http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/nov/23/stanislaw-lem-google-doodle wrote:A spiky-haired, bespectacled animation of the Polish science fiction author Stanislaw Lem marches across Google's doodle this morning, as the search engine marks the 60th anniversary of the publication of his first book, The Astronauts.
Lem remains best known for his cult novel Solaris, the story of an incomprehensible intelligence encountered on an alien planet. It has been adapted for cinema twice, by Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972 and by Steven Soderbergh, starring George Clooney, 30 years later, and was first published in 1961, during the author's most fertile period, when he also produced his most famous works including Hospital of the Transfiguration, The Invincible and Tales of Pirx the Pilot.
But the doodle, which sees the Lem figure encounter a giant robot, is commemorating publication of his lesser-known first book Astronauci (The Astronauts), which was released in 1951, 60 years ago. The story of the Earth under attack from Venus, the author held it in low esteem in later life.
"Today I am of the opinion that my first science-fiction novels lack any value (despite the fact that I gained world acclaim through their numerous editions). I wrote them – this was the case with Astronauci published in 1951 – driven by motives that I still understand today, however the world presented in them radically differs from all experiences of my life," he said. "Everything is so smooth and balanced; among the heroes we have a positive Russian character and a sweet Chinese; naiveté is present on all pages of this book. The hope that in the year 2000 the world would be wonderful is indeed very childish … As a very young man to a certain extent I must have resembled a sponge that sucked in postulates proposed by socialism. I was concentrated on making the world more and more positive. In a certain sense I fooled myself, since my feelings and hopes were genuine. Today I am a bit disgusted by this book."
The doodle ends with the message that the art was inspired by the drawings of Daniel Mroz for Lem's short story collection The Cyberiad, published in 1965. The Google doodle is interactive, allowing users to participate in a series of games, from solving maths puzzles using the giant robot's body to aligning patterns (Lem shakes his head sadly if the answer is wrong).
The author, who died in 2006 aged 84, has sold more than 27m copies of his books, and is still celebrated today, with publisher Self Made Hero recently adapting two robot-themed tales from his Mortal Engines collection into a graphic novel, Robot..., and the publication earlier this year of the first ever direct translation into English of Solaris.
"Stanlislaw Lem's work looks at the relationship between technology and mankind, questioning the motives behind creating such technology. A theme that becomes increasingly relevant in our current age," said Emma Hayley, publishing director at SelfMadeHero.
Lem joins an eclectic selection of authors to have been honoured with a Google doodle, including HG Wells, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Agatha Christie and Jorge Luis Borges.