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Book reviews for "Mierzenski,_Stanislaw" sorted by average review score:

Saint Bernards from the Stoan Perspective
Published in Hardcover by Alpine Pubns (1998)
Authors: Stan Zielinski and Stanislaw Zielinski
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Excellent reference for any one looking into buying a Saint
Saint Bernards from the Stoan Perspective explains in language anyone can understand what those of us that aren't breeders and long time Saint Bernard owners need to know. It has helped me see what I need to look at when I buy my next saint. Breed standards aren't the easiest to interpret until you understand the terms. It's all spelled out in here.

A must read for anyone interested in Saint Bernards!
This is an excellent book, not just for breeders and judges, but for anyone interested in Saint Bernards. It provides wonderful insight for people looking for their first pet Saint as well as those interested in showing Saints. A great reference book!

Excellent reference book on the St. Bernard breed.
Complements the "Saint Bernard Classic" as a reference

El invencible
Published in Hardcover by Lectorum Pubns (Juv) (1995)
Authors: Stanislav Lem and Stanislaw Lem
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One of the best sci-fi novels I read
I read russian translation of this book. It was one of the best sci-fi novels I read. A treat for imagination.

thought provoking and moving
I just read "The Invincible" and found it to be the most imaginative and profound science fiction I have ever read. I can see ... but I don't want to give away the story.

Starship crew on SAR mission finds frightening ecosystem
I read the German translation of this book in school (I'm from Germany), and found it so thought-provoking that in the following years I read many more books by this author. Search for Stanislaw Lem, not for Stanislav, and you will find them. He is not always easy to read, but the most original SF author I have ever found, and I have read hundreds of SF books. For example, have you ever heard of the "Brain Potato"? (I don't remember its exact scientific name.) This potato variety is so intelligent that, growing up, it understands the whole senselessness of life, roots itself up and commits suicide. It's from Lem's list of endangered species - one of many species listed. I think this is from "The Star Diaries", a collection of some of Lem's truly mindboggling stories. As for this book: Mankind has progressed and started to explore the cosmos. The powerful starship "The Invincible" is sent after her sister ship, which was sent to explore an unknown planet and did not return. "The Invincible" arrives in orbit around the planet and has no problem locating the missing ship. It stands as it landed, seemingly untouched, on one of many lifeless plains of an almost lifeless planet. Under the highest security precautions the ship lands and discovers most of the missing crew dead. The ship has been vandalized by its own crew, who seem to have gone mad collectively. Several are not found, they have wandered off into the plain and the mountain range beyond. The search for the missing men reveals an extraordinary truth: The planet once was full of life and inhabited by an advanced civilization. All of which was wiped out by conflict - a war in which machines got out of hand. And many of them are still around, fighting each other. "The Invincible" is caught in the fight. She may not lose, but she can't win either... Although it has a strong touch of space opera, this book develops to ask profound questions about technological development and where it may go, and about the ability of intelligent beings to control it. The characters are no heroes, they have their problems, but they are acting mostly professional. Stanislaw Lem doesn't write science fiction soap opera, he writes to ask questions. You want to broaden your intellectual horizon, this is the author to read. And when you read this book, remember that it was written in Poland in 1964.

