The Polish sf writer's Star Diaries is a crazy-quilt collection of pieces written, according to Kandel, "over a period of twenty years" and published in 1971. They present the voyages of Ijon Tichy, an incomparable and apparently indestructible fathead who is to the future what J. Wesley Smith (of the immortal cartoon "Through History With...") was to the past. Tichy bumbles and stumbles around the cosmos running out of gas between stars, sneaking around in cybernetic drag on a planet of mad robots, trying to duplicate himself (in a tail-chasing time loop near a "gravitational vortex") long enough to do a two-man rudder repair job, botching up the course of human events in a history-salvaging operation. Lem veers between joyous slapstick, freewheeling satire, and insanely involuted logical paradoxes--with surprisingly serious excursions into issues of will and faith. Funny, unexpected, tantalizing.