Stanislaw Lem: Who is the novelist celebrated in today's Google Doodle?

One of Google's most elaborate Google Doodles today celebrates the life and work of Stanislaw Lem, a Polish science fiction author.

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The Independent Culture

Today's Google Doodle marks the 60th anniversary of Polish science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem's first work, Astronauci ('The Astronauts'), about the Earth being attacked by Venusians, published in 1951.

The Astronauts is about humankind's inadequacy at communicating with other species and is littered with references to the ideals of communism, which Lem had to insert in order for the book to be published under the communist regime in Poland.

Speaking later about the book he said "The hope that in the year 2000 the world would be wonderful is indeed very childish".

The Google Doodle depicts a cartoon character strolling across a lunar landscape, encountering a game that the user can play.

The game is comprised of three puzzles followed by an animation sequence where the main character and a robot cat talk to a creature composed of pieces retrieved from the games. The character is rewarded with a bowl of noodles and then the creature makes the screen explode, revealing blank space (nothingness) followed by a Google search screen.

The art was inspired by the Polish illustrator Daniel Mróz, who drew the artwork for The Cyberiad, a series of short stories by the Lem.

Lem was awarded an honorary membership in the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) in 1973 but did not hold US sci-fi in high esteem, and later said he found the entire genre valueless because "the world presented in them radically differs from all experiences of my life."

Among Lem's works is the sci-fi novel Solaris, in which a planet is able to probe the minds of the scientists who study it and manifest their their fears and secrets in human form. Solaris has been made into film three times.

Lem died in 2006 aged 84. More than 27 million copies of his books have been sold, in 41 different languages. The first ever direct translation into English of Solaris was published this year.