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The Futurological Congress

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the read-all-about-it dept.

Sci-Fi 82

eldavojohn writes "Stanislaw Lem was arguably the greatest non-English science fiction writer before his death three years ago and left behind many science fiction novels with messages of satire and intrigue. The Futurological Congress is no different. The book has several motifs throughout it but I found the most prominent to be that we are living in an increasingly medicated society whereby the future may be wonderfully dystopian — in that the horrors of our existence are simply hidden by drugs on top of drugs on top of drugs. With a movie due out shortly by director Ari Folman, it seems like a good time to revisit this often overlooked short classic sci-fi work." Read on for the rest of eldavojohn's reviewOur hero and narrator, Ijon Tichy, should be a familiar name to Lem fans or anyone familiar with Lem's Space Diaries in either English or Polish. Tichy acts as a mechanism of sanity in many of Lem's novels just trying to figure out what the devil is up with a messed up planet he lands on or a particular device/person. By this manner, Lem allows himself much discovery on the reader's behalf and by these means can relay the current state of events to the reader without jarringly interrupting the natural flow of things too much. Through this novel's course of Tichy's discoveries, I was suspended from being disturbed by spoon-fed explanations most of the time, but the word play that occurred in this particular story got to be a bit much and tedious for a sub-150-page paperback hence a missing point in its score.

Tichy is now a member of the Futurological Association and is invited to attend the Eighth Futurological Congress in Nounas, Costa Rica. From the get go, Lem is full of satire with the immediate lampooning of such self-appointed associations (and maybe even academia) by pointing out that there are two kinds of individuals in these associations: the ones that attend every single meeting/conference and those that don't leave their offices, period.

One of the themes throughout the book is a borderline anti-American sentiment about the development of munitions and bombs. I'm familiar with Lem's ability to criticize both sides of the Cold War in a single paragraph although The Futurological Congress seems to focus more heavily on American military and pharmaceutical faults. Lem must have been well aware of kidnappings in Latin America when he wrote this book because that's one aspect he got right about the future of that area. Due to heavy activist presence in Costa Rica trying to capture and ransom Americans, a military attache is accompanying the U.S. Ambassador to Costa Rica to speak at the congress but in the middle of his speech an unfortunate delegate from India reaches into his breast pocket to grab a handkerchief to wipe his nose. This delegate standing next to Tichy is immediately dispensed with by the bodyguards of the ambassador and, thanks to 'humanitarian ballistics,' Tichy only gets a spattering of blood on him instead of the bullet passing through the target and injuring more people.

Some background on Lem may help you understand this satire. He was born a Catholic Pole with Jewish ancestry and seemed to run the gauntlet of oppression. He survived World War II with fake papers as a mechanic/welder and due to his "bourgeois origin" could not study at the Polytechnic during Soviet occupation of Eastern Poland after the end of the war. He became an Atheist stating, "for moral reasons ... the world appears to me to be put together in such a painful way that I prefer to believe that it was not created ... intentionally." Knowing this, his satire and bitter critique of all things may not surprise you. On his way to the conference--aside from meeting an orgy of liberated publishers--he encounters an 'anti-papist' who is a Catholic on his way to kill the Pope with a gun of a massive caliber. The anti-papist's surprising motive is none other than The Holy Bible where Abraham is ordered to kill his son Isaac by God. Except that the anti-papist would be killing a father, the most holiest father. And this would be a great personal sacrifice and the "utmost of martyrdom" as the anti-papist "would suffer terrible torment and his soul eternal damnation." Again, Lem predicts today's world, we have no limit of people eager to misinterpret scriptures of any religion.

Back to the conference--since there's 168 attendees from 64 different countries, each person gets four minutes to present their paper. And everyone is only really interested in their own work and telling everyone else about it in a bit of a narcissistic way. This leads the first member to spend his four minutes thusly: "Stan Hazelton from the U.S. Delegation immediately threw the hall into a frenzy by emphatically repeating: 4, 6, 11, and therefore 22; 5, 9 hence 22; 3, 7, 2, 11, from which it followed that 22 and only 22!! Someone jumped up, saying yes but 5, and what about 6, 18, or 4 for that matter; Hazelton countered this objection with the crushing retort that, either way, 22. I turned to the number key in his paper and discovered that 22 meant the end of the world." The Futurologists in this novel are probably best described as each one being a less optimistic Ray Kurzweil in that they all seem to be spouting their own version of obstacles humanity is soon to face and consequently their ideas to remedy it. For instance the second delegate from Japan unveils a 10,000:1 model of a housing complex some 800 stories tall with self sustaining everything and mobile in the ocean! It's the future! In fact, everything is recycled! Even the food is recycled waste and excrement from the people. The sausage left out in the hall is actually reconstituted human waste (at which point everyone in the audience stops eating and shuffles the food underneath their seats). This sets the tone for a few of the minor themes of the novel and gives you an idea of how Lem takes subtle jabs at everyone. For example another United States delegate takes the floor to talk about population problems that are rapidly developing. He outlines seven solutions: "mass media and mass arrests, compulsory celibacy, full-sale deeroticization, onanization, sodomization, and for repeated offenders--castration." The book makes other references to population control and one character notes that continuing trends of population would eventually result in human beings exploding outward at the speed of light. Nature is addressed in an equally hilarious means as later in the book all animals have been extinct and replaced with what appear to be better controlled robots.

While in his room, Tichy makes the mistake of drinking the water and discovers that the water is spiked with a powerful hallucinogenic drug. He assumes it's the work of the revolutionaries and decides not to tell anyone but as the violence outside escalates and he mentions it to a fellow futurologist, he discovers that it is the rise of chryptochemocracy! With the hotel's staff, he quickly equips a gas mask as it becomes clear that chemical warfare is afoot ... of a psychedelic nature. Planes are called in equipped with LTN bombs. LTN stands for "Love Thy Neighbor" which is pretty indicative of today's munitions and their goals with surgical strikes. Hilariously enough, the very hotel in which the congress is convening is immediately bombed by mistake.

After pages of chemical warfare that affect the crowd's temperament and counter chemicals that affect the crowd's temperament, Tichy and a friend find oxygen tanks and masks and descend to the sewers where the hotel staff is relaxing comfortably with their own oxygen tanks and masks.

Unfortunately, Tichy and his companion do not have enough oxygen to last the night and therefore must take shifts suffering hallucinations. What follows from this point is a series of hallucinations that Tichy has ending in him coming to in the sewer. Tichy has several of these bizarre hallucinations ending in him being shot by revolutionaries in the sewer. He comes to certain that he is still hallucinating and refuses to believe anyone he is not. As a result, they freeze him until they can find a cure for his mental illness and he is unthawed many years later in a reality where 'psychemicals' keep everyone happy. This overmedicated society disgusts and frightens Tichy at times. It has gotten so bad that a company now exists where you can order a psychem that allows you the satisfaction of doing evil upon another person. Murder's no longer a problem, you just get reanimated. The worst possible offense is using psychems on an individual without their consent.

Tichy attempts to adapt and I couldn't help but be reminded of Fry in Futurama with similar humor employed nearly thirty years before it. As Tichy reconnects with his futurologist friend (people stopped dying as technology caught up a la Kurzweil), he discovers something unsettling about the drugs everyone is taking. He discovers that there's mascons that act as blockers to your senses and replace it with a superficial reality. And we start to understand why everything is so mysteriously idyllic while at the same times animals have been extinct for many years and the planet is at an overburdening 26 billion people. Tichy's friend hands him two vials that will unblock the layers of mascons. You see, the 'architects' of this current psychem reality have patched and repatched side effects of psychems and mascons with more psychems and mascons in the air and water supply! I'll leave The Matrix-like vials and harsh transition from utopia to dystopia for people interested in reading the book.

