Stanislaw Lem and His Push For Deeper Thinking

Almost ten years ago now, I picked up a copy of Stanislaw Lem’s novel Solaris and was struck at how different it was compared to a number of the other books I was reading at the time. It was an interesting and probing novel, one that I don’t think I fully understood at the time. (I still don’t).

Lem is an author who is truly uninhibited by genre convention. Last column, I looked a Ursula K. Le Guin, and have been thinking quite a bit about how science fiction authors began to put themselves into a box midway through the century when it came to ‘hard’ science fiction. Limiting a story in some regards requires one to limit one’s own imagination: after all, we’re talking about fiction, where authors can make up whatever they choose. Lem was one of the authors who could make up a considerable story and then deliver it.

Go read Stanislaw Lem and His Push For Deeper Thinking over at the Kirkus Reviews blog.

The Congress is a film based on Stanislaw Lem’s novel The Futurological Congress. I say based, because the plot of the book, as given by Amazon, and the synopsis of the film share similar themes, but that’s about it:

Robin Wright, playing the role of herself, gets an offer from a major studio to sell her cinematic identity: she’ll be numerically scanned and sampled so that her alias can be used with no restrictions in all kinds of Hollywood films – even the most commercial ones that she previously refused. In exchange she receives loads of money, but more importantly, the studio agrees to keep her digitalized character forever young – for all eternity – in all of their films.

The contract is for 250 years and the movie is about what happens after the contract is over as Ms. Wright attempts to make her acting comeback. Apparently that involves a lot trippy, seemingly LSD-induced animated sequences that would do PKD and Richard Linklater proud. I have no idea what the #$^@$%&% is going on here, but it sure looks intriguing.

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