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First off, this was a good book, but I think one that I would have appreciated a lot more if I'd read it rather than listened to it. A lot of the latter part of the book contains words that Lem created and being able to see the words spelled out on the page and thus analyse them for the implied (and probably sarcastic) etymology would have added to the fun.
It did take me a little while to get into the mood for this book, the sarcasm is not so much tongue-in-cheek as tongue-through-cheek, it's not subtle. That said, once the introductions were complete and the main plot kicked in I enjoyed the story and the humour.
The story is told first-person, transitioning to a chunked diary-style format for the last third of the book and there were moments where I felt presages of the book Fiasco in the tone and style of the story-telling.
I want to stress that I had no issues with this particular recording, I thought it was well narrated by Mr Marantz and was free of distractions (music, chapter breaks, etc), I just think that the content would be better appreciated with a bit more time to linger on the words and a better idea of how things were spelled.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Any one paragraph in this book could be an entire book unto itself. It reminded me of the blurbs on the front of the Onion newspaper (when there was a printed version) that directed you to the inside of the paper to read the full article—which did not exist. Many of these ideas are excruciatingly funny skewerings of modern Western culture. No system, service or symptom escapes Lem’s brilliant satire. The pharmaceutical industry is the most obvious foil, but Lem uses our propensity to believe there is a pill to cure everything to send up religion, government, academia, Big Agriculture, health care, marketing . . . the list goes on.
There are so many ideas in here, but not much of a plot. Still, one of the funniest and most original scifi books I have read in a long time. [I listened to this as an audio book read by David Maranz, who did an excellent job.]
Also cannot fail to recognize the brilliant translation work done here by Michael Kandel. I cannot imagine how difficult it was to translate this from Polish, with all the wordplay, made-up words, and still keep the humor intact. A bravura translation.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
What an amazing book. The futurological use of language is a joy and I'm sure I missed half of the psychedelic drug aptonyms. I probably need a sniff of lingorememberall gas. The stark dystopian future of a veneer of drug induced normality that avoids even seeing, let alone dealing with, the truth of life has a darkly appealing mirror of today's slide into shallow celebrity. Is it all a dream, or does he wake up in the future? I love the image of doped up half robot people getting absolutely knackered climbing up a lift shaft, believing they are actually just standing in an elevator ... is brilliant!