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Solaris Paperback – May 15, 1987
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Text: English, French, Polish (translation)
From the Back Cover
A fantastic book. Steven Soderbergh
When psychologist Kris Kelvin arrives at the planet Solaris to study the ocean that covers its surface, he finds himself confronting a painful memory embodied in the physical likeness of a past lover. Kelvin learns that he is not alone in this and that other crews examining the planet are plagued with their own repressed and newly real memories. Could it be, as Solaris scientists speculate, that the ocean may be a massive neural center creating these memories, for a reason no one can identify?
Long considered a classic, Solaris asks the question: Can we understand the universe around us without first understanding what lies within?
A novel that makes you reevaluate the nature of intelligence itself. Anne McCaffrey
Stanislaw Lem (1921 2006) is the author of many works bearing the broad label of science fiction and others ranging in genre and style from satire to philosophy. Lem s books have been translated into forty-one languages and have sold over forty-five million copies.
Top customer reviews
This is well worth a read. For me, the plot dragged a little compared to the more philosophical bits. He manages to blow the scope of this short novel up to really impressive proportions with a detailed telling of the history and context of the planet. It's a great device that I loved. The philosophical takeaways probably won't be life-changing for most readers, but were meaningfully nuanced and well integrated into the novel. Definitely recommended.
The plot is best kept to a bare minimum. There's a space station floating over a planet covered by an ocean. In ways no one can understand--no concept of biology or psychology--the ocean is alive, and sentient, and very very strange. We've failed to communicate with it for seventy years. Three scientists isolated on the station are confronted with strange and horrible Guests, creations of the ocean and their own minds. Is this a test? Is it a joke? A nightmare? A misguided gift?
Strong, uncomfortable and strange. Film versions of the novel tend to focus on the psychological (and romantic) questions, using the confined space of the station as a way to explore the strangeness of the human mind. That's there in Lem's Solaris, but it's only half the story. The other half is about what the human mind fails to reckon with, with an Other too huge and unknown for us to even begin to probe. I've never read a scifi story of 'contact' like it. But I'll especially recommend for fans of Philip K Dick (even if he personally had a thing against Lem), and of "Roadside Picnic."
As a reader picking this up for the first time in 2013, it was neat seeing how someone decades ago believed the future would look like (telegrams and paper books included). That was a thought that ran through my head as I read the ebook version on the kindle and ipad.
This is a translation so the language comes off as a little stilted and unapproachable at times, but never felt like I was confused as a result. Only someone that read the original and compared it to the English in this work can truly pass judgment in that regard, but I figure I can at least say the translation seemed pretty good and didn't stop me from enjoying it.
Would pick this up. Short and thought provoking as it is, few would come away feeling regret for picking this up.