Written from 1956 to 1993, the stories are arranged in chronological order. In the title story, The Truth, a scientist in an insane asylum theorizes that the sun is alive; The Journal appears to be an account by an omnipotent being describing the creation of infinite universes--until, in a classic Lem twist, it turns out to be no such thing; in An Enigma, beings debate whether offspring can be created without advanced degrees and design templates. Other stories feature a computer that can predict the future by 137 seconds, matter-destroying spores, a hunt in which the prey is a robot, and an electronic brain eager to go on the lam. These stories are peak Lem, exploring ideas and themes that resonate throughout his writing.
The Truth and Other Stories, a new collection of Lem’s previously untranslated stories, shows that even the 'scatterings from his workshop,' as Kim Stanley Robinson puts it in his foreword, could outstrip a typical writer’s lifetime of creation ... But Lem’s fictions aren’t simply sparkly idea-fests; rather, they explore cosmic possibilities ... The author always seems to argue that asking the next question is just about the best achievement that human intelligence can possibly hope to accomplish.
[The Truth and Other Stories] turns out to be a brilliant introduction to Lem’s science fiction. In its pages one can find him testing out multiple styles and themes, from the quirky to the seriously philosophical. All its tales are incubators, growing and playing with ideas that would eventually become the mainstay of his novels and treatise ... More than half a century ago, Stanislaw Lem gazed into the future and saw, rather than rockets or ray guns, the evolution of the synthetic mind and the humans creating it. Thanks to these translations, English-language readers can share in his vision—long after he first imagined the internet and its thinking machines.
... [a] cold, calculating perspective on humanity’s ultimate insignificance and bafflement in the face of cosmic majesty is a linchpin of Lem’s work. Also, while he can be incredibly visual and tactile and plot-driven, as in 'The Hunt', he is not afraid to utilize SF’s peculiar narrative modes, doing big info-dumps, as in 'Lymphater’s Formula'. The naked discursiveness of 'The Journal' is a fine example of Lem’s daringness in pushing the limits of what a 'story' means ... And finally, Lem’s wry, black humor cannot be denied ... a bright thread of laughter runs throughout. MIT Press deserves immense kudos for getting out this volume, which surely represents some of the best SF of 2021—despite being decades old!