Tomasz Lem was a late child of Stanisław Lem, so he has no memory of his father as a young man. "Adventures" is his portrait of his famous parent. Written after the writer's death, it is not encumbered with any ambition to compete with specialist texts on his work. Tomasz Lem does not devote much space to his father's writing, but focuses instead on sketching a colourful portrait of him, characterised by lots of eccentricities and peculiarities. He largely portrays him through family stories and anecdotes, because his memory does not go back to the war or the Stalinist era. He also makes use of the writer's own recollections and those of his friends, as recorded in letters and interviews. From this the story of Lem the man emerges: his wartime adventures are described in brief, as are the various flats and houses where he lived, his foreign travels and longer visits to West Berlin and Vienna, the accounts of his friends and intellectual partners, and also his private passions and weaknesses, mainly a disastrous passion for sweets. Accompanying the writer, always in his shadow, but as an extremely important person, is his wife Barbara - his partner and carer through all the years of their marriage.
More interestingly, from a wider perspective than the family one, this is the portrait of a unique personality in the days when the totalitarian regime was in power, which was also an era when the world was divided, information was rationed, goods were generally in short supply and services were inefficient in the socialist camp. The struggles with these inconveniences of such a stubborn man as Stanisław Lem, his moments of defiance, despair and discouragement are on the one hand an excuse to show the gloomy truth about communism, and on the other a topic for endless satirical anecdotes. Towards the end of the book his maturing son, Tomasz, starts to play an increasing role, living in the aura created by his dominating, often tyrannical father, who did however combine a tendency to be bossy with a truly child-like love of fun and games, resulting in a special, good relationship with his son. However, Tomasz chose a different path in life from the career as a physicist that his father wanted him to have.
We shall not learn from this account why Lem had such a great mind, but we will get to know him in everyday situations and against the background of the era, which makes this book extremely interesting reading matter for all the writer's fans.
Tomasz & Stanisław Lem Tomasz Lem