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Solaris [Kindle Edition]

Stanislaw Lem
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (258 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $13.00
Kindle Price: $2.99
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Book Description

New 2011 English Translation.

The cult-classic by Stanislaw Lem that spawned the movie is now available for your Kindle! Until NOW the only English edition was a 1970 version, which was translated from French and which Lem himself described as a "poor translation." This wonderful new English translation (by Bill Johnston) of Lem's classic Solaris is a must-have for fans of Lem's classic novel.

Telling of humanity's encounter with an alien intelligence on the planet Solaris, the 1961 novel is a cult classic, exploring the ultimate futility of attempting to communicate with extra-terrestrial life.

When Kris Kelvin arrives at the planet Solaris to study the ocean that covers its surface, he finds a painful, hitherto unconscious memory embodied in the living physical likeness of a long-dead lover. Others examining the planet, Kelvin learns, are plagued with their own repressed and newly corporeal memories. The Solaris ocean may be a massive brain that creates these incarnate memories, though its purpose in doing so is unknown, forcing the scientists to shift the focus of their quest and wonder if they can truly understand the universe without first understanding what lies within their hearts.


Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation)

About the Author

Stanislaw Lem is the most widely translated and best known science fiction author writing outside of the English language. Winner of the Kafka Prize, he is a contributor to many magazines, including the New Yorker, and he is the author of numerous works, including Solaris.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1013 KB
  • Print Length: 223 pages
  • Publisher: Residual Publishing Ltd (December 8, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006JWE0MC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #15,837 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
139 of 145 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lem's visionary depiction of contact November 26, 2002
By Virgil
Format:Paperback
One note readers should know beforehand is that the version of Solaris available in English is a translation from Polish to French and then translated from the French into English. For some irresponsible and bizarre reason, publishing house Faber and Faber who own the license have not authorized a direct from Polish translation of Solaris. The good news is that despite this the translators from the French have a good sense of literary style and did a fine job of making it readable and enjoyable, though obviously not as accurate a translation as could be.
At first glance Solaris seems hard science fiction. Set in the future after man has explored many systems the main character arrives at the space station orbiting the planet Solaris. Lem lets us know several things up front, the planet is suspected of being an intelligent life form and there is a long history of exploration, strange happenings and accidents that have occurred. By the time Kelvin arrives after almost two hundred years of study only a small team is left to record and study the planet.
More than hard science is really at the heart of this novel. There are musings on alien contact and the nature of what is intelligence. Is man really the measure of everything? As events occur, Kelvin the rational scientist succumbs to those most irrational of feelings, love and longing. Ironically, Kelvin, the person sent to investigate the occurrences among the crew is the one who is emotionally effected the most by the visitors that accompany everyone.
The genius of the novel is that the visitors are reflections or copy's of each individual in each person's memory. Every character is touched (or disturbed) on a level much deeper than a more conventional alien contact approach.
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154 of 162 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OH, NOW I GET IT January 7, 2003
By Sesho
Format:Paperback
About 5 minutes into the new movie version of Solaris starring George Clooney I could tell it was going to be along the same lines as 2001:A Space Odyssey. We were going to have long extended shots of spaceships docking and very slow development, and with little or no external explanation from the characters. I was right. This could explain why in a recent internet poll, this most recent version of Solaris was voted the most disliked movie of the last 20 years. I liked the movie ok but I felt there were many more layers to discover underneath its sheen that could only be revealed by the original source. So I sought out this novel that was originally published in 1961 and translated from French to English in 1970.
As the story begins, Kris Kelvin, a psychologist, is headed to the planet Solaris, a planet that he has studied before. He is to dock with the 3-man orbiting space station above the planet. The unique thing about Solaris is that it appears sentient, but not in any way that human beings can understand. At one time it was a pressing issue to make contact with this planet organism but after decades of trying no real success has been achieved and most scientists have given up. Solaris has shown no response to repeated efforts to communicate with it. Kris doesn't expect that anything has changed but he soon finds out that contact has been made.
