is flashfrozen to await a future cure. Translated by Michael Kandel.

30 review for The Futurological Congress: From the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Russell

    "Books are no longer read but eaten, not made of paper but of some informational substance, fully digestible, sugar-coated. A few grams of dantine, for instance, and a man goes around with the deep conviction that he has written The Divine Comedy. -Stanislaw Lem, The Futurological Congress A short novel narrated by cosmonaut Ijon Tichy, a kind of futuristic Alexis de Tocqueville who shares his travel report and diary beginning at a convention of world futurologists held at a space age hotel in Co "Books are no longer read but eaten, not made of paper but of some informational substance, fully digestible, sugar-coated. A few grams of dantine, for instance, and a man goes around with the deep conviction that he has written The Divine Comedy. -Stanislaw Lem, The Futurological Congress A short novel narrated by cosmonaut Ijon Tichy, a kind of futuristic Alexis de Tocqueville who shares his travel report and diary beginning at a convention of world futurologists held at a space age hotel in Costa Rica where he has a room one hundred floors above the street. Tichy is as clearheaded as Thomas Jefferson or Isaac Newton, a well-educated gentleman with an impeccable moral sense. Too bad Tichy isn’t living in the eighteenth century age of reason rather than the twenty-first century of the future where the entire world has gone mad on mass ingestion of every variety and kind of weird pills to alter mood and even weirder chemicals to twist, bend, rotate and transform the mind. This was my very first Stanislaw Lem and it certainly will not be my last. Did the author coat the corners of the book’s pages with hallucinogens for me to lick? Sometimes, as I turned the pages, I thought such a practice would have been most appropriate. In a similar spirit, below are a batch of psychic hits, eight strobe light flashes, of what a reader will encounter with Lem's spectacular, speculative loop-the-loop: Kill the Pope: At a hotel bar, one where an all-girl orchestra plays Bach while performing striptease to the rhythm of baroque music, a burly, bearded bloke sticks his double-barreled rifle under cosmonaut Tichy’s nose and asks how he likes his papalshooter. Big Beard then goes on to explain how he is flying to Rome to shoot the Pope, what he terms “Operation P” in the spirit of Abraham and Isaac in reverse (rather than father killing son, he's son who will kill father). And, turns out, this guy is a devout and loyal Catholic! The sole reference to religion in the novel. Thank the Lord! – with devotion like this, who needs fanatics? Future Writers: The hotel is also hosting a banquet for Liberated Literature, where loudspeakers play: “Now to make it in the arts, publicize your private parts! Critics say you can’t offend ‘em with your phallus or pudendum.” And later on Tichy bumps into Harvy Simsworth, a writer who turns fairy tales and classic literature into hardcore porno - Ali Baba and the Forty Perverts, King Leer, what Snow White really did with the seven dwarfs, what Jack really did with Jill. Just in case anybody thinks our current day degenerate literature couldn’t get any more debased and debauched. Something in the Water: Back in his hotel room Tichy's good mood begins to soar higher and higher by the minute. Even though he cracks his head on the furniture, the lights go out and he can’t get the telephone to work, Ijon Tichy considers his hotel room one of the nicest in the world. He could hug, caress and kiss his worst enemies. But when he laughs with uncontrollable hilarity with how “the butter might splutter and make the flame gutter,” Ijon senses something is amiss. Ah, of course! The glass of water he drank from the bathroom tap. Our rational cosmonaut is given his first glimpse how those in power will attempt to manipulate and control the population – mind-altering chemicals. Japanese Proposal: The futureologists are treated to Hayakawa’s plan for the house of the future: eight hundred levels complete with schools, shops, theaters, museums, sports fields, special gymnasiums for group sex, catacombs for nonconformists, rotating apartments to alleviate boredom, recycled food such as artificial bananas, gingerbread and shrimp made from, well, I’ll spare you Hayakawa’s detail. Oh, my goodness, living in housing like this (if you call this living), no wonder people eagerly reach for mind-expanding, feel good drugs. I think I’d do the same. Kaboom!: A number of spectators in the upper seats listening to Hayakawa’s grand scheme evidently had a similar reaction: someone hurled a Molotov cocktail into the hall. Levelheaded Tichy flees to safety and reads the local newspaper the following day: “I was amazed to find articles full of saccharine platitudes on the theme of the tender bonds of love as the surest guarantee of universal peace – right beside articles that were full of dire threats, articles promising bloody repression or else an equally bloody insurrection.” Our cosmonaut reasons that some journalists have been drinking the water and some not. Pandemonium: The violence escalates beyond the hotel. The government acts quickly, dropping LTN bombs on the undesirables. The results are not as anticipated – LTN stands for Love Thy Neighbor and some of the bombs hit their own riot police. Ijon Tichy witnesses: “Before my eyes policemen tore the masks from their faces and, shedding copious tears of remorse, fell to their knees and begged the demonstrators for forgiveness, pushing the billy clubs into their hands with fervent pleas to be severely beaten." Escape: All hell breaks loose and Ijon and several other futurologists seek refuge down in the city’s sewer system. Among the many things they encounter are enormous sleek rats walking in single file on their hind legs. Ijon pinches himself, wondering if he is hallucinating. Nope – all of what he is experiencing is as real as real. Well, maybe. Utopia/Dystopia: After a sequence of rescues from the city sewer system and the rats, after surgery and having been kept in deep freeze for years, Ijon is defrosted and wakes up in 2038. Ah, he can experience for himself humankind’s future New York City. Ijon quickly discovers chemicals to induce artificial worlds (psychems) are all the rage, how the city kids and teenagers are so considerate and sweet (that’s certainly a switch!), the weather is determined by vote, and how a plethora of words and expressions are new, new, new, new: threever, pingle, hemale, placize, cobnoddling, snthy and dozens more. If you enjoy language and wordplay, you will LOVE this Stanislaw Lem novel. On second thought, I think I’ll do a reread and lick the pages now and then. I’d advise you do the same. Thanks to Goodreads friend Manny Rayner for bring this stunning classic of science fiction to my attention. : Stanislaw Lem (1921 - 2006), Polish author of satirical essays and science fiction, a writer with boundless imagination, laser-sharp mind, lively sense of humor and an uncanny ability to play chess, volleyball, Russian roulette and hundreds of other games with language.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mario the lone bookwolf