This book was a joy to read and although the very end is a bit dissatisfying to me, the satire and pessimism inherent to Lem's writings have influenced me and continue to influence me heavily. I like to think that Lem borrowed from sci-fi writers like Philip K. Dick and that other science fiction authors like Douglas Adams have borrowed from Lem despite the language barrier and difference in culture. While Lem may not be the icon that Lovecraft, Clarke and Asimov have become, I certainly hope that people recognize his large corpus of works for more than just Solaris as I've enjoyed many novels by him. Lem offers a rare dark comedy in science fiction with The Futurological Congress.

You can pick up the English version of The Futurological Congress at Amazon . And catch the Ari Folman movie where the present day will be live action while the unfathomable future will be animated to adapt to the stark impossibilities the book portrays.

Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.

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Tichy does the right thing - he leaves the congres (2, Funny)

kubitus (927806) | more than 5 years ago | (#28254059)

the book lacks Lem's entertainement factor, reporting exactly how congresse usually are:

boring boring boring

no wonder Tichy made some excursions

Re:Tichy does the right thing - he leaves the cong (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28254453)

It has come to my attention that the entire Linux community is a hotbed of so called 'alternative sexuality,' which includes anything from hedonistic orgies to homosexuality to pedophilia.

What better way of demonstrating this than by looking at the hidden messages contained within the names of some of Linux's most outspoken advocates:

  • Linus Torvalds [microsoft.com] is an anagram of slit anus or VD 'L,' clearly referring to himself by the first initial.
  • Richard M. Stallman [geocities.com] , spokespervert for the Gaysex's Not Unusual 'movement' is an anagram of mans cram thrill ad.
  • Alan Cox [microsoft.com] is barely an anagram of anal cox which is just so filthy and unchristian it unnerves me.

I'm sure that Eric S. Raymond, composer of the satanic homosexual [goatse.fr] propaganda diatribe The Cathedral and the Bizarre, is probably an anagram of something queer, but we don't need to look that far as we know he's always shoving a gun up some poor little boy's rectum. Update: Eric S. Raymond is actually an anagram for secondary rim and cord in my arse. It just goes to show you that he is indeed queer.

Update the Second: It is also documented that Evil Sicko Gaymond is responsible for a nauseating piece of code called Fetchmail [microsoft.com] , which is obviously sinister sodomite slang for 'Felch Male' -- a disgusting practise. For those not in the know, 'felching' is the act performed by two perverts wherein one sucks their own post-coital ejaculate out of the other's rectum. In fact, it appears that the dirty Linux faggots set out to undermine the good Republican institution of e-mail, turning it into 'e-male.'

As far as Richard 'Master' Stallman goes, that filthy fudge-packer was actually quoted [salon.com] on leftist commie propaganda site Salon.com as saying the following: 'I've been resistant to the pressure to conform in any circumstance,' he says. 'It's about being able to question conventional wisdom,' he asserts. 'I believe in love, but not monogamy,' he says plainly.

And this isn't a made up troll bullshit either! He actually stated this tripe, which makes it obvious that he is trying to politely say that he's a flaming homo [comp-u-geek.net] slut [rotten.com] !

Speaking about 'flaming,' who better to point out as a filthy chutney ferret than Slashdot's very own self-confessed pederast Jon Katz. Although an obvious deviant anagram cannot be found from his name, he has already confessed, nay boasted of the homosexual [goatse.fr] perversion of corrupting the innocence of young children [slashdot.org] . To quote from the article linked:

'I've got a rare kidney disease,' I told her. 'I have to go to the bathroom a lot. You can come with me if you want, but it takes a while. Is that okay with you? Do you want a note from my doctor?'

Is this why you were touching your penis [rotten.com] in the cinema, Jon? And letting the other boys touch it too?

We should also point out that Jon Katz refers to himself as 'Slashdot's resident Gasbag.' Is there any more doubt? For those fortunate few who aren't aware of the list of homosexual [goatse.fr] terminology found inside the Linux 'Sauce Code,' a 'Gasbag' is a pervert who gains sexual gratification from having a thin straw inserted into his urethra (or to use the common parlance, 'piss-pipe'), then his homosexual [goatse.fr] lover blows firmly down the straw to inflate his scrotum. This is, of course, when he's not busy violating the dignity and copyright of posters to Slashdot by gathering together their postings and publishing them en masse to further his twisted and manipulative journalistic agenda.

Sick, disgusting antichristian perverts, the lot of them.

In addition, many of the Linux distributions (a 'distribution' is the most common way to spread the faggots' wares) are run by faggot groups. The Slackware [redhat.com] distro is named after the 'Slack-wear' fags wear to allow easy access to the anus for sexual purposes. Furthermore, Slackware is a close anagram of claw arse, a reference to the homosexual [goatse.fr] practise of anal fisting. The Mandrake [slackware.com] product is run by a group of French faggot satanists, and is named after the faggot nickname for the vibrator. It was also chosen because it is an anagram for dark amen and ram naked, which is what they do.

Another 'distro,' (abbrieviated as such because it sounds a bit like 'Disco,' which is where homosexuals [goatse.fr] preyed on young boys in the 1970s), is Debian, [mandrake.com] an anagram of in a bed, which could be considered innocent enough (after all, a bed is both where we sleep and pray), until we realise what other names Debian uses to describe their foul wares. 'Woody' is obvious enough, being a term for the erect male penis [rotten.com] , glistening with pre-cum. But far sicker is the phrase 'Frozen Potato' that they use. This filthy term, again found in the secret homosexual [goatse.fr] 'Sauce Code,' refers to the solo homosexual [goatse.fr] practice of defecating into a clear polythene bag, shaping the turd into a crude approximation of the male phallus, then leaving it in the freezer overnight until it becomes solid. The practitioner then proceeds to push the frozen 'potato' up his own rectum, squeezing it in and out until his tight young balls erupt in a screaming orgasm.

And Red Hat [debian.org] is secret homo [comp-u-geek.net] slang for the tip of a penis [rotten.com] that is soaked in blood from a freshly violated underage ringpiece.

The fags have even invented special tools to aid their faggotry! For example, the 'supermount' tool was devised to allow deeper penetration, which is good for fags because it gives more pressure on the prostate gland. 'Automount' is used, on the other hand, because Linux users are all fat and gay, and need to mount each other [comp-u-geek.net] automatically.

The depths of their depravity can be seen in their use of 'mount points.' These are, plainly speaking, the different points of penetration. The main one is obviously/anus, but there are others. Militant fags even say 'there is no/opt mount point' because for these dirty perverts faggotry is not optional but a way of life.

More evidence is in the fact that Linux users say how much they love `man`, even going so far as to say that all new Linux users (who are in fact just innocent heterosexuals indoctrinated by the gay propaganda) should try out `man`. In no other system do users boast of their frequent recourse to a man.

Other areas of the system also show Linux's inherit gayness. For example, people are often told of the 'FAQ,' but how many innocent heterosexual Windows [amiga.com] users know what this actually means. The answer is shocking: Faggot Anal Quest: the voyage of discovery for newly converted fags!

Even the title 'Slashdot [geekizoid.com] ' originally referred to a homosexual [goatse.fr] practice. Slashdot [kuro5hin.org] of course refers to the popular gay practice of blood-letting. The Slashbots, of course are those super-zealous homosexuals [goatse.fr] who take this perversion to its extreme by ripping open their anuses, as seen on the site most popular with Slashdot users, the depraved work of Satan, http://www.eff.org/ [eff.org] .

The editors of Slashdot [slashduh.org] also have homosexual [goatse.fr] names: 'Hemos' is obvious in itself, being one vowel away from 'Homos.' But even more sickening is 'Commander Taco' which sounds a bit like 'Commode in Taco,' filthy gay slang for a pair of spreadeagled buttocks that are caked with excrement [pboy.com] . (The best form of lubrication, they insist.) Sometimes, these 'Taco Commodes' have special 'Salsa Sauce' (blood from a ruptured rectum) and 'Cheese' (rancid flakes of penis [rotten.com] discharge) toppings. And to make it even worse, Slashdot [notslashdot.org] runs on Apache!

