Stanisław Lem dies at 84

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Sunday, April 2, 2006

Stanisław Lem in 1966.

Stanisław Lem, one of the most popular modern science fiction writers who wrote in a language other than English, died March 27, aged 84. He died of heart failure while staying at a cardio-surgery clinic in Kraków, Poland.

Lem, described as “one of the deep spirits of the age,” was the author of dozens of books, which have been translated into 41 languages and sold over 27 million copies. He gained international fame for The Cyberiad, a series of short stories from a mechanical world ruled by robots, first published in English in 1974.

Despite his international popularity, Lem is not a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. He turned down an invitation to join the non-profit association after his honorary membership was taken away because of anger at his critical commentary about the quality of much of the science fiction being published in the United States. Many of his books have been filmed, most notably the book Solaris, which has spawned two films - one by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972 and the other by Steven Soderbergh and starring George Clooney in 2002.