Customer Reviews for

Solaris

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Modified Pygmallion

In the original Pygmallion story, the king seeks to transform a statue of a beautiful girl into a human being. Lem went further: what would happen if the idealised/idolised woman from your past memories came to life? Does it really equal happiness? Unfortuna...
In the original Pygmallion story, the king seeks to transform a statue of a beautiful girl into a human being. Lem went further: what would happen if the idealised/idolised woman from your past memories came to life? Does it really equal happiness? Unfortunately, we do not know if King Pygmallion found his happiness in his stone-turned-to-sweetheart, but Lem seems to be pessimistic in this question: dreamers need dreaming and not dreams come true. Of course, the book deals with a lot of other interesting issues of the human soul. He knows that the unconscious is the sea and the conscious part is only a small boat travelling or tossing on its waves. The only minus is that the book was translated from French and not from the original Polish.

posted by Anonymous on September 21, 2003

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

Having seen the Hollywood film version of “Solaris,”

Having seen the Hollywood film version of “Solaris,” and a portion of the highly-revered Russian version, I was interested enough with the premise to grab the eBook version when I saw it advertised. How would this whole sentient-ocean idea play out in words...
Having seen the Hollywood film version of “Solaris,” and a portion of the highly-revered Russian version, I was interested enough with the premise to grab the eBook version when I saw it advertised. How would this whole sentient-ocean idea play out in words?

In general, I think it reads quite well. Neither of the movies were high-action, so I expected a slower pace from the book, and for the most part, I got that. It never felt dull to me, though. There was always enough new information or intrigue to keep me reading. The book is really a mystery, after all. What is the ocean of Solaris all about? And can we, as mere humans, communicate with it?

There are many portions of Solaris where the protagonist, Kelvin, spends time reading books about the planet. Typically, this is not a good move for a novel—it grinds the action to a halt, and gives the story the feel of reading an encyclopedia. Whether this works or not depends solely on how much the reader cares about the subject matter. Personally, I enjoyed these portions. As a writer I was fascinated by how intricately Mr. Lem had constructed the world of his living ocean, and the descriptions were nearly poetic at times. Other readers might find those sections a bore, however.

Solaris also raises a lot of questions about identity and the nature of man. Our thirst for discovery of things beyond ourselves, when we hardly know what we ourselves are. Our inclination to control and classify, when we can’t control ourselves. These are good questions to ask.

The book has few answers, though. Even the ending seems to lack any real resolution.

Where the book most lost me, though, was when it attempted to get theological. The notion of us “creating God in our own image” was put forth. That notion is used often in science fiction. Repetition doesn’t make it true, though. It is a trite statement—one well beneath the level of the questions being asked.

Solaris is intriguing fiction. I recommend it. But don’t come looking here for answers.

posted by Kerry_Nietz on April 15, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 13, 2013

    Great

    The two "academic" chapters were annoying after a while, but the feeling and characters were great.

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  • Posted January 3, 2012

    Thought Provoking and Entertaining

    The moral questions raised by this story made it alone worth reading. It definitely makes the reader think about the exploratory and imperialistic goals of the human race while also touching psychological and emotional nerves that every individual can relate to. The scientific tone of the novel also speaks to its credibility in raising these questions. This is the first time I've read Lem's literature and it makes me want to consider further experiencing his work.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2000

    Deeply psychological SF masterpiece

    Much more involved and in depth than his short stories, Lem's Solaris has become one of SF's classics for good cause. The psychology is fascinating and the character interaction isn't ruined by insane sci-fi shenanigans often found in American science fiction. The only problem I saw was that Lem would go off on rather dull descriptions of the planet's surface reactions and the history of its exploration. While that's sometimes necessary for the meaning, it gets a bit much at times. But you'll finish this book looking at consciousness a little differently.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2009

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    Posted June 1, 2014

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    Posted October 1, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 3, 2012

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