The Apache [microsoft.com] server, whose use among fags is as prevalent as AIDS, is named after homosexual [goatse.fr] activity -- as everyone knows, popular faggot band, the Village People, featured an Apache Indian, and it is for him that this gay program is named.

And that's not forgetting the use of patches in the Linux fag world -- patches are used to make the anus accessible for repeated anal sex even after its rupture by a session of fisting.

To summarise: Linux is gay. 'Slash -- Dot' is the graphical description of the space between a young boy's scrotum and anus. And BeOS [apple.com] is for hermaphrodites and disabled 'stumpers.'

FEEDBACK

What worries me is how much you know about what gay people do. I'm scared I actually read this whole thing. I think this post is a good example of the negative effects of Internet usage on people. This person obviously has no social life anymore and had to result to writing something as stupid as this. And actually take the time to do it too. Although... I think it was satire.. blah.. it's early. -- Anonymous Coward, Slashdot

Well, the only reason I know all about this is because I had the misfortune to read the Linux 'Sauce code' once. Although publicised as the computer code needed to get Linux up and running on a computer (and haven't you always been worried about the phrase 'Monolithic Kernel'?), this foul document is actually a detailed and graphic description of every conceivable degrading perversion known to the human race, as well as a few of the major animal species. It has shocked and disturbed me, to the point of needing to shock and disturb the common man to warn them of the impending homo [comp-u-geek.net] -calypse which threatens to engulf our planet.

You must work for the government. Trying to post the most obscene stuff in hopes that slashdot won't be able to continue or something, due to legal woes. If i ever see your ugly face, i'm going to stick my fireplace poker up your ass, after it's nice and hot, to weld shut that nasty gaping hole of yours. -- Anonymous Coward, Slashdot

Doesn't it give you a hard-on to imagine your thick strong poker ramming it's way up my most sacred of sphincters? You're beyond help, my friend, as the only thing you can imagine is the foul penetrative violation of another man. Are you sure you're not Eric Raymond? The government, being populated by limp-wristed liberals, could never stem the sickening tide of homosexual [goatse.fr] child molesting Linux advocacy. Hell, they've given NAMBLA free reign for years!

you really should post this logged in. i wish i could remember jebus's password, cuz i'd give it to you. -- mighty jebus [slashdot.org] , Slashdot

Thank you for your kind words of support. However, this document shall only ever be posted anonymously. This is because the 'Open Sauce' movement is a sham, proposing homoerotic cults of hero worshipping in the name of freedom. I speak for the common man. For any man who prefers the warm, enveloping velvet folds of a woman's vagina [bodysnatchers.co.uk] to the tight puckered ringpiece of a child. These men, being common, decent folk, don't have a say in the political hypocrisy that is Slashdot culture. I am the unknown liberator [hitler.org] .

ROLF LAMO i hate linux FAGGOTS -- Anonymous Coward, Slashdot

We shouldn't hate them, we should pity them for the misguided fools they are... Fanatical Linux zeal-outs need to be herded into camps for re-education and subsequent rehabilitation into normal heterosexual society. This re-education shall be achieved by forcing them to watch repeats of Baywatch until the very mention of Pamela Anderson [rotten.com] causes them to fill their pants with healthy heterosexual jism [zillabunny.com] .

Actually, that's not at all how scrotal inflation works. I understand it involves injecting sterile saline solution into the scrotum. I've never tried this, but you can read how to do it safely in case you're interested. (Before you moderate this down, ask yourself honestly -- who are the real crazies -- people who do scrotal inflation, or people who pay $1000+ for a game console?) -- double_h [slashdot.org] , Slashdot

Well, it just goes to show that even the holy Linux 'sauce code' is riddled with bugs that need fixing. (The irony of Jon Katz not even being able to inflate his scrotum correctly has not been lost on me.) The Linux pervert elite already acknowledge this, with their queer slogan: 'Given enough arms, all rectums are shallow.' And anyway, the PS2 [xbox.com] sucks major cock and isn't worth the money. Intellivision forever!

dude did u used to post on msnbc's nt bulletin board now that u are doing anti-gay posts u also need to start in with anti-black stuff too c u in church -- Anonymous Coward, Slashdot

For one thing, whilst Linux is a cavalcade of queer propaganda masquerading as the future of computing, NT [linux.com] is used by people who think nothing better of encasing their genitals in quick setting plaster then going to see a really dirty porno film, enjoying the restriction enforced onto them. Remember, a wasted arousal is a sin in the eyes of the Catholic church [atheism.org] . Clearly, the only god-fearing Christian operating system in existence is CP/M -- The Christian Program Monitor. All computer users should immediately ask their local pastor to install this fine OS onto their systems. It is the only route to salvation.

Secondly, this message is for every man. Computers know no colour. Not only that, but one of the finest websites in the world is maintained by a Black Man [stileproject.com] . Now fuck off you racist donkey felcher.

And don't forget that slashdot was written in Perl, which is just too close to 'Pearl Necklace' for comfort.... oh wait; that's something all you heterosexuals do.... I can't help but wonder how much faster the trolls could do First-Posts on this site if it were redone in PHP... I could hand-type dynamic HTML pages faster than Perl can do them. -- phee [slashdot.org] , Slashdot

Although there is nothing unholy about the fine heterosexual act of ejaculating between a woman's breasts, squirting one's load up towards her neck and chin area, it should be noted that Perl [python.org] (standing for Pansies Entering Rectums Locally) is also close to 'Pearl Monocle,' 'Pearl Nosering,' and the ubiquitous 'Pearl Enema.'

One scary thing about Perl [sun.com] is that it contains hidden homosexual [goatse.fr] messages. Take the following code: LWP::Simple -- It looks innocuous enough, doesn't it? But look at the line closely: There are two colons next to each other! As Larry 'Balls to the' Wall would openly admit in the Perl Documentation, Perl was designed from the ground up to indoctrinate it's programmers into performing unnatural sexual acts -- having two colons so closely together is clearly a reference to the perverse sickening act of 'colon kissing,' whereby two homosexual [goatse.fr] queers spread their buttocks wide, pressing their filthy torn sphincters together. They then share small round objects like marbles or golfballs by passing them from one rectum to another using muscle contraction alone. This is also referred to in programming 'circles' as 'Parameter Passing.'

And PHP [perl.org] stands for Perverted Homosexual Penetration. Didn't you know?

Thank you for your valuable input on this. I am sure you will be never forgotten. BTW: Did I mention that this could be useful in terraforming Mars? Mars rulaa. -- Eimernase [slashdot.org] , Slashdot

Well, I don't know about terraforming Mars, but I do know that homosexual [goatse.fr] Linux Advocates have been probing Uranus for years.

That's inspiring. Keep up the good work, AC. May God in his wisdom grant you the strength to bring the plain honest truth to this community, and make it pure again. Yours, Cerberus. -- Anonymous Coward, Slashdot

*sniff* That brings a tear to my eye. Thank you once more for your kind support. I have taken faith in the knowledge that I am doing the Good Lord [atheism.org] 's work, but it is encouraging to know that I am helping out the common man here.

However, I should be cautious about revealing your name 'Cerberus' on such a filthy den of depravity as Slashdot. It is a well known fact that the 'Kerberos' documentation from Microsoft is a detailed manual describing, in intimate, exacting detail, how to sexually penetrate a variety of unwilling canine animals; be they domesticated, wild, or mythical. Slashdot posters have taken great pleasure in illegally spreading this documentation far and wide, treating it as an 'extension' to the Linux 'Sauce Code,' for the sake of 'interoperability.' (The slang term they use for nonconsensual intercourse -- their favourite kind.)