    Join Ijon Tichy´s short trip to the unconventional group meeting therapy sessions called intergalactic politics. The only ones coming close to Lem´s subtility and dark humor are Twain, Capek, and some others I am too procrastinating to remember their names, excluding Clarke, who was epic and philosophical, but didn´t intend to reach the meta cynical level, instead more moving towards philosophical and even positive, utopian visions. If you like this one, you will love The star Diaries, by far Lem Join Ijon Tichy´s short trip to the unconventional group meeting therapy sessions called intergalactic politics. The only ones coming close to Lem´s subtility and dark humor are Twain, Capek, and some others I am too procrastinating to remember their names, excluding Clarke, who was epic and philosophical, but didn´t intend to reach the meta cynical level, instead more moving towards philosophical and even positive, utopian visions. If you like this one, you will love The star Diaries, by far Lem´s best and most important work, because it owns and satirizes anything, faith, politics, ideology, science, etc. Its short stories open up so many ideas, introspections, speculations, hypotheses, and fantasy dreams by giving inspirations to expand these amazing ideas. It seems as if Lem is unable to write a page without superbly dissing someone who truly deserves it, constructing amazing settings, allegories, and deep thoughts, making him an uncomparable marvel of sci-if, it´s most underrated and unknown genius. Of course, it´s no easy walk to climb the rhetorical mountain Lem, it´s a writing style without compromises to general storytelling conventions, that´s what is anyway enabling these visions a normal novel couldn´t handle with such stylistic ingenuity. In contrast to The star diaries, it´s a real novel that has and will inspire many authors who are dealing with conscience, politics, satire, and sci-fi themes, because it has a density of action and plots that is amazing for such a short work. Lem goes ironic fully automatic pun fire, hopefully deactivating the filter bubble self deceit cognitive dissonance ignorance shields of as many readers as possible. That´s especially important nowadays, as many ideals of humanitarianism, ethics, and morals go missing in strengthening conservative and extreme tendencies with backlashes and stuff. If people would get copies of master sarcasts, instead of ideology fueled faith economic politics drivel, into their hands at a young age, they could grow to become the critical, mind opened adults that are desperately needed to stop this lunacy. Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique: https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.ph...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Manny

    Stanislaw Lem outdoes Philip K. Dick on the latter's home territory. If reading this doesn't make you doubt the solidity of the world for at least a moment or two, you are an enviably secure person. I'm afraid I still feel apprehensive any time I notice I'm inexplicably out of breath after taking an elevator. Luckily that doesn't happen very often. Stanislaw Lem outdoes Philip K. Dick on the latter's home territory. If reading this doesn't make you doubt the solidity of the world for at least a moment or two, you are an enviably secure person. I'm afraid I still feel apprehensive any time I notice I'm inexplicably out of breath after taking an elevator. Luckily that doesn't happen very often.

  4. 4 out of 5

    MJ Nicholls

    A frenetic, benzedrinical helter-skelter masterwork of neological loopiness and warp-nine schizomania, served in a tureen of insane, prophetic, and batshit prose that maintains a neck-snapping pace of breathless imaginative dizziness across 129 faultless pages.

  5. 5 out of 5

    H.M. Ada

    Ok, so I don't want to give too much away here. This short book, almost a novella really, takes you on quite a ride, and I really enjoyed not knowing where it was going, so I'm not going to say too much about the plot. But basically it starts in one dystopian future, where the main character is at a convention about solving the world's many serious problems, and then it takes you to another, where all of those problems have been solved by technology - and pharmacology in particular. This is refe Ok, so I don't want to give too much away here. This short book, almost a novella really, takes you on quite a ride, and I really enjoyed not knowing where it was going, so I'm not going to say too much about the plot. But basically it starts in one dystopian future, where the main character is at a convention about solving the world's many serious problems, and then it takes you to another, where all of those problems have been solved by technology - and pharmacology in particular. This is referred to as a psycho-chemical society or "chemocracy," and the science has advanced so much that cheap and readily available drugs can be used to bring about any desired mental state. Specific dreams can be ordered and received in pill form, books are no longer read but consumed, and drugs can even be taken to make one more moral, compassionate, or understanding. "A caveman would also resist a streetcar." And that's all I want to say about the plot. But what follows are some really cool twists and turns and some matrix style "what is reality," "where is technology taking us" philosophy, as well as some psychology, sarcastic humor, dystopian conflict, and just a little bit of politics. "Averroes, Kant, Socrates, Newton, Voltaire, could any of them have believed it possible that in the twentieth century the scourge of cities, the poisoner of lungs, the mass murderer and idol of millions would be a metal receptacle on wheels, and that people would actually prefer being crushed to death inside it during frantic weekend exoduses instead of staying, safe and sound, at home?" I enjoyed this. It was a fun, easy read that dealt with some serious topics and made me think. I'm always amazed too when I read a book that's been around for a while (this was first published in 1971), and I realize how many newer ideas that I thought were so original have been contemplated by great thinkers before. Definitely going to check out more from this author.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kasia