Insatiability: A Novel
Published in Hardcover by Northwestern University Press (1996)
Authors: Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz and Louis Iribarne
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Subservience of Perfection
Insatiability is one supreme novel. The time between the wars was an interesting one in Central Europe, and a great deal of truly great literature appeared or was conceived then. Broch and Musil reigned in Austria, writing their masterpieces which were virtually unknown. Celine wrote his monumental work in France. Doblin experimented in Germany and Poland had both Witkiewicz and Gombrowicz fashioning their fascinating work. Insatiability is, like Gombrowicz' 'Ferdydurke', Musil's 'The Man Without Qualities', Celine's 'Journey', Broch's towering 'The Sleepwalkers' and Mann's superior books, a philosophical novel of enormous dimensions and proportions. It is a fantastical novel, darkly utopian, in which Europe is under a fascistic regime while a Russian revolution dominates that country, and everyone is faced with a Chinese invasion. The leaders in a seemingly invincible Poland succumb to an unusual new drug religion, 'Murti Bing', and in the end surrender to the Chinese. The hero of the novel is Genezip Kapen. His adventures are in the main sexual and philosophical. Witkiewicz uses him to expound his own theories--serious and not so serious--and he goes far afield in doing so. Peopled with a vast assortment of unusual characters, the novel is always interesting, and generally engaging. Witkiewicz does not seem to take himself or his ideas all too seriously, and so in some senses this book is a tonic compared to the general 'novel of education' of the time. He paints and splatters a broad canvas in this novel that could as easily be termed 'dystopian science fiction' as well as a moral or philosophical reference. The philosophy is peculiar but certainly interesting (if only for its bizarreness). Witkiewicz, a talented artist who gave up painting, also argues about the impotence of language, the inadequacy of fiction, rejecting his undertaking while creating such a huge work. It is thoroughly entertaining, but it is an eccentric novel, from a different time and context. A true intellectual, Witkiewicz' thoughts on the many hundreds of subjects he raises are interesting and interestingly expressed. It is a bit of a grand labyrinth, and certainly will not be to everyone's taste, but I highly recommend it. It is an important novel, and an engaging one. It is worth the considerable effort required...

INSATIABILITY, a futuristic, expressionistic, demonomaniacal novel of extremes, records beneath an overwhelming avalanche of thrilling philosophical debate, the tortured comings-of-age of NOT just a young man beautifully blooming into bonafide manhood,( via initiatory sexual debauch, heady doses of ritual drug-use, and an above average nihilism )but charts in the midst of its explorations the becomings of an exemplary monstrous candidate capable of being a leader of men, yet equably capable of being an insane nobody, all the while constantly risking absurdity, and far be it from me to assault the possibilities of giving away the end of such a great work to those it will hold captive for its own. More than any novel (which its author,"WITKACY", has dubbed a "body-bag" he correspondingly fits the reader into with subtle skill) INSATIABILITY affected me to an alarming degree and, in a very definite sense has shaped the monstrous person I have become over the course of the past 10 years. Had I been granted foreknowledge the effect such a rare work of art would have had on me I cannot say with imputiny I'd have so willingly and Insatiably devoured it,(tearing myself out of the confines of the body-bag) as I have done so repeatedly since that first miraculous time I gave up my Literary virginity to its frightening wiles. And I am sure I will return to that accursed book forever with the dedication of a crushed and powerlessly fascinated lover for the rest of my life, even under the futile threat of adultery, so well has it taught me the INSATIABILITY of the human condition.

Let this confessionary review stand as a warning to young influential readers and as a testament to the undeniability of this novels strange powers which I've no doubt will work its fascinations on seekers of great and experimental literary works for centuries to come. How such an immense secret of a work as profound as Witkiewicz's INSATIABILITY has held its breath for so long can only give multiple births to conspiracy theories. When this novel breaks its silence it will be as if a ravenous serial-killer were loosed in your hometown.

I cannot recommend a greater novel in all literary history, of which I am an dedicated adventurous servitor; yet I do so warily, all too well aware of the repurcussions that may be heaped upon me for abandoning moral principles in spreading out the darkness so many have actually thought was the light.

One of the greatest exploratory novels ever written; far, far ahead of its time. Witkiewicz is one of the unknown geniuses of the modern novel and his life and work should serve as a model of inspiration and emulation by those seeking to further themselves creatively and philosphically in their own work

Highcastle: A Remembrance
Published in Paperback by Harvest Books (1997)
Author: Stanislaw Lem
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More than a memoir...
On one level, this book chronicles the boyhood of famed Polish writer Stanislaw Lem. But on another level it is also a profound "Coming of Age" tale of not just one man, but of a Civilization. Lem's boyhood takes place just prior to World War II, and as he spins his tales of schoolyard politics, loss of faith in adults and the petty cruelties that young boys sometimes indulge in, it's hard not to see the connection with events unfolding in pre-war Europe; politics just as juvenile, the passing of Faith, the horrible cruelties soon to follow...Haunting and elegant book.

