Google Logo Is The Best One Yet, Gamey

By Jim Rossignol on November 23rd, 2011 at 12:15 pm.


This isn’t PC gaming news so much as general internet nerding, but it’s a lovely thing nonetheless. I have to admit that I haven’t seen the Google homepage in months, so I wouldn’t have realised that the current logo is an extraordinary interactive Google doodle game thing, had John not alerted me. How did he know? Well, there are a lot of tubes from all round the world leading to his office. He was probably peering down them. [Actually my wife told me - John] Anyway, the new doodle is the tale of a meeting of robots, and has been put up in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the first publication by brilliant sci-fi author, Stanislaw Lem. Lem is best know for Solaris, which was made into movies by Tarkovsky and Soderburgh, but his influence on sf generally has been enormous, thanks to his prolific and insightful writing and amazing short stories. You should definitely have a read of some of his stuff, if you haven’t already. (The art in the logo is inspired by Lem illustrator, Daniel Mrózh, who illustrated a version of The Cyberiad. Which now, I learn, was even turned into an opera!)

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44 Comments »

  1. Sirico says:

    It’s very machinarium

    • maktacular says:

      aye i was very much reminded by that cheeky wee scamp when i saw this. love the robot at the end too, how robots should look.

  2. TomxJ says:

    Exploding Robot Calculator. love it.

  3. Oneironaut says:

    In the USA we only have a picture of a turkey where we can click on it to change the color of it’s hat,shoes, and feathers, so I wouldn’t have seen this if it hadn’t been mentioned here.

    Any other Americans who want to see it should go to Google.co.uk

  4. Herbert_West says:

    And it all leads to the machine that does nothing.

    :melts from joy:

  5. MadTinkerer says:

    Ah, The Cyberiad. One of the most unique sci fi books I’ve read. The story I always remember the most is when a machine that can add or subtract anything beginning with a particular letter goes out of control and we end up with a universe completely devoid of various nonsensical things.

    • Inigo says:

      That’s actually part of the animation.

    • Bart Stewart says:

      The remarkable thing about “How the World Was Saved,” which riffs on words starting with the letter “N,” is that it was written in Polish and translated to English! The translator, Michael Kandel, must have been working more as a collaborator than someone just automatically converting words from one language to another. In fact, a lot of the stories in The Cyberiad have this amazing level of playing with words and phrases that are unlikely to be directly translatable from Polish to English, including some hilariously clever poems in “Trurl’s Electronic Bard.”

      My favorite Cyberiad story, though, has to be “How Trurl’s Own Perfection Led to No Good,” in which the constructor Trurl builds a miniaturized kingdom for a tyrant to control….

      “There were plenty of towns, rivers, mountains, forests, and brooks, a sky with clouds, armies full of derring-do, citadels, castles, and ladies’ chambers; and there were marketplaces, gaudy and gleaming in the sun, days of back-breaking labor, nights full of dancing and song until dawn, and the gay clatter of swordplay. Trurl also set into this kingdom a fabulous capital, all in marble and alabaster, and assembled a council of hoary sages, and winter palaces and summer villas, plots, conspirators, false witnesses, nurses, informers, teams of magnificent steeds, and plumes waving crimson in the wind; and then he crisscrossed that atmosphere with silver fanfares and twenty-one gun salutes, also threw in the necessary handful of traitors, another of heroes, added a pinch of prophets and seers, and one messiah and one great poet each, after which he bent over and set the works in motion, deftly making last-minute adjustments with his microscopic tools as it ran, and he gave the women of that kingdom beauty, the men — sullen silence and surliness when drunk, the officials — arrogance and servility, the astronomers — an enthusiasm for stars, the children — a great capacity for noise. And all of this, connected, mounted and ground to precision, fit into a box, and not a very large box, but just the size that could be carried about with ease.”

      Sound like a computer game any of us might be playing lately…?

      Lem, not content with foreseeing the future of open-world RPGs, then proceeded to ask the question of whether Trurl built better than he knew: if you could create a world filled with people whose illusion of sentience is good enough, would it be indistinguishable from (and therefore morally equivalent to) the real thing?

      That may be yawn-inducing to some in these post-Matrix days, but to me in 1976 — before I’d heard of Alan Turing, and before Doug Hofstadter wrote Gödel, Escher, Bach — it was one of the most jaw-dropping concepts I’d ever encountered. Not from Aristotle, or from some politician, but from a “mere” science fiction writer. At its best, science fiction opens the mind to new possibilities. Lem’s stories do that consistently, and do it well.

      I cast a cynical eye on Google, but good for them for someone there highlighting the work of this remarkable writer.

  6. qrter says:

    *whispers* Soderbergh..! ;)

  7. Schadenfreude says:

    I give it less than a year before the new Mrs Walker is running this whole show.

  8. RC-1290'Dreadnought' says:

    Perhaps the link should be http://www.google.co.uk/

    • sincarne says:

      Yup: doodle is not present on the Canuckistani homepage at least.