    "Now to make it in the arts, publicize your private parts! Critics say you can't offend 'em with your phallus or pudendum!" That's the translation, the original version: „Tylko głupiec i kanalia lekceważy genitalia, bo najbardziej jest dziś modne reklamować części rodne!” Do you like it? I find it hilarious, in both languages, and it's roughly the same. WTF? You ask. Well, it's a slogan Lem made up for the use of this book, and I think it shows a little something about this guy. But don't be mistaken, "Now to make it in the arts, publicize your private parts! Critics say you can't offend 'em with your phallus or pudendum!" That's the translation, the original version: „Tylko głupiec i kanalia lekceważy genitalia, bo najbardziej jest dziś modne reklamować części rodne!” Do you like it? I find it hilarious, in both languages, and it's roughly the same. WTF? You ask. Well, it's a slogan Lem made up for the use of this book, and I think it shows a little something about this guy. But don't be mistaken, there isn't much about genitals in this book, Lem's rather prudish and he used this limerick quatrain to point out how obsessed the modern day pop culture is with sexuality (What can be done, Mr.Lem? Really?!) As for the rest of the book, it's so whacked up and schizoid that I'm starting to think Lem must have dropped some acid before he sat down to write. Most of it requires higher brain function to process. It's the damn made-up terminology. Shitloads of new vocab. It's all clever and intuitive (the way the road signs are intuitive), also amusing. But there's so much of it, it can cause you a headache. For once, I'm glad I've read it in Polish, let's face it, I'm still way more comfortable with that language. To give you a taste, I'll share some of the headache (Before you dig in, it helps to know that The Futurological Congress is a dystopian novel about so called cryptochemocracy): 12 VIII 2039. I finally got up the courage to ask some pedestrians where I might find a bookstore. They shrugged. As a pair I had accosted walked off, I heard one say to the other, "That's a grandfather stiff for you." Could it be that there is prejudice here against defrostees? Some other unfamiliar expressions I've come across: threever, pingle, he-male, to widge off, palacize, cobnoddling, synthy. The newspapers advertise such products as tishets, vanilli-ums, nurches, autofrotts (manual). The title of a column in the city edition of the Herald: "I Was a Demimother." Something about an eggman who was yoked on the way to the eggplant. The big Webster isn't too helpful: "Demimother—like demigran, demijohn. One of two women jointly bringing a child into the world. See Polyanna, Polyandrew." "Eggman—from mailman (Archaic). A euplanner who delivers licensed human gametes (female) to the home." I don't pretend to understand that. This crazy dictionary also gives synonyms that are equally incomprehensible. "Threever—trimorph." "Palacize, bepalacize, empalacize—to castellate, as on a quiz show." "Paladyne—a chivalric assuagement." "Vanillium—extract emphorium, portable." The worst are words which look the same but have acquired entirely different meanings. "Expectorant—a conception aid." "Pederast—artificial foot faddist." "Compensation—mind fusion." "Simulant—something that doesn't exist but pretends to. Not to be confused with simulator, a robot simulacrum." "Revivalist—a corpse, such as a murder victim, brought back to life. See also exhumant, disintermagent, jack-in-the-grave." Apparently it's nothing nowadays to raise the dead. And the people—just about everyone—panting. Panting in the elevator, in the street, everywhere. They appear to be in the best of health, rosy-cheeked, cheerful, sun-tanned, and yet they puff. I don't. So evidently one doesn't have to. A custom, or what? I asked Aileen. She laughed at me—nothing of the kind. Could I be imagining it? If you think it's any less confusing in original, it's not. So yeah, this might not be best Lem book. Certainly not one you should start with if you haven't read anything of him. But do try him out one day. He's usually not this high. Now with you're permission, I'm gonna go and lie down and try to cure my impending headache with a cocktail of Hedonidol, Euphoril, Empathan, Ecstasine and Placidol. That should help. There's no need for LTN bombs (LTN: Love Thy Neighbor), I love thee already, and Lem too.

  7. 4 out of 5

    David Katzman

    Brilliant! Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Written in 1975, in Polish, The Futurological Congress is easily as relevant today as then. The story consists of two parts. One set in a near future and then one in a more distant future, hypothetically 2039. Part one is the most absurd satire of academia, U.S. - third world relations, and those "trend predictors" of the future. Part two imagines a future that is the xtreme-sports version of "Brave New World." And told with the most experimental lingui Brilliant! Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant! Written in 1975, in Polish, The Futurological Congress is easily as relevant today as then. The story consists of two parts. One set in a near future and then one in a more distant future, hypothetically 2039. Part one is the most absurd satire of academia, U.S. - third world relations, and those "trend predictors" of the future. Part two imagines a future that is the xtreme-sports version of "Brave New World." And told with the most experimental linguistic acrobatics. This book is an amazing feat, really. Blending absurd comedy with tragedy. Experimentalism with humanism. It's disjointed yet perfectly whole. His take on Brave New World on steriods essentially predicted virtual reality through drugs. I was astounded and amazed by it. A short novel, you can eat it up in just a day or two. Please go buy it. It was written by a mad, profound genius. Plus, it's weird af. A must read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    This outrageous and satisfying adventure of star voyager Ijon Tichy, Stanislaw Lem’s galactic Gulliver, is not strictly part of The Star Diaries at all, for it shows us our hero Tichy in a terrestrial setting for a change: in Nounas, Costa Rica, to be precise, where he is an attendee of the Eighth World Futurological Congress. This annual academic convention—which takes place in a hundred-story luxury hotel, divorced from the teeming country below that “boasts the highest rate of demographic gro This outrageous and satisfying adventure of star voyager Ijon Tichy, Stanislaw Lem’s galactic Gulliver, is not strictly part of The Star Diaries at all, for it shows us our hero Tichy in a terrestrial setting for a change: in Nounas, Costa Rica, to be precise, where he is an attendee of the Eighth World Futurological Congress. This annual academic convention—which takes place in a hundred-story luxury hotel, divorced from the teeming country below that “boasts the highest rate of demographic growth in the world”—seeks solutions to the increasing problems of an overcrowded, overpopulated civilization. Lem paints a satiric picture of the academics—fecklessness, self-absorbed men, with nothing but fantastical and improbable solution—and revels in the chaotic diversity of the conventioneers (futurologist of course, aging student protestors, matchbook collectors, and, most diverting of all, the professional pornographers.) It all seems like good harmless fun, until local terrorists put something in the water… Soon Tichy (and the reader) embarks on a journey—both inward and outward—in which it is difficult to separate the hallucinatory from the sociological, the surrealist fantasy from the satirical insight. It would be unfair to give too much of the plot away, but let’s just say that Lem anticipates The Matrix by at least a generation and, when he does, he refuses to hold anything back. This is a classic, seminal science fiction novel. And it's short too. Everybody who cares about the genre—and our world—should read it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jesse Campagna

