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Solaris (1961)

by Stanisław Lem

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,1621151,477 (3.88)1 / 246
When Kris Kelvin arrives at the planet Solaris to study the ocean that covers its surface he is forced to confront a painful, hitherto unconscious memory embodied in the physical likeness of a long-dead lover. Others suffer from the same affliction and speculation rises among scientists that the Solaris ocean may be a massive brain that creates incarnate memories, but its purpose in doing so remains a mystery . . . Solaris raises a question that has been at the heart of human experience and literature for centuries: can we truly understand the universe around us without first understanding what lies within?… (more)
  1. 80
    Roadside Picnic by Arkady Strugatsky (S_Meyerson)
  2. 30
    Ubik by Philip K. Dick (seojen)
  3. 30
    His Master's Voice by Stanisław Lem (TMrozewski)
    TMrozewski: Both deal with the Otherness of extraterrestrial life.
  4. 10
    Blindsight by Peter Watts (deTerrence)
  5. 10
    Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer (ShelfMonkey)
  6. 10
    Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock (bertilak)
    bertilak: Monsters from the id! (Just like in Forbidden Planet, kids).
  7. 10
    Sunshine: A Screenplay by Alex Garland (dtw42)
    dtw42: Another exploration of the theme of weird things in space causing psychological damage to isolated travellers.
  8. 00
    The Explorer by James Smythe (jonathankws)
  9. 00
    The Disestablishment of Paradise by Phillip Mann (AlanPoulter)
    AlanPoulter: Both novels portray alien contact as truly strange and unknowable
  10. 00
    Last Days of an Immortal by Fabien Vehlmann (kinsey_m)
    kinsey_m: communication problems with alien intelligent beings
  11. 00
    Lupus by Frederik Peeters (kinsey_m)
  12. 02
    Sphere by Michael Crichton (labrick)
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» See also 246 mentions

English (93)  Spanish (5)  Italian (4)  German (3)  Dutch (2)  French (2)  Russian (1)  Portuguese (1)  Slovak (1)  Catalan (1)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (114)
Showing 1-5 of 93 (next | show all)
This was my first time reading anything by Stanislaw Lem. Overall I liked the writing style of the author and the main character definitely came across believable and relatable in the story. I find much of the story was simply wrapping around a larger theme of the author trying to give the message of how hard it could potentially be to interact and understand another life-form should we ever encounter one. Also, the author's forays into abstract planetary phenomena was a bit strange at the mid-point in the book. Overall I still enjoyed it and would be interested to read another of his novels. ( )
  briandarvell | Aug 7, 2020 |
(...)

It’s curious that our relation to alien intelligence isn’t upfront in the movies, but then again, maybe it is not. I thought the strongest suit of Solaris was the character of Harey – or ‘Rheya’ in the translation I read. She is quite an invention, and her nature has spawned essays like this – full of spoilers, beware. How would you define the personhood of something that springs out of existence from an alien entity’s registration of another person’s memories – a body without memories of her own life except through the eyes of that other? Her trajectory and growing self-awareness is painted only sketchily, but it is a very powerful portrait nonetheless.

As such, Solaris – to me – was not about mental problems or the lonely hell of a space station with a spooked skeleton crew. It is a story about lost love. Kris Kelvin’s relation to Harey is the major emotional draw of the book, and it is understandable that directors chose that focus over philosophy. At the same time, Lem implicitly asks a very hard question: what do we love? A person? Or a body? Maybe such dichotomies are false. Or maybe that question is the same question Snaut (‘Snow’) asks about halfway the book: “What is a normal man?”

(...)

Full review on Weighing A Pig ( )
  bormgans | Jul 8, 2020 |
What a lovely blob
it can't understand a word
still gives you presents. ( )
  Eggpants | Jun 25, 2020 |
Terrifying. ( )
  sarcher | May 31, 2020 |
Like hardly any redeeming qualities in this book? Love no answers and long tangents seemingly unrelated to the book? Then you'd love book. Me...not so much. ( )
  cgfaulknerog | May 28, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 93 (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 (77 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
Kannosto, MattiTranslatorsecondary 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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When Kris Kelvin arrives at the planet Solaris to study the ocean that covers its surface he is forced to confront a painful, hitherto unconscious memory embodied in the physical likeness of a long-dead lover. Others suffer from the same affliction and speculation rises among scientists that the Solaris ocean may be a massive brain that creates incarnate memories, but its purpose in doing so remains a mystery . . . Solaris raises a question that has been at the heart of human experience and literature for centuries: can we truly understand the universe around us without first understanding what lies within?

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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.

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