In fact, sick twisted Linux deviants are known to have LAN parties, (Love of Anal Naughtiness, needless to say.), wherein they entice a stray dog, known as the 'Samba Mount,' into their homes. Up to four of these filth-sodden blasphemers against nature take turns to plunge their erect, throbbing, uncircumcised members, conkers-deep, into the rectum, mouth, and other fleshy orifices of the poor animal. Eventually, the 'Samba Mount' collapses due to 'overload,' and needs to be 'rebooted.' (i.e., kicked out into the street, and left to fend for itself.) Many Linux users boast about their 'uptime' in such situations.

Inspiring stuff! If only all trolls were this quality! -- Anonymous Coward, Slashdot

If only indeed. You can help our brave cause by moderating this message up as often as possible. I recommend '+1, Underrated,' as that will protect your precious Karma in Metamoderation [slashdot.org] . Only then can we break through the glass ceiling of Homosexual Slashdot Culture. Is it any wonder that the new version of Slashcode has been christened 'Bender'???

If we can get just one of these postings up to at least '+1,' then it will be archived forever! Others will learn of our struggle, and join with us in our battle for freedom!

It's pathetic you've spent so much time writing this. -- Anonymous Coward, Slashdot

I am compelled to document the foulness and carnal depravity [catholic.net] that is Linux, in order that we may prepare ourselves for the great holy war that is to follow. It is my solemn duty to peel back the foreskin of ignorance and apply the wire brush of enlightenment.

As with any great open-source project, you need someone asking this question, so I'll do it. When the hell is version 2.0 going to be ready?!?! -- Anonymous Coward, Slashdot

I could make an arrogant, childish comment along the lines of 'Every time someone asks for 2.0, I won't release it for another 24 hours,' but the truth of the matter is that I'm quite nervous of releasing a 'number two,' as I can guarantee some filthy shit-slurping Linux pervert would want to suck it straight out of my anus before I've even had chance to wipe.

I desperately want to suck your monolithic kernel, you sexy hunk, you. -- Anonymous Coward, Slashdot

I sincerely hope you're Natalie Portman [geocities.com] .

Dude, nothing on slashdot larger than 3 paragraphs is worth reading. Try to distill the message, whatever it was, and maybe I'll read it. As it is, I have to much open source software to write to waste even 10 seconds of precious time. 10 seconds is all its gonna take M$ to whoop Linux's ass. Vigilence is the price of Free (as in libre -- from the fine, frou frou French language) Software. Hack on fellow geeks, and remember: Friday is Bouillabaisse day except for heathens who do not believe that Jesus died for their sins. Those godless, oil drench, bearded sexist clowns can pull grits from their pantaloons (another fine, fine French word) and eat that. Anyway, try to keep your message focused and concise. For concision is the soul of derision. Way. -- Anonymous Coward, Slashdot

What the fuck?

I've read your gay conspiracy post version 1.3.0 and I must say I'm impressed. In particular, I appreciate how you have managed to squeeze in a healthy dose of the latent homosexuality you gay-bashing homos [comp-u-geek.net] tend to be full of. Thank you again. -- Anonymous Coward, Slashdot

Well bugger me!

ooooh honey. how insecure are you!!! wann a little massage from deare bruci. love you -- Anonymous Coward, Slashdot

Fuck right off!

IMPORTANT: This message needs to be heard (Not HURD [linux.org] , which is an acronym for 'Huge Unclean Rectal Dilator') across the whole community, so it has been released into the Public Domain [icopyright.com] . You know, that licence that we all had before those homoerotic crypto-fascists came out with the GPL [apple.com] (Gay Penetration License) that is no more than an excuse to see who's got the biggest feces-encrusted [rotten.com] cock. I would have put this up on Freshmeat [adultmember.com] , but that name is known to be a euphemism for the tight rump of a young boy.

Come to think of it, the whole concept of 'Source Control' unnerves me, because it sounds a bit like 'Sauce Control,' which is a description of the homosexual [goatse.fr] practice of holding the base of the cock shaft tightly upon the point of ejaculation, thus causing a build up of semenal fluid that is only released upon entry into an incision made into the base of the receiver's scrotum. And 'Open Sauce' is the act of ejaculating into another mans face or perhaps a biscuit to be shared later. Obviously, 'Closed Sauce' is the only Christian thing to do, as evidenced by the fact that it is what Cathedrals are all about.

Contributors: (although not to the eternal game of 'soggy biscuit' that open 'sauce' development has become) Anonymous Coward, Anonymous Coward, phee, Anonymous Coward, mighty jebus, Anonymous Coward, Anonymous Coward, double_h, Anonymous Coward, Eimernase, Anonymous Coward, Anonymous Coward, Anonymous Coward, Anonymous Coward, Anonymous Coward, Anonymous Coward, Anonymous Coward, Anonymous Coward. Further contributions are welcome.

Current changes: This version sent to FreeWIPO [slashdot.org] by 'Bring BackATV' as plain text. Reformatted everything, added all links back in (that we could match from the previous version), many new ones (Slashbot bait links). Even more spelling fixed. Who wrote this thing, CmdrTaco himself?

Previous changes: Yet more changes added. Spelling fixed. Feedback added. Explanation of 'distro' system. 'Mount Point' syntax described. More filth regarding `man` and Slashdot. Yet more fucking spelling fixed. 'Fetchmail' uncovered further. More Slashbot baiting. Apache exposed. Distribution licence at foot of document.

ANUX -- A full Linux distribution... Up your ass!

The great Lem (4, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#28254067)

Why Stanislaw Lem doesn't get more attention on this News for Nerds site I just don't understand. Maybe it's just a general adversion to works in translation. But look beyond works like Solaris which is a clever book, though not so great, and of the film adaptations one was dull and the other cheesy. But for everyone here I'd recommend strongly the Cyberiad [amazon.com] , about capable engineers roaming the galaxy when technology allows them to realize whatever crazy schemes they want. The chapter where they design a computer capable of generating poetry, and its first production is a splendid love poem in the language of tensor algebra will have the mathematically minded folks here falling off their chairs laughing.

Re:The great Lem (2, Insightful)

nomadic (141991) | more than 5 years ago | (#28254155)

He gets about as much attention as most other novelists here. Slashdot has never been a bookish site.

Re:The great Lem (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28254213)

Why Stanislaw Lem doesn't get more attention on this News for Nerds site I just don't understand... But for everyone here I'd recommend strongly the Cyberiad [amazon.com]

As someone who took twenty minutes to write up a review on The Futurological Congress, I may point out that it's very easy to write a review and submit it. You could do that for Cyberiad if you'd like. I agree that it is also a great book.

Maybe it's just a general adversion [sic] to works in translation.

One thing that's confused me about Lem's books is the wordplay he does and how the hell anyone can translate that from Polish to English so flawlessly that the alliteration and prefix/suffix work moves from one language to another. Perhaps these two languages are more closely related than I know but I am always impressed with the translations.

Why would anyone be averse to books in another language if a decent translation exists? I feel that I am very eager to find these books and read them as I don't get out of the country a lot and love hearing different cultures reflected in works like Hesse and Tolstoy and Bulgakov ... why, prior to this book I read 2666 by Roberto Bolano (Peruvian born Mexican resident who died in 2003) and reviewed it [slashdot.org] but it was rejected. Probably because it's not nerdy enough.

I suspect that as special effects get better and better that Lem will be exposed to many more people through movies of his stories. Hopefully people return to the original works to enjoy them.

Re:The great Lem (4, Informative)

Rary (566291) | more than 5 years ago | (#28254373)

One thing that's confused me about Lem's books is the wordplay he does and how the hell anyone can translate that from Polish to English so flawlessly that the alliteration and prefix/suffix work moves from one language to another. Perhaps these two languages are more closely related than I know but I am always impressed with the translations.