    Maybe the most mind bending, and pain inducing books I've ever read. Also the most eye openning and refreshing. The book that both made me want to die and gave me reason to live. Maybe the most mind bending, and pain inducing books I've ever read. Also the most eye openning and refreshing. The book that both made me want to die and gave me reason to live.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    This novella is a reality-bending substance, a crazy roller-coaster or helter-skelter ride of a book, concerning the further adventures of Lem's anti-hero, Ijon Tichy. It's both philosophical and deeply funny at the same time. Taking the Berkeleyan concept of the location of subjective reality within individual consciousness, Lem refracts it though a prism of narcotics and takes it on a mind-warping freak-out. At first, the humour reminded me of Woody Allen - very 1970s-surrealist - and the plot This novella is a reality-bending substance, a crazy roller-coaster or helter-skelter ride of a book, concerning the further adventures of Lem's anti-hero, Ijon Tichy. It's both philosophical and deeply funny at the same time. Taking the Berkeleyan concept of the location of subjective reality within individual consciousness, Lem refracts it though a prism of narcotics and takes it on a mind-warping freak-out. At first, the humour reminded me of Woody Allen - very 1970s-surrealist - and the plot even recalled Sleeper. But much of the book turned out to be timelessly amusing. Have you ever stripped the paint from an ancient door? Layer after layer of different coloured paint comes away from the wood, becoming more faded as you scrape deeper, eventually revealing the poor state of the wood underneath. That's what happens with the layers of reality in this book, rendering the dystopia ever more grim until the comic ending. Did Lem ever experiment with hallucinogens? From reading this, you'd have thought so... And towards the end, the trip turns bad. Here, the layers fall away from Tichy's companion, Professor Trottelreiner, previously the height of academic dandyism: Instead of his appliqued trousers and professorial spats there were two casually crossed artificial legs... And evidently he still wore glasses, though one of the lenses was cracked. In his neck, in the opening of a tracheotomy, a vocoder had been inserted - carelessly enough - and it bobbed up and down as he talked... I didn't see a left hand; the right, clutching a pencil, was fashioned out of brass and green with verdigris... There's a debt to Aldous Huxley here. Lem's narcotically-controlled dystopia plays variations on a theme from Brave New World and its instant happiness drug, soma. The product is a chemically lobotomised world. Towards the end, Lem covers similar ground to Huxley's Island, considering the possibilities of ameliorating the aging and dying processes through the use of narcotics. Not for nothing did The Doors name themselves after Huxley's work of proto-psychedelia, The Doors of Perception. It's possible to read The Futurological Congress as an allegory for a number of different phenomena. The false perceptions described might be read as a metaphor for what Richard Dawkins calls "the God delusion". Or they might represent the folly of consumerist materialism. Or maybe it's all just an excuse for some good jokes and a consideration of the nature of perception and reality. Oh, and let's not forget the Malthusian aspect (in Lem's alternative world, the human population has reached 95 billion). While the Rev Malthus might have got his exponential predictions wrong, there's no doubt that the size of the human population is having a pretty disastrous impact on the planet. So Lem is engaging with a pressing issue for humanity that is only getting worse. When this book was published in 1974, the population stood at just over four billion. Now it's closer to eight. The writing is out of the top drawer. The inventiveness of the pharmaceutical proprietary names is a wonder to behold (much credit is also due to Michael Kandel as translator). Here, in a representative passage, Professor Trottelreiner enthuses about potential futures for mankind: If prostheticism is voted in, I assure you, in a couple of years everyone will consider the possession of a soft, hairy, sweating body to be shameful and indecent. A body needs washing, deodorizing, caring for, and even then it breaks down, while in a prostheticized society you can snap on the loveliest creations of modern engineering. What woman doesn't wish to have silver iodide instead of eyes, telescopic breasts, angel's wings, iridescent legs, and feet that sing with every step? This entertaining and quick read is a million miles away from Tarkovsky's gloomy adaptation of Lem's Solaris, though both works share a sense of the surreal. I haven't yet read the novel. Perhaps that should be my next appointment with Mr Lem.

  11. 5 out of 5

    P.E.

    A schizophrenic plot scraping the reality bare. You are left with linguistical, logical, psychological tenets, in shambles and with barely a chance to put yourself together. A novel paving the way to obvious comparisons between Stanisław Lem et Philip K. Dick! Personal point of view : the loose, multilayered plot scattering and scuttering in every direction had me utterly confused. Then again, the coarse, lopsided translation may be partly responsible for this state of things in the end. Matching S A schizophrenic plot scraping the reality bare. You are left with linguistical, logical, psychological tenets, in shambles and with barely a chance to put yourself together. A novel paving the way to obvious comparisons between Stanisław Lem et Philip K. Dick! Personal point of view : the loose, multilayered plot scattering and scuttering in every direction had me utterly confused. Then again, the coarse, lopsided translation may be partly responsible for this state of things in the end. Matching Soundtrack : Project 100 - Infected Mushroom -------------- Un roman schizophrénique qui ébranle la réalité jusqu'à ses fondements linguistiques, logiques et physiques et établit une correspondance profonde entre Stanisław Lem et Philip K. Dick ! Avis de lecture personnel, l'intrigue effilochée m'a plus dérouté qu'autre chose. La traduction y est peut-être pour quelque chose. Hymne national : Project 100 - Infected Mushroom

