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August 30, 2020
That´s one of Lem´s weakest works, strangely not including much character perspectives, wit, action, philosophical thoughts, not much of anything he is ingenuously using in most of his other works, it´s more of a chronological report about the evolution of an alien species with wooden characters watching how it happens.
I hope nobody reads this as her/his first encounter with the Lemiverse, because his quality is usually far better than this one.

For an especially sci-fi prone person like me, it´s, of course, a joy to see how different specialists try to deal with the explanations of what is happening around them and how they try to link the possible explanations to their ideology and expertise. A bit of satire could be in there too, but I am not sure about it and just this possibility is nothing that should motivate readers, used to today´s accessible works, to begin the journey with this world buildinggasm.

And then comes the awful end and man, why does the action start felt 5 minutes before the final? There is a long time close to nothing except for worldbuilding, exploring, very short action, talking, debating. Then, and dies. Lem has written amazing short stories that condense lots of ideas together, he had the potential to write first contact, space opera style works, and I absolutely don´t get why he fails at this attempt.

It´s the first and only of his works that disappointed me a bit, possibly he had to limit the number of pages or something, or there is a mysterious alien conspiracy explanation, maybe he was too close behind something, who knows.

I don´t believe in the possibility that it´s because it was one of his early works, because he wrote the witty Star Diaries 4 years before in 1957 and the masterpiece Solaris just 3 years later, so the man knew his job. I just can´t get what happened here, at least there are some innuendos to human civilization.

Tropes show how literature is conceptualized and created and which mixture of elements makes works and genres unique:
Profile Image for Glenn Russell.
1,376 reviews12k followers
January 31, 2023

Strange, very strange.

Stanislaw Lem's cautionary tale of a six man crew's crash-landing on Eden, a planet resembling Earth but orbiting a far distant sun. We follow the astronauts on their adventure of discovery that turns weirder and freakier by the hour.

Other than the Engineer who is occasionally addressed as Henry, Stanislaw Lem refers to the members of the crew not by name but strictly by occupation - Captain, Engineer, Chemist, Physicist, Cyberneticist, Doctor. In this way, the Polish author underscores how each man registers and interprets the unfolding events and details of Eden according to his respective specialty.

And what an inscrutable planet! With this novel originally published in 1959, Stanislaw Lem proves himself a supremely gifted storyteller - as if wielding a huge literary magnet, every new scene, sighting, encounter and confrontation pulls readers deeper and deeper into identifying with the plight of the crew.

More than emphasis on character development of the six Earthlings, the story's focus is on landscape and flora, the peculiar, alien technology, and, above all, the bizarre beings inhabiting Eden. Thus, the novel is divided into two parts: the first 200 pages consists of the crew's planetary explorations and dealing with their rocket ship half buried in earth (the Doctor observes jocularly: the first landing beneath the surface of an unknown planet); the final 60 pages is the stunning revelation. Actually, a series of revelations. If the first part is a bit too detailed for your taste, please hang in, the payoff is what's revealed at the end.

As to what exactly Eden holds in store for our six explorers, here are several snapshots:

The men walk on ground that’s “soft, spongy, and gave off a vapor that made it difficult to breath.” They come upon a thicket of plants and intertwining branches. The Doctor notices a thick, black hair hanging at eye level and freezes: “A pearl-colored, bulbous thing hanging from the stalks that converged at the base of one of the “cocoons” was watching him.” The Chemist hissed, “Disgusting.”

What the Doctor does next as a means for closer examination speaks to our very human urge to analyze, categorize, classify and understand non-human life forms on our own terms. But how much right do we as humans have in interfering with what we encounter on other planets? One of the abiding questions Stanislaw Lem has us ponder. My own quick observation: the term “disgusting” is a value judgement and a weak one at that; not so much a response but an instant reaction, a knee-jerk reflex.

Our planetary pioneers come across what looks like an abandoned factory, an enormous room with conveyor belt and signs of mass production. Among the unusual sights: great soaring columns with lumps of molten materials flowing inside. Stanislaw Lem clicks his imagination into overdrive when describing the detail of how, further in, there’s more unfathomable processes and machine-like actions. The crew beats a hasty retreat and the Engineer explodes: ”It’s the work of a lunatic, or, rather” – he pointed in the direction of the factory - ”lunatics. A civilization of lunatics, that’s what this damned Eden is!” Such a pronouncement, Mr. Engineer! As I was reading, I wondered: What would be my response if I was part of the crew?

Right up front in Chapter 2, following initial reconnaissance, upon return to home base, the crew is in store for a rude awakening: a creature from Eden has invaded their ship! And the massive hulk is now lodging itself in the navigation room. “Just in case,” said the Engineer, and raised the jector, pressing the stock to his hip and aiming at the shapeless mass. With a hiss the shot hit the steeply arched hulk right below the hump. The huge body stiffened, swelled, and seemed to cave in a little, to flatten." I can imagine Stanislaw Lem wincing as he wrote this scene. Again, an instance of human arrogance spearheaded by none other than the Engineer, representing the profession esteemed the pinnacle of knowledge back in the 1950s when the author wrote his book.

Further reconnaissance brings to light more curios, more perplexities: breathing lung trees, bat-like flying creatures and then, “Dark ramparts reminiscent of old forts on Earth. The tops of the ramparts were level with where the men were standing, and they could see into the interiors, into narrow, crooked streets. The walls along the streets contained rows of rectangular openings that had rounded corners and were tilted back, as though aimed at the sky.” No doubt about it, the crew from Planet Earth is observing the handiwork of intelligent extraterrestrials.

The Doctor reports, "It's curious that everything we find here is reminiscent of things we know on Earth, but only partly. there are always pieces that don't fit. These vehicles of theirs, for example, showed up here like war machines. . . . Those wells in the clay - they were terrible, of course, but what in fact were they? Graves? We don't know. Then that settlement, or whatever it was. An incredible place, like a nightmare. And the skeletons inside the 'clubs'? Were they museums? Slaughterhouses? Chapels? Factories turning out biological specimens? Prisons? Anything is possible, even a concentration camp!"

Are you intrigued? I certainly hope so! And this is only half the story. Wait until you read the final section when the crew is in for a series of startling unearthings (no pun intended), information about Planet Eden that Stanislaw Lem knows will prompt many philosophical discussions about the prospects of genetic engineering, biology and, believe it or not, even political ideologies.

Stanislaw Lem, 1921-2006
Profile Image for mark monday.
1,676 reviews5,249 followers
December 16, 2020
What are those strange shapes in the distance, those shapes like a factory like a city like a cemetery, what are they? Where are those beings fleeing to, in a blind rush of terror like lemmings like a hive mind like things trained to fear, where do they run? Why are all those bodies in a ditch, piled up like debris like waste like a mass graveyard, why are they there? When did this atrocity take place, an atrocity so strange so inhumane yet so familiar, when did this happen? Who would do such a thing, it could only be an alien it could only be a monster it could only be a being who acts like a human, who could be capable of such terrible things? How would an author tell a story about humans crash-landing on a planet, a place full of appalling alien misdeeds full of eugenics full of genocide, how should he write about horror in space while also writing about the history of the fucking human species itself? What was where is why are when do who does how could they, we do such things?

