Tales of Pirx the Pilot

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First edition (Latvia, 1966), published by Zinātne. Cover by M. Rikmane.

Tales of Pirx the Pilot is a science fiction stories collection by Polish author Stanisław Lem, about a spaceship pilot named Pirx. It was published in Latvia (as Petaura medības) in 1966,[1] Poland (as Opowieści o pilocie Pirxie) in 1968, and translated to English in two parts (Tales of Pirx the Pilot and More Tales of Pirx the Pilot) in 1979 and 1982. They have been added to the required curriculum for Polish junior-high school students in the 1990s.[2] Pirx stories include some comic elements.


The stories are set somewhere in the 21st or 22nd centuries, in a futuristic Occidental world (as opposed to a Communist Utopia where some of Lem's other novels take place) in which Mankind is starting to colonize the Solar System, has some settlements on the Moon and Mars, and is even beginning the exploration of the other solar systems.

Pirx is a cadet, a pilot, and finally a captain of a merchant spaceship, and the stories relate his life and various things that happen to him during his travels between the Earth, Moon, and Mars.


In a way, Pirx is as an ordinary "working man" who unlike traditional heroic space pilots has little if anything heroic about him. He sometimes finds himself in extreme situations, which he overcomes mostly through ordinary common sense and average luck. In particular, in the story The Inquest, Lem puts forth the idea that what is perceived a human weakness is in fact an advantage over a perfect machine. In this tale Pirx defeats the robot, because a human can hesitate, make wrong decisions, have doubts, but a robot cannot.[3]

List of the stories[edit]

Tales of Pirx the Pilot was translated by Louis Iribarne. More Tales of Pirx the Pilot was also translated by Iribarne, with the assistance of Magdalena Majcherczyk. Exception is "The Hunt" which was translated by Michael Kandel.

From Tales of Pirx the Pilot

  • "The Test"
  • "The Conditioned Reflex"
  • "On Patrol"
  • "The Albatross"
  • "Terminus"

From More Tales of Pirx the Pilot

  • "The Hunt"
  • "Pirx's Tale"
  • "The Accident"
  • "The Inquest"; for plot summary, see Test pilota Pirxa, a 1978 film
  • "Ananke"


A television mini-series, Pirx kalandjai (The Adventures of Pirx), was released in Hungary in 1973.[4] A Polish-Soviet feature-length film, Inquest of Pilot Pirx, was released in 1979.[5]


  1. ^ Tales of Pirx the Pilot Latvian Zinātne 1966
  2. ^ Forrester, Sibelan. "Stanisław Lem, Solaris". Swarthmore College. Archived from the original on 2011-12-02. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  3. ^ Swirski, Peter (2006). The art and science of Stanislaw Lem. McGill-Queen's University Press. p. 161. ISBN 0-7735-3046-0.
  4. ^ Pirx kalandjai on IMDb
  5. ^ Test pilota Pirxa on IMDb

External links[edit]