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chris Kelly

    I can't remember which science fiction author made a statement that suggested that, while "outer" space offers a great deal of potential subject matter, it does not come close to the realm of "inner" space in terms of room for exploration. Lem has certainly taken that idea to heart with this short but powerful book. The Futurological Congress is a first person account through the eyes of a recurring Lem character by the name of Ijon Tichy. The story begins in Costa Rica where a group of academics I can't remember which science fiction author made a statement that suggested that, while "outer" space offers a great deal of potential subject matter, it does not come close to the realm of "inner" space in terms of room for exploration. Lem has certainly taken that idea to heart with this short but powerful book. The Futurological Congress is a first person account through the eyes of a recurring Lem character by the name of Ijon Tichy. The story begins in Costa Rica where a group of academics are meeting to discuss a number of issues that threaten the future of the world, including disarmament and overpopulation (both huge issues in 1971 when the book was published). On the first day of the congress, we meet a number of interesting characters - including a Roman Catholic revolutionary who has plans of assassinating the Pope to achieve an eternal martyrdom in Hell – and we are introduced to a society divided perilously between extreme poverty and technologically-produced luxury. By the end of the day, the revolutionary spirit that is alluded to early in the story, gives way to a full scale revolt resulting in a government crackdown in which the authorities inundate the population with mind-altering substances called, “benignimizers” – a hallucinogenic that forces those under its influence to become impervious to their own violent impulses and to take on a disposition of extreme self-effacement. In the ensuing fray, Tichy is mortally wounded; but with the aid of the latest technology he is placed in a cryogenic state that allows him to survive. Upon waking in the year 2039, he finds himself in a world radically changed, though one of a future that is a logical outgrowth of Tichy’s time. The world has become a utopian fantasy in which “psychemic” (psyche-affecting chemical) substances form the central feature of civilization. Everything from education to nutrition is accomplished by way of pharmaceutical drugs, and society has become a peaceful land of plenty. But underlying this, Tichy soon discovers, is a dark secret that permeates the belly of this seemingly benign beast. Make no mistake, this book is not an action-packed page turner. If you are looking for an adventurous and suspenseful tale with lots of action, then The Futurological Congress is probably not for you. This is not to say that the book lacks story or intrigue, but these elements are subsumed inside of an appropriately absurd satire that is heavily mired in philosophical speculations, endless lists of imaginary substances and their effects, and cerebral observations of the future society on the part of the narrator. It is also an extremely funny book, in a very dark and ironic way. Much of its humor is simply a reflection of many of our cultural and social practices taken to their extremes in such a way as to highlight some of the very insane aspects of the modern world that pass for normal. It interesting to read this 1971 book in a modern context, to see how part of the cautionary aspect of the tale – its fear of a future “pharmocracy” – has actually come to pass in many ways. Our development of pharmaceutical substances to cure just about every ailment – real or imagined – may not have been apparent when The Futurological Congress was published. But in a world of weight loss pills and where new drugs are being developed for disorders that simply did not exist forty years ago its diagnosis, if extreme, is not totally off track. Further the sixties culture of mind-altering substances is lampooned and we see parodies of the “tune in, turn on, and drop out” ethos that guided much of the era’s subculture. One must also recognize that Lem was a Polish author, writing under the strict censorship of the communist regime of the time. His criticisms of society are two-fold. The setting of the utopian/dystopian future is New York City, one of the cultural and economic centers of the western “imperialism” and the novel is clearly aimed at what must have seemed like a disintegrating society at the time. The mind-altering substances that permeate this book stand in well for those of western youth culture of the late 60’s and early 70’s. This obviously presented little problem for the powers that be. But it is clear that his attacks are not meant strictly for the enemy other. The presentation of utopian perfection is made with a sense of irony that is usually subtle but at times very cutting. The socialist worker’s paradise promised by the communist regimes of eastern Europe can be seen in Lem’s happy pills, often taken in the form of candy. Underneath it all, however, there are cracks as the reader will see, and as the eastern bloc regimes would learn a few decades hence. At times the Futurological Congress was overly dense and difficult to read, particularly right before bedtime, but I will certainly revisit this book in the future. There is so much depth and texture to the prose, for which translator Michael Kandel deserves some credit. The multi-layered ideas packed into these 149 pages have kept me reflecting on the concepts and images that Lem fed this work so eloquently and cleverly. 4.5 Stars Grade: A.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ethan

    The Futurological Congress is one of the best sci-fi books I've ever read. It's also one of the more interesting books I've read this year in terms of both its structure and plot. In terms of structure, the book opens with non-stop action and excitement, every single page, and this doesn't stop until about 70 pages in. Then it's a really slow burn for about 50-60 pages, and then it picks up again and drops an absolutely fantastic, mind-blowing ending. I find books tend to be consistent in pace f The Futurological Congress is one of the best sci-fi books I've ever read. It's also one of the more interesting books I've read this year in terms of both its structure and plot. In terms of structure, the book opens with non-stop action and excitement, every single page, and this doesn't stop until about 70 pages in. Then it's a really slow burn for about 50-60 pages, and then it picks up again and drops an absolutely fantastic, mind-blowing ending. I find books tend to be consistent in pace for the most part; either the whole book is mostly slow or the whole book is mostly exciting. This one mixed the two, to almost disorienting effect, and I found that very interesting. My only other experience with Stanislaw Lem wasn't a very positive one: Solaris. I found that book to be incredibly boring, and so in that 50-or-so-page section I mentioned around the middle of the book I was thinking, "Oh boy, here we go again". But the ending more than made up for that section, and when I look back I find that section actually added a lot to the overall story and to the picture he was trying to create of the future on Earth. The story follows Ijon Tichy as he and his fellow scientists take part in the Eighth World Futurological Congress in Costa Rica. Things go horribly wrong, setting off a crazy series of events. The book focuses largely on a dystopian future where people take drugs for everything in what is known as a "psychem" culture. Every single thing human beings can do or feel can be controlled by drugs. You can even take a drug that will cause you to see a physical object, like a chair, and thus reality itself can be altered and controlled by drugs. This book reminded me a lot of the best works of Philip K. Dick, where reality is veiled and bent, and the reader himself begins to question, in the context of the book of course, what is real and what isn't. The book is very satirical, and the atmosphere and plot largely feel ridiculous and silly. At times it can be laugh-out-loud hilarious and at others serious and deeply reflective, but for the majority of the time it's a very fun book. It's a lot more fun than Solaris, and honestly after reading this it's hard to believe the two books were written by the same man. If you're looking to read some light, fun sci-fi to get you out of your reading funk (as I was), or if you enjoy the works of Philip K. Dick, this book is for you. Highly recommended!

  14. 4 out of 5

    sologdin

    Over-the-top satirical. The Matrix meets Brave New World. Lotsa inventiveness and humor. Part of a subgenre that includes Stand on Zanzibar, R. Scott, Bakker, and others, a fantasy of demographics, say. The future imaginary of the setting’s updated Rip van Winkle dystopia offends narrator’s “esthetic sense as well as my attachment to the irretrievable past” (84). Very much a matter of solids melting into air, &c. AI laborers fuck things up, but it is “no question of malice or premeditation on the Over-the-top satirical. The Matrix meets Brave New World. Lotsa inventiveness and humor. Part of a subgenre that includes Stand on Zanzibar, R. Scott, Bakker, and others, a fantasy of demographics, say. The future imaginary of the setting’s updated Rip van Winkle dystopia offends narrator’s “esthetic sense as well as my attachment to the irretrievable past” (84). Very much a matter of solids melting into air, &c. AI laborers fuck things up, but it is “no question of malice or premeditation on the part of the computers; they merely do whatever requires the least amount of effort, just as water will inevitably flow downhill and not up. But while water may be easily dammed, it is far more difficult to control all the possible deviations of intelligent machines” (87). Refreshing! Recommended for readers who call for the initiation of mass incest, those who live in an age of pharmacocracy, and persons who realize that yet there must exist some biological minimum--the bare necessities of life--which no fiction can ever replace.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Absurdist satire of humanity lurching toward pharmacological solutions toward the world's problems. Laugh out loud funny, with compressed touches of genius enough to supply a foundation of a slew of ordinary sci-fi dystopian novels. The play on words on every page somehow works great even in translation. Lem's astronaut Tichy attends the conference in Costa Rico, which is supposed to address on the first day the population crisis, global pollution, the food crisis, the energy crisis, etc, before Absurdist satire of humanity lurching toward pharmacological solutions toward the world's problems. Laugh out loud funny, with compressed touches of genius enough to supply a foundation of a slew of ordinary sci-fi dystopian novels. The play on words on every page somehow works great even in translation. Lem's astronaut Tichy attends the conference in Costa Rico, which is supposed to address on the first day the population crisis, global pollution, the food crisis, the energy crisis, etc, before breaking for questions. But then a local revolution disrupts the congress and some of the drugs used to pacify the population, such as one to stimulate feelings loves (sort of like Ecstasy is supposed to do) affect the attending scientists. Lem stretches the concept of drugs to control the population to the limit in a wild "what if" ride for Tichy, who appears to have been cryogenically frozen and awakened many decades hence. In a society where drugs are used to facilitate any mood or to convey knowledge chemically, what can be trusted of reality? Written in the early 70's, the novel is very prescient about technology and succeeds in deflating ambitions for its misuse on a level with Philip K. Dick married to Borges.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jose Moa