A favorite for the bedside
Stanislaw Lem's writing is beautiful in this brief work. Fans of his science fiction will surely want to read this to get behind the artifice and learn about the writer. But those who are not familiar with his work will also enjoy this as a meditation on memory, growing up in Poland, and this writer's power to evoke meaning. I read it mostly before falling asleep and it gave me wonderful dreams.

His Master's Voice
Published in Paperback by Northwestern University Press (1999)
Authors: Stanislaw Lem and Michael Kandel
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His Master's Voice Indeed
Not for nothing did Lem named this book, and the Project, HMV. The helplesness of the greatest Human minds against an uhuman message is not at all different from the helplesness of the dog in the face of the gramophone.

A word of causion, though. Altough Lem is depicted as a "Science Fiction" author, _HMV_ is not your regular "Arthur C. Clark"-like book. Dont expect racing starships or multi-handed aliens; it's a book about mankind, and it's failures, and is even more novel then Asimov's _I, Robot_, or Lem's own _Solaris_.

An irritating but rewarding SETI novel
A synthetic signal from outer space is detected. In Sagan's "Contact", the signal encodes plans for a spaceship; here it's not so simple. The signal seems to carry many levels of meaning, each one more bizarre and mind-boggling than the last. Lem, as always, weaves together ideas from the fringes of modern science. He also explores the human aspects of scientific research.

This book is not light reading. Many parts require a mental effort like, say, that needed to play chess. This can be irritating, even infuriating. For readers are up to the task, however, the book rewards the effort many times over.

Putting "science" in science-fiction.
I cannot be counted among science fictions greatest fans. While I did get my share of fun out of the original Star Trek series in the late sixties and earlier seventies, I still think that most science fiction tends to degenerate in a redressing of "old imperial tales", without making any use of the extra possibilities that the many aspects of science could add to the writer's repertoire.

Yet, while scanning the Amazon web pages for signals of intelligent life from distant galaxies, I came across this book that fully lives up to be called, let me rephrase define, science-fiction. A couple of years before the movie made it's way to a wider audience I read Sagan's Contact. While the decoding of the many levels of the "message" in this book went a long way in pleasing the Nerd in me, the story itself was flat as a pancake.

Lem's HMV proceeds Contact by many years and reflects a sophistication from a civilization that is light-years ahead of the one that produced Sagan. Written in the sixties, during the Cold War, behind the Iron Curtain, HMV is a work that can be read on at least two levels. Firstly, it is a critique against Cold War politics, military and political decision making, and the conduct of science/scientist. In this respect the work could be regarded as an accurate Swiftian satire. Secondly and most importantly, however, HMV is a psychological and philosophical essay on the limitations of the human mind facing the truly unknown. This second layer is in my opinion the part that makes this book so unique.

Earlier this year I wrestled my way through Foucault's "Order of Things" a post-modern classic of contemporary structuralist philosophy. Lem may not claim to be a philosopher, but by the middle of just the preface of HMV, he has encapsulated all of Foucault's arguments in one focused concise essay in clear language. Throughout the rest of the book Lem exposes the reader to many schools of philosophy, discussion of the possibilities and limitations of science and the extent to which the human mind is limited to the level of projecting itself in the analysis of an unknown subject. An argument could be made that Lem does little more than using the subtext of HMV to give a synopsis of 20+ centuries of philosophy. Yet, both the construction of this novel and the beautiful way in which Lem concludes Hogarth's account of man finding reason without answers in the post-Nietzschian world is truly impressive.

The X-files always claims that the truth is out there. While it took me over thirty years, I have finally been able to recover the part that Lem's HMV contributed to it.