Profile Image for StefanP.
163 reviews78 followers
July 31, 2019

Uradili smo, među nama rečeno, manje-više stoti dio onog što mora biti urađeno da bi…

Vrlo siv roman. Sveprisutni strah, evociranje jeze i pokušaj spoznaje planete Eden je ono što karakteriše ovaj roman. Kada su u pitanju likovi, Lem je tu vrlo jednostavan - kibernetičar, inženjer, hemičar, doktor, fizičar i koordinator imaće priliku da otkriju planetu koja atmosferski podsjeća na pustoš i groblje. Jer poslije katastrofe jedino to ostaje. Kada im se jednom brod zakuca nema povratka i njihova ekspedicija dobija novi zamah. Svaki od ovih likova stvaraće sliku o tome kako treba da se pristupi mističnim pojavama i uspostavi kontakt sa vanzemaljskim svijetom. Vanzemaljska strana će biti malo zbunjena i nalik na čovjeku sagledavaće svoje goste i proučavati ih. Dok traje popravka broda istovremeno traje i bitka sa stvorenjima koja obitavaju poput utvara. Lem ovdje sagledava biologiju razvića onostranog, mehanizme njihove tehnologije ili ostatka iste te pokušaj da se na etičkim principima ostane konzistentan u suočavanju sa eksperimentom koji je možda krenuo naopako.
Profile Image for Ivan.
433 reviews284 followers
January 24, 2019
I'm not sure how to rate this book.

Some books build their story like sculpting as you can see it slowly taking shape from two piece of rock to work of art. Or painting where you can see whole picture slowly being formed. Eden is more like photography, in small time span masterful pictures is created on what it was before just dull piece plastic and silicone (does this metaphor make sense outside my head? I don't know but I'm rolling with it anyway). Eden has masterful last chapters but before that it's dull but necessary piece plastic and silicone.
There is no character development, no beautiful prose and Eden is strange and unrelatable place that doesn't make much sense. This last one thing is actually deliberate and essential element. What it builds up to in those last few chapters is more than 5 stars, before than it's between 2 and 3. They are necessary but still made uninteresting to read.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 5 books4,098 followers
August 8, 2019
What a gem of an old SF! Indeed, Stanislaw Lem might be one of the very best SF authors, period. He has a wide range of works, from humorous to deeply disturbing to fantastically mysterious alien discoveries.

"What?" you say, "That whole tail-end period of the golden age of SF was FULL of great and detailed authors. Just look at Dune from 1965!"

"Yeah, yeah, but before Star Trek in the wee year of 1959, Eden was born, giving us one of the richest, most detailed alien worlds as seen through a small crew named only by their job titles, instead forcing us to see things through their worldviews, as screwed up (normal!) as they are, misunderstanding everything they see on Eden."

But this is not Dune.

This is a full mystery that gets only digs us deeper into our own misunderstandings. Because this is an intelligent alien race that does not think like us. Not only superficially, but fundamentally, with strange technological focuses and social structures. Not to mention biological tools that feel like the most excellent precursor to Farscape or Asher's Hilldiggers, or the look at a truly alien mind, as seen in Watts' Blindsight.

And I'm only mentioning a single aspect, here. The rest is a serious look at how much we bring in our own prejudices, making our own hell, wherever we go.

When I look back at first contact novels in general, few will have quite this amazing creative factor to it. Sure, some books will have so and so good characters, etc, but none will be quite as serious about giving us the truly alien or near-perfect mirrors to our own stupidity.

I count this a truly classic "Important" SF.
Profile Image for Damian Murphy.
Author 35 books170 followers
July 30, 2008
Brilliant and disturbing. Lem's theme with this book (as with Solaris, Fiasco, His Master's Voice and others) is the complete lack of understanding or commonality between human and alien intelligence. Six astronauts crash on an alien planet about which very little is known. They're forced to search for resources in order to survive and repair their ship (and are quite naturally eager to explore the strange planet, at first). Every encounter with the remnants of the alien civilization, and with the life forms themselves, leads to further confusion. There is speculation but it is idle and rife with contradictions. The six men simply cannot explain anything that they have encountered in any sort of rational way.
A palpable sense of creepiness came over me while reading this book. Something in me is repulsed by ideas an images that cannot be connected to anything else in my experience. The creepiness was matched with a burning curiosity, making it almost impossible to put the book down at the end of each chapter. Lem is obviously quite familiar with this response. He draws it out masterfully and plays with it during the course of the story, forcing the reader to empathize with the six nameless (save for one) astronauts as they forage deeper and deeper into the alien world, revealing wonder after terrifying wonder.
As with much of Lem's work, this is a deeply philosophical book. It's also a very engaging and enjoyable read. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Krell75.
299 reviews29 followers
April 26, 2023
Naufragio, sopravvivenza, dubbio, primo contatto.

"Siamo uomini, facciamo associazioni e comprendiamo secondo le modalità terrestri e per questo motivo possiamo commettere gravi errori, quando concepiamo fenomeni estranei secondo i nostri principi di verità, inquadrando cioè determinati fatti dentro schemi che ci portiamo dietro dalla Terra."

Precipitiamo accanto ai sei protagonisti di questa storia alla scoperta di un nuovo mondo, Eden, misterioso, diverso, alieno.

Il tema del primo contatto è caro allo scrittore e ripreso più volte in altre sue opere: "la Voce del Padrone" e negli straordinari "il Pianeta del Silenzio" e "Solaris". Non siamo su questi livelli ma coinvolge e meraviglia.
Pagina dopo pagina procediamo, rapiti, nella speranza di comprendere ciò che ha da mostrare questo pianeta dalle infinite stranezze, nei luoghi e nella sua civiltà, ipotizzando risposte e reazioni umane di fronte all'ignoto, il diverso, l'incompreso.

Tante le descrizioni volutamente bizzarre che rendono perfettamente lo smarrimento dei protagonisti di fronte all'assurdità degli eventi.
Una confusione figlia di un pensiero evoluto in migliaia di anni e troppo radicato in noi per comprendere quello che hanno di fronte in mancanza di informazioni, esperienza e conoscenze.

Perfetto esempio di come dovrebbe essere strutturato un romanzo di fantascienza e per come affronta le dinamiche di un mondo alieno. Altra interessante lettura per dubitare delle certezze e magari conoscere un po' di più noi stessi e i nostri limiti.
Profile Image for Ivana Books Are Magic.
523 reviews200 followers
February 2, 2021
(*This review contains minor spoilers.) Eden is a first contact novel, first published in 1959. A starship crew consisting of six men crashes on an alien planet they name Eden. Lem had a pessimistic view of first contact and this book reflects that. As the six scientist crew explores the surface of Eden, they are faced with many perplexing puzzles. I remember distinctly one scene where two characters (members of the crew) are arguing. One asks the other: "And what is not a hypothesis here?" and the other answers: "Our presence here". That part of the dialogue got stuck in my head. Indeed, the crew's mere presence on Eden implies moral responsibility, but how can they help the native residents if they don't know what is exactly going on? The crew members are well over their heads and they seem to be somewhat aware of that. Still, what can they do? To paraphrase Frank Herbert, they find that Eden is not a problem to solve, but a reality to experience.

As much as I enjoy Lem's pessimism, I have mixed feelings about this novel. I loved how perplexing and sad the ending was. The last 50 pages of Eden were utterly fascinating and brilliantly written. Even if the rest of it wasn't that engaging, I still found Eden to be a powerful book. Was the slow build up necessary for the dramatic ending? Was it necessary for the author to wait until the end to start explain things? Perhaps it was. However, something was lacking to make Eden a truly great read.

Personally, I didn't mind that the characters weren't that well developed. I actually found it interesting how their characterization was kept to a minimum. The characters are referred by their profession: the doctor, the chemist and so one. The way they all try to make sense of things is often determined by their own profession. Their arguments seem like a conflict between different scientific disciplines at times. The debates between the crew members were interesting, but not very engaging on an emotional level. It might be hard for a reader to get a sense of their personality through the dialogues, so maybe that was a missed opportunity there. As I said, I didn't necessarily mind the basic characterization. However, I expected a bit more from the dialogues between the crew members, especially as the crew members began to learn more about the planet. Once the crew accepts an alien among themselves and tries to communicate with him, everything changes. There is a sense of personal responsibility laid on their shoulders. That was the best part of the novel for me. Somehow, Lem manages to talk about our society while describing the mysterious alien society.

