Trying to find this short story, 99% sure it's by Stanisław Lem, maybe from the Cyberiad (I can't find my copy and haven't been able to find it online/in Google Books).

The plot is approximately ...

Three evil scientists are plotting to remake the universe in their own image. One of them is the lab assistant who gets them into the lab where the universe-altering machine is located. As his reward he wants the stars rearranged to spell his name. When the other two explain that this won't work because the configuration could only be seen from one particular perspective, he says that they can instead make the distribution of stars bunchy, because his name is "Bunch" ...

which is why the stars are bunched together (in galaxies).

  • 1
    I own a copy of The Cyberiad and don't see a story about three evil scientists. The stories in The Cyberiad involve two competitive robots named Trurl and Klaupacius creating elaborate inventions.
    – RobertF
    Apr 5, 2017 at 0:38
  • I know the Cyberiad reasonably well, but I couldn't rule out that somewhere in one of the sub-stories there was something along these lines ... also, I remembered this story pretty well and didn't remember reading much other Lem (but I guess I must have)
    – Ben Bolker
    Apr 5, 2017 at 0:46

1 Answer 1


This is the "Eighteenth Voyage" from the "Star Diaries" by Stanislaw Lem (which funny enough, is not included in every publication):

Ijon Tichy meets an astrophysicist named Solon, who spent his whole life studying the origin of the universe, coming to the conclusion that the universe indeed had an origin in form of some primeval particle, but the tests also show that such particle couldn't exist. This leads him to believe that one day universe would simply stop existing, because it shouldn't exist in the first place.

Ijon comes up with a solution: someone should shoot a single electron back in time to the moment before universe existed, thus giving it enough energy to create the Big Bang.

The project was well under way and the new Universe was well designed, when Ijon got into an argument with the lab assistant named "Bunch" (Polish "Kupa"), who also wanted to be mentioned in the list of the "Creators of the Universe". Bunch and his mates (German Ast A. Roth and half Dutch, half British Boels E. Bubb) used a brief period when Ijon was away on holidays (and another lab assistant Serpentine had a date with a certain Eve) and made their own changes to the project, among them the fact that stars are now in "bunches", better known as galaxies.

  • English translation doesn't do it justice :D
    – Mithoron
    Oct 4, 2020 at 23:35

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