is the original Polish language title of polymath cyberneticist Stanislaw Lem's
collection of satirical short stories translated into English as The Cyberiad
are the primary protagonists as rival cybernetic "cosmic constructors" who create everything from "a machine that could create anything starting with n
" to a "Femfatalatron
From "How the World Was Saved:"
One day Trurl the constructor put together a machine that could create anything starting with n. When it was ready, he tried it out, ordering it to make needles, then nankeens and negligees, which it did, then nail the lot to narghiles filled with nepenthe and numerous other narcotics. The machine carried out his instructions to the letter. Still not completely sure of its ability, he had it produce, one after the other, nimbuses, noodles, nuclei, neutrons, naphtha, noses, nymphs, naiads, and natrium. This last it could not do, and Trurl, considerabley irritated, demanded an explanation.
"Never heard of it," said the machine.
"What? But it's only sodium. You know, the metal, the element ..."
"Sodium starts with an s, and I only work in n."
"But in Latin, it's natrium."
"Look, old boy," said the machine, "if I could do everything starting with n in every possible language, I'd be a Machine That Could Do Everything in the Whole Alphabet, since any item you care to mention undoubtedly starts with n in one foreign language or another. It's not that easy. I can't go beyond what you programmed. So no sodium."
Lem's works have been translated into 36 different languages. The Cyberiad in English translation is readily available in libraries and bookstores throughout the civilized world. The following two web sites are excellent starting points for more information about Lem and his works:
The copy of The Cyberiad that I used for this writeup was purchased from the now defunct "oldest science fiction bookstore in America: A Change of Hobbit" in Westwood, California in 1976.
Lem, Stanislaw. The Cyberiad: Fables for the Cybernetic Age. Translated from the Polish by Michael Kandel. Illustrated by Daniel Mroz. Avon : NY, 1974. Original edition Cyberiada. Wydawnictwo Literackie : Cracow, 1967. AVON edition ISBN 038005174
Table of Contents
THE SEVEN SALLIES OF TRURL AND KLAPAUCIUS
- The First Sally, or The Trap of Gargantius
- The First Sally (A), or Trurl's Electronic Bard
- The Second Sally, or The Offer of King Krool
- The Third Sally, or The Dragons of Probability
- The Fourth Sally, or How Trurl Built a Femfatalatron to Save Prince Pantagoon from the Pangs of Love, and How Later He Resorted to a Cannonade of Babies
- The Fifth Sally, or The Mischief of King Balerion
- The Fifth Sally (A), or Trurl's Prescription
- The Sixth Sally, or How Trurl and Klapaucius Created a Demon of the Second Kind to Defeat the Pirate Pugg
- The Seventh Sally, or How Trurl's Own Perfection Led to No Good
- Tale of the Three Storytelling Machines of King Genius
FROM THE CYPHOEROTICON
, OR TALES OF DEVIATIONS
AND ABERRATIONS OF THE HEART
- Prince Ferrix and the Princess Crystal