16 June 2016

Review: Summa Technologiae by Stanisław Lem

Trade paperback, 409 pages
Published 2013 (originally 1964)
Acquired December 2014
Read March 2015
Electronic Mediations, Volume 40: Summa Technologiae
by Stanisław Lem

I was very excited to read this new translation of a previously untranslated Lem philosophical treatise on technology. There's the occasional side comment that I found thoughtful, but I got really bogged down in this on the whole. I know many smart people have praised it, but I came to dread picking it up everyday and slogging through a few more pages. I guess I like Lem more when he expresses his complicated ideas through fiction, especially fiction with a lighter touch. Probably my favorite of his observations was this comment from near the end of the book:
     What is therefore possible? Almost everything, with just one exception. Having conspired in advance, people could decide one day, many thousands of years from now, "Enough! Let things be the way they are now; let them remain like this forever. Let us not change, seek, or discover anything new, since things cannot be better than they are now, and even if they could, we do not want it."
     Even though I have outlined many unlikely things in this book, this one seems to me to be the most unlikely of them all.

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