On overall, I enjoyed this novel. The bewildering descriptions of the planet were well done, especially at first. Lem doesn't let us in, so as readers we are as blind as the crew. It is only towards the end of the novel that we can see the bigger picture. While this vague picture the writer paints might be frustrating to some readers, it can also be interesting because it enables us to use our imagination. The mysterious society ruled by anonymous leaders sounded fascinating and reminded me of Orwell's 1984. While the society isn't elaborated on, its sinister presence was still felt and it contributed to a beautifully pessimistic atmosphere.

So, what was my main issue with Eden? I would say the pacing. I understand why the author choose to keep things under wraps until the end, but he could have done something to make the first and the second part of the novel more interesting. For most part, the writing is a bit slow, it simply doesn't flow. Alternatively, Lem could have kept the novel shorter. That would have worked as well. Still, I enjoyed it.

Surprisingly, Lem himself didn't think too highly of his novel: "From today's perspective Eden is neutral in my eyes. It is so-so. From the point of view of literature it is a rather unsuccessful book; its characters tend to be schematic and the pictured universe is a bit "flat" and one-dimensional. This literature of the "second sort" is quite good in comparison with average science fiction - but one cannot line up a man of regular height with hunchbacks and claim that he is an Apollo."

I wouldn't be as hard to Eden as Lem was. Eden is better than so-so. It's not a perfect novel, the pacing could have been better, the dialogues more engaging and many of themes more elaborated on, but this novel is still an enjoyable read. Eden didn't show the alien society in depth, it didn't explore the psychology of its characters, but it was successful in creating an atmosphere of sadness and melancholy, a sense of bewilderment with the Universe that is always one step beyond our logic- and I loved it for it. Eden might not be Lem's best work, but it is still a very good novel.
Profile Image for Jim.
2,098 reviews699 followers
March 28, 2017
This is an incredible book. My favorite sci-fi authors are a pair of Russian Brothers -- Boris and Arkady Strugatsky -- and a Pole, Stanislaw Lem. The latter was responsible for such masterpieces as Solaris and The Futurological Congress. To these, I must now add Eden.

A space ship with a crew of six crash lands on the beautiful planet Eden. But what they find is almost totally incomprehensible to them: large, ominous plants; factories that produce strange products whose morphology varies; cities full of strange large characters which the crew calls Doublers; odd manned and unmanned vehicles that criss-cross the landscape. At one point, the Doctor exclaims:
Even if the beings of this planet were created in test tubes or made in some stranger manner, I see only three possible types of behavior: to attempt to communicate with the strangers, to attack the, or to flee. It turns out, however, that a fourth type is possible -- total indifference.
Toward the end of the book, one of the Doublers sneaks into the ship and manages to communicate with the crew, revealing a society that is -- fortunately -- unthinkable on planet earth.

I believe I read the last 150 pages of the book in a kind of delirium, because I was impatient to discover whether the crew of the crashed ship could make something of the odd planet upon which they found themselves.

Eden is a highly original work of science fiction, one that is so imaginative that I am hard pressed to name any American authors who could match it.
Profile Image for V Mignon.
177 reviews33 followers
June 5, 2016
Science-fiction is a difficult genre to map out. At an earlier time, perhaps the term dictated certain ideas that we now identify as "old school" science-fiction: rockets shooting off to space, alien contact that was often, especially in the 1950's, paralleled with communism scares, exploring the universe in search of unknown planets. It seems like a paradox to force those words together by hyphen: science-fiction. For one part is set in stone, movable if only in the realm of theories. The other lies in our fantasies, disconnected from reality. In science-fiction literature, often reality and unreality are forced together to produce a novel questioning the unknown.

Over time, science-fiction has become a sign that merely hangs above a group of genres, some which are still debated: speculative fiction, paranoid fiction, cyber punk, slipstream, and usually, interspersed within the fantasy genre, as if to insinuate that both are the works of dreams. Science-fiction and fantasy operate on dreams and nightmares; which part is set in reality depends on the author. The earliest of which, rockets shooting off into space, is pure escapist fantasy.

Leave it to Polish science-fiction author Stanislaw Lem to spin this idea on its head, with a title like Eden that promises dream fantasies but is the story of a complete and utter nightmare in the realm of communication. Playing with the escapist fantasy of traveling to a distant planet only to realize that it's a land defined by death.

If I were to write a review of Eden, I would say that the book is quite dated. I spent a week wondering if I could finish the book or if I should have just turned it back in, as nothing seems to happen in 200 pages, other than problems in first contact. However, the last few chapters are utterly brilliant and made me change my mind from writing a review to an analysis. It's these two chapters that make me want to read more by Lem, that make me understand why he's considered a science-fiction master. And it's because Lem had the ability to transcend his genre and write about human interaction with an outsider's eye.

It's difficult to describe what it means to write about humans from an outsider's perspective. What Lem excels at in Eden, perhaps due to his experience during the Stalinist regime, is in showcasing what societies do to keep the general public silent. Strangely, there are many similarities between Lem's Eden and Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness, in terms of theme. As far as writing goes, Le Guin's work is much more subtle and interesting, but I'm willing to give Lem the excuse of being at the mercy of translation. Strangely, if we're going to compare Lem to Le Guin, Lem's off and on "honorary membership status" with the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) incited protest as many other American science-fiction writers disliked the SFWA's treatment towards Lem. Le Guin was one of those writers. Lem would go on to make comments about American science-fiction writers, in which he relegated them to commercialism and capitalism. That is the best backhanded "Thank you" I have heard of lately.

Eden is the story of six men who crash land on an unknown planet. They are the Captain, the Doctor, the Engineer, the Cyberneticist, the Physicist, and the Chemist. Unfortunately, those names prescribe a certain personality to each character. The Captain is stern and ruled by matter and fact, the Doctor cares deeply about the alien race they encounter and hopes to help them, and the Cyberneticist appears to only care about his precious robots. This isn't a character-driven novel, certainly. But in lieu of character and, strangely, plot, what exists in its place are theories and ideas.

What Lem has going for him is his bizarre imagination. Eden is an eerie planet filled with automatic factories that produce useless objects, proposed grave sights by the humans where bodies are strewn about, a room filled with glass eggs that contain strange skeletons; perhaps the eeriest moment for me was when they taped footage of a city - disparate elements of common life that are so alien yet so familiar. These creatures constructed of abdomens and useless limbs are called "doublers" by the crew. In the original Polish, they were called "double-bodied." The few doublers they meet are by way of wandering stragglers who appear on their ship despite the crew's security.

But there is another doubler they meet, in a herd, that is running and panicked. What the crew realizes is that the doubler is indifferent to human existence; it's fear is of doubler race. When the Doctor offers to take the doubler with them, it follows. They believe the doubler to be ill-formed as it cannot communicate with them. Another doubler they meet is an astronomer who has the means to communicate with them, though it is solely through a computer's translation. What they learn of the race, through the cities they glimpse and the information the Astronomer gives them, presents a harrowing story of Eden. But is this truly what is occurring on Eden or is it merely the presumptuous efforts of mankind's perspectives that create this story? The crew often questions what they saw and how they are imposing their beliefs on the doublers.

In the original Polish, a reader would have received Lem's translation of the Astronomer's insights. As an English reader, I have received a translation of a translation. The observations made by the crew are all too apt: "We have to ask a multitude of factual questions, and from the answers and half-answers attempt to construct a reasonable theory." All I can do is make theories based on the translations of the crew of doubler society. What the Astronomer talks about with indifference (genocide), the crew is appalled by. They ask what they can do to help the doublers, the Astronomer answers, "Zero," and they still believe that they can give doublers weapons to solve their problems.

It becomes a question of whether you go in, guns blazing to help a society or if you let that regime destroy itself. Sure, one seems more callous, but if you don't truly understand what a society is going through, how can you possibly help them? How can you ensure that they don't fall into the hands of yet another terrible regime? What seems like a simple solution becomes a series of consequences and abstractions. The crew is at the mercy of translations - they begin to understand doubler society but at the same time, know nothing about doubler society. All they can understand is that the Astronomer would rather be killed by their ship taking off than to return to its people.