Published in Hardcover by Harcourt (1987)
Authors: Stanislaw Lem and Michael Kandel
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Possibly the best science fiction novel ever written.
Lem borrows deftly from the languages of medicine, mythology, physics, and engineering in weaving a spellbinding tale of earnest but fallible men travelling to a distant planet. As the title suggests, things go wrong with alarming and often comical regularity; Lem simply refuses to take for granted some utopian future in which everything-- machines, ideas--work flawlessly. Compared to his American counterparts, Lem strikes one as decidedly "old school:" how many works of this category portray with sympathy and understanding a soldier or a Catholic priest? The style is surprisingly polished considering the spotty quality of some of Lem's other endeavors. A book of philosophical debate as well as an adventure story, but without the benefit of character development, it almost qualifies as literature, and it is quite possibly the best science fiction novel ever written.

Science as Sociology, Literature
The finest example of science fiction in the world. Kandel does his usual acrobatics in rendering Lem's Polish into English. Lem has obviously learned much from Olaf Stapeldon; if only other writers would do the same, sci-fi would not be such a disappointing genre. Instead, sadly, Fiasco and Stapeldon's sci-fi books seem to be out-of-print.

Fiasco is simply astonishing: a meditation on the nature of intelligence, culture, technology. Lem often parodies science fiction while writing serious literature, but with this novel he and translator Michael Kandel outdid all previous efforts.

While The Futurological Congress remains my favorite Lem book (personal taste), Fiasco is the best Lem book in English, followed closely by the 'lectures' of GOLEM the computer in Lem's Imaginary Magnitude.

In A League Of Its Own
Stanislaw Lem's novel asks several questions: What happens if we meet intelligent beings in outer space and they don't want to talk to us? Do we write off a multi-billion-dollar space mission and go home, or do we try to communicate with them by any means necessary? And what business do we have interfering with them in the first place? "Fiasco" is aptly titled: the space crew decides to engage the aliens in dialogue, with disastrous consequences. The theme crops up very often in Lem's work: the concept of aliens who are so different from us that communication is difficult or impossible. In fact, it is the humans who come off as aliens in this novel. The book manages to be two things at once: a 'hard' science-fiction story and a moral meditation. Usually those two things seem mutually exclusive, but here it works very well. In fact, a member of the ship's crew is a Dominican friar (Father Arago) who is also a priest. I understand that Lem is sort of a nominal atheist with theological leanings, but he was also a friend of Karol Wojtyla before he was elected Pope, and Wojtyla's character seems to have left its impression on Arago. And one of the most affecting scenes in the novel is when a hard-boiled member of the crew sits alone and weeps over the destruction that he and the crew have inflicted on the alien planet. The overall tone of the novel is dislocation; the protagonist is a man who has been reanimated several hundred years after his death and no longer remembers who he was. He awakens aboard a spaceship, among recognizably human beings gifted with God-like technological abilities but cursed with human failings. And when they finally reach their destination, the alien culture is so inexplicable that several members of the crew argue that they might as well go home. What to do? There are certain artistic achievements that deserve their own genre, in my view: "2001", "Apocalypse Now", "The Lord of the Rings", etc. As far as I'm concerned, "Fiasco" is one of them. It's a science fiction milestone, and although the story line is very negative, Lem leaves some hope in the sense that things might have worked out otherwise.

Tales of Pirx the Pilot
Published in Paperback by Harcourt (1990)
Author: Stanislaw Lem
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The Real Deal
Lem's Pirx is compelling and cool. The science is barely fictional and always thought provoking. The plots, however, are a little more predictable than the sequel. If you're going to read one of these, I'd recommend "More".

Oddly Fascinating Space Adventures
This collection of stories by Lem is based around a chubby cadet by the name of Pirx. The character is plucky and gets into all sorts of fixes. I found the first short story the most surprising and fun to read. It's most vivid antagonist are two insects, and it's wildly creative. Another very good story is this one about a robot re-living over and over the last few hours before the death of an entire ship (this was before Pirx's time). A very haunting tale. Overall, a great collection!

