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Solaris Paperback – May 15, 1987
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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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Enticing classic, well worth a read if you are into a science-fiction. While the book is older than me, the story and the philosophical topics the author raises are still relevant... Read morePublished 4 days ago by Michael Karlsson
Very good book, it will take you to the planet Solaris into deep space far away from home where humans are confronted with their own creations and with experiments to contact alien... Read morePublished 14 days ago by 108
I wanted to like this book. I kept waiting for it to go somewhere and it never did. Lem takes several page long digressions about Solaris study history that you think are going... Read morePublished 21 days ago by Matthew Stolz
This book proved to be pretty disappointing. I didn't go in expecting a whole lot but the characters and world weren't fleshed out at all. The plot was pretty typical and dull.Published 1 month ago by Lauren Sharp
the book cover doesn't match the product photo. The one I received had George Clooney's portraitPublished 1 month ago by SHURIK
Excellent, complex psycho-philosophical science fiction story. One particular chapter describing the bio-architecture of the planet Solaris is among the strangest things I've ever... Read morePublished 2 months ago by David C. holcomb
Great book, although it raises far more questions than it answers. Fans of reality questioning sci-fi will enjoy. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Scott Dennis
This is a somewhat difficult read, and it follows a strange narrative structure. But it is truly beautiful and thought-provoking. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Maria