The Star Diaries

Design and illustration of Stanisław Lem's "Dzienniki gwiazdowe"

The Star Diaries p. 34/35 (© Background: ESA/NASA)

"Dzienniki gwiazdowe" (1957) is a wonderful collection of short stories by Polish writer Stanisław Lem, expanded in 1971 around the character of space traveller Ijon Tichy.

Lem combines humor with philosophy

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In "The Star Diaries", we meet Ijon Tichy, an open-minded and inquisitive traveler, writer, and entrepreneur. His journeys through space and time and his encounters with extravagant scientists and the like are not only bizarre but often highly philosophical, insightful, and satirical.

Through his fictional short stories, the Polish author Lem is able to debate ethical, social, and political questions—questions that are still worth being discussed today, forty years later.

fig. 3: Cover and back
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"I wrote Star Diaries, stories that contain stories, in the course of 48 years. At first they were quite improbable because of their purely grotesque and humorous character. With time this grotesque started to be accompanied by cognitive concepts related to theology and answers to the question: what would human beings do if there were no limits to genes' composition? This idea was assisted by an array of most bizarre skeletons."
— Stanisław Lem
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The way it was done

Instead of drawing actual scenes of the book, I focused on creating an overall atmosphere which gives room to interpretation. To make sure that each drawing is lively, open, and poetic, some are done blindly, others left-handed, but each of them many times to find the right one.

The book's headlines are all set in letter-press Folio (see fig. 4), the book itself is hand-bound.

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fig. 6i
fig. 6j
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