Last monday, 27 March 2006, world renowned science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem died at age 84 in Krakow, his home city. When I was a teenager, every day right after school I stalked the book joint at the station just before catching the train home. Either I bought a science fiction paperback, when I had money, or I eagerly leafed through them as long as time would permit. Strange thing to me was that apparently nobody grown-up I knew thought about science fiction in positive terms, quite to the contrary. The teachers in school, who, among other things, were there to bring us kids close to contemporary literature, not even spat on science fiction—most of the time it simply was ignored. Same with virtually everything I read about literature, be it in the according sections of the newspapers or else. Till I found Stanislaw Lem. With Lem it was different, he was held in high esteem, all of a sudden the ‘fiction’ in ‘science fiction’ was set in upper case, all of a sudden they were talking literature, no more pulp. And all of a sudden my reading habits didn’t stigmatize me as an outcast anymore. Thanks for that. Via Lem I found Tarkovsky, saw “Stalker” and “Solaris”, and for the first time ‘arty movies’—the kind of flics intellectuals watch and discuss—meant something within my pop-culture drenched mind. Thanks for that as well.
screencap from Andrei Tarkovsky’s “Solaris”, 1972