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Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Books

The Invincible
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Book added by: Engelbrecht
Last updated by: gallyangel

The Invincible

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Author: Stanislaw Lem
Publisher: Ace Books, 1975
Seabury Press, Inc., 1973
Original Polish publication, 1964
Series: Ace SF Special, Series 2: Book 4
Book Type: Novel
Genre: Science-Fiction
Sub-Genre Tags: Artificial Intelligence
First Contact
Hard SF
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Synopsis

An interstellar 2nd-class cruiser called Invincible, lands on Regis III which seems bleakly uninhabited, to investigate the loss of sister ship, Condor. The crew finds evidence of a form of quasilife, born thru evolution of autonomous, self-replicating machines. The evolution was controlled by robot wars. The survivors are swarms of minuscule, insectoid machines. Individually or in small groups they're harmless & capable of only simple behavior. However, when bothered, they form huge swarms displaying complex behavior arising from self-organization & are able to defeat an intruder by a powerful surge of EMI. Some members of the crew suffer complete memory erasure as a consequence. Big clouds are also capable of high speed travel to the troposphere. The angered crew attempts to fight the enemy, but eventually recognize the meaninglessness of their efforts in the most direct sense of the word.

The novel turns into an analysis of the relationship between different life domains & their place in the cosmos. It's a thought experiment demonstrating that evolution may not necessarily lead to dominance by intellectually superior life forms. The plot also involves a Conrad-like dilemma, juxtaposing human values & the efficiency of mechanical insects.


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