The crew of a rocket ship from Earth flies near the planet Quinta, inhabited by rational beings, with the mission to make contact. In a moment, one of humanity’s greatest dreams will come true, a meeting with an outer-space civilization – we will gain evidence that we are not alone in the universe. Yet the inhabitants of Quinta are not striving for contact, they are avoiding it, even guarding themselves against it. The protagonists of Fiasco can only speculate on the Quintans, create potential models through a supercomputer and interpret the Aliens’ next move, as, for unexplained reasons, they try to keep the humans away.
This play follows Lem’s subversive and unconventional reasoning. Imagining the possibility of civilizations on other planets, we must imagine the necessity of uniting. Instead of asking: “Who are the aliens?”, we ask: Who are the Earthlings?” Many sci-fi novels foresee a catastrophe scenario, in which an enemy of civilization aims to wipe out life on Earth, and potential contact could bring the annihilation of the human species. Things are quite different in Lem’s novel, which strikes up a polemic with this premise.
This play, the first theatrical adaptation of Lem’s final novel, could also be an ambiguous diagnosis of the causes behind our contemporary crisis, our anxieties and the pessimism we feel when we look at the future of our species.