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The Invincible   First English-language edition Author(s) Stanislaw Lem Cover artist Richard Powers (English-language edition) Country Poland Language Polish Genre(s) Science fiction novel Publisher Wydawnictwo MON (original) Seabury Press (English-language) Publication date 1964 Published in English 1973 Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback) Pages 316 pp (first edition, paperback) OCLC Number 488362 (English-language edition) The Invincible (Polish: Niezwyciężony) is a science fiction novel written by Stanisław Lem and published in 1964. It originally appeared as the title story in Lem's collection Niezwyciężony i inne opowiadania ("The Invincible and Other Stories"). A translation into German was published in 1967; an English translation by Wendayne Ackerman of the German translation was published in 1973. It was the one of the first novels to exploit the idea of micro-robots (somewhat similar to the concept of nanobots), artificial swarm intelligence and "necroevolution", or evolution of non-living matter. Contents 1 Plot summary 2 Reception 3 Editions 3.1 Polish 3.2 English 4 References 5 External links Plot summary A powerful sublight interstellar space ship, a "class two cruiser" called Invincible, lands on the planet Regis III which seems uninhabited and bleak, to investigate the loss of sister ship, Condor. During the investigation, the crew finds evidence of a form of quasi-life, born through evolution of autonomous, self-replicating machines, apparently left behind by an alien civilization that visited the planet a very long time ago. The evolution was controlled by "robot wars", and the only form that survived were swarms of minuscule, insect-like micromachines. Individually, or in small groups, they are quite harmless to humans and capable of only very simple behavior. However, when bothered, they can assemble into huge swarms displaying complex behavior arising from self-organization, and are able to defeat an intruder by a powerful surge of EMI. Some members of the spacecraft crew suffered a complete memory erasure as a consequence. Big clouds of "insects" are also able to travel at a high speed and even to climb to the top of troposphere. The angered crew attempts to fight the perceived enemy, but eventually recognizes the meaninglessness of their efforts in the most direct sense of the word. The robotic "fauna" has become part of the planets ecology, and would require a disruption on planetary scale (such as a nuclear winter) to be destroyed. The novel turns into an analysis of the relationship between different life domains, and their place in the universe. In particular, it is an imaginary experiment to demonstrate that evolution may not necessarily lead to dominance by intellectually superior life forms. The plot also involves a Conrad-like dilemma[clarification needed], juxtaposing the values of humanity and the efficiency of mechanical insects. In the face of defeat and imminent withdrawal of The Invincible, Rohan, the spaceship's navigator, undertakes a trip into the 'enemy area' in search of 4 crew members who went missing in action — an attempt which he and captain Horpach see as probably futile, but necessary for moral reasons. Rohan struck into mountains covered by metallic "shrubs" and "insects" and found these crewmen dead. He gathers some evidence and returns to the ship unharmed because of successful operation of the anti-detection device they managed to create for that purpose. Reception Theodore Sturgeon praised The Invincible as "sf in the grand tradition," saying "The Science is hard. The descriptions are vivid and powerful."[1] Editions Polish MON,Warszawa 1964, 1965 Iskry, Warszawa 1982 Interart, Warszawa 1995 Nowa, Warszawa 1995 Świat Książki, Warszawa 1997 English Seabury Press, New York, 1973 Ace Books, New York, 1973, 1975 Seabury Press, 1973 Seabury Press, 1976 Penguin Books, 1976 Penguin Books, 1982 (with Tales of Pirx the Pilot and Return from the Stars) References ^ "Galaxy Bookshelf", Galaxy Science Fiction, November 1973, p.84 External links Information about the novel on the website dedicated to Stanislaw Lem v · d · eMajor works of Stanisław Lem Novels Hospital of the Transfiguration (1948) • The Magellanic Cloud (1955) • The Investigation (1959) • Eden (1959) • Return from the Stars (1961) • Solaris (1961) • Memoirs Found in a Bathtub (1961) • The Invincible (1964) • His Master's Voice (1968) • The Futurological Congress (1971) • The Chain of Chance (1975) • Observation on the Spot (1982) • Fiasco (1986) • Peace on Earth (1987) Short Story Collections The Cyberiad (1965) • The Star Diaries (1971) • A Perfect Vacuum (1971) • Tales of Pirx the Pilot and More Tales of Pirx the Pilot (1973) • Imaginary Magnitude (1973) • One Human Minute (1986) Futurology Summa Technologiae (1964) Film adaptations The Silent Star (1960 film) • Solaris (1968 film) • Solaris (1972 film) • Test pilota Pirxa (1978 film) • Solaris (2002 film) Ijon Tichy: Raumpilot (2007 TV series)