Stanislaw Lem was born in 1921, in what is now the Ukraine. He studied medicine at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. Trying to avoid becoming a military doctor, he opted for a certificate of completion rather than a medical degree. Lem worked as a research assistant and started writing stories.
Lem's work is characterized by thoughtful reflection on the relationship between human nature, consciousness, the nature of science, and man's relationship to the physical universe. He was often at odds with "American" SF for being less than thought provocating, and in general, poorly presented. He was often at odds with the SFWA, and later considered himself a mainstream writer rather than a science fiction writer.
I consider Lem one of the very best SF writers of all time and wish that more writers in the genre would use SF as he did: to illuminate the human condition by placing stories in "speculative" situations that make a unique point.
Lem died on March 27 of this year (2006) at the age of 84.
If you have read Solaris, His Master's Voice, or Fiasco, we'd like to hear your comments. If you have another favorite Lem book, tell us about it.