[Stanislaw Lem] His Master’s Voice

  • Title: His Master’s Voice
  • Author: Stanislaw Lem
  • Published: 1967
  • Translated: by Michael Kandel
  • Publisher: Pro Auctore Wojciech Zemek
  • ISBN: 978-83-63471-56-9

That no life lives for ever;
That dead men rise up never;

Only the sleep eternal
In an eternal night

from the book

The HMV “His Master’s Voice” is quite different from other SF novels. At first, there is no adventure, no thrill, and no actions. You are reading the explanations, descriptions, and a little bit of gossips. At the same time, the story crosses many bipolar borders: science and politics, human beings and aliens, life forms and non-life forms, and understanding and prejudice.

The story begins with the accident that the artificial signal is detected in the neutrino rays by chance. It is the first Contact – first message – from outer lives. Is it possible for us to interpret their message without the Rosetta stone? Two people, who speak different languages, might communicate with each other because they share many commonalities. But how about humans and ants? Or can we really understand if we find the script with lost language?

Communication is a contract among participants. TV or radio signals might travel from the Earth and reach other planets in many thousand or millions of years later. Do we expect that the signal can be retrieved and reinterpreted as videos or sounds? Lem’s HMV questions this very naive assumption of communication – Intelligent life forms can communicate with each other. Also, the book warns you of the dogmatic pursuit of the scientific method.

Spoiler Warning.

I usually do not read the editor’s note. But somehow I started reading it when I picked the book. Well, I happened to know the note is not a note but a story instinctively.

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