The Star Diaries by Stanislaw Lem
I was more than a little surprised to see The Eleven-Year-Old pick up this book this summer. Lem’s Star Diaries seems like a rich read for adults, much less eleven-year-olds. And yet, there she sits, by turns giggling and absorbed, in a book I didn’t read until well into college.
Written as the memoirs of star-pilot Ijon Tichy, The Star Diaries is a collection of space adventures that range in length from vignettes to novellas, and in tone from playful, satiric, and philosophical.
I don’t know how many of the references The Eleven-Year-Old actually understands, but there’s no doubt that something about this book is working for her. The humor in the “Seventh Voyage” is particularly approachable. In it, Tichy gets caught in a time loop which causes multiple versions of himself to start crowding his ship. It’s full of giggle-inducing and mildly mind-blowing sentences like:
“That Friday me by now was the Saturday me and perhaps was suddenly knocking about somewhere in the vicinity of Sunday, while this Friday me inside the spacesuit had only recently been the Thursday me, into which same Thursday me I myself had been transformed at midnight.”
The book’s format lends it to being enjoyed in small, bite-sized doses. As far as I can tell, that’s exactly what The Eleven-Year-Old is doing. Which is fortunate, because seeing her read it has made me want to reread it myself.
Why The Eleven-Year-Old Likes It
“It’s a really weird, yet seriously deep look at humans and their flaws.”
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