This is a typical Lem 'space opera'. As in several of his books, Lem warns us about what technology without foresight can lead to. The book depicts an alien civilization which has fallen into the trap of its own cleverness: through a frenetic arms race, it has turned over control of its destiny to its military devices, and, locked in a deadly embrace, is unable and unwilling to open itself up to a 'first contact' mission of Earth... Unlike 'Solaris', where the 'alien' cannot be understood at all, here we are given definite hints at the motivations of the unseen 'others'... The guesses at the 'others' motivations are thus necessarily coloured with all the emotional baggage that the Astronauts brought with them. The result is the Fiasko. Incidentally, a story of quite similar atmosphere can be had from the other side of the Atlantic, and that's the 'Anvil of Stars' by Greg Bear. Now, comparing 'Fiasko' and 'Anvil' is like comparing '2001' and 'Star Wars', but if you like this book, you may like the other, too.