Many of the questions they ask the Astronomer lead to non-answers. "Is" and "is not" are in the same sentence, anonymous regimes, and untranslatable words like "deathavoid" and "selfaid." What they discover is that the doubler society was once ruled by anonymous tyrants. As that regime faded out, a new, anonymous government appeared and anyone who speaks directly of this "non-existing" government is put to death. The anonymous government put a plan in place where the doublers would be biologically engineered so that their future offspring would be perfect. This had unintended consequences though, in that doublers were being born with one eye, faces without mouths, and mental deficiencies. The anonymous government then washed out any idea that a plan had been enacted. And so it's not a plan anymore, but a disease. This gave the anonymous government the right to seek out these "diseased" doublers and kill them. Anyone who speaks of the disease as a plan made by the government is also put to death.

In the 2002 film Hero, the King of Qin attempts to unite all of China by way of force. One of the more memorable scenes (in a film that is built of memorable scenes) is when his forces attack a calligraphy school. One would wonder why he specifically sent soldiers to a calligraphy school, but this is a symbolic interpretation of taking over a group of people. It's stated in the film that before China was united, there were 25 words for sword - sword being one of them, as "word" is in sword. The King of Qin conquers these people by forcing them to have solely one word. One word to unite them rather than dabble in obscure varieties.

Essentially, what Hero states is that you control people through language. If you control language, you control the populace. In Eden, the amount of anonymity is staggering. This isn't uniting a country; this is complete annihilation. By making the tyrants anonymous, the doublers have no one to place their anger on. They have no face to retaliate. And without a being to retaliate, they comply to forces. They do so willingly.

The Astronomer reveals that doubler life revolves around anger, perhaps due to the fact that they have no one to release their anger onto. By taking away a "plan" and replacing it with a disease, this change places fear within the doublers. They are ruled by fear and anger. No healthy society can come out of this. Lem's writing certainly has historic parables. I'll leave those open for you to decipher.

Eden isn't a great book. I had difficulty finishing it, but those last few chapters are enough to warrant more tries on my part to obtain Lem's works. Not only are Lem's ideas relevant, they're also important. It's important to remember that we're only human and that we can only impose our humanity onto others. Thus, we are born with culture shock, whether we accept this or not.

It's only human.
Profile Image for Данило Судин.
509 reviews194 followers
August 20, 2022
Найбільш недооцінений роман Станіслава Лема. Частково виною тут і сюжет / структура / персонажі, і сам Лем. Адже він дуже не любив говорити про цей роман. І в розмовах зі Станіславом Бересем (видані українською в книзі Лемові леми) він просто зневажливо відгукується, що великих мистецьких цінностей в цьому романі не знайти.

З відгуків на goodreads я виокремив дві основні групи інтерпретацій. По-перше, це роман про тоталітаризм. Хоча дія і відбувається на іншій планеті, насправді це роман про криваве ХХ століття і тогочасні тоталітаризми. По-друге, це роман про Контакт, а саме: людство надто зациклене на собі (людиноцентричне), щоб збагнути Іншого. Мовляв, не треба підходити до Іншого з людськими мірками та рамками інтерпретацій. Інший на те й Інший, що його треба збагнути, відкинувши свій звичний людський досвід.

Обидва пояснення, загалом, правильні. Лем пише багатошарово, а тому ці ідеї присутні - також. Але, як на мене, основний мотив "Едему": як повинні чинити свідки геноциду? Власне, тому Войчех Орлінський в біографії Лем. Життя не з цієї землі припускає, що в "Едемі" Лем описав свій досвід переховування від нацистів у Львові 1941-44 рр. З липневим погромом 1941 р., з розстрілами та ліквідацією єврейського ґетто.

Попри початок, який нагадує космічну робінзонаду (група космонавтів зазнають аварії - і приземляються на незнайомій планеті), роман рухається зовсім іншим шляхом. Головні герої стикаються з іншою цивілізацією - і намагаються її збагнути. От тільки ця зустріч до болю нагадує реакції представників західних суспільств чи на Голокост, чи на Голодомор, чи на Великий терор 1937-38 рр. Бо перше, що бачать космонавти, - велетенська яма, заповнена тілами місцевих істот. І перша реакція землян: може, це не розумні істоти, а тварини? Хоча, насправді, їхня перша думка - це масові поховання. Це геноцид. Друга зустріч з іншою цивілізацією - вже індивідуальні могили, причому поховані там істоти відрізняються - в кого є ніс, а нема очей, в кого є очі, а нема носа тощо. І знову земляни - попри те, що це нагадує масові страти - кажуть: а може це просто поховання? А відмінності між особинами зумовлені спеціалізацією - як в мурах чи бджіл? Хоча на дні свідомості ворушиться думка: "Це операція Т4!" Таку неофіційну назву мала "операція" зі знищення психічно хворих нацистами. А також всіх, хто не відповідав ідеалу арійської раси. (І так, Лем про це пише в Шпиталі преображення).
Натрапивши на кунсткамеру, де розміщені скелети місцевих жителів, вони вигадують несподіване пояснення: а раптом це взагалі біороботи, які виявилися дефектними? А тому їх ніхто не страчував, а вони були нежиттєздатними від самого моменту виготовлення!
Пройшовшись їхнім містечком, що нагадує середньовічні халупи - поруч високотехнологічних будівель! - вони вирішують, що це пансіонат для особин з інвалідністю.
Врешті, третя зустріч - на кладовищі / ритуальній площі, де натовп місцевих жителів атакують отруйними газами. І знову земляни чіпляються за пояснення: а раптом об'єктом атаки були земляни, а місцеві просто потрапили під дружній вогонь чи взагалі стали жертвами поганих розрахунків / планування операції?

Весь роман головні герої натрапляють на свідчення геноциду. І весь роман вони знаходять аргументи в стилі "не все так однозначно". Мовляв, чи правильно ми зрозуміли іншу цивілізацію? Можливо, це в них норма. І так далі. Це може здатися дивним, але... Варто пригадати історії з Бернардом Шоу, який не помітив Голодомору, чи навіть Ґаретом Джонсом, який перед поїздкою в Україну 1933 р., описував життя в Москві. В нього там ті ж аргументи: росіяни тішаться саме з такого стилю життя, він ними обраний добровільно... Це особливість їхньої культури. Людина, яка викрила сталінські злочини в Україні, на початках була сліпою до того, чим є сталінізм, і вважала, що це особливість радянської культури, яку треба не засуджувати, а прийняти такою, якою вона є. (Про це можна почитати в книзі Ґарет Джонс. Людина, яка забагато знала)

Наприкінці головні герої визнають, що вони є свідками геноциду. І тут виникає інша дилема: як його зупинити? Почати війну проти "поганців"? Але, як каже один з персонажів, якби прибульці висадилися на Землі в часи релігійних воєн, то їм довелося повбивати всіх, бо... всі сторони були релігійними фанатиками, а тому жертви і переслідувачі мінялися б місцями. Та й на яких засадах будувати новий лад на Едемі? На земних цінностях? На місцевих? Але для місцевих ідеалом є минулі часи, коли була деспотія та тиранія, а не оце, що є зараз. (Пряма аналогія з СРСР, де для простих людей часто ідеалом було життя "за царя", хоча той режим також важко назвати людяним). Отже, одну деспотію замінити на іншу?

