Who was Stanislaw Lem? In short, a Polish treasure. Most would agree that he was a visionary among the masses, thanks to his extraordinary abilities in science fiction writing and his tireless dedication to extrapolation.
He penned futuristic fairy tales and folklore. He was well-known as a postmodern purist who used Borgesian or Nabokovian gestures to unite his essayistic and fictional personas. In this article, we go down a rabbit hole and rediscover the magic of science fiction of Lem.
Lem’s Brain Children
Stanislaw was known for his neologisms. He mentioned in an interview how difficult it was to come up with them. However, his best work came because he gave himself the time to coin the words.
- Phantomatics: Virtual Reality
Lem talked of cyberspace and VR 30 years before these things were even considered. Today, you see them everywhere, from chatbots to casinos online PLN.
- Imitology: The creation of artificial life
Lem believed that once we learn to replicate objects from the same material, we won’t be able to tell the real thing from a faux.
- Intellectronics: Artificial Intelligence
Although AI has been around since the dawn of technology, we have finally caught up with the advanced AI that Stanislaw wrote of, the technoevolution of intellectronics, in real-time.
In his work, he went beyond the ordinary but didn’t stray far from it, giving himself the space to create realistic scientific inventions.
His 1961 work, Return from the Stars, predicted electronic books. Lem called an e-reader an “opton” Lem’s machine only had one page, onto which its contents were transmitted.
Electronic payments are a relatively new invention. In his writing, Lem foresaw kalsters, which were small printers that generated plastic money on the spot.
Driverless cars are now almost safe enough to use on the road, and they’ll soon be available to the public. Lem’s autonomous vehicles were called Gleeder. These black, windowless, wheelless projectiles moved at unimaginable speeds and were impervious to collisions (thanks to gravity-zeroing black boxes), but they couldn’t go off-road.
Lem predicted audiobooks. Return from the Stars also foresaw the Lecton, a fictitious instrument that did what audiobooks do now.
What Sets Him Apart?
Stanislaw Lem, unlike his counterparts Isaac Asimov and Leigh Brackett, dabbled in the philosophy of science and literary criticism, and both wrote fiction and nonfiction. When most writers were taking science literally, Lem saw philosophy in it. His take on Robots is the beginning of a long list of things that set him apart.
The reason being, in addition to their technological supremacy, the robots in his books also possess all the vices and weaknesses of humans, including greed, vanity, jealousy, aggression, and, of course, vanity again because it is never in short supply. Lem utilizes and abuses them horribly to make a joke on humans that, if they hadn’t had robots, would not have been nearly as effective.
Neologisms are more than just new words; they may also be used by fiction as a powerful instrument for artistic and literary development. They are adaptable vehicles for original thought. It has been argued and subsequently quoted by Stanislaw Lem that novelists may use neologisms to designate imagined goods, describe unusual occurrences, and mark alien settings.
These terms can eventually become mainstream language.
It’s significant that the same morphological principles regulate the development of neologisms in both everyday language and creative fields. Lem sticks to this process as it is aesthetically pleasing and uses etymology to trace back a newly coined term to what it means without having to rely on his definitions.
His Dabble in Technology
As it is made evident, Lem saw a future no one at the time did. Through his works, he has pushed the limits of imagination by tinkering with the philosophy of science.
- Molectronics: Molecular Nanotechnology
Modern molecular nanotechnology (MNT), the ability to manufacture structures to atomic-level requirements, is conceptually similar to the principle originally outlined by molectronics, which is also known as molecular electronics.
- Cerebromatics: Cognitive Enhancement
Lem distinguished between his “phantomatics,” which included misleading the mind by manipulating sensory input, and his “cerebromatics,” which involved disrupting the brain’s natural operation.
- Ariadnology: Search Engine Crawlers or “Spiders”
Ardiadnology talks of navigating the informational equivalent of a data labyrinth by following Ariadne’s thread to a desired piece of information.
Lem’s biography is mirrored in his creative production and philosophical views. Because he witnessed Nazism and the Holocaust, it’s safe to assume he was cautious about human nature and moral standards. After seeing the “embodied utopia” of communist Poland, he doubted assertions that technology increases happiness.
Lem was acutely aware of the social tensions inherent in even the most advanced technologies, having lived in a nation that could launch cosmonauts into space but not create enough toilet paper. Lem’s ideology rejects all human behavioral rules. Everything in his universe is random and unpredictable.
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