First published in 1961, and not much like any of Lem's recent work. Astronaut Hal Bregg returns from a pioneering ten-year flight to Fomalhaut, to find that by Einsteinian time-logic 127 years have elapsed on Earth. Stumbling through the unintelligible wonders of the new world, he learns that violent impulses are now automatically erased from all minds in infancy. With them have disappeared any capacity for conscious physical risk and any disposition to value risky endeavors; despite the immense technical achievements of the new civilization (e.g., gravitation engineering), all thoughts of space flight have long been abandoned and the return of the Fomalhaut survivors is regarded with a tolerant indifference worse than hostility. The plot is slight; the real focus is the competing claims of Earth and space past, present, and future. The writing is leisurely and elaborate, with a lot of gorgeous descriptive set-pieces. One can see the elements of some favorite Lem paradoxes here, but they are treated with a sort of unhurried romanticism that may come as a surprise to admirers of his more astringent fables. Atypical work from a master, but carried off with characteristic panache.