Роман Лема сповнений відчаю. Земляни бачать геноцид, але не мають засобів його зупинити. Або не можуть придумати, як його зупинити. Насправді, тут Лем робить невелику підміну: головні герої спершу не мають жодної інформації про місцеву цивілізацію, бо не можуть встановити контакту. І тому, дійсно, не знають, як зупинити геноцид - в чому його корінь чи причина. Далі їм вдається порозумітися з один місцевим вченим, але... Але на той момент вони вже не думають про те, як зупинити геноцид. Лем робить цю підміну, щоб його персонажі не виглядали вже повними негідниками. Але роман завершується словами:
Яка прекрасна планета. Але… знаєш… З теорії ймовірності випливає, що бувають іще прекрасніші

Лем наче робить алюзію на фразу: смерть однієї людини є трагедією, але смерть мільйонів - статистика. Його персонажі байдуже покидають планету. Вони дійшли висновку: хід історії не змінити, бо новий лад має "природньо" виростати з розвитку цієї цивілізації. Земляни не можуть втрутитись, не нашкодивши. Їхнє втручання буде зовнішнім, а тому не буде сприйняте місцевим населенням. І воно буде дуже кривавим. Тому вони просто покидають планету, на які відбуваються мас��ві вбивства, сховав��ись за розумними поясненнями...

П.С. В цьому творі Лем геніально передбачив режим Пола Пота. Твір написано 1959 р., але в ньому згадано, що тоталітарний режим на Едемі був анонімним. 1975 р. владу в Камбоджі захопили червоні кхмери, верхівка яких зберігала анонімність. Імена лідерів стали відомим через кілька років. А до того, наприклад, Пол Пот був Братом №1. Це його офіційний титул й ім'я. Від цього аж мороз по шкірі: як Лем вхопив суть і тенденції тоталітаризмів після Другої світової війни.

П.П.С. В цьому романі Лем кладе на лопатки повість Стругацьких Трудно быть богом. По-перше, Стругацькі творили під впливом Лема. По-друге, їхня повість набагато "лінійніша": в її основі лежить ідея прогресу. Мовляв, хоч ми і не можемо втрутитися в життя Інших, рано чи пізно, воно в них покращиться, бо така природа історії. В Лема все під питанням. Чи Едем рушить до відкритого суспільства, чи його ідеалом і далі будуть менш криваві тирани, а прокляттям - більш криваві тирани? По-третє, в них людяність є абсолютом, який не можливо нічим підважити. В Лема людяність / гуманність раптом виявляється чимось аморфним, деколи таким, що сприяє злочинцям, а не жертвам... І в Україні 2022 р. це особливо яскраво видно, коли йдеться про західних пацифістів. Лем передбачив це ще шість десятиліть тому.

П.П.П.С. Насправді, це один з найкращих і наймоторошніших творів Лема. Читаючи його підлітком, я - як виявилося - й половини не помітив. Роман видався мені слабким і доволі нудним. Бідним на філософські ідеї. Через чверть століття я бачу, що це шедевр. Сповнений болю та страждань самого автора. Автора, який пережив нацистську окупацію, але не зміг врятувати багатьох родичів та друзів. Автора, який розумів, що в майбутньому трагедія Голокосту може повторитися, а зовнішні спостерігачі лише хитатимуть головами, але не втрутяться. На щастя, він не був повністю правим. На жаль, він виявився правим.
Profile Image for Stephane.
357 reviews2 followers
July 28, 2020
Stanislaw Lem

Eden is a first contact story. The premise is simple; while performing an observation mission, a spaceship crashes on a unexplored planet called Eden. The spaceship is badly damage, but not beyond repair, so as the crew begins to patch up the ship, they also set out to explore this bizarre world.

I am a little familiar with Lem, so I started the book knowing that I would not be provided all the answers. I wasn't wrong, of course. Eden is an alien world in the most profound sense of the term, not merely strange or odd, but completely incompatible with the frame of reference of the crew, and by extension with our own. Indeed, Lem almost lost me in the first part of his story. Words hardly do justice to his incredible imagination, and this is the type of story that would have been well served by a graphic medium.

Therefore, Eden is inaccessible, not only for the protagonists but also for the reader, and of course this is not accidental. There is all kind of stuff going on, always vaguely sinister and eerie. A giant rogue factory that seems entirely automated, mass graves, strange vegetation... All sorts of signs of massive conflict on a genocide scale, or perhaps of giant industrial processes gone awry eons ago and persisting in some formidable mistake. Eventually the crew will meet the "doublers", denizens of Eden, and strive to understand their intentions and behaviour. Quite unsuccessfully, of course.

So yeah, I got lost a little bit, but you have to tip your hat to Lem for creating a really alien environment. The endless science fiction fallacy that inhabitants of other planets would be just like us but with longer ears, or different forehead, is really annoying. That's probably what I like the most about Lem; his stories do not fall in that trap. We can't communicate with the aliens, we are meaningless to the universe. It's anti-anthropomorphism.

It is not a character-driven or a plot-driven novel, and this also probably contributes to the story being not easily approachable. The work I read from Lem so far always has philosophical implications, this is also the case here. There are questions about knowledge, communication and technology. It is impossible to understand others without imposing our own perceptions, even when we listen and interpret, we can't edit ourselves out. This is obvious, while we have more tools to communicate, our ability to interpret has not necessarily followed suit... the last few chapters, where Lem shows us sketches of the social organisation of Eden and the "anonymous power" are worth the price of admission.
Profile Image for Michael Finocchiaro.
Author 3 books5,628 followers
May 21, 2023
There is some incredible imagination in all of Lem's books, but this one just was missing something. The idea of the doublers was interesting and the plot does move along at an engaging pace. I just felt it lacked the humor of Pirx and the horror of Solaris. Still worth reading, but only after finishing those other two.
Profile Image for Hande Kılıçoğlu.
173 reviews68 followers
October 23, 2018
Polonyali bir doktor olan Lem'in 1958 yılında yazdığı bu romanında, uzay yolculuğu yapan bir grup bilim adamının Aden isimli gezegene düşmelerini ve arızalanan uzay gemilerinin tamirini yapana kadar geçen sürede gezegeni ve içinde bulunan yaşam formlarını keşfetmeye çalışırkenki geçen sürece tanık oluyoruz. İkinci dünya savaşında Nazi kampında kalan ve soğuk savaşa tanıklık etmiş olan yazarın kitabında da bunlara bağlı olarak o karanlık ve kasvetli etkiyi okurken sezebilirsiniz. Ama bu kasvet kitabı sıkıcı kılmaktan çok, karakterlerin bulunduğu ortamın bilinmezliğini ve tekinsizligini besliyor, garip bir merak yaratıp kitabı sayfaları ardı ardına okumanızı sağlıyor. Kitapta kullanılmış ve döneme atfedilebilecek iki önemli detay var; nükleer enerji ve prokrustik yani tektipleştirilmiş toplum düzeni. Uzay gemisini götüren şey nükleer enerjidir, düştüklerinde yakıtlarından dolayi nükleer kirlenmeden muzdarip olurlar, iletişim kurabildikleri tek gezegen sakini de yine bu nükleer atıktan zehirlenir ve bilim adamlarının en merak ettiği şeylerden biri gezegen sakinlerinin nükleer enerjiyi kullanmayı bilip bilmemeleridir. Gezegen sakini ile iletişim kurabildiklerinde ise anlayabildikleri, tektipleştirilmiş, yöneticisi belirsiz ve kaosun hakim olduğu, bilimin kötü amaçlar için kullanıldığı bir toplum düzeni olur. Ayrıca yazar kitabında doktor olmasının da etkisiyle bol bol 'evrim' vurgusu yapıyor. Yazarın diğer kitaplarını da en yakın zamanda okumayı planlıyorum.
Profile Image for Burak Kuscu.
437 reviews80 followers
January 26, 2022
Bilimkurgu diyince ilk aklımıza gelen temadır uzay yolculuğu. Aden de bu temanın güzel işlendiği bir kitap. Meslekleriyle bildiğimiz altı karakter ve onların Aden gezegeninde yaşadıkları. Hoş bir okumaydı.