As I understand it, most translators will not simply translate the book word for word, but instead will try to recreate the spirit of the writing, while staying as faithful as possible to the literal story. So, in the case where there is some sort of wordplay, they may translate it in a way that's actually literally quite different, but communicates the same sort of imagery. If alliteration is used in the source language, they may change the wording entirely in order to use alliteration in the target language.

Translating books is a creative process. It's not simply translation of the work, but rather creation of a complementary work in a different language.

Re:The great Lem (1)

grogo (861262) | more than 5 years ago | (#28275461)

I'm a Polish-American, having come to the US at the age of 12. Lem was my favorite author even before we left Poland.

I've read almost all of his books in the original Polish and in English. Both good and bad translations. For example, the only English translation of Solaris was translated from French, making it a dull read in English, though it's much better in Polish.

The majority of his books, esp. those translated by Kandel, are very faithful to the original. Not the details, of course, but in the sense of wordplay and humor. For example, in the Polish version of the story "How the World was Saved" from the Cyberiad, the machine can make anything that starts with the letter "N". The joke is, the machine is asked to make Natrium (Latin for Sodium), but it refuses, saying that it's not the machine that can make anything starting with N in any conceivable language, since every word has some equivalent that starts with N in another language, and so therefore it would be equivalent to a machine that can make anything starting with any letter, but that's not what it is. Anyhow, you can see the English version for yourself:

http://english.lem.pl/index.php/home/bookshelf/how-the-word-was-saved [english.lem.pl]

In Polish, the made-up words are different, but the spirit, and the joke are very much the same in this instance.

In other stories, which rely too much on wordplay and puns, the translation has to be different to work, but Michael Kandel does an excellent job of that. It's certainly an art--though I'm fluent in both Polish and English, I couldn't come close to making such faithful translations.

Re:The great Lem (1)

grogo (861262) | more than 5 years ago | (#28275493)

Oops, forgot the point of that previous story: the first thing that Klapaucjusz (Klapaucius) has the machine make is Nature: and instead the machine makes what sounds like Science. In this case, the joke doesn't work so well: in Polish, the word for Science is Nauka, but the translator, to keep some of the original joke, had to change it to Nature, which doesn't come off so well. The machine makes a perfect replica of academic science, which is a clear joke in Polish, but a little clumsy in the English translation.

Re:The great Lem (1)

Rary (566291) | more than 5 years ago | (#28279057)

That's quite interesting. I clicked your link and read the story before I read this last response with your explanation of the Nature/Science joke. As I was reading it, I wondered if Nature was the actual n-word used in the original. It seemed to me that what the machine was creating wasn't really Nature, although arguably it was creating a demonstration of "human nature". I thought that maybe that was the joke. Perhaps the translator was attempting to make that association, in which case it worked, only it was more subtle than the original joke.

Re:The great Lem (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28254499)

As someone who took twenty minutes to write up a review on The Futurological Congress, I may point out that it's very easy to write a review and submit it. You could do that for Cyberiad if you'd like.

Yeah but aren't you pretty much always attention-whoring like that? "Let me show you the ways of the attention whore, and you too can submit a lame review of a lame book and get your handle posted up there on the Slashdot mainpage. Just imagine how popular you will be with the ladies (not at all) when you submit your Slashdot review!".

Re:The great Lem (2, Insightful)

TeknoHog (164938) | more than 5 years ago | (#28254645)

One thing that's confused me about Lem's books is the wordplay he does and how the hell anyone can translate that from Polish to English so flawlessly that the alliteration and prefix/suffix work moves from one language to another. Perhaps these two languages are more closely related than I know but I am always impressed with the translations.

I read the Cyberiad as a Polish -> English -> Finnish translation, and nearly killed myself laughing. If the saying that a translation always loses half of the book, is true, then I better not learn Polish.

Re:The great Lem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28254817)

One thing that's confused me about Lem's books is the wordplay he does and how the hell anyone can translate that from Polish to English so flawlessly that the alliteration and prefix/suffix work moves from one language to another. Perhaps these two languages are more closely related than I know but I am always impressed with the translations.

I read the Cyberiad as a Polish -> English -> Finnish translation, and nearly killed myself laughing. If the saying that a translation always loses half of the book, is true, then I better not learn Polish.

There's other reasons not to learn Polish my friend. If you learned Polish, you'd be a fucking polock!

You know one book you'll never ever see? Polish wit and wisdom!

Re:The great Lem (1)

AigariusDebian (721386) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256853)

Learn Russian - more useful in the long term and you can still enjoy the books as Polish and Russian languages are so close that the Polish-Russian translation is mostly trivial and looses nothing in the process.

Re:The great Lem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28263977)

... and looses nothing in the process.

Although some words might have their meanings changed.

Dude. "looses" != "loses"

Re:The great Lem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28264337)

Learn Russian - more useful in the long term and you can still enjoy the books as Polish and Russian languages are so close that the Polish-Russian translation is mostly trivial and looses nothing in the process.

Of course if you don't mind the cyrylic alphabet ;)

Re:The great Lem (2, Informative)

bolek_b (246528) | more than 5 years ago | (#28254277)

To continue with recommendations, Lem's final work, Fiasco is a superb book. And for more advanced readers (such as those, who read and liked Foucault's Pendulum by Umberto Eco), there are great novels His Master's Voice and Golem XIV.

Seconded (5, Informative)

professorguy (1108737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28254317)

I always recommend Cyberiad for new readers of Lem. But for the geeks that are sure to lurk here let me throw out a few more. I've read pretty much everything that's been translated (including a lot of his literaturary criticism), so I know the gems.

Read Memoirs Found In A Bathtub if you liked Futurological Congress. It has the same paranoid glimpses of a distopian, yet familiar, future.
Read Mortal Engines if you liked Cyberiad. Funny stuff.
Read Fiasco for great hard Sci-fi. Greatest density of cool ideas per page.
Read Imaginary Magnitude if you're a geek and want to read about the famous Golem XIV (which has its own wikipedia article).
Read The Chain of Chance and you'll never read another mystery novel again--he pretty much unravels the entire genre with this book.
Read His Master's Voice for dense philosophy presented as a science mystery. This is his masterpiece.

This is just the tip of the iceberg--there's plenty more where that came from.

Re:Seconded (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28255087)

Why are the name translations so screwed up sometimes? Mortal engines is literally Robots' Fables and The Chain of Chance is Katar. I cannot even establish what it means in Polish, but in Russian this one is mysteriously named Runny Nose.

Re:Seconded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28255681)

Katar means Catarrh, so this Runny Nose is spot-on, actually.

Re:Seconded (1)

psiekl (310217) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256449)

"Katar" means "[common] cold" in Polish.

Re:Seconded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28258405)

It means 'runny nose' - a common cold is a przeziÄ(TM)bienie.

Re:Seconded (2, Interesting)

radtea (464814) | more than 5 years ago | (#28255623)

Read His Master's Voice for dense philosophy presented as a science mystery. This is his masterpiece.

Second that. It is one of the very few science fiction stories that gets the process of how scientists actually think basically correct.

Amongst his more accessible books--after you get through the lengthy wandering through the spaceport stuff at the beginning--is "Return From the Stars", which is more optimistic than most. It's the story of a returning starfarer trying to adapt to a society that has changed radically in his absence.

Lem is not the just "arguably the greatest non-English SF writer" he is arguably the greatest SF writer of the 20th century, in any language.

Re:Seconded (1)

AtomicJake (795218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28264117)

Lem is not the just "arguably the greatest non-English SF writer" he is arguably the greatest SF writer of the 20th century, in any language.

Seconded.

Re:Seconded (1)

psiekl (310217) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256519)

And read The Invincible for Lem's take at evolution (and a great action story as well - in fact, I'm surprised no-one did a movie based on it yet).

Re:Seconded (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 5 years ago | (#28263015)

The Invincible (I read it at the age of 11) was the only book ever I got nightmares after reading it.

