The Invincible (1964) by Stanislaw Lem
Pbk., Penguin, 186 p.
Most of the Lem books that I have read have something just slightly inaccessible about them. He is an amazing writer but I think sometimes his ideas get lost somewhat in the translation from the Polish. He really does have an incredible imagination though.
The Invincible is a much more straightforward science fiction novel than others of his that I have read. The spaceship Invincible wakes its complement of hibernating crew and lands on a dusty and inhospitable planet. It turns out that several years earlier, the Condor, another ship, came before and contact was completely lost. The Invincible is here to find out what has happened.
Lem writes from the perspective of the Navigator who is sort of second in command to the Astrogator, an older, steady type man. As more and more of the fate of the Condor is revealed the Navigator becomes much more invested, emotional and thrown off balance by their fate.
This really was a fun novel to read. The science is so kooky but the way it's written is entirely believable. This was a cool book.