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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780156027601
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 11/20/2002
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 50,979
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.66(d)

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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Solaris 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 42 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The universe, as we know it, is far more complex, beautiful and horrific than we can ever imagine. Makes you want to reach out and touch a star and find out.
Shrike58 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Having finally gotten around to reading this ostensible classic, I have to agree that this examination of what happens when the limits of human consciousness and comprehension run into the weirdness of the universe is classic. That said this novel does feel like a period piece, seeing as even the most challenging themes of the story have long since been absorbed into the wider field. What particularly sticks with me is the dead-pan satire that Lem uses to jab at the rituals and beliefs of the scientific community, closely followed by the upending that Lem gives to exploration as a triumph of the human spirit. Kevin Kelvin's arrival on a research station gone to hell in a hand basket still has some shock effect, even if the behavior of the characters doesn't always seem quite plausible. I'd also like to see an analysis of this book as a product of post-Stalinist Communist culture, with the contrast between the radiant tomorrow and the shabby present on one hand, and the tragedies that cannot be spoken of on the other.
bragan on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This classic science fiction novel from 1961 features a mysterious planet-spanning ocean that's probably alive and very possibly sentient, where a small team of scientists have unexplained encounters with the dead (and perhaps other things as well). It's a strange, ambiguous, intellectual novel that seems to be about humanity's poor and faltering attempts to understand the truly alien while distracted by the projections of our own minds. It's not really my favorite of Lem's works -- I'm a big fan of The Cyberiad -- but it's a mildly fascinating one.I haven't seen either of the two movie adaptations of this. I'm thinking now that maybe I should, as I'm curious as to how one could possibly go about adapting something like this for film.
mthelibrarian on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This book has been on my TBR list for years as "required reading" from a Polish friend. The original English version was translated from Polish to French to English, so when I saw a sale on Audible with a translation directly from Polish to English, I jumped on it. I plan to get the paperback off its shelf and compare a few parts. It's remarkable that the book was published in 1961 and seems very modern. Since sci-fi is not my typical genre, the audiobook was a good way to go. Next up: the 1970s and 2001(?) movies, if they turn out to be available.
CBJames on LibraryThing 5 months ago
In the 1960's science fiction was about ideas. It was also about rocket ships and invading space aliens, but there was still plenty of room for books about ideas. Even ideas based in actual science. This is still true, but you'd never know judging from what's playing at the local theatre and on cable television. Not much in the way of ideas there. Once in a while, yes, but not like in the 1960's. Solaris is about a thinking planet that knows us better than we know ourselves. It's not really the planet that thinks but the ocean sized life form that appears to make up the planet, but that's besides the point. The planet can read the minds of the men in the space station orbiting it. More than that, it can read their subconscious minds. It knows things about them that even they do not know: their secrets, their sins, their desires, the things they try to deny about themselves.For reasons the men never understand, Solaris begins sending people to them, people from their past. In the narrator's case a girlfriend who died years before. The two have unfinished business, we suspect the narrator is somehow the cause of the girlfriend's death. Because Solaris knows her only from the narrator's memories, she is imperfect. She's just like he remembers her, but she is not quite like herself. She's the girl he remembers falling in love with, not the actual girl he loved.The temptation lies in whether or not the narrator should accept her, allow her to live or run from her. Is she a trap sent by the planet to destroy their mission or is she a gesture of peace, and attempt to establish friendship? The narrator only knows that he is falling in love with the girl before him.Imagine you could have an old love back again. Imagine that old love to be the person you wanted, the person you enjoy remembering, not the actual person, but the one you thought was the true one before everything went wrong. Is giving you that person an gesture of peace or an act of aggression? You won't find anything like that on the Sci Fi channel.
Gwendydd on LibraryThing 5 months ago
This starts out as a fascinating and creepy story: the narrator travels to a space station above the planet of Solaris. Most of the planet's surface is covered with a mysterious ocean, which appears to be one giant organism. He finds the space station in a strange state of chaos: one man has committed suicide, and the other two men on the station are in a very strange mental state. Soon he realizes that there are visitors on the space station. In fact, he soon has his own "guest" - an ex-girlfriend who committed suicide when he broke up with her years ago. For the rest of the book, the narrator tries to figure out what this strange person really is, what her relationship to the ocean is, and ultimately, what the ocean is.The beginning of the book is very interesting, but it peters out about halfway through... The book spends a lot of time describing the history of the study of Solaris' ocean. Although I admire the creativity and detail Lem puts into this, it unfortunately bogged down the story, and nothing really happened in the second half of the book. I found the end to be very unsatisfying.I listened to the audiobook, and the narrator was fantastic: however, because the book is so full of scientific theories, it was a little difficult to process as an audiobook - I probably would have enjoyed it more if I had read it on paper.
