Those who know Lem chiefly through his funny and disturbing paradoxes concerning the future of mind and machine may be puzzled by the present book, first in a planned two-volume edition of the Pirx stories. The first stories of the cycle date from the 1950s and couldn't be closer to the most conventional concerns of Western sf of the same period. "The Test" pits space cadet Pirx against what he takes to be his first solo Moon flight; "The Conditioned Reflex" and "On Patrol" are smoothly written, virtually identical workings of unremarkable spot-the-hidden-malfunction plots. And "The Albatross" is a somewhat darker and more complex mood piece about the crew of a luxury space liner helplessly watching the death throes of another ship. Only the last story, "Terminus," in which an ancient robot still relives a long-ago catastrophe, foreshadows the Lem to come--and though it barely begins to explore the intricacies which Lem has discovered in the subject of man-made intelligence, it is certainly one of the best robot stories ever written. So (in a translation that includes a lot of uneasysounding tense sequences)--one prize and four slighter items from the early Lem archives.