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The art and science of Stanislaw Lem

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The Polish science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem, whose works include Return from the Stars, The Cyberiad, A Perfect Vacuum, and Solaris, has been hailed as a "literary Einstein" and a science-fiction Bach. The Art and Science of Stanislaw Lem provides an inter-disciplinary analysis of his influence on Western culture and the creative partnering of art and science in his fiction and futorology by American and European scholars who have defined Lem scholarship. Rather than analyzing Lem solely as a science fiction writer, the contributors examine the larger themes in his work, such as social engineering and human violence, agency and consciousness, Freudianism and the creative process, evolution and the philosophy of the future, virtual reality and epistemological illusion, and science fiction and socio-cultural policy. This unique collection also includes "Smart Robots," a previously unpublished essay by Lem.

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... However, the Johnson translation is currently available in digital format only. 14 For more on the philosophy of Lem's works, see the collection edited by Swirski (2006). 15 Johnson (2000) surveys psychological work on the developmental underpinnings of the distinction between subjects and things. ...
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Now that we know that Earth-like planets are ubiquitous in the universe, as well as that most of them are much older than the Earth, it is justified to ask to what extent evolutionary outcomes on other such planets are similar, or indeed commensurable, to the outcomes we perceive around us. In order to assess the degree of specialty or mediocrity of our trajectory of biospheric evolution, we need to take into account recent advances in theoretical astrobiology, in particular (i) establishing the history of habitable planets' formation in the Galaxy, and (ii) understanding the crucial importance of "Gaian" feedback loops and temporal windows for the interaction of early life with its physical environment. Hereby we consider an alternative macroevolutionary pathway that may result in tight functional integration of all sub-planetary ecosystems, eventually giving rise to a true superorganism at the biospheric level. The blueprint for a possible outcome of this scenario has been masterfully provided by the great Polish novelist Stanis{\l}aw Lem in his 1961 novel Solaris. In fact, Solaris offers such a persuasive and powerful case for an "extremely strong" Gaia hypothesis that it is, arguably, high time to investigate it in a discursive astrobiological and philosophical context. In addition to novel predictions in the domain of potentially detectable biosignatures, some additional cognitive and heuristic benefits of studying such extreme cases of functional integration are briefly discussed.
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