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Solaris by Stanisław Lem
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Solaris (1961)

by Stanisław Lem

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,624991,498 (3.89)1 / 224
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English (79)  Spanish (4)  Italian (4)  Dutch (3)  French (2)  German (2)  Portuguese (1)  Russian (1)  Slovak (1)  Catalan (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (99)
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
Solaris, the living ocean, tests the boundaries of human understanding, science and philosophy. A love story, a mystery, a treatise on the philosophy of science, its similarity to theology, and the limits of knowledge, love and God. A unique novel that stands the test of time, from one of the most imaginative sci-fi writers of all time. ( )
  Gezemice | Oct 29, 2018 |
Kris Kelvin arrives at a station hovering above the planet Solaris, which has been studied and debated for centuries. Its life form, essentially the planet’s vast ocean, is very different from anything else encountered or conceived. It seems intelligent, but its actions and the swirling, fantastic structures it can create, are hard to decipher. There are new developments following some rogue experiments on the part of some scientists stationed there, which have resulted in “visitors” to the station. The visitors are highly personalized to Kelvin and the two men still stationed there, but I won’t say more about who/what they are, partly because Lem (wisely) has a degree of ambiguity in the story, and partly to avoid spoiling it.

The book is top-notch science-fiction, and it’s easy to see why directors Andrei Tarkovsky and later Steven Soderbergh were drawn to it. It’s creative in concept, and probes the nature of sentience, God, and the limits of mankind, so perfectly captured in the Latin phrase expression “ignoramus et ignorabimus” (we do not know, and will not know). Our inherent anthropomorphizing of all we see is an aspect of this, as is the limit of our understanding of our own selves. The book also delves into loss, and what it means to be happy, even if happiness is artificially created. It’s taut and clean, though it has perhaps one too many sections devoted to the various debates from different camps of scientists known as Solaricists. More interesting for me would have been to get more visibility into some of the other visitors, but perhaps Lem does this to heighten the introspection and inwardness of the novel.

Quotes:
On god:
“…do you happen to know if there was ever a belief in an … imperfect god?”
“What do you mean by imperfect?” Snow frowned. “In a way all the gods of the old religions were imperfect, considering that their attributes were amplified human ones. The God of the Old Testament, for instance, required humble submission and sacrifices, and was jealous of other gods. The Greek gods had fits of sulks and family quarrels, and they were just as imperfect as mortals…”
“No,” I interrupted. “I’m not thinking of a god whose imperfection arises out of the candor of his human creators, but one whose imperfections represents his essential characteristic: a god limited in his omniscience and power, fallible, incapable of foreseeing the consequences of his acts, and creating things that will lead to horror. He is a … sick god, whose ambitions exceed his powers and who does not realize it at first.”

On intelligence:
“For some time, there was a widely held notion (zealously fostered by the daily press) to the effect that the ‘thinking ocean’ of Solaris was a gigantic brain, prodigiously well-developed and several million years in advance of our own civilization, a sort of ‘cosmic yogi,’ a sage, a symbol of omniscience, which had long ago understood the vanity of all action and for this reason had retreated into an unbreakable silence. The notion was incorrect, for the living ocean was active. Not, it is true, according to human ideas – it did not build cities or bridges, nor did it manufacture flying machines. It did not try to reduce distances, nor was it concerned with the conquest of Space (the ultimate criterion, some people thought, of man’s superiority). But it was engaged in a never-ending process of transformation, an ‘ontological metamorphosis.’” ( )
1 vote gbill | Aug 11, 2018 |
Creepy, but with too many library-based info-dumps. Looks like I read the original 1966 French translation. I didn't take issue with the translation but the dialogue format was a bit weird. ( )
  natcontrary | May 21, 2018 |
Bellissimo.... stupefacente...

Questa è la prima recensione work-in-progress che scrivo. Non ho saputo resistere. Per molti mesi questo libro ha atteso sul ripiano dei "nuovi acquisti" in attesa del suo momento. E' giunto. Sono al 3° capitolo e già sono nel suo mondo. Vediamo dove mi conduce... Bellissimo! Da leggere assolutamente. Qualcuno potrebbe pensare ad una lettura spigolosa, chiusa ed opprimente come l'occidente percepisce il regime totalitario sovietico. Niente di tutto ciò. Va al cuore di ogni essere umano, con le sue paure, i suoi dubbi, le sue domande, la filosofia, la religione, la scienza, l'etica e la morale; quesiti filosofici e non che accompagnano l'uomo dalla sua nascita e nella sua evoluzione. Temi che riguardano tutti, al di là dell'ambientazione spaziale, l'amore, la morte, la coscienza, la scienza. Un libro senza tempo. Un colpo di fulmine.
  Magrathea | Dec 30, 2017 |
A brilliant metaphor of the subconscious mind. ( )
  jasoncomely | Dec 28, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 79 (next | show all)
Hoewel "Solaris" schitterend is verfilmd, is het boek zelf niet overdreven goed. De hoofdpersoon is een psycholoog met weinig verstand van psychologie, die probeert fysische problemen op te lossen, waar hij - en met hem de schrijver - nog minder verstand van heeft. Het gegeven is veelbelovend. De planeet is bedekt met een oceaan die leeft en zichzelf en zijn zonnestelsel kan manipuleren. De onderzoekers en de oceaan proberen met elkaar in kontakt te komen. De onhandige oceaan zaait daardoor dood en verderf. De mogelijkheden om de armoedige "science" te compenseren met spannende "fiction" worden om zeep geholpen door lange pseudo-wetenschappelijke verklaringen over de fysiologie van de planeet, wat de indruk wekt dat een kort verhaal is uitgerekt tot een boek.
added by karnoefel | editNBD / Biblion
 

» Add other authors (78 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Lem, StanisławAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Bolzoni, E.Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cox, SteveTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Johnston, BillTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Juliani, AlessandroNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kilmartin, JoannaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Malm, JohanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Olszewski, JanuszCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Suvin, DarkoAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Swahn, Sven ChristerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Zimmermann-Göllheim… IrmtraudTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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At 19.00 hours, ship's time, I made my way to the launching bay.  The men around the shaft stood aside to let me pass, and I climbed down into the capsule.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (3)

Book description
Telling of humanity's encounter with an alien intelligence on the planet Solaris, the 1961 novel is a cult classic, exploring the ultimate futility of attempting to communicate with extra-terrestrial life.

When Kris Kelvin arrives at the planet Solaris to study the ocean that covers its surface, he finds a painful, hitherto unconscious memory embodied in the living physical likeness of a long-dead lover. Others examining the planet, Kelvin learns, are plagued with their own repressed and newly corporeal memories. The Solaris ocean may be a massive brain that creates these incarnate memories, though its purpose in doing so is unknown, forcing the scientists to shift the focus of their quest and wonder if they can truly understand the universe without first understanding what lies within their hearts.

Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0156027607, Paperback)

A classic work of science fiction by renowned Polish novelist and satirist Stanislaw Lem

 

When Kris Kelvin arrives at the planet Solaris to study the ocean that covers its surface, he finds a painful, hitherto unconscious memory embodied in the living physical likeness of a long-dead lover. Others examining the planet, Kelvin learns, are plagued with their own repressed and newly corporeal memories. The Solaris ocean may be a massive brain that creates these incarnate memories, though its purpose in doing so is unknown, forcing the scientists to shift the focus of their quest and wonder if they can truly understand the universe without first understanding what lies within their hearts.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 17:59:34 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

"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 hs 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?" -- back cover.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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