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This article questions the consensus view of The Invincible (Niezwyciężony) as one of Lem’s classical sci-fi fictions. The author contends that in this novel the familiar conventions (later rejected in His Master’s Voice) coexist with a structural design characteristic of his late novels. An analysis of two pieces of the world of The Invincible, usually disregarded by the critics because of their sketchiness, i.e. the story of the extinct Lyrans and the account of the ancient biosphere of Regis III, reveals that in either case Lem no longer cares for the realist credentials of his fiction and does not put the two planets on the astronomical map (which is no doubt deliberate choice). Moreover, in contrast to his earlier novels, his outline histories of the two biospheres contain hidden (but nonetheless unmistakable) parallels to the prehistory of the biosphere of the Earth (though he was no believer in evolutionary repeatability). As this article tries to demonstrate the two peripheral facets of the world depicted in the novel are clearly related and subordinated to the central story line (concerned with the ‘necrosphere’ and humanity). This structural dependence as well as the way in which key aspects of the world depicted in the novel seem to illustrate the theses articulated in Lem’s essays justifi es the conclusion that The Invincible should be treated as the first novel of his late phase, represented – on account of its form – by His Master’s Voice.
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