Stanislaw Lem - Dead at 84
Stanislaw Lem has reportedly died at the age of 84. What few details are available are reported here.
I started reading Lem in high school, ultimately reading somewhere between 15 and 20 of his books. He's one of my favorite science fiction writers, but he's also responsible for introducing me (re-introducing is more like it) to Philip K. Dick, who is possibly my favorite sci-fi writer. I'd read some PKD book when I was younger and didn't think much of it, so I was inclined to write off his great reputation as a bunch of wrong-headed nonsense (this characterized a lot of my opinions at 14 or 15.) However, after reading five or six Lem books, I learned that he thought very highly of PKD, so I gave him another chance and was converted. I think it's apt that Dick once wrote to the FBI outing Lem as a Marxist conspiracy (he believed that Lem was actually a committee, not an individual, since he wrote in several different styles) to control science fiction.
Ultimately, Lem led me to read other novelists I probably should have read first, like Vonnegut, Borges, Ballard, Pynchon, and Dürrenmatt. Still, I'll remember him first for his own work, which was playful, unique, and eclectic.