Stanislaw Lem and the Holocaust

Lem’s story Provocation deserves to be read today

Damien Walter
2 min readNov 21, 2023

Folks. I have a problem.

For some time I have been researching a new video essay on Stanislaw Lem, the Polish writer, author of Solaris, and one of the greats of science fiction. I have a complete interview with Lem expert, and longtime member of our community, Elana Gomel. The essay is ready to write and produce.


My working process is quite intuitive. A topic comes to my attention, I do some initial reading and let everything percolate in the Unconscious. At some point an idea for a new essay pops into focus.

The way I want to expore Lem is via his short story, Provocation, in which Lem explores the causes of the Holocaust against the Jewish people in WW2. This story has never been translated into English, but I’ve been able to source a reasonable translation. There is a lot to unpack in the story.

Lem lived through the Holocaust and I believe much of his storytelling is an attempt to process the reality and causes of those events. I think this an important essay that I hope can bring Lem’s important insights to a wider audience.

However, it will almost certainly be impossible to monetise the video on youtube. Almost any consideration of the Holocaust runs afoul of advertising guides against traumatising events…advertisers want happy shiny consumer friendly videos. Lem would no doubt have appreciated the irony of this form of passive censorship.

To make essays of this kind I rely on members who support the Science Fiction channel, podcast and this very community where you are reading this. So this is an appeal for new members who would like to help me make this essay a reality.

Members also help me continue as an independent voice in our media landscape. Lem’s understanding of the causes of the Holocaust are a little controversial, but I intend to present them as clearly and faithfully as possible. Especially in our current political landscape, that may offend some people.

I will share my translation of Provocation with members later this week, so you can read it before seeing the video essay. New members also access to the full episode archive, members RSS feed, all my courses and, hopefully soon, livestream hangouts.

Links to membership here




Damien Walter

I tell stories about the future, technology and culture. Published by The Guardian, WIRED, BBC etc.