One Human Minute


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by Stanislaw Lem
translated by Catherine S. Leach
published by André Deutsch Limited, 1986


In these three previews of the 21st century—actually reviews of not-yet-written—Lem brings us startling news indeed.

"One Human Minute" describes a kind of super-World Almanac that summarizes what everyone on earth is doing during a single minute. We learn, for instance, that 34.2 million men and women make love every minute. During the same sixty seconds, however, only 0.0000001 person is killed by a falling meteor.

Star wars are a thing of the past for the author of Weapons Systems of the 21st Century, which Lem "reviews" next. Human beings, obsolete on the battlefield of the future, have been replaced by synthetic insects, or syn-sects, with mixed results: "You can hardly have a parade of stainless steel bugs," observes Lem.

The human experience on our planet, Lem argues in "The World as Cataclysm," has been a chancy business—more the result of catastrophes in the sky than of orderly evolution. "The universe is a crooked roulette wheel," Lem concludes, and in the future the game is likely to be no less crooked.

One Human Minute is one of Lem's wildest flights of fancy—blending thought-provoking philosophical reflection with the Polish master's usual out-of-this-world humor.  

- hardcover: 102 pages
- product dimensions: 147 x 217 mm