Summa Technologiae (2, Informative)

robi5 (1261542) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257007)

Read Summa Technologiae (non-fiction) if you want to read about futurology forecasts that are very competitive with those of the current thought leaders - Ray Kurzweil, Hans Moravec, de Grey, Vinge, Vita-More, Gibson, Dennett, Hofstadter etc. - only making these in 1963 when the exponential growth and Moore's law (or the transistor!) were not common sense. I would be interested in what topics other readers found interesting in this book.

Re:Seconded (2, Informative)

hguorbray (967940) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257335)

Memoirs found in a bathtub is also my favorite

One of his most unusual ones however was:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Perfect_Vacuum [wikipedia.org]

which was a (Sometimes) hilarious reviews of non-existent (and ridiculous) books -it was a sort of dig at post-modernism -almost 40 years ago....

I also liked return from the stars, and pirx the pilot was fun, lighter fare.

-I'm just sayin'

Thirded... (2, Informative)

Dusty101 (765661) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258375)

Another shout out from this corner for Lem as arguably the greatest SF author of the 20th century. I fairly recently went back and read Arthur C. Clarke's classic "Childhood's End", and I've got to say that, while it's got some interesting ideas (some of which are a bit dated nowadays, but novel for the time), I found it overly depressing and definitely wanting in comparison to almost everything I've read by Lem, of which the above list given in the parent is a subset. While a lot of Lem's stuff is pretty pessimistic, it's usually leavened with at least a touch of mordant humour, even if it is often at the expense of the human condition.

"Fiasco" is my personal fave, and possibly my favourite SF novel so far. "HMV" is a book that, had it not been pigeonholed as Eastern European Science Fiction, probably should have won global acclaim simply as a work of literature. To the above list, I'd probably also have to recommend "Peace On Earth" - it's sublimely creative lunacy and yet makes total sense in its own context.

In terms of advice for new readers of Lem, I'd also point out that he wrote in at least two totally distinct styles. I'd therefore suggest that anyone trying him for the first time should at least read one of his absurdist comedies (e.g. "The Futurological Congress" or "Cyberiad") plus one of his hard SF stories (e.g. "Fiasco" or "Solaris"), as you might love one Lem but not enjoy the other.

One last detail: my understanding is that the English version of "Solaris" was translated from Polish into French and then into English, and so it doesn't flow quite as well as the straight Polish-to-English translations, particularly those by Michael Kandel. I always thought it a bit of a shame that, given the amount of time and money spent on the Soderbergh/Clooney film adaptation, no-one kicked back enough for a straight Polish-English translation of the original novel.

Re:Thirded... (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 5 years ago | (#28263027)

I always thought it a bit of a shame that, given the amount of time and money spent on the Soderbergh/Clooney film adaptation, no-one kicked back enough for a straight Polish-English translation of the original novel.

On the other hand I was laughing when I read Stanislaw Lem's comment on this movie: "My book was not about the sexual problems of humans in space."

Re:The great Lem (1)

melikamp (631205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28254787)

Yup. Another great book is Peace on Earth [wikipedia.org] . It is about Ijon Tichy getting neck-deep into the intrigue involving remote-controlled dolls, cyborgs, automated warfare and strong AI, a bit reminiscent of GITS but even more philosophical. Love it.

Re:The great Lem (1)

glwtta (532858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28255077)

Fuck me, Tarkovsky's Solaris was "dull"? What, not enough car chases for you?

Re:The great Lem (1)

AigariusDebian (721386) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257017)

A car chase does not an interesting movie make. The story, plot, characters, development of the characters, camera work, suspense, depth of meaning unsaid, but hinted upon, that is what makes a good movie. That is what you think about later, that is what you discuss with you friends and even strangers. If a movie makes you think, it is a good movie. A movie that permanently changes your view on life is a great movie.

This Solaris was a bit dull and plain. Read the book. Or better yet - another of Lem's books.

Re:The great Lem (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28258307)

Perhaps you didn't understand Tarkovsky's film. It digressed from Lem's version of the book.

Re:The great Lem (1)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 5 years ago | (#28255307)

Why Stanislaw Lem doesn't get more attention on this News for Nerds site I just don't understand. Maybe it's just a general adversion to works in translation. But look beyond works like Solaris which is a clever book, though not so great, and of the film adaptations one was dull and the other cheesy.

Translation -
I'm American. I don't like to think. I am incapable of understanding the work of a genius like Andrei Tarkovsky. Even the remake with Clooney didn't work for me because despite being shorter, I still had to think about it. And there wasn't enough stuff being blown up.

By the way, I'm American so I'm allowed to say that.

Re:The great Lem (1)

nusuth (520833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28255841)

I love the book, but neither film worked for me. I couldn't even stand to watch to the end. Lem didn't like them either, so that is good enough for me.

Re:The great Lem (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#28255875)

FWIW, I am a fan of Tarkovsky. I count Andrei Rublev and Offret among my favourite films. But I don't think Solaris was one of his better efforts.

Re:The great Lem (1)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 5 years ago | (#28260245)

FWIW, I am a fan of Tarkovsky. I count Andrei Rublev and Offret among my favourite films. But I don't think Solaris was one of his better efforts.

FWIW, I am also an American and a fan of Tarkovksy's films. However, GP's criticism is not wholly without merit. Absolutely none of my American friends can sit through a Tarkovsky film without getting bored. I got a couple of them to watch Offret and at the end of the movie their basic reaction was "What the hell was that???" So, while GP is harsh and maybe even a little bigotted, he is not entirely off base.

Re:The great Lem (1)

tenco (773732) | more than 5 years ago | (#28280453)

I read the book first (which is IMHO the best novel from Lem i read so far) and only watched the film with Clooney. And this film just sucks. The whole main theme of the book - a philosophical take on human cognition - was left out completely. But maybe I'm a bit special. I think Abrams version of Star Trek sucks, too, because everything Star Trek stood for was thrown away by Abrams and replaced by action sequences composed of shiny CGIs.

The love poem (1)

raddan (519638) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256479)

I was recently asked to do a reading for a wedding which had a strong geek audience in attendance, and I very much considered reading Lem's love poem. This was a book that deeply influenced my decision to spend a life in pursuing hackerdom, and I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Lem by a former Bell Labs employee who also introduced me to a variety of other cool geeky things (telnet, for instance). In the end, I decided not to go with the poem, because it doesn't really fit the couple actually getting married, but my own wedding is at the end of the summer, so you know what I'm going to ask my best man to read!

For those not familiar with the poem-- what is even more astounding about it is that it was original written in Polish! The translation is marvelous. On the subject of Solaris, though-- I think it is a masterpiece of psychologial terror, totally gripping-- but that the film adaptations (Tarkovsky's less so) are somewhat weak. Too bad Kubrick didn't take a stab at it.

Re:The love poem (2, Insightful)

Foobar of Borg (690622) | more than 5 years ago | (#28260361)

On the subject of Solaris, though-- I think it is a masterpiece of psychologial terror, totally gripping-- but that the film adaptations (Tarkovsky's less so) are somewhat weak. Too bad Kubrick didn't take a stab at it.

Well, Tarkovsky wasn't trying to do a faithful interpretation of Lem's book. Tarkovsky had his own ideas about life, the universe, and everything which were often at odds with Lem's. I imagine Kubrick would also have gone out on his own way if he made a movie of Solaris. Like Tarkovsky, he was also an artist with his own style, so he wouldn't have made a "faithful" adaptation either. The George Clooney's Ass version of Solaris, however, was a little cheesy. Soderbergh emphasized the love story part way too much. It wasn't really a bad movie, it was simply a bad adaptation of the novel.