    This novel by Lem is a chapter of the astronaut IJon Tich memoirs series,it is with Ubik by Dick yet surpassing Dick(i dont know if there was some crossed influences between them) the most bizarre i have read,it is a hilarious,delirious,mind-blowing and outlandish nightmare. Writen in 1970 in the LSD era,it has the bigger number of nested realities ever described. After a satyrical and killing oneself laughing begining of a congress in order to foresse the future wold(with some ambiental concerns) This novel by Lem is a chapter of the astronaut IJon Tich memoirs series,it is with Ubik by Dick yet surpassing Dick(i dont know if there was some crossed influences between them) the most bizarre i have read,it is a hilarious,delirious,mind-blowing and outlandish nightmare. Writen in 1970 in the LSD era,it has the bigger number of nested realities ever described. After a satyrical and killing oneself laughing begining of a congress in order to foresse the future wold(with some ambiental concerns) a beguining uprising outer the congress hotel is fighted with mind-control psicodrugs,at this moment one enters in a mind-blowing world with so much reality changes that one goes from surprise to surprise at every moment,never knowing where the real reality is and describing,between hilarious and terrorific, distopic worlds each one more bizarre that the previous till to reach a surprising open end. IJon Tich keeps along the novel a stoic and stern mood that makes the narration yet more grotesque.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dina

    This one didn't excite me at all. The first part of the book is so muddled, it's hard to make heads or tails of. While I acknowledge this attempt to put in the reader in the shoes of the protagonist, I'm sure we would have got the message loud and clear without the 50ish pages of is-it-real-or-isn't-it "hallucinations". Yes, we get it, drug commentary, psychopharmacology, etc, etc. Move along. Lem's attempt to establish a dystopia struck me as one-dimensional and boring, focusing almost exclusiv This one didn't excite me at all. The first part of the book is so muddled, it's hard to make heads or tails of. While I acknowledge this attempt to put in the reader in the shoes of the protagonist, I'm sure we would have got the message loud and clear without the 50ish pages of is-it-real-or-isn't-it "hallucinations". Yes, we get it, drug commentary, psychopharmacology, etc, etc. Move along. Lem's attempt to establish a dystopia struck me as one-dimensional and boring, focusing almost exclusively on the rise of pharmaceuticals and the American will to consume. A fairly short book to begin with, but it still could have been cut down to about 25 pages...tops.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Alex Drozd

    This book is often compared to the work of Philip K Dick, ostensibly because of its theme of drug-induced hallucinations, but I suspect it’s more so because of Lem’s admiration for PKD as “the only worthwhile American science-fiction writer.” For me, I’m much more reminded of Brave New World by Alduous Huxley. The same, basic concept is behind the story, even though Huxley’s work is a “serious novel” and this one is anything but. While The Futurological Congress has many deep ideas, it’s delivery This book is often compared to the work of Philip K Dick, ostensibly because of its theme of drug-induced hallucinations, but I suspect it’s more so because of Lem’s admiration for PKD as “the only worthwhile American science-fiction writer.” For me, I’m much more reminded of Brave New World by Alduous Huxley. The same, basic concept is behind the story, even though Huxley’s work is a “serious novel” and this one is anything but. While The Futurological Congress has many deep ideas, it’s delivery is just about as far-fetched as can be. Lem’s decision to make this a shorter novel was a good one, because I’m not sure how much more of the book anyone could take; it’s all world-building, and the narrative is only an excuse to explore the satirical, over-the-top world Lem has crafted. Truth be told, there’s very little plot and characterization here, and though I often put the ideas and concepts used in a novel far above these elements, I must confess that the book’s world-building-only approach ruined my enjoyment of it—but as for the ideas: The Futurological Congress takes place in a comically over-populated future Earth, one in which society has decayed to a vulgar and violent level, and Ijon Tichy—our protagonist—is attending a meeting of futurists held in Costa Rica. The depiction of this meeting is one of the novel’s best devices: one by one, inane suggestions as to how to handle the ever growing population of Earth are voiced by the hundreds of intellectuals in the room. These proposals range from a restructuring of the role of the family in society, to a comical vision of the future where everyone changes apartments every day “so people don’t get bored” and dissatisfied with the cramped living conditions of the future. Following a violent protest at the hotel which the Congress is being held at, Ijon and a few other intellectuals escape into the sewers, fleeing the mass violence and LTN bombing above—short for Love They Neighbor, a bomb which causes its victims to enter into an enthralling state of ecstasy in which their love for all humankind brings them to their knees and leaves them weeping, unable to fathom how deep their appreciation for their fellow man is. (view spoiler)[While inside the sewers, Ijon is killed, only to be revived inside the body of another human being—made possible by a brain transplant—and then frozen. (hide spoiler)] Ijon wakes up even further into the future as a “defrostee,” and finds that civilization has finally achieved equilibrium. The birth rate has been brought under control and the populace is pacified through an endless variety of happiness inducing drugs. It is a strange utopia; for example, bank loans are given to anybody and everybody without the legal requirement to pay them back, because the conscience of every citizen is so heightened by the drugs in their system that almost no individual can resist the nagging urge to repay their debt. In fact, one of the few illegal actions there are in this society is to withhold another citizen’s supply of psychem—the mass produced, ever-present, happiness-bringing drug. (view spoiler)[But of course—and here is where I suspect we are tempted to draw similarities between PKD—the reality Ijon finds himself a part of is only a façade. In actuality, there is another drug omnipresent in the world, though with this one there is no avoiding its consumption as it is present in the air itself. Called a “mascon,” this drug hides the ugly reality beneath the veil of hallucination. People are nothing more than decaying, broken bodies patched up with artificial limbs; their buildings are crumbling and decaying; their gourmet food is in actuality a bucket of carbon matter, in front of which they drop to their knees and grab handfuls of its contents with their skinless fingers, eating straight out of the bucket. Needless to say, Ijon is shocked by this reality, but he is told off by a soothsayer—an individual who is given yet another drug to null the effect of the mascon—who says the real difficulty is being outside of the illusion, making sure the illusion is preserved for everyone else. He calls it the final moral act. As humanity is approaching the end and the Earth is dying, he says at least there are those willing to make the end tolerable for everyone else. (hide spoiler)] While The Futurological Congress’s narrative approach changes halfway through the book, and it is nothing more than an excuse for Lem to write down all of his most comical ideas, it still has the finishing touch of a master storyteller and novelist. It ends with a final twist and the beautiful image of Ijon watching a futurologist’s paper floating away into the “unknown future.” It’s a powerful sentiment, one which is almost at odds with the jocular nature of the story.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Rhys

