Janusz Andrzej Zajdel (15 August 1938 in Warsaw – 19 July 1985 in Warsaw) was a prominent Polish science fiction author, second in popularity in Poland after Stanisław Lem. His writing career started in 1965. His novels were recognized as the best in science fiction in Poland in 1982 (Limes inferior) and in 1984 (Paradyzja). He was a Trustee of World SF. He died of cancer after three years of fighting the disease.
Zajdel's most important works are of social and dystopian fiction. In his works, he envisions totalitarian states and collapsed societies. His heroes are desperately trying to find sense in world around them, sometimes, as in Cylinder van Troffa, they are outsiders from a different time or place, trying to adapt to a new environment. The main recurring theme in his works is a comparison of the readers' gloomy, hopeless situations to what may happen in a space environment if we carry totalitarian ideas and habits into space worlds: Red Space Republics or Space Labour Camps, or both.
Zajdel has been described as the second science fiction writer in popularity in Poland after Stanisław Lem. He has also been described as the writer who replaced Lem as the as the "top Polish SF writer", after "Lem vacated [this position] earlier of his own volition".
His works have been translated into Belorussian, Bulgarian, Czech, Esperanto, Finnish, German, Hungarian, Russian and Slovenian.
Frederik Pohl dedicated the anthology Tales From The Planet Earth to Zajdel and A. Bertram Chandler. This book also contains the English translation of one of Zajdel's short stories, "Particularly Difficult Territory". It is his only work to have been translated into English to date.
- Lalande 21185, 1966
- Prawo do powrotu ("Right of Return") Nasza Księgarnia, 1975
- Cylinder van Troffa ("Van Troff's cylinder"), 1980
- Limes inferior, 1982
- Cała prawda o planecie Ksi ("Complete Truth about planet Xi"),1983
- Wyjście z cienia ("Out of the Shadow"), 1983
- Paradyzja ("Paradise, the World in Orbit"), 1984
- Drugie spojrzenie na planetę Ksi ("Second Look at Planet Xi"), posthumously finished by Marcin Kowalczyk, 2014
Short story collections
- Jad mantezji (Nasza Księgarnia, 1965)
- Przejście przez lustro (Iskry, 1975)
- Iluzyt (Nasza Księgarnia, 1976)
- Feniks (Nasza Księgarnia, 1981)
- Ogon diabła (KAW, 1982)
- Dokąd jedzie ten tramwaj? ("Where is that tram going?"), 1988 — Collection of short stories
- Wyższe racje (Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, 1988)
- List pożegnalny – zawiera m.in. konspekty niedokończonych powieści (Alfa, 1989)
- Relacja z pierwszej ręki (superNOWA, 2010)
- Janusz A. Zajdel Award, a Polish science fiction fandom award named after him
- Science fiction and fantasy in Poland
- Social science fiction
- Koalang – term invented by Zajdel
- Tales From The Planet Earth, Notes about authors
- Elżbieta Gepfert; Grzegorz Kozubski; Piotr W. Cholewa (2000). Anthology: chosen by fate : Zajdel award winners. Śląski Klub Fantastyki. p. 8. ISBN 978-83-7054-142-2.
- "Tales from the Planet Earth", ed. Frederik Pohl & Elizabeth Anne Hull, St. Martin's Press 0-312-78420-1, Nov 1986, p. v
- "Zajdel Janusz Andrzej". Internetowa encyklopedia PWN. Retrieved 2007-08-27. (Polish)
- "Zajdel Janusz Andrzej". WIEM Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2007-08-27. (Polish)