VERA BRACKEN LIBRARY OCTOBER BOOK REVIEW
(Reposted below is my winning review of Stanislaw Lem’s classic sci-fi novel The Cyberiad, which I entered into the Vera Bracken Library’s GoodBooks review contest)
Long before such television shows as The Big Bang Theory or Frasier made fun of intelligent people lacking wisdom there were many great literary satires of philosophical or scientific fanaticism, such as Stanislaw Lem’s The Cyberiad, a collection of funny short stories detailing the galactic misadventures of Trurl and Klapaucius: two brilliant engineers or “constructors” with an uncanny ability to not foresee the consequences of their work. In Lem’s future world, the idea that science is the answer to everything is revealed to be more capable of creating a dystopia than Utopia, and the two constructors enthusiastically chase the dream of the perfect machine. What are the results? A device that can create anything starting with the letter ‘N’ starts erasing all of reality in order to “create” Nothing, two opposing cybernetic armies end up dancing through the meadows together – holding hands and happily picking flowers, and a benign machine begins harming the galaxy with poems. Trurl and Klapaucius travel the Universe ultimately doing more harm than good, and thus is the message of the book: the drive for perfection usually ends up achieving its opposite, no matter how clever humanity becomes. But whether the stories are delightfully silly or poignantly profound, The Cyberiad is a brilliant and highly entertaining work of science fiction – instantly engaging, and worthy of being called a classic.
©2013 Daniel Schnee.danielpaulschnee.wordpress.com