The Futurological Congress (Ze wspomnien Ijona Tighego. Kongres futurologiczny) was first published in 1971; our translation (by Michael Kandel!) dates from 1974. The hero, Ijon Tichy (last name means "peaceful" or "quiet;" it's the word for the Pacific Ocean), shows up in a number of works by Lem: The Star Diaries (1971), Memoirs of a Space Traveler (a continuation of The Star Diaries), Observation on the Spot (1982), and Peace on Earth (1987). Tichy has all kinds of adventures, usually humorous, and he generally plays the role of a somewhat naïve observer. On the other hand, his career as a space explorer gives him great cachet on earth: secret government organizations try to manipulate him, scientists vie to have him involved in their projects, and of course things happen to him that few other human beings will ever experience. In Peace on Earth in particular the novel gives Lem a chance to comment bitterly on the degraded state and foreboding future tendencies of human culture in general.
Questions for reading: