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March 23rd, 2003, 01:51 AM
Greetings everyone,

I really can't begin to estimate how long I've been trying to find this particular book, or to even remember the author or title, but I'm hoping that someone may be able to help me out.

I read this book back in my very early teen years, and now that I'm in my 30's, trying to recall the title or author is pretty much impossible. The only thing that does remain in my mind, is the story;

Basically, the story revolves around an astronaut who has come back to earth in the future...roughly 100-200 years into the future. He was kept in stasis during his trip, which somehow went wrong, and ended up putting him in this future time. He's debriefed by the space administration of the day, and basically turned loose into society.

He's now very wealthy, as his bank account was being credited with his rate of pay, the entire time he was in space...along with interest. Needless to say, he will never have to worry about money ever again. The twist of this future, however, is that all basic needs are free. If you need someplace to live, food, clothing, etc., you can just 'sign' for it, and it's given to you. I distinctly remember the 'signing for it' bit, as it struck me as funny. Sign now, never pay?

The rest of the story is his struggle to try and find his place on this future earth, no longer an astronaut, and with no family or friends to even think of. I remember the cover having a picture of the future city he's in, along with 'highways' of a sort, that have these black, bean-shaped 'cars' on them that everyone uses. There's focus on these 'cars' in the story, as they're just automated modes of transportation.

He eventually uses a good chunk of his money to buy a piece of land (which is very valuable in this future earth), and then buys himself a 20th Century automobile.....a car in other words...to drive around in.

I know this isn't a lot of information to go on, but it's all I can remember. I've been looking over the works of a variety of authors, but nothing with this story-line has come up. I'm hoping that my description may trigger someone's memory. The book has to be about 20 years old, maybe a bit newer...so that may help.

If you need more information, or think you may have an idea about the book, please let me know, or post here. Who knows?

I want to thank you all for any help you can give me in this age-old search! :D

March 30th, 2003, 04:25 PM

There's a link to a short review of Return From the Stars by Stanislaw Lem.

Think that might be it?

March 30th, 2003, 08:53 PM
Thank-You ever so much AuntiePam!!


I did some Googling of my own, and this is in fact the very book I've been searching for, for sooooo long!

I'm so excited! :)

I did some futher in-depth searching, and even managed to come up with a photo of the cover art, and the year the particular version of the book I read was published;

Details and cover art (http://www.cyberiad.info/dziela/powrot/galeria.htm)

You have my eternal gratitude for this, and I'm going to embark on my search to actually aquire a copy of this to read again. If you hear of anyone with a decent hard-cover edition of this for sale, please let me know!

March 30th, 2003, 09:57 PM
That was the one? Cool.

Amazon has lots of copies, hardcover, reasonable.


I'm tempted to get one myself. I've read a little bit of Lem, but not much.

March 30th, 2003, 11:28 PM
Amazing as it may seem, yes, this is in fact the very book I was looking for. I've actually found an excellent condition hardcover that is for sale, and purchased it tonight. :)

Reading various reviews and thoughts about this book online helped to refresh my memory further about the book, and seeing that 1980 cover art was the seal on the deal. If you look at the cover from 1980 that's at the link I provided, you'll see the 'black bubble cars' I had talked about in my original post. You can see them in the center of the cover, with the astronaut standing above.

The story is quite remarkable, considering when it was written, and many have commented on how 'male-oriented' it is. Regardless, the element of the story that stuck with me all these years, was how alone the main character felt. In spite of all the 'wonderful' changes that had occured in society, and the fact that he was very wealthy, he still felt very isolated.

I had also forgotten about his romance with a woman in the story, and I'm looking forward to rediscovering this story. I can't wait for the book to arrive!

Thanks again Auntie, and by all means, pick this book up. It's not very expensive to get used, and I'm sure you could re-sell it, if you found it horrible. I somehow think that you'll hang onto it though. I know I will!

March 31st, 2003, 05:13 PM

I love a happy ending....... :)

Well done Auntie Pam - I didn't get that one! :)


March 31st, 2003, 06:07 PM
Hobbit, me too.

I think I'll grab a copy -- I like Rip Van Winkle type stories, and your comments have pretty much convinced me that this is worth reading.