©1988 Stanislaw Lem; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
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"Not standard Sci-Fi fare ..."
It's OK. There were certainly passages that made me stop and think, especially concerning the paths civilizations may take when it comes to war, self-destruction and so on. Lem must be brilliant but Fiasco seems to be mostly comprised of long expositions on these subjects and the story itself moves very slowly. And I really couldn't understand the ending at all. It just sort of fell off the cliff. All in all, it was worth it.
"Maybe it reads better than it listens"
I decided to give up after I nearly fell asleep and drove off the road. This was during an endless and repetitive description of the rock formations Lem imagined to be on Saturn's moon Titan. I was already a bit sleepy from a 20-minute passage that served to convey little more than the fact that the main character put on a mech-suit.
Short vivid descriptions stimulate the imagination. These long repetitive descriptions stifled mine. If I had been reading the book instead of listening to it, I could have skimmed them or skipped ahead to the good stuff. The narrator is quite good, but I nonetheless recommend reading this book rather than listening to it.
"Sci-fi for the Hard of Core"
This book is short on action but full of aha and hmm moments. In the form of a novel the author shares his thoughts and ideas about alien life and what an encounter with it look like as well as some ideas about advanced forms of artificial intelligence. The book uses scientific language and advanced concepts but it's not necessary to be familiar with them to follow the thoughts and get the ideas. If you ever wondered about what other forms of intelligence laws of nature can produce this is a book for you.
If you like reading instruction manuals or how to books, then you may love this book. I got a little over half way and had to give it up. Most the time my mind would wonder, no matter how hard I tried to concentrate and figure out what the story was. It is also very heavy in physics. Lots and lots of discussion. If you want to read hard sci fi and catch the wonder of space, read Arthur C. Clarke.
"Meh. Not Lem's Best"
The story might have been more interesting if the characters didn't read so much as mouthpieces for the author's views on alien contact. The long-winded lectures and exposition on the science of contact deflated any tension in the plot or interest in the characters. It was almost like reading a Socratic dialogue in some parts. I listened to much of this book in a kind of numb determination to get through it because there was little actual drama or character development. Good science fiction, in my view, needs to strike an appropriate balance between telling and showing: telling about the science and the speculation on future developments and showing that through scene-driven character development. Fiasco is most definitely a "telling" novel so full of exposition and long asides that the characters are only a tertiary concern. Wyman's narration, which can be very credible when he is given good material, only added to the slog of this book since the regular rolling tones of his speech lulled me into inattention and boredom. Skip this one and get Solaris narrated by Allessandro Juliani if you haven't already; that is guaranteed to be a better experience with Lem. It has interesting ideas, but it's not worth the slog to get to them.
Didn't realize this was from 1986 - you can tell.
Very disapointing - preaches a lot to justify the characters comiting mass murder.
Also has very stupid characters.
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