The Astronauts (Polish: Astronauci) is the first science fiction novel by Polish writer Stanisław Lem published as a book, in 1951.To write the novel, Lem received advance payment from publishing house Czytelnik (Warsaw). The book became an instant success and was translated into several languages (first into Czech, which was published in 1956). This success convinced Lem to switch to the career of a science-fiction author.
The Astronauts, written for the youth, is set in the Communist utopian future. To get it published under the communist regime in Poland, Lem had to insert frequent references to the ideals of communism. Decades later, Lem declared about The Astronauts:
Everything is so smooth and balanced; among the heroes we have a positive Russian character and a sweet Chinese; naiveté is present on all pages of this book. The hope that in the year 2000 the world would be wonderful is indeed very childish....
The inability to ever understand alien civilizations, a frequent theme of Lem's future works, appears here for the first time.
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