Alfa kitap Lem için kitaplık oluşturuyor. Saygı duyuyorum. Lehçe aslından değil İngilizceden çevirmesini de anlayabiliyorum ama o son okumadan mı, redaksiyondan mı nedir, yazım hataları yok mu, insanı delirtir. Pek çok kavramın doğrusunu unuttum yemin ediyorum. Böyle bir metin nasıl defalarca düzeltilmeden baskı görür, nasıl onaylanır, nasıl basılır? Koskoca Alfa'nın yaptığı iş inanılır gibi değil. PKD de böyle Lem de böyle. Demek ki huyları bu. Ellerine sağlık ne diyelim. Biz okurları layık gördükleri metin bu demek ki.
Profile Image for Gözde Türker.
317 reviews50 followers
November 21, 2022
Aden, Stanislaw Lem'den okuduğum üçüncü, bu üç kitap arasından en sevdiğim ikinci kitap oldu. Yenilmez hala yazardan okuduğum en iyi kitap konumunda. Aden'i de genel olarak sevdim, ikinci sıraya yerleşmesinin nedeni Yenilmez kadar kolay okunmuyor oluşu oldu.

Kitap, altı kişilik mürettabatı olan bir uzay gemisinin geçirdiği kaza anıyla başlıyor. Mürettabat yollarının üstündeki göz alıcı Aden gezegenine yakından bir bakmak istiyor ama işler ters gidiyor ve kazayla gezegene beklenmedik bir iniş yapmış oluyorlar. Gezegenle ilgili bilgileri yok denecek kadar az aslında, daha önce insanların inmediği bir gezegen burası. Meraklı ve kazazede ekibimiz bir yandan gemiyi tamir etmeye girişirken bir yandan da gezegenle ilgili olabildiğince çok şey öğrenmek için kolları sıvıyor.

Kitabın çok ilgi çekici bir girişi olduğu konusunda okuyan herkes hemfikir olacaktır. Merak uyandırıcı bir girişin ardından bir süre daha hikayeyi büyük bir merak ve heyecanla okuyorsunuz. Neler olacak, ekip nelerle karşılaşacak, gezegenin yerlileri nasıl, onları nasıl karşılayacaklar gibi sorular heyecanınızı canlı tutacak. Ne var ki bir süre sonra, kitabın yarısına yaklaştıkça temponun düştüğünü fark edeceksiniz çünkü sorularınızı yanıtlamaya yarayarak ipuçları ortaya çıksa da okumanın, daha doğrusu odaklanmanın zorlaştığını hissedeceksiniz. Lem'in yaptığı müthiş yoğun, ayrıntılı tasvirler hayal-gücünüzü zorlayacak çünkü. Gözünüzde canlandıramadığınız betimlemeler okuma keyfini olumsuz etkileyecek, ilerlemenize dahi engel olabilecek düzeyde karmaşık. Elbette yüzde yüz sebebi budur diyememekle birlikte bu duruma biraz da çevirinin çevirisini okuyor oluşumuz etki ediyor olabilir.

Ortada ipuçları var evet ama, ne olduklarını tam olarak kavrayamadığımız için de sorularımıza yönelik bir teori de geliştiremiyoruz pek. Şu şöyle bu böyle olabilir, diyemiyoruz. Keza ekip de kitabın sonuna kadar sürekli kafa karışıklığı yaşıyor. Ellerindeki verilerle çıkarım yapmaya çalışsalar da sağlıklı ve net bir sonuca ulaşamıyorlar. Yine de şöyle bir artı var: neler olduğunu tam olarak anlamlandıramasak da ekibin konuşmalarından, diyaloglardan, sonradan yapılan açıklamalardan vs. neler olduğuna, ne gördüklerine dair bir fikir edinebiliyoruz. Aslında olayın özü de tasvirlerin ötesinde olduğu için bu betimlemeler kısmı size kitabı bıraktırmadıysa sonunda kitabın lezzetine varabilmiş oluyorsunuz bana göre.

Ben kitabın yarısında, bu betimlemelerin en yoğun olduğu kısımlarda pes etmenin eşiğine geldim, çünkü gerçekten okuduklarımdan hiçbir şey anlamıyordum. Sadece kelimeleri görüyor gibiydim. Karakterlerden biri olan Kimyager'in şu sözleri hislerime tercüman oluyordu: "...Kendimi yanlış cümlelerin olduğu bir metni okumaya çalışır gibi hissediyorum." Bu cümleyi okuduğum anda yalnız olmadığımı, kitabın karakterlerinin de benim gibi bu anlaşılmazlık ve belirsizlik içinde çaresiz hissettiğini düşündüm. Onlar pes edemezdi, çünkü bu onlar için ölüm-kalım meselesiydi (bir de onlar kurgusal karakterdi ama konumuz bu değil). Ama içimden bir his devam etmemi, karakterleri bu ortak çaresizliğimiz içinde yalnız bırakmamamı söyledi. Şimdi iyi ki o sesi dinlemişim diyorum.

Kitap boyunca ve özellikle kitabın sonlarına doğru ekip içinde yapılan tartışmalar, son derece kaliteli ve genelde sessizliklere neden olan, yani insanı içine döndürüp düşünmeye iten sorgulamalara neden oluyordu. Mesela bu sorgulamalardan biri, tümüyle açıklanamaz olana karşı insanın saçma bir çaba ve ısrarlı bir tavır içine girmesi ve beyhude yere onu kendi normları çerçevesinde açıklamaya çalışması meselesi. Olması gerekene - "olması gereken" olduğunu düşündüğümüz şeye - nasıl da takıntılı olduğumuz meselesi. İşte bu bile insana gerçekten de bildiğimiz tek şeyin hiçbir şey bilmediğimiz gerçeği olduğunu hatırlatıyor.
İşte bu ve bunun gibi başka felsefi, kitabın sonlarına doğru da etik anlamda sorgulamalar kitabı okumaya değer kılıyor bana kalırsa. Karanlık bir havası da var kitabın, sonu – ekibin akıbeti değil de öğrendikleri gerçekler son derece üzücü. Bu noktada da okur ben olsam ne yapardım sorusuyla baş başa bırakılıyor bir miktar.

Kısacası Aden okuması, odaklanması zor ama anlattığı hikayenin sıra-dışılığı, vermek istediği mesaj ve içerdiği felsefi sorgulamalar itibariyle dopdolu bir kitap. Sürükleyicilik ve olay-odaklılık sizin için çok önemli değilse, yoğun ve anlaşılmaz tasvirlere katlanabilirseniz, bilim-kurgu seviyorsanız ve düşünmeye teşvik edici metinlerden hoşlanıyorsanız Aden’e bir şans verebilirsiniz. Ama belirtmeden geçmemek gerek, bence Stanislaw Lem’e başlamak için uygun kitap Aden değil.
Profile Image for Plamen Nenchev.
199 reviews33 followers
January 7, 2017
Eden is a beautiful and highly disturbing tale of first contact with alien intelligence. The novel has unfortunately been disregarded and overlooked throughout the years in favour of its more famous "sibling" – Solaris. The topic is a recurring one in Stanislaw Lem's universe; contact with an alien intelligence is ultimately doomed from the start. Humans and aliens are so different from each other that they do not have a common frame of reference to understand each other from. Lem has pursued this thread throughout his works with varied success: from the beautifully crafted Eden, Solaris and the Invincible, which have equal parts adventure and philosophy, ideas and action to carry them, to his later and overly philosophical His Master’s Voice and Fiasco, which are as readable as a pile of bricks (I have personally tried and failed to finish His Master's Voice on three separate occasions).

Eden is the earliest of the five works; with the most anthropomorphic and hence the most identifiable alien civilisation, which also makes its portrayal the most chilling and disturbing of all. Doublers live in a totalitarian regime which has achieved the ultimate stability; by denying its existence, it has made sure that no one can topple it. Society is an endless eugenic and social experiment of nightmarish proportions. It is not accidental that Lem has decided against giving the human crew proper names and opted instead for generic designations of their professions. They serve more as a canvas for reflecting natural human puzzlement and confusion about the grotesque strangeness of the Doubler world than as actual human beings. The imagery is raw and powerful, the ideas and associations with actual human totalitarian societies haunting. First-class classic Stanislaw Lem.
Profile Image for keskese.
51 reviews32 followers
May 6, 2017
Eden... Raj, a może piekło dla tych, którym nie był pisany?

