Honorary Doctoral Degree of Bielefeld University for Stanislaw Lem (Nr. Press release)
The world-famous Polish author Stanislav Lem will be awarded the honorary doctoral degree (Dr. rer.nat.h.c.) of the Faculty of Technology of Bielefeld University on November 13th, 2003. The ceremony will be held at the Jagiellonian University of Cracow in order to spare the 82 year old writer a tedious journey, and it will be simultaneously transmitted to Bielefeld via video conference.
To confer this honorary title to the author and scholar Lem has been proposed by the computer scientists of the Bielefeld Faculty of Technology who intend it as an expression of their high esteem of Stanislav Lem's merits for their own scientific discipline. As one of the most eminent authors of science fiction, Lem has been one of the first writers to tackle questions which later became crucial issues of infomatics: virtual reality, robotics, or human-machine interaction. At the same time, he discussed the social impact of new technologies in his literary texts - frequently giving them a satirical slant.
With his work, Lem has given long-acting impulses to informatics since its very beginnings, at the same time suggesting important general perspectives for the task of coping with science and technology. Stanislav Lem has been able to transpose his vast knowledge, his broad scope of interests, and his narrative talent into science fiction literature of the highest level. It is rare for an author of high-level fiction to meet with such success among readers, having millions of copies printed (in more than 30 languages), and most interestingly on both sides of the Iron Curtain, long before it fell. His essays and his scientific work are almost just as important. His novel "Solaris" was made into a much-noted movie by Andreji Tarkovskij in 1972; the film's remake by Steven Soderbergh of 2002, however, did not find the author's approval.
Stanislav Lem was born on Lwów, Poland, on September 12th, 1921. He studied medicine, working subsequently in applied psychology. At the same time, he occupied himself with cybernetics, mathematics, physics, biology, cosmology, and philosophy. In 1978, he received the National Award for Literature by the People's Republic of Poland, in 1985 the National Award of Austria for European Literature, and in 1991 the Austrian Kafka Prize. Since 1973, Lem has been a lecturer for Polish Literature at the University of Cracow. Since 1994, he has been a member of the Polish Academy of Sciences. His most important publications are: The Star Diaries (1957), Solaris (1961), Memoirs Found in a Bathtub (1961), The Invincible (1964), Cyberiad (1965), Tales of Pirx the Pilot (1968), A Perfect Vacuum (1971), The Futurological Congress (1974), The Mask (1976), The Chain of Chance (1976). Since 1988, Lem has not been writing novels any more, but devoting himself instead to issues of science. In this vein, he has recently published two volumes which are very critical studies of the internet.
For further information please contact the University of Bielefeld, Professor Ipke Wachsmuth, Tel. +49 521 106 2924.