    Stanisław Lem is my favorite science fiction writer; only Brian Aldiss, Samuel Delany and John Sladek come even close to his level of invention in ideas and language. But Lem is wittier than any of them and arguably better value too. The Futurological Congress is a short novel but packed to bursting with amazing concepts, original situations and hilarious wordplay. The action is multi-layered, reality proving to be nested inside other realities until it becomes unclear what is really real and wh Stanisław Lem is my favorite science fiction writer; only Brian Aldiss, Samuel Delany and John Sladek come even close to his level of invention in ideas and language. But Lem is wittier than any of them and arguably better value too. The Futurological Congress is a short novel but packed to bursting with amazing concepts, original situations and hilarious wordplay. The action is multi-layered, reality proving to be nested inside other realities until it becomes unclear what is really real and what is mere illusion. In this sense the book reminds me of Nathanael West's novel The Dream Life of Balso Snell in which it is difficult not to become lost in the three-dimensional labyrinth of nested tales. But in form Lem pushes the complexity further, twisting the confusion until the plot forms a closed vessel. In substance the story presents a future both exhilarating (for the advances it contains) and horrific (for the reality behind the facade). It is an examination of evolving technology and its relationship to human psychology, but it is also a social, political and philosophical satire. It even has an environmental consciousness at its heart. Considering that it was published as long ago as 1971 it is remarkable how many of its concerns feel absolutely up-to-date. Lem's work has the greatest longevity of any SF I have encountered; it doesn't date because it underpins our perennial interests as human beings. I am delighted that Penguin Modern Classics has recently republished this work (as well as several of Lem's other books) because as well as being a tremendous example of science fiction it is also great literature in the most sophisticated meaning of the word.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Safat

    Stanislaw Lem and Philip k Dick share a feature which I would call 'reality mongering', an obsession with the reality of reality. I will explain it with a horribly sweet example. One day, I started noticing some paranormal activities going around me. First at a minimal level, then it heightened to a grotesque level: like people having three heads on their shoulder, and eating other people's flesh for dinner. I don't remember the details, but everything possibly weird was going on. As I'm a fairl Stanislaw Lem and Philip k Dick share a feature which I would call 'reality mongering', an obsession with the reality of reality. I will explain it with a horribly sweet example. One day, I started noticing some paranormal activities going around me. First at a minimal level, then it heightened to a grotesque level: like people having three heads on their shoulder, and eating other people's flesh for dinner. I don't remember the details, but everything possibly weird was going on. As I'm a fairly rational person, I swiftly concluded that I should be dreaming. That relieved me. With considerable efforts, I woke up, lying on my bed. At last. Then imagine my horror when the paranormal activity still kept going on. Suddenly there was a female beast sitting on the other end of the bed, who wanted to have sex with me. She said she genuinely loved me. I knew I must have still been dreaming. However, the dream seemed horribly real and I couldn't get up with my best efforts. I was stuck in that dream for considerably more time than I would have liked. Eventually when I woke up from the second layer, how could I possibly trust that I'm truly awake and not still sleeping? That is a very frightening state. And I have had more than two layered dreams too. And even when I'm sure that I'm not dreaming, how could I trust that reality, after knowing that dreams also seem perfectly real until I wake up? How could I know I wouldn't wake up from a dream when I die? How could I ever trust the so called reality? This book practically reminds me of my multilayered dreams and the horrors that follow.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    From the author of the brilliant and disturbing Solaris, this absurdist dystopian work is rife with black humor and wordplay. Although the trope on which the novel turns is the pharmacological management of a dismal future, one can easily see the novel as an ironic comment on current psychological and sociological uses of marketing "spin" to turn vast segments of the world's population into the mindless puppets who have given lemmings a bad name. Let me be clear that I am not just talking about From the author of the brilliant and disturbing Solaris, this absurdist dystopian work is rife with black humor and wordplay. Although the trope on which the novel turns is the pharmacological management of a dismal future, one can easily see the novel as an ironic comment on current psychological and sociological uses of marketing "spin" to turn vast segments of the world's population into the mindless puppets who have given lemmings a bad name. Let me be clear that I am not just talking about the hopeless idiots who believe the world is exactly as it is depicted on FOX News. Most of us have drunk the Kool-Aid of capitalism and see nothing seriously wrong with basing our economy and culture on consumerism and the GDP. Amazon is, after all, built on this very premise. Lem's novel, while not his best work, is a fast and fun critique on both current trends in managing our worldview and the absurdity of attempting to predict the future. And now, if you'll excuse me, I think I'm late for my next dose of Damitol®.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Leo Robertson

    Bonkers, loved it :)