  9. westyfield says:

    I haven’t read any Stanislaw Lem. Which book should I read first?

    • Grimm says:

      Well, that depends. Are you a sci-fi fan? If yes, go with Tales of Pirx the Pilot, The Invincible, The Futurological Congress, and The Star Diaries. Then Solaris, Fiasco, and Eden. And then the rest.

      If not, start with Mortal Engines and The Cyberiad. They are the least ‘technical’ out of all of his novels. In fact Lem wrote them with kids in mind. They are, well, fables really, set in a universe where everything and everyone is a robot.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      Fiasco’s the greatest hard sci-fi novel ever written…

    • Waltorious says:

      All of Lem’s books are great. But some are weirder than others, and some veer more towards straight philosophy than science fiction.

      For the more accessible stuff, others have given great recommendations already (Solaris, Pirx the Pilot, Star Diaries, The Cyberiad), but I’d like to add Peace on Earth to the list — but make sure you read Star Diaries first! The books share the same protagonist and I think you’re supposed to know who he is already when you read Peace on Earth.

      The Chain of Chance is also cool, but if you buy a physical copy of the book don’t read the back! The plot summary spoils the whole mystery. His Master’s Voice is another great one.

      If you want to check out some of Lem’s stranger works, look for Imaginary Magnitude, which is a set of introductions for books that don’t actually exist (including an introduction for the set of introductions, of course), and A Perfect Vacuum, which is a collection of book reviews for books that don’t exist.

      After that, just find any Lem book you can. He’s really, really good and quickly became my favorite author.

    • westyfield says:

      Ok, thanks guys!

  10. GetEveryone says:

    I actually enjoyed the Soderbergh version of Solaris far more than Tarkovsky’s version. The former hardly nips along, but it’s far, far less plodding than the latter. Besides that, they are both absolutely gorgeous for very different reasons.

    Film buffs everywhere recoil in horror, throw their hats down and prepare a retort.

    *On topic: the animation was delightful. I just spent close to 20 minutes of wasted lunch-break on it.*

  11. adonf says:

    I don’t get it. What’s the third word in ‘N’ after Needle and Noodles ?

    Also “I haven’t seen the Google homepage in months”. How is that even remotely possible?

    • Hoaxfish says:

      in-browser searchbox?

      I’m guessing he means the blank Google page waiting for you to input text, rather than the search results as well… or maybe he just uses Yahoo or Bing or something.

    • Xyzk says:

      Not sure what you see, but the robot man on the right (his name is Klapaucjusz btw,) asks for “nothing”, and the machine decides that nothing means destroying everything.

    • Aedrill says:

      I think you should read it in Polish – it’s “Nitka” (Thread), “Naparstek” (Thimble) and “Nic” (Nothing).

      Edit:
      Oh, wait. I watched it on google.pl which explains this noodle thing… In this case just bear in mind that the last thing is nothing

    • Verity says:

      https://duckduckgo.com instead of http://google.com

      Simple and effective!

    • adonf says:

      Thank you guys. Sometimes I have the comprehension of a three year old high on weed. (j/k, it’s most of the time)

  12. thegreatcaligula says:

    As an American reader of RPS I was extremely confused because this is what the American Google page looks like.

    http://www.google.com

    As you can see, the artwork befits our American sensibilities.

  13. Was Neurotic says:

    I met Lem a few weeks before he died. He did a book signing here in Kraków, and when I got up to him I almost broke down in tears. If you like his work, definitely read Kandel’s translation of his autobiographical ‘Highcastle’.

  14. mojo says:

    you are all wrong and should goto http://google.pl

  15. Xyzk says:

    Different people have different tastes, but his books I believe to be most interesting:

    Solaris
    Fiasco
    The Invincible
    The Futurological Congress
    Professor A. Dońda
    These are also good but have slow-paced action, if any :P
    His Master’s Voice
    Hospital of the Transfiguration

    • Dana says:

      Sometimes I think The Futurological Congress was inspiration for Matrix to some degree.

    • FunkyBadger3 says:

      You, sir, have marvellous taste :-)

  16. lunarplasma says:

    Moral of the story: Never ask for NOTHING.

  17. Fomorian1988 says:

    Ohmygoodness! A game based on one of my favorite Lem books, “The Cyberiad”! Day made!

  18. Igor Hardy says:

    Big cheers for a post dedicated to Stanisław Lem!

    From the somewhat lesser known stories I strongly recommend: Mask, The Investigation and The Cold. Also most tales about Ijon Tichy – there are some real goodies among those.

  19. FunkyBadger3 says:

    Love Lem.

    Fiasco his greatest long work, warmer than Solaris, more human.

    Futurilogical Congress is good for a giggle.

    His Master’s Voice.

    One Human Minute – wish I could find another copy of that.

  20. bilharzia says:

    I would have thought Stalker http://www.stalker-game.com/ would have been the obvious connection with RPS.