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The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age (1965)

de Stanisław Lem

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2,660405,602 (4.12)50
Trurl and Klaupacius are constructor robots who try to out-invent each other. They travel to the far corners of the cosmos to take on freelance problem-solving jobs, with dire consequences for their employers.

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Inglês (37)  Espanhol (2)  Italiano (1)  Todos os idiomas (40)
Mostrando 1-5 de 40 (seguinte | mostrar todas)
A masterpiece. There. ( )
  antoni4040 | May 14, 2024 |

Halfway the book, I started thinking about narrative voice. I don’t know how he did it, nor what the qualities are that make it so, but in this collection Lem sounds completely in control and authentic, even though he writes about future goofy rusty robots, doing completely impossible stuff, in situations that are, at times, insane. On top of that, he does so in a seemingly effortless, haphazard way – not at all like the polished stories of Borges or Chiang – even though Lem’s stories are clearly thought out as well.

Maybe it is the mixture of a future setting and the medieval stuff that makes for a voice that is timeless? Maybe the short story format helps the quasi mythical vibes that imbue the collection? Maybe it is Lem’s oblique portrayal of certain truths about the human condition that manages to make his authorial voice ring utterly true, and resonate with my own conception of reality?

I have a hard time parsing it, but, even in translation, Lem has managed to write something singular, authoritative, something that commands attention, and that quality becomes clear very quickly, after having read a few pages only.


Full review on Weighing A Pig Doesn't Fatten It ( )
  bormgans | Sep 18, 2023 |
It reminds me of the The Phantom Tollbooth.

I loved the mathematical references, especially the poem and the rant Trurl and Klapaucius go on when describing a battle between a theoretical machine they'll build and a king who enjoys hunting.

I can't imagine how hard it was to translate the original Polish text into English, since—to say nothing of all the made-upw ords—there was a robot who could create anything into existence, but only if that thing started with the letter N. To challenge this machine Trurl threw at it obscure words starting with N, like "nimbuses, noodles, nuclei, neutrons, naphtha, noses, nymphs, naiads, and natrium."

Klapaucius also told a poetry machine Trurl built to write a poem with very specific requirements, precisely he told Trurl to "Have it compose a poem—a poem about a haircut! But lofty, noble, tragic, timeless, full of love, treachery, retribution, quiet heroism in the face of certain doom! Six lines, cleverly rhymed, and every word beginning with the letter s!!" To which the machine responded with

Seduced, shaggy Samson snored.
She scissored short. Sorely shorn,
Soon shackled slave, Samson sighed,
Silently scheming,
Sightlessly seeking
Some savage, spectacular suicide.

As I said, it must have been a nightmare to translate. ( )
1 vote KJC__ | May 19, 2023 |
This book may not be for everyone but by reading it in small doses I enjoyed most of the stories. But there were a few places that I found myself skimming rather than reading all the made up technical terms used by Trurl and his friend Klapaucius. The two constructors traveled the cosmos taking on various jobs and often getting into trouble before finding a solution to their problems. I doubt that I would ever reread it but I might try another of Lem's books at some point.
  hailelib | Feb 18, 2023 |
Early in my experience with Unix-like systems I discovered `fortune`. This program would occasionally provide me with a clever passage attributed `-- Stanislaw Lem, "Cyberiad"` "Who is this Stanislaw Lem fellow and what is a Cyberiad," I wondered. And then, because it was the mid-90s and search engines didn't exist yet, I did nothing.

A few years later, I started collecting quotes to add to my random signature program. A great many of them came from `fortune`, since it gave me a quip every time I logged in or out. The first Cyberiad quote that made it on the list was "[The brilliant Cerebron, attacking the problem analytically, discovered three distinct kinds of dragon: the mythical, the chimerical, and the purely hypothetical.] They were all, one might say, nonexistent, but each nonexisted in an entirely different way." Different modes of nonexistence, a fantastic puzzle for a philosophy minor like me. I wanted to find and read this book.

There are a few books and authors I keep in the back of my mind for eventual purchase. It gives me direction when I find myself in a bookstore: check the D section of Classics for The Vicomte de Bragelonne, check the A section of Sci-Fi for the HHGTTG radio series scripts, check the L section of Sci-Fi for Stanisław Lem… You would think it wouldn't be too hard to find a book by "the most widely read science fiction writer in the world," yet ten years went by without finding one of his books between Le Guin and Lewis. Tantalizingly, Google ran a fantastic narrative doodle (http://www.google.com/logos/lem/) based on The Cyberiad. I finally found a copy when I chanced to stop in to Red Letter Books in Boulder, enticed by a book about mangoes on the shelf out front. "Before I buy this, I need to see if they happen to have any Lem." Sure enough, my Quixotic quest found its goal, wedged in a dense shelf of mass market paperbacks.

The Cyberiad is a book of short stories about machines who build machines. The central character is Trurl, a constructor. He and his good friend Klapaucius the constructor build all manner of robots and devices, often on commission from rulers of distant worlds. Unlike the science fiction school led by Asimov, the engineering details of the machines and their scientific mechanism of action are of little importance. The stories are not about the machines but about the philosophical considerations and allegorical implications of such a device in a world not entirely dissimilar from ours. The first story, How The World Was Saved (http://english.lem.pl/home/bookshelf/how-the-word-was-saved) concerns a machine that can create anything starting with N. After creating concrete and abstract nouns, they ask the machine to do Nothing, whereby it starts to eliminate the universe.

Originally written in Polish, the book has a lot of rhymes and wordplay with sciency terms which works surprisingly well in translation (to English, at least.) The sidebar to the right has a poem produced by Trurl's Electronic Bard. Lem has a great facility for technical naming in a way that's fun rather than dry: The second, newer trail was opened up by the Imperium Myrapoclean, whose turboservoslaves carved a tunnel six billion miles in length through the heart of the Great Glossaurontus itself.

What I like best about The Cyberiad is how it resonates with my experience as a constructor of sorts. The book was written in 1967, when hardware was still the king of technology, before we realized that software eats the world. Yet the story Trurl's Machine and other passages describe the foibles of building, debugging, and otherwise producing a computer program better than any software-focused essay I've read. Throughout the book, Trurl displays the three cardinal virtues of the programmer: laziness, impatience, and hubris. If more tales were added to the Cyberiad today, perhaps the constructors would be programs which write other programs.

All makers and builders and coders and creators would do well to read The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age. A hypermedia book report (http://www.art.net/~hopkins/Don/lem/Cyberiad.html) claims the book inspired Will Wright to create SimCity; what might it do for you? Acquire it in cybernetic digital form or via a musty-bookstore-quest for a well-loved copy. ( )
1 vote flwyd | Nov 13, 2022 |
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» Adicionar outros autores (11 possíveis)

Nome do autorFunçãoTipo de autorObra?Status
Lem, StanisławAutorautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
義治, 村手翻訳autor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Fernandes, StanislawArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Kandel, MichaelTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Kannosto, MattiTradutorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Mróz, DanielIlustradorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Rey, LuisArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
昭三, 吉上翻訳autor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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One day Trurl the constructor put together a machine that could create anything starting with n.
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Trurl and Klaupacius are constructor robots who try to out-invent each other. They travel to the far corners of the cosmos to take on freelance problem-solving jobs, with dire consequences for their employers.

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