Stanisław Lem’s last novel Fiasco (1986) is divided into two parts. In the first part, the pilot Parvis lands on Saturn’s moon Titan where he learns that several “striders” (mechas) have been recently lost in the unmapped “Birnam Wood” region of the moon. Parvis commandeers another strider and sets off on a rescue mission, but when he is trapped by collapsing ice, he is forced to resort to the “vitrifax”, a risky form of cryogenic preservation. The second part opens a hundred years later, when the revivified pilot finds himself aboard the Hermes, a spaceship on a mission to “Quinta, the fifth planet of Zeta Harpyiae”, where intelligent alien life has perhaps been discovered.

Is there a connection between the two parts of the novel, beyond the survival of the pilot from the first part to the second?

  • It's actually left unclear if the revived pilot is Parvis or Pirx (the Hermes crew just have the first letter of the first name, which matches two out of six names of recovered bodies). No idea what Lem intended, but for me the connecting bit was always my attempt to guess the identity of the pilot. Oct 21, 2022 at 20:44
  • @EikePierstorff Yes, I simplified the plot description a bit. Oct 21, 2022 at 21:04
  • As I mentioned in linked q. Las Birnam was an unfinished short story. Lem used it as a sort of prologue, I guess, tying the rest to Pirx series.
    – Mithoron
    Nov 9, 2022 at 15:34


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