"I feel strongly humiliated. I'm embarrassed because of them... Because before, we were imagining a peace and coexisting. In the worst case - the war of the worlds. And what do we have here? Through - feeder. And squealing consumer meat. That's the war of the worlds we have! (...)

We have the possibility to see ourselves with the eyes of the Superior Beings. I wonder what chance of development it would see for us.
One of the ways of our glorious progress leads from animal fangs of Dryopithecus, through the club and arc, passes the tank and reaches the hydrogen bomb, then it goes into the infinity by the branch exactly parallel to the level in an evolution tree".

Who am I? Where am I going? Am I the part of something bigger? Are we alone in the Universe? Are my memories true? Can they be objective? Do I remember what really happened? Everything that we see, our emotions, feelings, even memories can be distorted. Can we have the implemented memory?
Would we be able to differentiate between humans and robots? How? Could we actually see the Superior Beings if they existed or would they be out of reach for our minds?
If, in the society, there would be enough human-like cyborgs implemented to start the new trends, would we be able to preserve our identity?
What if, when we are the part of the group, our only concern is just the consumption? The need to show off to "prove" that we're better than others? Are we much different from animals?

Are people a thoughtless mass that needs new gadgets, TV, cars and clothes? Cannot they even appreciate the decent quality products? Because they're not a luxury? No one wants good quality mass products because no one wants to be ordinary?
Does it sound like problems of the first world in XXI century? For me it does, although all those questions and much more were asked in Wiśniewski-Snerg debut book "Robot" from '70.
Has the society changed much during those 40 years? Or did we rather go the way he predicted?

We meet the protagonist when he suddenly starts to exist in very weird circumstances, then we follow his trials to define his being. At the very beginning, he suddenly woke up. Or was he born? Or reborn?
Slowly he discovers, literally and figuratively, other layers of the city he lives in.
The description of the "City of monuments" is amazingly picturesque and I enjoyed it though it was full of scientific explanations that were beyond my understanding (thank you, school).

While I was thinking about the story, what stroke me, was the fact that the "bullet time" Matrix scene physics was like taken out of the city of monuments. I've read before about the fact that creators of Matrix were highly inspired by Wiśniewski-Snerg books, "Robot" and "The Angel of Violence" - I didn't read the second one but I could see many similarities between "Robot" and Matrix, but it's hard to differentiate between plagiarism and inspiration, as Matrix is full of quotes from other pop culture works.
Writers brother in 2003 hired the attorney in the USA, trying to get the compensation for the rights he inherited. Unfortunately, I have no idea how this case has ended as I can't find this information.

What can I say is that I highly recommend reading this book. It's great. It makes you think. It makes you sad. It makes you curious. It keeps you on the edge of a chair, it's a page turner.
And it's really beautiful. Then you can judge for yourself if Matrix was inspired or plagiarized.

I can't say much more without revealing the plot, so that's it for now.
If you enjoy that kind of books and novels I can recommend two more:

  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Machine Stops by E. M. Forster which you can download from here

When you read one of them you can let me in the comment what do you think about them.
Did you like them? Why? Do you think our society reminds the one described in those books? Why?