Today, according to the lovely doodle at Google
, is the 60th anniversary of the publication of Stanislaw Lem's first book.
Lem is for me the man who turns Science Fiction into Literature (note the capital L), and while I really do like His Master's Voice
, The Perfect Vacuum
, The Cyberiad
is the book I love.
Here is a poem made by a poetry-machine made by one of the robots in one of the stories of the book, when that poetry-machine was faced with the seemingly impossible task of writing a poem about love and tensor algebra.
Come, let us hasten to a higher plane
Where dyads tread the fairy fields of Venn,
Their indices bedecked from one to n
Commingled in an endless Markov chain!
Come, every frustrum longs to be a cone
And every vector dreams of matrices.
Hark to the gentle gradient of the breeze:
It whispers of a more ergodic zone.
In Riemann, Hilbert or in Banach space
Let superscripts and subscripts go their ways.
Our asymptotes no longer out of phase,
We shall encounter, counting, face to face.
I'll grant thee random access to my heart,
Thou'lt tell me all the constants of thy love;
And so we two shall all love's lemmas prove,
And in our bound partition never part.
For what did Cauchy know, or Christoffel,
Or Fourier, or any Bools or Euler,
Wielding their compasses, their pens and rulers,
Of thy supernal sinusoidal spell?
Cancel me not - for what then shall remain?
Abscissas some mantissas, modules, modes,
A root or two, a torus and a node:
The inverse of my verse, a null domain.
Ellipse of bliss, converge, O lips divine!
the product o four scalars is defines!
Cyberiad draws nigh, and the skew mind
Cuts capers like a happy haversine.
I see the eigenvalue in thine eye,
I hear the tender tensor in thy sigh.
Bernoulli would have been content to die,
Had he but known such a^2 cos 2 phi!
So, while I thought Lem's first novel was published earlier (they seem to count The Astronauts
, not The Men from Mars
as the first book because the latter was published serially, not in one volume), I am happy to take any opportunity to celebrate the man.