Thursday, June 08, 2006

Science Fiction - "A Chain of Chance"

This is one two odd books by Stanislaw Lem, which is only bordeline science fiction. In the story and ex-astronaut investigates some unusual deaths at a resort in Naples. Since the investigation has not been going anywhere the main character is sent on a "mission" to retrace the steps of one of the victims. The deaths in question were always little odd, some appeared to be suicides, and many occured after the victim spent time at a Naples spa.

The book, which was published in the 70s, has a section describing a terrorist attack by a suicide bomber at an airport in Rome. But the attack does not seem to be relvant to the plot.

There is a long section in which our hero explains the details of the investigation to a French computer scientists, who is working on software to recognize patterns in crimes.

Ultimately the solution emerges. Somewhat atypical to Lem the explaination is quite detailed - although other possiblities are left open still.

The orginal title of this book in Polish is "Katar" - which means "nasal congestion" - which described the afflication experienced by all the victims in the book. The English title gives you more of a hint of the solution of the mystery.

The second book in this flavor that Lem wrote is one called "The Investigation". In that book a detective is investigating unexpected movements of dead bodies at morgues, but he never really discovers the reason.


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