The Magellanic Cloud
|Original title||Obłok Magellana|
|Cover artist||Jan Młodożeniec|
|LC Class||PG7158.L399 O2|
|Preceded by||The Astronauts|
The Magellanic Cloud (Polish title: Obłok Magellana) is a 1955 science fiction novel by Polish writer Stanisław Lem, who also wrote Solaris. The novel was the basis for the Czech film Ikarie XB-1.
Aboard a vessel called Gaia, 227 men and women leave the Earth for the Alpha Centauri system.
After almost eight years of travel, they find signs of organic life on a planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, possibly originating on another planet within the Centauri system.
One of the planets orbiting Alpha Centauri turns out to be inhabited by an advanced civilization.
The expedition meets a lifeless human ship of "Atlants", which turns out to be an old artificial war satellite of the USA and its NATO allies, carrying still active biological weapons and nuclear warheads, which had accidentally left Earth orbit and got lost in space during the Cold War era.
Censorship and criticisms
When the novel was first published, parts of it were censored by the Communist authorities. Lem famously denounced the censored version, calling it too optimistic about Communism. At the time, this was a bold sign that demonstrated Lem's confidence that his singular status as a Polish author of international renown would protect him from state repression. A complete version was published in the 1990s after the fall of Communism.
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