There’s a huge frustration to hearing about a supposedly brilliant author (often, as with this case, in the Times Literary Supplement) and finding that his or her work has not been translated into a language you speak. Offhand, the absence of Stanislaw Lem’s Summa Technologiae has been irritating me for almost a decade, and yet I just now discovered that Frank Prengel, German scholar and Microsoft developer evangelist, has been translating it! So stop reading this and go read what Prenzel has translated so far of Summa Technologiae.
A member of the Antibooker panel of judges, Andrey Vasilevsky, says: “This is a book of extremely complicated structure, a book of annotations to a text that does not exist. Fresh annotations are made to these annotations, which forms an endless chain. Finally all gets so complicated, that the author supplements the book with a special index as to how to use it. However very few people can understand how to use that index.”
Anyone up for a translation?
I also note the similarity of this description to that of the imagined book Gigamesh in Lem’s A Perfect Vacuum:
Indeed yes: this novel is a bottomless pit; in whatever place you touch it, roads open up, no end of roads (the pattern of the commas in Chapter VI is an analogue of the map of Rome!), and roads not every which way, for they all, with their innumerable outbranchings, interweave harmoniously to form a single whole (which Hannahan proves employing topological algebra–see the Commentary, the Metamathematical Appendex, p. 811ff.). And thus everything achieves its realization…
There are rumors to the effect that Hannahan was assisted in his creation by a battery of computers furnished him by IBM.