  23. 5 out of 5

    Charles Dee Mitchell

    As the first day of the Eighth Futurological Congress draws to a close, the one-hundred-story-plus Hilton Hotel in Costa Rica that hosts it has been reduced to rubble by the protesters, insurgents, and armed forces fighting outside. Ijon Tichy, whose space travels Stanislaw Lem chronicled over many years, has retreated along with a handful of other delegates to the labyrinthine tunnels beneath the destroyed structure. They wear oxygen masks to combat the chemical weapons deployed to calm the rio As the first day of the Eighth Futurological Congress draws to a close, the one-hundred-story-plus Hilton Hotel in Costa Rica that hosts it has been reduced to rubble by the protesters, insurgents, and armed forces fighting outside. Ijon Tichy, whose space travels Stanislaw Lem chronicled over many years, has retreated along with a handful of other delegates to the labyrinthine tunnels beneath the destroyed structure. They wear oxygen masks to combat the chemical weapons deployed to calm the rioters, but some psychotropic elements seem to be getting through their defenses. Human-sized, bipedal rats infest the sewers. When another attack fatally wounds our hero, he is frozen and put away for defrosting in a future that will be able to remedy his injuries. Tichy awakes in a world so free of political and social unrest that the greatest danger, for the reader at least, comes from neologisms. Lem is at his extravagant best unleashing the vocabulary adopted in this world that has found a pharmacological solution to every problem, even those created by their pharmacological solutions. Tichy is of course skeptical of what he witnesses, and of course he has good reason to be. Don’t read this short novel for twists and turns in its essentially non-existent plot. Settle back to be dazzled by Lem’s linguistic invention, and his staggering facility at mixing screwball comedy with social satire and philosophical speculation.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Bulent Erdemir

    The author created a dystopian future which is very nice to read. The book is short, maybe as a result of this, the characters and the story is not well developed. As the reader, you in fact expect more from the book and the plot overall could have been mode sophisticated. However, it's worth a read just to witness the mind bending that's in the story. The author created a dystopian future which is very nice to read. The book is short, maybe as a result of this, the characters and the story is not well developed. As the reader, you in fact expect more from the book and the plot overall could have been mode sophisticated. However, it's worth a read just to witness the mind bending that's in the story.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Toby

    This 1971 offering from Polish author Stanislaw Lem mixes black humour, absurdism, and social satire brilliantly in a short novel that will make you laugh at times, and make you think always. The Futurological Congress follows one of the adventures of character Ijon Tichy as he is caught up in a chemical attack. The book provides satire on both the social move towards a "chemically corrected society" where we use different drugs to fix any kind of problem we encounter, and a more subtle commenta This 1971 offering from Polish author Stanislaw Lem mixes black humour, absurdism, and social satire brilliantly in a short novel that will make you laugh at times, and make you think always. The Futurological Congress follows one of the adventures of character Ijon Tichy as he is caught up in a chemical attack. The book provides satire on both the social move towards a "chemically corrected society" where we use different drugs to fix any kind of problem we encounter, and a more subtle commentary on Lem's perception of the idiocy and deceit of government. An excellent book that could be described as Huxley meets Dahli, definately worth reading!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ami Iida

    "The Futurological Congress there are full of experimental thoughts and Hallucination in the world in it. I enjoy to read it and thank you for introducing me it. When I read it, there are full of science fiction's thoughts, topics, thought experiment in the book's sentences. my imagination activates many times................. "The Futurological Congress there are full of experimental thoughts and Hallucination in the world in it. I enjoy to read it and thank you for introducing me it. When I read it, there are full of science fiction's thoughts, topics, thought experiment in the book's sentences. my imagination activates many times.................

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ramybe

    My future conferences, if any, will never be as before.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    A very wild read. Multiple dystopian visions couched in nested hallucinations instigated by chemical warfare within another dystopia. The plot is fairly unsubstantial, but the book is short, so that's not really a problem. The story is really just Lem running wild with a thought experiment. I found it particularly fascinating to read having just finished Daniel Dennett's Consciousness Explained. What is possibly most impressive is the translation. This book has a running theme about technical neo A very wild read. Multiple dystopian visions couched in nested hallucinations instigated by chemical warfare within another dystopia. The plot is fairly unsubstantial, but the book is short, so that's not really a problem. The story is really just Lem running wild with a thought experiment. I found it particularly fascinating to read having just finished Daniel Dennett's Consciousness Explained. What is possibly most impressive is the translation. This book has a running theme about technical neologisms, and despite having been written in Polish, the wordplay throughout the English version is quite fun and feels as though it were originally written in English. I am not familiar with Polish, so I don't know how well the one language lends itself to cognates in the other, but I found myself impressed with how well the story makes fun of English word combinations. There are way too many examples of the delicious wordplay to give it proper summary here, so I'll just conclude this review with my favorite, "lubricrat": one who gives bribes, derived from the greasing of palms. I think I will start using this term to describe modern day corporate lobbyists.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Mark Hodder

    I rate Stanislaw Lem as I rate Philip K. Dick, which is to say, very highly indeed. I recently read that his work is being newly translated, these editions being far superior to the ones I owned in my youth. However, I’m on a mission to rebuild the collection I had back then, so restricted myself to this 1974 copy, which adorned my shelves too many decades ago. In THE FUTUROLOGICAL CONGRESS, Lem immediately plunges the reader into a world of overcrowding, sexual excess, and terrorism, where a ha I rate Stanislaw Lem as I rate Philip K. Dick, which is to say, very highly indeed. I recently read that his work is being newly translated, these editions being far superior to the ones I owned in my youth. However, I’m on a mission to rebuild the collection I had back then, so restricted myself to this 1974 copy, which adorned my shelves too many decades ago. In THE FUTUROLOGICAL CONGRESS, Lem immediately plunges the reader into a world of overcrowding, sexual excess, and terrorism, where a hapless convention guest finds himself caught up in a drug-fuelled revolution, hallucinating wildly, only to eventually wake up in the year 2039, where practically every experience imaginable can be had in pill form. This novel is brimming with satire, breathtakingly inventive, and so surrealistic and psychedelic that it makes your head spin. Wonderful.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    This had a feel of Philip K. dick about it in it's crazed plotline and speed of storytelling although this did actually have an ending that, whilst abrupt, made sense. This had a feel of Philip K. dick about it in it's crazed plotline and speed of storytelling although this did actually have an ending that, whilst abrupt, made sense.

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