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.