Polish writer Stanislaw Lem, author of “Eden” and “Solaris” (filmed by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1971 and by Steven Soderbergh in 2002) has died at the age of 84 today.
The satirical and philosophical science fiction writer — to whom the future had always been suspect — had foreseen many technological achievements in his utopias. His stories tell of the difficulties of communication between humans and other civilizations and of the limitation of human understanding. They portray the human indecision between curiosity and xenophobia, and the tragedy and comedy of future machines, human intellect and emotion and their relation to each other.
His heroes, star-travelling Don Quixotes, are the struggling, searching, thoughful, and hoping “optimistic pessimists” Lem once described himself as.
Lem wrote not only novels but also poems, humorous sketches, fairytales, fables and essays. He never considered himself a science fiction writer, but rather parodied the genre and had always warned humanity of their hubris. In his late years, he had turned from an utopist to an dystopist, seeing technological progress accompanied by a sad decay of fantasy and intelligence.
He died after a long illness in Krakow today. He leaves not only a wife and son behind, but also a body of great work.