''Tales of Pirx the Pilot'' is a collection of short stories by Creator/StanislawLem, first published in 1968 in Poland, and was translated to English in 2 parts (''Tales of Pirx the Pilot'' & ''More Tales of Pirx the Pilot'').

The stories follow Pirx, a cadet at the "Institute", an academy for astronauts in the [[TwentyMinutesIntoTheFuture near future]], as he makes his way through the ranks of student, patrol pilot, and finally [[WeWillUseWikiWordsInTheFuture astrogator (read: captain of a spaceship)]].
In this future, interplanetary spacetravel is already normal, and mankind has begun to colonize the solar system. The bulk of the stories are thus set either in solar space or on the moon, as "Luna" represents one of the most important bases of humanity. Later on in the book, Mars is also being colonized, and there are fleet bases in the constellation of Aquarius, implying that mankind is able to travel at least as far as 11 light years.

The main focus of the books is, unsurprisingly, on space travel and how mankind uses and is changed by it. Also, another main theme is how robots and computers act and evolve to help humanity with its travels between the planets.
The future itself is described in rather [[UsedFuture gritty tones]], and tries its best to be realistic with the usage of science, which pushes it to the "Hard" side of the MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness.
!!Provides examples of:

* AbsentAliens: Played straight, [[spoiler: subverted (maybe?) in "Pirx's Tale"]]
* AIIsACrapshoot: Played with a lot. Computers and robots become more human over the course of the stories, up to and including human flaws. [[spoiler: Played dead straight in ''The Inquest'']].
* AllJustADream: [[spoiler: In ''The Test'', even though it's more of a simulation.]]
* AndIMustScream: A temporal version appears in "The Conditional Reflex": students of the Institute must pass a test where they have to endure sensory deprivation for as long as possible. After several hours, this becomes... troubling.
* AsteroidThicket: Averted. In "Pirx's Tale" the spaceship Pirx is on was maneuvering in an asteroid cloud for several hours without actually seeing one asteroid.
* ContinuityNod: In "The Inquest" Pirx discovers a fly on his ship and mentions that he hates them. This is a nod to the very first story, where flies were responsible for some tomfoolery [[spoiler: like almost crashing into the freaking moon.]]
* CrushKillDestroy: The robot in ''The Hunt'' seems to run on this - it was a mining robot before it broke down.
* FateWorseThanDeath: The crew of the ''Blue Star''/''Korolian'' in "Terminus". [[spoiler: The ship is hit by a meteor shower, destroying parts of it. Yet some of the crew manage to survive, trapped and separated from each other on different decks. They were still able to communicate with Morse code using the pipes, if only to tell each other they were slowly running out of air...]]
** And then [[FromBadToWorse it gets worse]]. [[spoiler: The ship's robot somehow "catches on" the personalities of the dying crew and keeps them in its electronic brain. When Pirx, given the captain's chair on the refitted and renamed ship, encounters this robot, it beats out the Morse code as used by the said crew on pipes, while it's mending the pipes. And when Pirx tries to communicate with them ''[[AndIMustScream they reply]]''. He eventually [[MercyKill orders the destruction of the robot]] due to the "total decay of brain function".]]
* FirstPersonSmartass: In "Pirx's Tale" Pirx himself is narrating, and shows off his snarky character.
* FlyCrazy: "The Test".
* GenreShift: "The Conditional Reflex" is like a mystery story [[InSpace ON THE MOON!]].
* InstantAIJustAddWater: Subverted, as the computers and robots usually show just one trait of human intellect at a time.
* OnlySaneMan: Pirx has a streak of WorkingClassHero-style common sense and decency which makes him appear as such throughout the tales.
* OurGraphicsWillSuckInTheFuture: [[TruthInTelevision Navigation in space mostly consists of looking at trajectories and calculator outputs.]]
* ThePlan: In "The Inquest", bordering on a GambitPileup and TakeAThirdOption. It's kind of hard to explain.
** more like XanatosSpeedChess, really - it all boiled down to Pirx being unpredictable.
* RidiculouslyHumanRobots: [[spoiler: "The Inquest" has some of them among the ship's crew. It's a test of their spaceman capability.]]
** Robots ''behaving'' surprisingly human is a central motif to at least two of the stories.
* SceneryPorn: The spaceport scene in "Terminus".
* SceneryGorn: In "Ananke", [[spoiler: the crashsite of the ''Ariel''.]]
* ShoutOut: In "Pirx's Tale" the narrator mentions reading [[RayGunGothic early science-fiction books]] and thinking they are absolutely ridiculous and unrealistic with their [[GreenSkinnedSpaceBabe female alien spies]], [[AIIsACrapshoot rebelling computers]] and [[TheEmpire evil alien empires]]. Could also count as a TakeThat to other Sci-Fi writers - the book in question sounds suspiciously like [[IsaacAsimov Asimov's]] ''Stars, like dust''.
** Also, in "The Hunt" Pirx has to hunt a robot in a labyrinth, and the robot [[spoiler: turns out to be more human than thought]]. It is pretty obvious though, as the robot is named "Setaurus".
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: For all the [[UsedFuture grit in the setting]], the stories have a rather optimistic tone of mankind somehow getting on.
* SpaceMadness / SanitySlippage: In "The Patrol" Pirx goes through one of those. [[spoiler: He gets better, though.]]
* StarshipLuxurious: The ''Titan'' in "Albatross".
* {{Two-DSpace}}: Averted. The protagonist navigates above the ecliptic in "Pirx's Tale".
* UnitedNationsIsASuperPower: At least in space, as they supervise the most important projects and have the judicial power.
* UniversalUniverseTime: It's inverted, as every planet, moon and spaceship has its own time, often leading to extreme jetlags for the ships' crews.
* UsedFuture: So used there are shady South-American companies cashing in on the human garbage orbiting Mercury.
* VirtualTrainingSimulation: [[spoiler: In "The Test". Pirx doesn't know about it, which is the point of the test (they're testing new pilots coping skills in an actual crisis situation).]]
* WhamEpisode: [[spoiler: "Albatross". Two fully staffed starships are lost in an nuclear accident, and all the protagonist can do is watch.]]
* {{Zeerust}}: The bigger computers still run on punchhole cards, and satellites communicate with Morse code.