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Can we communicate with the truly alien; do we want to?,
This review is from: Solaris (Paperback)
Almost all of Lem's science fiction centers around one or two variations of one theme. The theme is "What is intelligence?" and the two variations are "What would robotic life be like?" and "What would a truly alien intelligence be like?" Solaris is in the second category. The basic plot is fundamentally comical: for a century, scientists have been trying to establish if the ocean on Solaris is intelligent and to communicate with it without success. Finally they succeed, but the response is so unexpected and bizarre that they try everything they can to cut off communication again.
I first read this book over 20 years ago and was merely puzzled by it. Re-reading it as an adult, I find it a stunning work.
All of the above you can gather from other reviews here. Let me add some recommendations. If you like Lem, the other author to read is Phillip K. Dick (the subject of a Lem essay called "Genius among the charlatans"). If you like Dick, read Lem.
If you like Solaris, other Lem books with the same theme are "Fiasco", "Eden" and "His Master's Voice". "Fiasco" is the most approachable of the four (including "Solaris") and in many ways the best. "His Master's Voice" is somewhat difficult, and of especial interest as the model for Sagan's "Contact" which is a "popularized" version.
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Initial post: Jul 31, 2012 6:53:24 PM PDT
Seriously, the only thing His Master's Voice and Contact have in common is the idea of "first contact." Other than that, zilch. Ugh, Sagan's worst mistake.
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