Sam tytuł powieści sugerował mi różne pomysły na rozwiązanie fabuły, ale Mistrz zrobił to w, ma się rozumieć, o wiele lepszym stylu. Wspaniale opisana "obcość" warunków zastanych na tytułowej planecie.

Bardzo dojrzała powieść, pobrzmiewa w niej coś solarisowego, a filozoficzne dysputy czyta się z prawdziwą przyjemnością.

Książka intryguje od pierwszej strony i niezwykłej sytuacji, w jakiej postawiono bohaterów, aż po ostatnią.

Rewelacja. 9/10
Profile Image for Oleh Bilinkevych.
287 reviews74 followers
September 26, 2022
От що дуже подобається в Лемі, це те, як він описує контакт людини із позаземними цивілізаціями. Завжди це має незвичну форму і характер взаємодії.
Profile Image for Djordje.
446 reviews
December 20, 2017
OCENA (overall rating) ★★★✫ 3½/5 stars
Radnja (story) ★★★★
Ideja (plot idea) ★★★★
Okruženje (setting) ★★★★
Pripovedanje (writing style) ★★★✫
Likovi (characters) ★★★✫

UTISAK (summary) - Još jedan prikaz pokušaja uspostavljanja kontakta sa vanzemaljskom civilizacijom i prokaz osnovnog problema da mi ljudi sve sagledavamo iz našeg "zemaljskog" konteksta. Likovi su arhetipovi naučnika i kao takvi zastupaju stavove u skladu sa granama nauke koje proučavaju. Odlični opisi vanzemaljske arhitekture.
Profile Image for Sergio.
42 reviews3 followers
March 29, 2013
I love Lem, but this was not one of my favorites. 'Eden' attempts to tackle similar themes as 'Solaris', but it wasn't as effective as that masterpiece.

Six humans crash-land in planet Eden. All but one is identified throughout the book (both by the narrator and in dialogue) by their profession. I'm not clear why Lem made this choice, nor why he allowed one character to have a name, but it adds a sense of reading a fable. Though these characters are developed to an extent, they still remain cyphers.

In the course of fixing their vehicle and exploring the terrain, the explorers encounter mysterious and inexplicable phenomena, bizarre flora, and clear evidence of sentient, even technologically advanced society. Without a frame of reference, and a simplistic, even crude outlook on alien life, they are confused and lost and unable to determine what any of it means. They eventually make contact with two living sentient creatures, and with this there's hope of a possible breakthrough.

To be sure, my main issue with the 'Eden' was not in the themes or in Lem's perspectives and conclusions, but in the overall execution. The first half was a bit tedious and repetitious, with page after page of ultimately unnecessary background descriptions. Perhaps Lem's intentwas to convey how incredibly strange and alien the planet is, but it didn't work. The story only really picks up in the second half, and the principal matter is really mainly realized in the last quarter.

What is this matter? It's Lem's notions of the complexity, perhaps impossibility of truly overcoming communication barriers with other cultures. In this case, the other culture is a sentient alien species with a society, a history, and a perspective so different from humanity as to be impenetrable.

Lem bypasses mechanical/technological limitations by assuming the protagonists have a translation device which approximates linguistic meaning, though it's flawed and ambiguous and limited by its programmers' human frames of reference. The explorers can only guess what the alien's motivations, rationale, and reasoning is. This is the best part of the story. The translation device relays jumbled, indecipherable phrases, and the explorers attempt to find meaning in them. How right or wrong they were? Lem leaves that to the reader. With time, perhaps, more profound breakthrough would have been possible.

Lem deals with the same subject in a much more nuanced way in 'Solaris'. That work is also more pessimistic about the possibility of a breakthrough. It's clear that Lem's outlook was affected by his growing discontent and disheartening as the cold war intensified. Lem would return to this theme in future books which I have not read. In 'Eden' though, there's still hope. As the explorers leave 'Eden' they are reminded why they were attracted in the first place: the planet is beautiful. It's perhaps this attraction to the beautiful, the mysterious that forms the basis of any hope.

Despite my complaints, 'Eden' is a good book for avid fans of Lem's work, but not the place to start.
Profile Image for Manuel Alfonseca.
Author 73 books159 followers
June 12, 2022
ENGLISH: Interesting novel. It plays on the same tune as Solaris, which was published two years later: the encounter of humans with extraterrestrial intelligences where there is nothing (or almost nothing) in common and most of the deductions humans make about the aliens are unwarranted.

The novel is divided into two parts. In the first, the humans explore glimpses of the aliens society and understand nothing. In the second (the last two chapters) they are able to communicate with an educated alien and get an appalling idea of their situation, but aren't really sure that they have understood rightly.

The six (mostly unnamed) human characters have many discussions on intellectual and moral matters. Finally they decide to leave without attempting to help the aliens, as they are not sure that they really need help and doubt of their ability to give it them. A final inkling about the situation is the apparent fact that the two aliens they have contacted choose to die in the fire of their rocket take-off rather than go back to their own society.

ESPAÑOL: Novela interesante. Sigue la misma línea que Solaris, que se publicó dos años después: el encuentro de seres humanos con inteligencias extraterrestres, cuando no hay nada (o casi nada) en común y la mayoría de las deducciones que hacen los humanos sobre los extraterrestres son injustificadas.

La novela se divide en dos partes. En la primera, los humanos exploran vislumbres de la sociedad alienígena y no entienden nada. En la segunda (los dos últimos capítulos) consiguen comunicarse con un extraterrestre educado y se hacen una idea abrumadora de la situación, pero no están realmente seguros de haber entendido bien.

Los seis personajes humanos (en su mayoría sin nombre) tienen muchas discusiones sobre asuntos intelectuales y morales. Finalmente deciden irse sin intentar ayudar a los alienígenas, ya que no están seguros de que realmente necesiten ayuda y dudan de su capacidad para brindársela. Un indicio final sobre la situación es que los dos alienígenas con los que se han puesto en contacto prefieren morir bajo el fuego del despegue del cohete, en lugar de regresar a su propia sociedad.
Profile Image for Bbrown.
703 reviews82 followers
August 5, 2021
Until I was very far into Eden I thought that Lem was using the book to explore an interesting idea, albeit the same idea that he explores in many of his other non-comedy sci-fi works: the true otherness that alien life forms might exemplify. From Solaris, to Fiasco, to His Master's Voice, Lem consistently uses his serious science fiction to confront his readers with the possibility that we may be unable to comprehend alien life, no matter how hard we try. We like to think that our intelligence would somehow be compatible with an alien intelligence, no matter how different we are, but that's not necessarily true. And, with nothing for our rational minds to hold onto, our frustration and lack of comprehension might well lead us humans to lash out, even with violence.

Unfortunately, while most of Eden is simpatico with this idea, including characters explicitly discussing how they may be leading themselves astray by pathologically comparing everything on the alien world to some analogue on Earth, at the eleventh hour the book introduces , completely undercutting the idea that we can be so far removed from alien life that bridging the gap might not be possible. This was such a thematic contradiction to everything that came before it, as well as to many of Lem's other works, that the conclusion shocked me in a bad way.

With its last minute hairpin turn, it's hard to get a firm handle on Eden, since it contradicts itself such that it entirely undercuts the foundation of its main concept. To be fair, there are other concepts featured in the book, for instance it's easy to read Eden today as anti-colonialist, as well as a critique of the communist state and its penchant for secrecy and crushing dissenting opinions. The alien society also works as a critique of the alternative reality that exists in the current U.S. political sphere wherein many people believe that mainstream media is “fake news.” However, these are thin ideas compared to the concept of the truly alien that is a mainstay of so much of the work before it is summarily discarded. The effect of this frustrated main theme is that, unlike some of Lem’s other works, Eden never raises itself above sci-fi pulp.