Excellent, thoughtful short stories
Tales of Pirx the Pilot, and More Tales of Pirx the pilot are two excellent sci-fi books! What is unique is that there is such a strong psychological edge to them. And the fact that Pirx is such an everyman - kind of unsure of himself, and from the outside, unassuming and apparently not especially competent. But Lem does something amazing with Pirx - with each story, he gains experience, confidence, cynicism, and most importantly, judgement and wisdom. Make sure to read the Pirx books, as well as The Invincible, and Solaris.

Published in Paperback by Yale Univ Pr (1995)
Authors: Witold Gombrowicz, Carolyn French, Nina Karsov, and Stanislaw Baranczak
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Brilliant approach to the literature of exile
Gombrowicz's take on the generally painful experience of exile is an artful combination of the particular and the universal. The novel's comic tone seems a historically and culturally specific attack on hackneyed Polish nationalism. Yet Trans-Atlantyk manages to raise greater questions of literature's ability to do justice to 20th-century horrors such as WWII. The translation is a work of art in itself -- for those who can't read Polish (such as myself), you will not be bothered by that fear of a mediated, second-rate experience so common to mediocre translations. To the contrary, the language of this translation is unbelievably rich. Indeed, do not let the richness scare you off -- the style becomes easier to digest as the novella moves forward. Enjoy...

Intensely Personal
Setting this book in the strange form of exile which eradicates whatever benefits Gombrowicz might have enjoyed from his own greatness in Poland, this outrageous examination of Polish insecurities is better than his strange submission to the greatness of the heroic poets in Ferdydurk, or to the frank realization that he, himself, is best described as "Up pops a clown" in his diary. He is not just any writer, but the great Gombrowicz here, because he is filled with a terror that is obviously being cooked up for the world to see. And therefore, what a vividly realized world we see. The difficulties involved in reading this book succeed in making it what it is.

Different and therefore feared
All right! Gombrowicz is not easy to understand. His existencewas as complicated as his literature. A genius of objective perceptionwith homosexual tendencies cought between the rock and the hard placesomewhere in Argentina. Wanting to be a Pole and at the same time running away from the past and the typical for Poles "low self-esteem syndrom" that had accompanied him since the early years of his life despite his public declarations of his supremacy over other writers from the native Poland. If the Polish nation begot only Gombrowicz and Witkacy, this would still be a good reason to call Poland the cradle of the modern literature.

The Futurological Congress
Published in Paperback by Arrow (A Division of Random House Group) (10 January, 1991)
Author: Stanislaw Lem
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Livin' the lap of luxury...maybe...
This book will make you think of the world differently. I guarantee that you will question the value of subjectivity by the time you're done.

Lately, I've been asking friends to loan me books that changed their lives or that have found particularly noteworthy. I asked this in an attempt to broaden my reading background and also to learn more about my friends. I've always considered myself a science/speculative fiction fan but had never heard of Stanislaw Lem until this book was loaned to me. After this wonderful first experience, I will certainly be tracking down a few more copies of some of his other titles.

This book embodies everything that good science fiction should be - using the future to teach us more about our present. "The Futurological Congress" is a heavily layered book that relies on the reader to engage the storyline and draw parallels to the present day. The text (in translation) is spare enough to be clear and move the plot along rapidly, while also being satirical and comical at the same time.

I don't want to go into the plot in too much depth since folks before me have already done an admirable job in that regard, but suffice it to say that reality becomes almost immediately problematized and you will not be able to figure out what is fact or fiction within the world of the book (not that it matters). Ijon Tichy, the main character, goes to attend a conference called the "Futurological Congress", where all sorts of folks discuss the future directions of humanity. During the conference, a popular revolution places the scientists in danger. Drugged by the hotel water supply, hallucinating hotel guests hide out in the sewer. It gets more insane from there...