Re:The love poem (0, Offtopic)

raddan (519638) | more than 5 years ago | (#28260611)

That's true, and in general, I'm OK with a filmmaker taking liberties with a story. E.g., David Lynch's version of Dune is in many ways different than Frank Herbert's story. But the gist is still there. For me, I feel like when someone like Soderbergh feels that they can improve on a "masterpiece" by de-emphasizing the main themes of the work, they're missing the point. The love theme in Solaris was there only to heighten the fact that Solaris was tormenting this poor guy-- it wasn't love, it was torture, because all the planet knew was that it evoked a strong emotional reponse. The planet and the person were alien to each other. Soderbergh completely missed this. It makes me wonder if he even read the novel.

Also, the Cosmic Carnival (1)

srobert (4099) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257209)

The Cosmic Carnival of Stanislaw Lem : An Anthology of Entertaining Stories by the Modern Master of Science Fiction
This was also translated by Kandel and is a great intro to Lem.

Re:The great Lem (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258607)

Actually what you would call dull, is acknowledged one of the greatest masterpieces of cinema, Andreij Tarkovskisj Solaris adaption!
The main problem is that Tarkovskij basically made a 3 hour epos about guilt religion and believe out of the book. Hard to swallow for the american action movie audience!

just heard from wwdc (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28254081)

NEW IPHONE FUNCTIONS AS BUTTPLUG!

it also comes pre-lubricated with an eco-friendly lubricant recycled from Steve Jobs' turds.

A great book (2, Interesting)

john57 (988099) | more than 5 years ago | (#28254107)

It probably was the only book which made me laugh while I read it, and made me scared when I finished reading it. Really worth checking it out.

I feel fantastic! (3, Insightful)

Rei (128717) | more than 5 years ago | (#28254123)

I get up early when the sleeping pill wakes me
I take a wake up pill and fill with energy
I power on hard and I check my messages
But I don't have any messages
I take a driving pill and head to my car
I drive around a bit cuz work isn't very far
I call my phone and I check my messages
But I don't have any messages

All I know is driving on drugs feels better when they're prescription
All I know is the world looks beautiful, the world looks so damn beautiful

I feel fantastic
And I never felt as good as how I do right now
Except for maybe when I think of how I felt that day
When I felt the way that I do right now, right now.
I feel fantastic
And I never felt as good as how I do right now
Except for maybe when I think of how I felt that day
When I felt the way that I do right now, right now, right now.

Work is anything but quiet these days
I try to medicate my concentration haze
I can feel/see the day unfold in front of me
So I take the stairs and hit the gym
The phone is ringing when I get to my desk
What was a stinging's now a sharp pain in my chest
So I take a Calminex and just chill
And then it's time for lunch again

All I know is work is easy when you don't stress out about deadlines
All I know is I take my medicine I always take my medicine.

And I feel fantastic
And I never felt as good as how I do right now
Except for maybe when I think of how I felt that day
When I felt the way that I do right now, right now, right now.
I feel fantastic
And I never felt as good as how I do right now
Except for maybe when I think of how I felt that day
When I felt the way that I do right now, right now, right now. (6 right now's that fade out)

Sometimes I'd like to slow things down
Enjoy the moment
But when I look the moment's gone

Work is over but I can't stay to work late
Got to leave and get ready for my second date
With a pretty girl that I met at the pharmacy
Right in the prescription line
I take a pill for my social anxiety
I get a table and a nice bottle of chablis
Now it's getting late and there's still no sign of her
I have another glass of wine

All I know is the wine lasts longer when you don't gotta share it with someone
All I know is the steak tastes better when I take my steak tastes better pill

And I feel fantastic
And I never felt as good as how I do right now
Except for maybe when I think of how I felt that day
When I felt the way that I do right now, right now.
And I feel fantastic
And I never felt as good as how I do right now
Except for maybe when I think of how I felt that day
When I felt the way that I do right now, right now, right now.

(Live) [youtube.com] (JoCopedia) [jonathancoulton.com] (Store) [jonathancoulton.com]

Re:I feel fantastic! (1)

lotho brandybuck (720697) | more than 5 years ago | (#28254839)

I wonder if the financial meltdown... large part triggered by banks writing bad mortgages and selling them to each other, wasn't in part due to many people in the financial industry being on high end happy pills.

Re:I feel fantastic! (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258787)

Well, reading that gave me my daily dose of squick [tvtropes.org] .

Hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28254171)

Oldest book review I can recall on Slashdot. This book was published in 1971.

A theme in a variety of books. (1)

gubers33 (1302099) | more than 5 years ago | (#28254233)

The continuous medicating of society is a common theme in books such as A Brave New World. It was a common trend in writing of future Utopias which have become numb to emotion and expression. I look forward to this movie, but it you want a movie that has this them I recommend Equilibrium starring Christen Bale. It was only released on DVD in the United States, but was released in the UK in theaters where where it did well.

OH MY GOD (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28254245)

STEVE JOBS FOUND DEAD
just heard he had a heart attack while coming all over the attendees of WWDC
RIP, Steve.
We'll always remember you for forcing shiny plastic objects up our writhing, gapped assholes.

Re:OH MY GOD (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28254743)

"Found dead" implies that some people unexpectedly discovered his dead body, whereas here he had a heart attack and died in front of the audience, so he can't have been found, he wasn't lost, just died.

Lovecraft?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28254341)

"While Lem may not be the icon that Lovecraft, Clarke and Asimov have become..."
You must be kidding. I like Lovecraft, but what is that fairy tale writer doing there? Have you read anything besides The FC and Solaris by Lem? How can you compare Lovecraft to Asimov? I just don't get it. Advice: read The Investigation, Eden, Return from the Stars, Fiasco, Peace on Earth, The Cyberiad and then reread Lovecraft.

Friggin' Dystopias (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28254357)

Stanislaw Lem is a dick. I'd much rather read some Asimov.

So I don't get modded down as flamebait too hard, I'd like to say that I am deadly tired of deconstructionist literature which starts out with the premise that humanity is terrible. I see enough of that in my everyday life. I want to read about hope. I don't care for literature that touts itself as being for 'smart people' or 'better than other literature'. Let the books speak for themselves.

Re:Friggin' Dystopias (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258819)

Stanislaw Lem is a dick.

Let the books speak for themselves.

Apart from wanting evidence for the first statement, would self-consistency be too much to ask from an AC?

Memoirs Found in a Bathtub (3, Interesting)

gnetwerker (526997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28254377)

Thanks to the OP and Slashdot for this. As an avid reader of Lem since the 1970s, I remember The Futurological Congress well, and if I were at home, I'd grab my copy and re-read it. For those who need a gentler introduction to Lem, try Tales of Pirx the Pilot and its sequels. However, for pure, all-out trippyness, try Memoirs Found in a Bathtub. And don't forget that Lem wrote Solaris, an SF classic, despite the two attempts at movies from it.

Re:Memoirs Found in a Bathtub (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 5 years ago | (#28258627)

Actually the Tarkovskij version only is loosely connected to the book. He follows the main storyline but tells his own story, and the movie is a masterpiece, but probably hard to grasp for an american audience!

Re:Memoirs Found in a Bathtub (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259193)

Natalya Bondarchuk is universally graspable.

I saw this when (0, Troll)

Tiber (613512) | more than 5 years ago | (#28254461)

I saw this when it was called EQUILIBRIUM and didn't suck.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0238380/ [imdb.com]

Re:I saw this when (2)

zip_000 (951794) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256257)

Um. Equilibrium was a ridiculously heavy handed hack-fest of a movie. The only redeeming bit was the action.

Futurama links (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28254589)

It's funny to note that Lem's humor is reminiscent of that in Futurama. At least one episode ("Fear of a Bot Planet") is based on a short story by Lem (Ijon Tichy's eleventh voyage).

Cyberiad (2, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#28255445)

I've never enjoyed Lem's novels. They tend to be extremely dull, IMO, and often there's virtually no characterization. What I really enjoyed by Lem was the Cyberiad, which is anthology of satirical fairy tales about two robotic inventors. They're funny, but they also have a lot of interesting intellectual content in them. There's a lot of really funny wordplay; I think his translator must have sold his soul to the devil in order to be able to translate the verbal craziness so well from Polish into English.

medicated society? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 5 years ago | (#28255587)

Few people i know are medicated, at any level.

