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Stanisław Lem: Głos Pana (His Master’s Voice)

A stream of neutrino radiation is received from a distant source. At first it is ignored and then the cranks pick it up and note that there is a pattern to the neutrino stream. Finally, the (government) scientists get in on the act and, very soon, it becomes a government project, with full security. This book is the tale of one of the government scientists, Peter Hogarth. What Lem very cleverly does is show us that this neutrino stream has no rational, single solution. While the source of the stream is more or less agreed on, its meaning is interpreted in many different ways by many different people. Is it a set of biochemical instructions or instructions for war? Is it written in the aliens’ complex language (for which, of course, linguists are needed) or does it use the”universal” language of physics? Everyone, of course, has his own ideas, including our cynical narrator. Inevitably, there are side discoveries as a result of the research, one of which is, apparently, the ability to transfer a local nuclear detonation anywhere you want. The army gets involved but our hero and his friend stymie the discovery. So what does the neutrino code mean, if anything? Whatever you want it to mean.

Publishing history

First published 1968 by Czytelnik
First English translation 1983 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich