Return from the Stars by Stanislaw Lem


Science Fiction

Return From The Stars (Helen and Kurt Wolff Books) Return From The StarsStanisław Lem; Harvest Books 1989WorldCat

 According to the laws of physics, if a person space travels less than the speed of light, when he returns, more time will have passed on Earth than will have passed for him. Hal Bregg was on a ten year mission into deep space. When his remaining crew returned, almost 130 years had past on Earth. The future was not what he had imagined.

People use spray cans to make and don clothes. In a large building, many of the ceilings have screens that project images of outside. People live longer and do not show signs of age until the age of 80. Transportation has totally changed and the laws of inertia have been overcome. Robots do most of the work. The biggest change though is in human beings themselves. They now receive a drug when born that eliminates the urges to harm or want to be harmed. The sight of blood or injury is abhorrent to them. They cannot understand fright because there is nothing to frighten them. Their world is completely safe.

Hal is trying to understand this new environment. He bypasses the government re-training to help him fit in this society. He wanders around, trying to comprehend, trying to be acceptable. He has come to an alien world. Now he has to adjust.

This is an interesting novel. Lem’s vision of the future shows that total peace may not be good. I had always thought that people no longer fighting would be the best for our future. While I still believe that, we need to be aware of the cost. Used properly, our darker sides are necessary for our advancement, at least according to Lem’s prophecies. This novel starts with Bregg adjusting to a new world and ends with him adjusting to a new Bregg.

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