Reviews of Return from the Stars (1961)
Review by clong (2006-09-07)
This was an interesting, thought-provoking, dare I say even intellectually stimulating book. It tells the tale of Hal Bregg, an astronaut who returns from a dangerous 10 year trip to the stars to find that a couple of scientific discoveries have profoundly changed how man lives on Earth (where over 100 years have passed due to the time dilation effects of high speed space travel).
The extended opening chapter that describes the overwhelmingly surreal experience of Bregg's initial return to the home planet is brilliant.
One of the things I really liked about this book is that paints a picture of a future which is neither all black nor all white. Technology and science have indeed led to progress which has made people's lives better (in some ways even utopian), but this progress has come with real costs. The book also has some very interesting things to say about the practical limitations of high speed space exploration and why it might be worth doing anyway.
The book bogs down a bit in the second half, and I felt that the extended storyline about Bregg's infatuation with a young married woman named Eri could have been better realized. Still I would rate this as one of Lem's more successful novels.