PeanutLibrary on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I highly recommend first watching the Tarkovsky version of the film, reading the book next and watching the Tarkovsky film again. To me it seemed as though the same story became three different stories when watched and read in that succession. I was blown away each time as my interpretations of what was going on shifted. Watching Tarkovsky's version first did not take away from the book at all in my opinion.
angry-muppet on LibraryThing 5 months ago
I should start by saying that I haven't seen the film version of this book, but after reading it I am quite keen to see the film.This was a very interesting and intriguing science fiction novel. It kept me thinking throughout and it certainly wasn't predictable. The isolation of the characters was well portrayed which led me to be very sympathetic to the lead character.
mckenz18 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Kris Kelvin arrives at station Solaris, a planet inhabited by a single organism, a monstrous sentient ocean evolved millions of years beyond human beings, only to find himself face to face with something just as dark, mysterious, and perhaps sinister as the surrounding environment: himself. Intensely psychological, creepy, and unnerving, this novel brings into question what exactly it is we are looking for when we plunge into the darkness of the unexplored universe, how the methodology of science is historical and can philosophically shape the search for understanding, and whether or not modern man is looking in the right direction at all--perhaps his scrutiny should be directed inward (and perhaps in a misguided way, without even realizing it, this is exactly what he is doing when he takes to space).
br77rino on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Solaris is a planet far away from us, and the first one that mankind has visited that exhibits signs of life, though they are mysterious and hard to comprehend despite decades of research. Those who go to study it ... (no spoilers here!). Definitely a good read, and different from the movies, which I enjoyed as well (both versions: the 1972 Russian one, and the 2002 English one with G Clooney). Interestingly, the book, the first movie, and the second movie, all have significantly different ways of telling the story. So if you like any of them, you should seek out the other 2.
mrtall on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Well-imagined and creepy, this exploration of a 'first contact' with something truly alien works on several levels. Highly recommended.
soylentgreen23 on LibraryThing 8 months ago
If we were, somehow, to make contact with an alien intelligence, would we know how to do it? Would we be even able to tell if that contact had happened? In "Solaris," Lem looks at what it means to make that contact, and with an intelligence so alien that its form comes as a complete shock to those who encounter it.
KromesTomes on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Pretty interesting, but some definite translation issues ... this is the English translation of a French translation ... Lem is on record as being not to keen on this, but no sign of another translation coming.
Mockers on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Bits were good and bits were a bit pants. Enjoyed the story segment but the stuff about the history of the exploration of Solaris was a bit windy
GeraldLange on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Excellent! Lem's best book by a long shot; definitely in my top 10 SciFi. I know that this is not the favorite of many, and I agree that you'll be very disappointed if you start into it expecting to have your socks knocked off; but try it now from a different direction. Open it up, and pay attention to the it, and think about what is actually happening. The fact that the protagonist is a psychologist is not an accident, nor is psuedo-Gibarian babbling when he states, "There are no answers. There are only choices."I can only accurately describe this story by saying that it has nothing to do with itself; which, given its point, proves its own success. I loved it, and I do not give five stars lightly.
clong on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Solaris was the first Stanislaw Lem book to be widely distributed in America and is recognized as a sci-fi classic. It is a quick read, without much action, but much rumination on science and scientists. The planet Solaris takes snippets from the minds of the scientists who are supposed to be studying it, and uses what it learns from these snippets to experiment on the scientists. At a fundamental level Solaris is about how scientists' past/memories/beliefs impact their work. In a way it is asking "how can we (as individuals and as a race) expect to understand the universe around us if we don't understand ourselves?" I have a hard time seeing this working well as a movie, but from the cover of the edition I bought, it looks like they turned this into a "love story in space" movie starring George Clooney. I can only hope that I manage to avoid ever seeing it!
bcquinnsmom on LibraryThing 8 months ago
Dr. Kris Kelvin arrives at space station Solaris as part of a team which is supposed to be examining the planet's ocean, which makes up most of the planet except for land masses which altogether are smaller than Europe. Instead, he finds his mentor has committed suicide and strange happenings are occurring with the other two remaining scientists. He himself falls victim to the ocean's influence when upon waking after his first night there to find his dead wife alive and unable to leave his side. You get sucked in from the outset, even though a lot of things are never really explained. You can, however, have a field day guessing and deducing from the clues the author has given you.This is a great book and I highly recommend it. There are certain caveats with this recommendation. First, the book satirizes space theorists, by presenting fictional theoreticians and their contending views, so the book is filled with alternating theories about Solaris as conveyed in research materials Kelvin consults not only regarding the planet, but on the nature of contact with non-human "civilizations." This may seem tedious to some of you, but to me it was very interesting. Second, don't expect cut and dried answers. It is a book that will leave you trying to sort out what's really going on, but to me the open ended story was a great draw.Third, the book is really about what lies in man's conscious and unconscious, and begs the question: how can we possibly begin to understand the universe without understanding ourselves, individually and as a species, do not see the movie without first reading this book
OleDynamo on LibraryThing 8 months ago
The penultimate sf novel for tomorrow. Basically asks what it would be like to meet an alien with god like powers, how would you react.What is a person? What is the soul? You will be asking yourself after you read this. Don't see either of the movies, they are both seriously flawed and off the mark.
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The two "academic" chapters were annoying after a while, but the feeling and characters were great.
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