When he arrives he soon learns that one of the crew members has died and that another has locked himself in his room and refuses to come out and the other speaks in riddles. Then, his dead wife shows up, as real and material as the flesh and blood he remembers. Somehow, Solaris is dragging figures from their memory and making simulations that come to life in the real world. The question is why?
I loved this book.
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112 of 117 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incommunicability or Being In the World September 30, 2002
Format:Paperback
This novel explores the theme of communication. Scientists explore a curious planet, Solaris, whose ocean appears to be an intelligent life-form. Scientists are sent to live on the planet
for purposes of establishing contact.
Contact is elusive however. What is to be the medium of communication? Even without the tool of verbal language,
humans can empathize and communicate to some extent with other mammals. We know that they share common instincts and emotions with us, such as fear, sex drive, hunger, etc. But what about something so "other" as this solarian ocean?
Finally indisputable evidence of contact arrives. Solaris is able to tap into the scientists brains and create exact replicas of significant persons from their past. These replicas look and act in the same way as the people they simulate. The main character Kelvin has before him Rheya, an ex-lover who had committed a suicide which he could have prevented.
This leads to another problem of communication: how to understand the intentions of this action? Has Solaris created the simulacra as a cruel joke, Or did Solaris do this to please the visitor? Is Solaris just doing it as a kind of experiment?
The scientists are tempted to judge the planet according to human behavior, but realize that would be folly.
Humans view others, not just Solaris, but any other species, or even any other human being through the prism of their subjectivity. To reach the other requires an incredible effort of will...it may be impossible. Kelvin is at once in love with the succubus and tormented that "she" is not really Rheya, in spite of the resemblance. The succubus is evertyhing that Rheya was to Kelvin because she is nothing but a collection of his memories. Fine, but who was the real Rheya?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, insightful, suspenseful
A terrific book - very different from the movie. Wonderfully written and suspenseful. It raises the basic question: if we came into contact with aliens, would we be able to... Read more
Published 10 days ago by Skywater
4.0 out of 5 stars I love that it did not dot every "i" and cross ...
Classic science fiction of ideas. Lots of pseudo-academic exposition but also a story about human interaction and wonder. Read more
Published 14 days ago by M. Writtle
5.0 out of 5 stars a very early criticism on techno optimism
It's astounding that someone wrote this in 1963, when there was still a lot of optimism about how science and technology would lead to a better world. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Clo Willaerts
4.0 out of 5 stars decent read.
decent read.
Published 19 days ago by J. Fife
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Imaginative and brief, with some big ideas.
Published 19 days ago by Robert Lindquist
1.0 out of 5 stars Underwhelmed and unimpressed
Perhaps I just didn't understand it. But I don't think so. It is an unfinished piece of work. No direction for conclusion at end of book. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Shannon Cariaso
3.0 out of 5 stars Ending held promise but didn't deliver
Long & tedious read only to be disappointed in the incomplete ending. It was recommended by a writer - now I wonder why.
Published 1 month ago by Lois
5.0 out of 5 stars You've dropped into a space station orbiting the greatest unsolved...
You've dropped into a space station orbiting the greatest unsolved anomaly and everything is going to crazy land. It's Lem, so it's a classic.
Published 1 month ago by Peter
5.0 out of 5 stars A great science fiction novel!
A mind-blowing story merged with excellent characterizations, fascinating philosophy, and genuine emotion, Solaris should not be missed by any science fiction aficionado. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Robert Ciccotosto
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book! Much different than both the original Russian ...
Great book! Much different than both the original Russian movies (1968 and 1972), and than the recent American movie (2002). Read more
Published 1 month ago by Bill Smart
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More About the Author

Stanislaw Lem is the most widely translated and best known science fiction author writing outside of the English language. Winner of the Kafka Prize, he is a contributor to many magazines, including the New Yorker, and he is the author of numerous works, including Solaris.

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