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Summary

Here is a witty and inventive satire of "men of science" and their thinking, as a team of scientists races to decode a mysterious message from space. "I had the feeling that I was standing at the cradle of a new mythology. A last will and testament...we as the posthumous heirs of Them...."
©1998 Stanislaw Lem (P)2009 Audible, Inc.

What listeners say about His Master's Voice

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    5 out of 5 stars

A masterpiece of uneasiness of the mind

A chilling, disturbing dissection of humanity's inability to escape its club-wieldind, genocidal roots, even and moreover when they think they are at the peak of their climb to God-like serene rationality.
Also, an eulogy to our bold anthropocenthrism.
Finally, buyer beware: this is not your classic, action packed sci-fi. Lem was a physics PhD, and a philosopher. Most of the book develops as a reflection, which may be puzzling when unexpected, but believe me, action and suspense are embedded in the long reflections and asides, all coming to a synthesis more and more apparent as the events slowly develop, while the reader helplessly witnesses the ethical horror unfold, endowed by those long musings with an understanding of further ethical horrors to come, yet unable to prevent them. This is sci-fi that changes your assumption on humanity. Straight to my "to be read in schools" shelf.

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4 Chapters of Philosophy , take the authors advice

..and put the book down. Large vocabulary but not science fiction as I know it. Very boring treatise on Philosophy.

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  • Jakub
  • 10-01-12

Excelent and entertaining

If you could sum up His Master's Voice in three words, what would they be?

Funny, entertaining, and intriguing.

What did you like best about this story?

That it worked so real and was entertaining.

Which scene was your favorite?

None specifically, but the introductions of some of the characters were brilliant

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

The deception

Any additional comments?

Cool book.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Rafal
  • 18-08-15

His Master-piece

Any additional comments?

This is by far the best book of Stanislaw Lem and to me the best SCI-FI book in general.
One can think of it as a anti-Contact from Carl Sagan. Although there is not much action here, Lem manages to tell an interesting story and push his ideas about how small and silly we people are in face of real problems and storyteller communication.
The book is hard to read (listen) but it leaves you with a seance of real discovery once you're done. Your views on humanity will not be the same ever again.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Krumpet Vuvuzela
  • 16-12-19

well intentioned but dull

dreadfully dull. I have to write scientific papers for a living. I escape to fiction in order not to read such droll writing. Having to listen to somebody read it somehow makes it even worse.

I "get" what Lem was trying to do here, but he didn't stick the landing. The Ijon Tichy and Pirx stories talk about the philosophy of science in far more effective ways.

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  • Michael C
  • 20-08-20

Amazing Sci-Fi, one of the best I’ve read

This book is amazing. If you like slow, thoughtful, and reflective fiction, with an extreme philosophical bent (particularly Philosophy of Language related to Russell and Frege and so on), this book is one of the best I have read. In my humble opinion, almost as good as The Dispossessed, which is one of my favorite sci fi books. This one is very philosophical, illustrating how truly difficult it would be to decipher a message (or if such a message could be discovered) from outer space. The protagonist, Peter Hogarth, is absolutely brilliant, being witty, arrogant, and extremely pessimistic on the discussion of language between cosmic beings. The only critique I can see reasonably is that if you aren’t familiar with much of philosophy of language, this book can be intimidating. Likely for myself, I became familiar with this book from my readings of this subject. Fantastic book.

10/10

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  • Edward the Consumer
  • 04-10-19

Science, but not Science-Fiction (missing fiction)

I don't think I've ever encountered a book with more expressed intelligence about science - especially in terms of its history and the philosophy of science. Unfortunately, this book lacks the story and character element I so look forward to in novels. I struggled to listen to this - though I did finish it just to see if there was a surprise ending or something. There wasn't.

If this is ever turned into a movie, the script writers are gonna have one hell of a job to do to bring life to this thing.

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  • BK
  • 21-04-20

outstanding within the outstanding works of Master

An entertaining multi philosophical treatment of man and (super)human consciousness, questioning one track approaches of those extracting the insights of thinkers for their own otherwise destructive benefit.
An important book for anyone interested in science, scientism, history, philosophy and ... science fiction. Read it and you might wish to read it again ...

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  • AJ H
  • 22-12-19

Great exploration of culture and tech interplay

Really interesting ideas! If you like The Expanse or Yuval Harari, you'll see an exploration of similar themes but in different scope and depth. The format (the musings of an academic on a paranoid Cold War American project to decipher a possible SETI signal) means you get a lot of imaginative thinking and intriguing possibilities, and not much plot development or action. If that's your cup of tea, you'll love it. If you're in the mood for a pulse-pounding space opera, this won't scratch that itch.

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  • Elizabeth E Neidig
  • 14-10-19

Colossal achievement!

Absolutely mesmerizing and thought-provoking. One of the most profound combination of realism and imagination. No one comes close to Lem!

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  • Matt
  • 20-11-17

Refreshing

I think this is a very refreshing piece of scifi. Sure, the story sometimes drags with intense bouts of reasoning but overall it really stand out as unique.

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  • Scott
  • 10-07-14

Waiting for something to happen

If there were a contest to see how many words could transpire before ANYTHING happened in a novel, this book would certainly be a contender.
Stanislaw Lem is undoubtedly one of the most intellectual and competent of Sci-Fi writers, but in His Master's Voice, it's as though he challenged himself to present absolutely nothing but ideas, devoid of action or physical reality. Unfortunately, this writing style leads to obsolete scientific perspectives in short order. I found I really didn't care about this book, or whether anything was eventually going to happen or not. No characters caught my fancy, no events peaked my interest.
Nick Sullivan's reading is fairly impressive, although I would like to hear him describe some real action, or maybe something funny. There is one down side to the recording—his voice is unnaturally compressed, and the sound of it gets fatiguing after only a short while.

4 people found this helpful