Saturday, 14 May 2011

Mortal Engines (paperback + hard cover) Stanislaw Lem

Short stories by one of my favourite SF authors.

Fantastic Robots 5*
A Fascinating and captivating collection of short stories by a master story-teller. These robotic fables and allegories of the highest order are by turns surrealistic and darkly realistic. Frequently they are set in a dystopian fairyland of crystalline or metallic monsters locked in power struggles in the tightest corners of an imagined universe. Knights and Kings undertake superhuman quests, where their battles are as fierce as they are poetic. Gigantic machines grapple with ideals and consequences which show them to be as flawed in their own way as we humans. Stanislaw Lem is surely the supreme fantasist when it comes to robot psychology and soul.

His robots are made of the most impossible but plausible metallic elements and have equally fantastic names. Many of the stories could fall under either of the subgenre headings of steampunk or cyberpunk. If this wasn't already enough, Lem further entertains by weaving into his tales the most exquisite puns. And just when you think you have the measure of Lem's style, you find "The Hunt", where the story of a space merchant's delayed cargo turns into a deadly pursuit, set in perilous high vacuum on the far side of the moon. Another tale involves a visit by a writer to a rest home for delusional robots. Of the fourteen stories, here is a short list of titles that will hopefully inspire you: "The Three Electroknights", "How Microx and Gigant Made the Universe Expand", "Tale of the Computer that Fought a Dragon", and "The Sanatorium of Doctor Vliperdius".

This remarkable and delicious collection of eccentric stories is given an illuminating introduction by the translator Michael Kandel.

I enjoyed these tales immensely. Always unpredictable, there is at least one unexpected twist to each story. This book is a must for any fan of this exceptionally talented writer.
Amazon UK Mortal Engines 
Amazon US Mortal Engines 


Miguel Angel said...


I would like to share with you a comic I made (only in spanish in this moment) based on one of the stories of "Mortal Engines":

Kind regards.

Peter Salisbury said...

Thanks for the link, Miguel. I took a look at your cartoons and they capture the sense of Lem's story perfectly - magnificent!