A couple of years after he wrote Eden, Stanislaw Lem penned his masterpiece, Solaris, which also explored the idea of the truly alien, but which followed through with that theme using a satisfying conclusion. Eden strikes me as merely a stepping-stone to Lem’s later, better works. I highly recommend Solaris, and if the description of Eden appeals to you then you should consider picking up Lem’s book Fiasco, which is the most similar of Lem’s works to this book, though Fiasco is much better. Eden is a 2.5/5, rounding up to 3.
August 4, 2017
Eden Stanislav Lemin 1959- cu ildə yazdığı və sosial cəhəti ilə önə çıxan elmi- fantastik romandır. Kitab qalaktikamızda fərqli bir günəş sistemindəki planetə (Eden), qəzalı vəziyyətdə enmiş bir gəmidən və onun heyətinin həm gəminin təmiri ilə məşğul olması, həm də onların bu yad dünyanı
kəşf etmə cəhdlərindən bəhs edir. Bir zamanlar planet atmosfer sərhəddində araşdırılmış olsa da, lakin ilk dəfə məlum gəmimizin qəzası ilə bu dünyaya insan ayağı dəyir. Eden, Yerdən radius olaraq kiçik, atmosferi tənəffüs etməyə əlverişli və bəşəriyyətə tamamilə yad bir planetdir. Gəmi 6 fərqli ixtisaslı (gəmi kapitanı, mühəndis, fizik, kimya mütəxəssisi, həkim, kibernetik) heyətdən ibarətdir. Yalnız mühəndisin adını (Henry) kitabın bəzi yerlərində görürük, digərlərini sadəcə ixtisasları ilə tanıyırıq. Hər biri öz işini görən, hadisələrə öz sahəsi üzrə qazandığı bilik və təcrübə aspektindən yanaşan insandır.
Lem macəralarla dolu, sistemdən- sistemə uzun səyahətlər edən və qarşılaşdıqları çətinlikləri "hollivudvari" qəhrəmanlıqlarla aşan bir ekipajın irihəcmli hekayəsindən bəhs etmir bu kitabda. Əksinə həcmcə kiçik olmaqla yazar ortaya qoyduğu məsələlər barədə uzun müddət oxucunu düşündürən, hətta bəzi yerlərdə oxucunun doqmatik düşüncələrini yıxacaq dialoqlarla qarşımıza çıxır.
Kitab boyunca yad dünya olan Edeni, yazar hər bir xırdalığına qədər təsvir etməyə çalışır; bu təsvirlərin ötəri oxunulub keçiləcək olmadığını, yeri gəldiyində daha yaxşı qavramaq üçün 2- 3 dəfə oxunulmalı olduğunu düşünürəm. Eden yaşadığımız dünyadan təkcə astronomik vəziyyət olaraq deyil, həmçinin, canlı həyat, coğrafi quruluş, oradakı şüurlu həyatın öyrəşdiklərimizdən tamamilə fərqli bir dünyadır və yazar bunu böyük səylə təsvir edir. Ekipaj üzvlərinin bu naməlum dünyanı araşdırarkən və hər dəfə gördükləri yeni bir ağlasığmazlıqla qarşılaşarkən yaşadıqları hisləri eynilə oxucuya çatdırır.
Yazarın ortaya qoyduğu məsələlərdən birisi ünsiyyətdir. Tamamilə naməlum bir sivilizasiya ilə qarşılaşdıqda, onlarla hansı yolla sağlam ünsiyyət qurulacağı, min illər ərzində hər iki tərəfin toplanmış bilik və qazandıqları təfəkkür baxımından bir- birini anlamaqda çəkəcəyi çətinliklər romanda müxtəlif yerlərdə vurğulanır. Həmçinin sivilizasiya olaraq qazandığımız əxlaqi davranış tərzimiz, hadisələrə olan fəlsəfi və psixoloji yanaşma formamız və "bizim həqiqətlərimiz" qarşılaşdığımız sivilizasiya üçün də eyni dərəcədə əhəmiyyətlidirmi? Və biz bu kodekslərə uyğun olaraq onlara qarşı fəaliyyətə keçsək, bu doğrudurmu? Əgər atəşin şəkildə düşüncəniz "bəli" dirsə, bizə yad olan mədəniyyətin eyni dərəcədə tamamilə yad öz davranış kodekslərinə görə hərəkət etməsinin nəticələrinə də özünüzü hazırlamalısınız. Bu da Lemin toxunduğu digər məsələlərdən birisidir və romanda əvvəlcə həkimin düşüncələri, daha sonra bəzi yerlərdə digər heyət üzvlərinin də toxunduğu və onları narahat edən məsələdir.
Həkimin bir müzakirədə dilə gətirdiyi kimi:
"İnsan olarak, tabii ki insanca bağlantılar kurup, yine öyle yorumlar yapıyoruz. Dünya' dan getirdiğimiz insan kurallarını uygulayıp, gerçekleri de insani kalıplara sokuyoruz..."
Yaxud da ikinci məsələylə bağlı kapitanın söylədikləri:
"Pekala. Farzet ki yüksek uygarlık düzeyindeki bir nesil, yüzlerce yıl önceki dinsel savaşlar sırasında Dünya' ya iniyor ve kavgaya karışıp güçsüzün yanında yer almaya karar veriyor. Gücünü kullanarak, doktrinlere karşı gelenlerin yakılmasını, farklı görüşte olanlara eziyet edilmesini yasaklıyor, vesaire. Bana dürüstçe, insancı rasyonalizmi bütün gezegende kabul ettirmenin mümkün olabileceğini söyleyebilir misin? Hatırla: İnsanlığın hemen hemen hepsi inananlardan oluşuyordu. Yabancılar, en son insana kadar hepimizi ezmek zorunda kalacaklardı; böylece geriye onların idealizminden faydalanacak kimse kalmayacaktı!"
Eləcə də romanda növümüzü təmsil edən insanların yad sivilizasiyanın elm nümayəndəsi ilə apardığı hökumət və idaredici sinif barədəki sarsıcıdı dialoqları da olduqca maraqlıdır (spoiler vermədən izah edə bilməyəcəyim üçün bundan bəhs etmirəm).
Profile Image for Philipp.
632 reviews188 followers
September 30, 2013
Stanislaw Lem is still my favorite SF-author - this one is a very common Lem book, alien worlds so alien that most things that happen are and stay unexplainable; where this one comes off the usual path is that in the end, there's actually a bit of explanation! Of course, like usually with Lem, it stays short and many things remain unexplained (but that's the good part).

My main grudge with Lem is that his descriptions just don't activate my "head's inner cinema", maybe that's the translation but I remember that I had the same problem with German translations... In a nutshell, his descriptions are very technical and don't flow very well:

... a smooth slab that crumbled at the edges and was flanked on either side by slanting surfaces that bore a series of notches.

(p. 107)
Profile Image for Mehmet.
Author 2 books424 followers
January 19, 2022
Politik vurgularındaki inceliği ve dehayı inkar etmemekle birlikte; bir bilim kurgu okurunun özellikle ilgisini çekebilecek bir konuyu; biraz hantal ve sıkıcı hale getirmiş Lem.
Anlatımın akıcı olmamasını geçtim, ani ve heyecanlı olayları kısaca geçiştirip; uzun ve felsefi soruşturmalara sayfalar ayırmış.
Karakterlerin varoluşları birbirlerinden ayırt edilemiyor. Sanki hepsi aynı karakterin farklı yansımaları gibi. Birbirlerinden ayırt edici renkleri yok. Siyah beyazlar.
Solaris'i daha çok sevdim.
Profile Image for Antoni Gorzeliński.
57 reviews4 followers
June 15, 2023
nie ma słów żeby wyrazić jak piękna jest to książka. w ogóle nie ma słów i nie wiem co myśleć. tyle pytań bez odpowiedzi
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