If you like Philip K. Dick's more mindbending works like "The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch" or "Ubik," you will love this one by Lem. At a scant 150 pages, you'll truck right on through it and then wonder whether you actually read it.

The Word Is ... Unreal!
Here I am sitting on a chair and pecking at a keyboard with a monitor and computer in front of me. At least I think so. But what if the sushi I had for lunch was spiked with a psychotropic drug that makes me believe that this typing at the keyboard activity is real? Especially when, in actual reality, I may be strung up stark naked and upside-down in a subterranean dungeon with rats gnawing at my vitals while happily thinking up what to write about Stanislaw Lem's greatest book, THE FUTUROLOGICAL CONGRESS.

The reason why I believe that some of the best sci-fi since WW2 came from Eastern Europe (Lem from Poland and Boris and Arkady Strugatsky from Russia) is that the mind set of communism was conducive toward what is referred to as "aesopic writing" (The term comes from Solzhenitsyn.) If you protested anything, you were regarded as a traitor to the state; but if you wrote fables as the Greek writer Aesop did which were not set in a particular unnamed repressive regime at a particular time, you might be able to get away with it scot free.

Lem had a field day by speculating on a congress who members are drugged into thinking they are drugged into acting as if they were drugged ... it goes on and on. The more or less classical beginning descends into multiple levels of questioning every level into reality, until even the most utterly solipsistic stance is questioned. By that time, you are either confused or, if you're like me, laughing your head off. As they say in another context, unreal!

One the three funniest books I have ever read
I am a list fiend. I make lists of every conceivable form and fashion. One such list is "The Funniest Books I have Ever Read." This one makes that list, finishing in a three-way tie for first with CATCH-22 and John Barth's THE SOTWEED FACTOR (Jerome K. Jerome's THREE MEN IN A BOAT is next in the list). The plot: the future is a very, very bad place to be. Inconceivable overcrowding, deplorable living conditions, shortages of every imaginable form. How to cope? Drug the world! Social engineering and better living through the use of mind altering drugs. Democracy and Socialism have given way to the government of the future: Pharmacocracy! The world isn't a better place; it just seems to be. But when terrorists put LSD into the water supply at the 116-story Costa Rica Hilton during the meeting of the world's foremost futorologists, the thin veneer holding society together becomes flayed.

Lem has written three of my favorite books in the world: this one, THE STAR DIARIES (also featuring Ijon Tichy--I believe in the original Polish these two were part of the same volume), and SOLARIS. The latter is equally superb, but oddly enough, completely without humor. It is almost difficult to comprehend that these works all came from the same writer.

Mathematics and Logic
Published in Paperback by Dover Pubns (1992)
Authors: Mark Kac and Stanislaw M. Ulam
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Important and Useful but not Engaging
The book shows what the power of mathematics is, how it changes, and how it expands to new areas. Unlike books that aim to popularize math, the book does not pontificate a mystic view of the meaning of mathematics; rather, it gives a sober perspective of what has happened in mathematics and what can be expected of the field.

The book requires somewhat serious mathematical thinking.

A great strength of the book is the diverse mathematical concepts that it presents: homology groups, group theory, Turing machines, undecidability, Monte Carlo method. In a compact book, you learn a little about some important ideas in advanced mathematics.

Important!! This book is not written to popularize its subject matter, so it is different and definitely less entertaining than most popular science books.

A Classic of Popular Mathematics
With new mathematics growing wild in the trees in the new century, one should review those things that have given modern mathematics direction and flavor. This classic little book sits along side of Sawyer's " Prelude to Mathematics" as the go to books for basic understanding. To these books I have added an unlikely candidate " Elliptical Curves" by McKean and Moll. If one has these three books, he will have a crack in the dam of mathematics...

why math is interesting, written for laypeople
Kac and Ulam were both strong mathematicians; this encyclopedia article which they coauthored provides a nice counterweight to the answers-without-questions view of math which can result from a little indifferent coursework.

Easy and lively reading, written for everyone.

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