The Cyberiad by Stanisław Lem

Polish science fiction was new to me. Stanisław Lem is great. His Cyberiad is appropriately subtitled Fables for a Cybernetic Age and concerns itself with two wily constructors, Trurl and Klapaucius, who are just stupid enough to get into all kinds of scrapes, and just smart enough to get the best of everyone in the end.

Lem is hilarious. He puns all over the place and comes up with clever words like intellectrician for someone who programs robots. The machines made by Trurl and Klapaucius [robots themselves] are very old-style beings, with vacuum tubes, joints in need of grease, and programming made with punch cards. I zipped through this 300-page book in a couple of days. The ease of reading and funpuns like Devilry and Divers Revelry Before Reveille with Croutons do both Lem and his translator great credit, but also shouldn’t discourage a more perspicacious personage from reading the book. They are, in fact, fables and the stories knead ontology, morality, logic and existential absurdity into the dough. Definitely scrounge this up if possible.

In other book news, I sold two bags of paperbacks and a bag of VHS to Half Price Books for $40 and picked up The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander for a blast back into my past, The Three of Swords by Fritz Lieber to start my pulp collection on Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, Daniel Grotta’s biography on Tolkien, which I’ve not read since 7th grade, and a book called Meditations on Middle-Earth containing essays by contemporary science fiction and fantasy writers. Each book was five bucks, which only goes to show that Half Price books often doesn’t know what they’ve got in their hands. The Prydain Chronicles and The Three of Swords should have been at least double that price.