23 September 2009
Stanislaw Lem: THE INVESTIGATION
According to Stanislaw Lem, most English language science fiction is too-too dull and unoriginal; compared to Stanislaw Lem, most English language science fiction is. I don't know if The Investigation should even be considered science fiction, really--but I will, if only because I don't know what else to call it, either. There are shades of Kafka here, and shades of The X-Files, but then there's something else...Monty Python, perhaps, or maybe even Rocky and Bullwinkle. Lem's writing isn't mind-blowing in the same was as Philip K. Dick's or Harlan Ellison's is, but I'd argue that it's even more creative than either of their work. The Investigation is, literally, the story of a Scotland Yard investigation, led by the young Lieutenant Gregory, into a series of unexplained body disappearances across the south of England. In the course of the novel, the disappearances never really are explained--or, they're explained far too many times, in far too many conflicting ways, none of which really stand up to all that much scrutiny. It's also the story of the brilliant but tortured statistician Sciss, and his (d)evolving relationship with the impulsive but confused Gregory. Overall, I'm left with no choice but to give it an A+; for a story that didn't make too much sense, it makes a lot of sense. And on top of that, it's a sterling example of what the most creative mind in all western sci-fi can do at his best.