In His Master's Voice, Lem describes the failure of humanity's intelligence to decipher and truly comprehend an apparent message from space.
Two overlapping arcs of short stories, Fables for Robots (Bajki Robotów), translated in the collection Mortal Engines), and The Cyberiad (Cyberiada) provide a commentary on humanity in the form of a series of grotesque, humorous, fairytale-like short stories about a mechanical universe inhabited by robots (who have occasional contact with biological "slimies" and human "palefaces").
He was the son of Sabina née Woller (1892–1979) and Samuel Lem (1879–1954), a wealthy laryngologist and former physician in the Austro-Hungarian Army, After the Soviet invasion and occupation of Eastern Poland, he was not allowed to study at Lwow Polytechnic as he wished because of his "bourgeois origin," and only due to his father's connections was accepted to study medicine at Lwów University in 1940.
From the 1950s to 2000s, he published many books, both science fiction and philosophical/futurological.
In 1945, Polish Eastern Borderlands were annexed into Soviet Ukraine and the family, like many other Poles, was resettled to Kraków, where Lem, at his father's insistence, took up medical studies at the Jagiellonian University.
Lem made his literary debut in 1946 with a number of works of different genres, including poetry as well as a science fiction novel The Man from Mars (Człowiek z Marsa) serialized in Nowy Świat Przygód Between 19 Lem was working as a scientific research assistant at the Jagiellonian University, and published a number of short stories, poems, reviews and similar works, particularly at Tygodnik Powszechny.
Lem's works explore philosophical themes through speculation on technology, the nature of intelligence, the impossibility of mutual communication and understanding, despair about human limitations, and humanity's place in the universe.
They are sometimes presented as fiction, but others are in the form of essays or philosophical books.
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