Re:medicated society? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28256861)

I will go out on a limb and say, perhaps, you are uniformed.

Thanks to the translators (1)

Windrip (303053) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256531)

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the translators, "riding between the post-houses", who've brought Lem to those of us less able to read Polish. I see that translation has been hit a bit about the neck and shoulders in replies to this review. Thanks to Lem and Kandel, I don't have (nor do I want) a security clearance, wince while stirring the contents of styrofoam coffee cups, quote Snow more often than is necessary, and see the Phools everywhere.
On another note: Penguin Classics edition of Calvino's "Complete Cosmicomics" [penguinclassics.co.uk]

An inspiration for 'The Matrix'? (1)

WCVanHorne (897068) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256679)

I first read Lem about twenty years ago and thought he was quite the under appreciated gem. I last read 'The Futurological Congress' quite a while ago, perhaps 8 years or more, so my recollection is a little foggy. However I think I recall wondering if 'The Matrix' had some initial inspiration there.

Re:An inspiration for 'The Matrix'? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28259051)

No, The Matrix was "inspired" from Dark City which came out a year earlier. Actually, The Matrix reused some of the sets of Dark City. Now you know.

Re:An inspiration for 'The Matrix'? (1)

WCVanHorne (897068) | more than 5 years ago | (#28260193)

Well Matrix borrowed from a lot of works and themes. I poked around and I'm not the only one who thinks that the Wachowski's might have read Lem: http://www.challengingdestiny.com/reviews/futurological.htm [challengingdestiny.com]

All Future is Dystopian (1)

Chicken_Kickers (1062164) | more than 5 years ago | (#28256957)

When you think about it, all future is dystopian. If you can somehow travel back in time and tell your Puritan founding fathers that porn could be accessed with literally a touch of a button, then they will probably freak out. The same way if you told a native nomadic tribesman that in the future, national borders will prevent him from roaming freely. My point here is that what may seem to be dystopian to us now will be the norm or even desired in the future. There is no way that we can reliably predict how people's mores and social psychology will mutate into.

Re:All Future is Dystopian (1)

the-bekku (1578673) | more than 5 years ago | (#28358701)

Well said! and this being the case there's people out saying they want "positive" science fiction. bleh!

Lem is the best. (2, Interesting)

Morrkh (1572423) | more than 5 years ago | (#28257859)

My favourite author. Ever. It might intrest you that about 85% of Futurama's plots are directly inspired by Lem (Star Diaries, mostly), and you will find his Ideas present in many other science-fiction. His more philosophical works are worth a look too, especially "Summa Technologicae" and It'S follow up "The Technology-Trap". There's even a Doctor of Philosophy offering "Lemology" for fun in Bochum, Germany...

Ahem... what about crossing your frontiers guys ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28257961)

As usual, few bi-neural american are still considering the world does not exists outside their frontiers...

May I remind you of some non American (nor English ) sci-fi Writers ? (Okay... my mistake... it was years before Barrack brought intelligence to planet of apes...)

Herbert W. Franke,
Karel ÄOEapek,
Jules Verne,
Pierre Boule (planet of Apes)
Camille Flammarion,
Dino Buzzati,
we may even consider russian born Isaac Asimov :-)

Re:Ahem... what about crossing your frontiers guys (1)

Tuidjy (321055) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259061)

We all have our favorites. Personally I think that the Strugatski brothers had
some awesome books, but after reading their English translations, I do not think
that I could convince a Brookline Bridge buyer that this is the case.

Re:Ahem... what about crossing your frontiers guys (1)

jaroslaw.fedewicz (1539623) | more than 5 years ago | (#28261897)

Then, you can convince a Brookline Bridge buyer to buy an original and a textbook on Russian. After a few years of thorough language studying, he will be able to appreciate Strugatskis' writings raw and uncut. :-)

Re:Ahem... what about crossing your frontiers guys (1)

Johansson (984016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28265527)

The Strugatsky brothers from Russia incidentally wrote the story that later was turned into the film "Stalker" by Andrei Tarkovsky, who had previously made the first film version of Lem's "Solaris". Both films confirm that SF themes can be successfully used for "highbrow" films, if the director and producer treat the subject with the respect it deserves. Kubrick's "2001", while brilliant, was very cold compared to Tarkovsky's two films.

"You know what I mean..." (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259431)

Stanislaw Lem was arguably the greatest non-English science fiction writer

I think Robert Heinlein was a better writer. Pretty sure he wasn't English.

Oh, you mean "greatest SF writer who didn't write in English". Oh, do you think I'm nitpicking? Well, if you care that little about what words mean, you probably shouldn't write book reviews.

Re:"You know what I mean..." (1)

identity0 (77976) | more than 5 years ago | (#28267593)

If you're going to nitpick, do it right. "English writer" can mean "person who writes in English" just as "English speaker" usually means "person who speaks English".

Re:"You know what I mean..." (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#28273115)

"English writer" can mean "person who writes in English"

If you're going to nitpick nitpicks, get your facts straight. Have you ever heard "English writer" used that way? Understanding language is more than simply applying grammar and logic. There are a huge number of informal conventions. Thus you can say "Time flies like an arrow" and everybody understands that you're talking about the fleetingness of experience and not the affinity of insects with projectiles.

Yay! Good to see some publicity for Lem (2, Interesting)

danny (2658) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259665)

I've written a review of The Futurological Congress [dannyreviews.com] , but not of his other books, which include some other gems. Cyberiad is a great piece of fun, and His Master's Voice has dated much better than most of the alien contact stories from the 1960s.

Lem: Not only chemically induced surrealism... (1)

Johansson (984016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28263611)

In "The Futurological Congress" the Philip K. Dick-type "reality reversals" are brought on by psychoactive chemicals. But Lem obviously considered other forms of cheating subjective reality, long before "The Matrix": In his non-fiction "Summa Technologiae" (1964) -unfortunately never translated to English- he suggested a new technology he called "Phantomatics" which is what we today would call "Virtual Reality"! BTW in the same book Lem also considered the possibilities of micro- and nanotechnology. Bear in mind that the censorship in communist Poland meant Lem never had an opportunity to read Richard Feynman's ideas on the subject, and had to "re-invent the wheel" on his own. Without the language- and ideology barriers he could have become a major source of inspiration in the 1960s and maybe accelerated the development of science fiction to reach beyond the usual topics of the genre. Lem was inspired by authors such as Olaf Stapledon and felt SF should not be confined to a literary ghetto, but be used to address those deep issues authors and philosophers would find hard to approach in ordinary mainstream fiction.

Stanislaw Lem (1)

yoprst (944706) | more than 5 years ago | (#28264359)

was arguably the greatest science fiction writer would be more accurate, IMHO.

False Happiness Doesn't Make Sense (1)

logicnazi (169418) | more than 5 years ago | (#28264399)

So I haven't read this book so won't comment on it directly but the review at least brought up a pet peeve of mine: the idea that somehow it would be dystopian to 'hide' how bad life was by making us artificially happy.

This notion doesn't even really make sense. Evolution has dictated that certain things make us happy and others make us sad but that doesn't mean there is something objectively reasonable about being happy when you have high social status and many mates and sad when you have few material resources. Moreover, I think we should be particularly suspicious about the judgments we make when we see these scenarios in fiction (e.g. brave new world). The problem is that we are extremely accustomed to infering things about people's mental states from their external circumstances so when that link is broken we are highly vulnerable to reaching the wrong conclusions. For instance, to steal an example from Brave New World, despite being axiomatically told Soma makes people happy when we read about the people who take it we somehow assume they aren't 'really' happy.

I think a much more productive way to think about these situations is to instead imagine reacting to an alien society which behaved in such a manner and thereby stripping away many of our prejudices.

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