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Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Solaris Author Stanislaw Lem Dies In Krakow Poland

Stanislaw Lem (September 12, 1921 – March 27, 2006) was a Polish science fiction, philosophical, and satirical writer. His books have been translated into 41 languages and sold over 27 million copies. At one point he was the most widely read non-English language science fiction author in the world

Stanislaw Lem was born in 1921 in Lwów, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine), the son of a physician. Although Lem was ethnically Jewish, he was raised a Catholic and later became an atheist "for moral reasons". He studied medicine at Lwów University, but World War II interrupted his studies. During the war and Nazi occupation Lem was able to survive with false papers working as a car mechanic and welder, and was a member of the resistance fighting against the Germans. In 1946 Lem "repatriated" from the territory annexed by the Soviet Union to Kraków and started medical studies at the Jagiellonian University. After finishing his studies Stanislaw Lem opted not to take final exams to avoid a career as a military doctor, and received only a certificate of completion of studies. He worked as a research assistant in a scientific institution and started to write stories in his spare time. In 1981 he received an honorary degree from the Wrocław Polytechnic, later from Opole University, University of Lwów, and finally from the Jagiellonian University. Lem died in Kraków on March 27, 2006 at the age of 84 after a long illness.
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. Perhaps his most famous novel is Solaris, published in 1961 and set on an isolated space station. This book was made into a film in 1972 by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky and into a 2002 Hollywood remake shot by Steven Soderbergh and starring George Clooney.

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