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Stanisław Lem: Ze wspomnień Ijona Tichego. Kongres Futurologiczny (The Futurological Congress: from the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy)

This novel may be about a futurological congress but a whole lot of other things seem to happen in the 150 pages of the story. Ijon Tichy is sent to a futurological congress in Costa Rica, whose theme is the population explosion and how to deal with it. The conference takes place in the Hilton Hotel, where a variety of other conferences are taking place (ranging from matchbook collectors to student protest veterans). Lem has a lot of fun, mocking these groups, conferences in general and, of course, all the different nationalities at the population explosion conference. The Americans, of course, want to take drastic measures – mass arrests, compulsory castration, confiscation of illegal children and so on.

But Lem has hardly started with his fun. Revolution breaks out in the street, the hotel is destroyed, Ijon is drugged and then rescued by strange people and suddenly he is off to another place which may or may not be real and may or may not be drug-induced. Is he dead? Have they put him back together, perhaps as someone else? And is this new persona, living in a place where mood-changing drugs control everything, still Ijon Tichy? Lem is on a roll, making fun not only of conferences and Americans but of science fiction novels that take such matters seriously, of earnest do-gooder attempts to change the world and of armchair socialists. And Tichy? He’s ready for the second day of the conference.

Publishing history

First published 1971 by Wydawnictwo Literackie
First English translation 1974 by Seabury Press