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Solaris [Paperback]

Stanislaw Lem
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 1987
Scientists arrive on the planet Solaris to study an ocean, but begin to suspect they may instead be the subjects of a vast experiment.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Harcourt Publishers Ltd; 1st Harvest/HBJ Ed edition (May 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0156027607
  • ISBN-13: 978-0156837507
  • ASIN: 0156837501
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 13.5 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,063,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

From the Back Cover

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?
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Born in 1921 in Lvov, Poland, Stanislaw Lem is the prolific and versatile author of novels, short stories, literary criticism, philosophy, parodies and screenplays. Lem is the recipient of many literary awards, most notably the State Prize for Literature in Poland (1976) and the Austrian State Award for European Literature (1985). --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Science Fiction of Inner Space 12 July 2003
Stanislaw Lem's SF classic Solaris is, like so much of 20th century European literature, a meditation on the mystery of the human condition. Using the central metaphor of a giant planet that appears to possess the characteristics of sentience, but whose ultimate nature has remained mysterious despite generations of scientific research and attempts at communication,
the story tells of the desperate unknowability of humans to each other. The tragedy of the relationship between Kris Kelvin and Rheya, his re-animated lover, is that of all humanity: we cannot penetrate to the essence of those we love, for they are finally as incomprehensible to themselves as we are to ourselves. The rebirth of Rheya mirrors our own entry into the world and our struggle to become authentic to ourselves, to know what we are and why, if there is a reason, we are.
I hope this doesn't make it seem that Solaris is some terribly gloomy, ponderous philosophical discourse. On the contrary, it is a tale with many beauties: the evocative descriptions of the effects of the blue and red light from Solaris's twin suns; the ballet of generation and decay and regeneration enacted by the amazing mimoids, symmetriads and asymmetriads; and the development of the strange love between Kelvin and Rheya. And there is the wry humour of the history of Solarist research and theory, a compendium of creativity, crankiness and curiosity that mirrors on the cultural level the problem of our individual need to feel a real communication with others and how we project ourselves, our images and desires and obsessions, onto the world.
There is a well managed air of suspense and threat too. Lem has not forgotten the necessity of making the reader want to know what happens next.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic SF-novel from 1961. 22 Feb 2003
By Jason Parkes #1 HALL OF FAME
Stanislaw Lem's 1961 novel gets another reissue, this edition to tie in with the Steven Soderbergh adaptation starring George Clooney.
Lem's book is everything good science fiction is, 14 chapters succinctly written that explore notions of memory & science; this is one instance of space fiction (not my fave area in SF) that comes across brilliantly. It is hard to go into the book without giving too much away, Solaris functioning like the best works of science fiction- using the genre to look at our place in the universe. The book having a timeless quality to it- as Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles (I know that uses dates from the beginning of the 21st century, but conqeuring Mars has not yet been done) or Arthur C. Clarke's short story, The Sentinel- which became 2001: A Space Odyssey (to which this book can be related- though it was before Kubrick's 1968 film).
From what I've seen & heard about Soderbergh's Solaris (2002), it was met with indifference by the US public after poor marketing (another example of this is evident when looking at the cover of this reissue, I'd plump for the 2001 Faber issue, which is a few quid cheaper & has a wonderful blue/stars cover); the film was remodelled around test audiences (whose opinion lead to the ellipsis of some sex scenes, which is a depressing thought when the film stars one of the most beautiful women in the world, Natasha McElhone!). Clooney appears to be miscast as Kris Kelvin, psychiatry at odds with his handsome features- & I'm not sure how much sense the US version will make, stuck somewhere between Hollywood & the influence of Andrei Tarkovsky's 1972 adaptation (reissued on DVD last year, brilliant- though rather long & a bit pointless in parts, like 2001...).
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First English unabridged edition 29 Dec 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
After 50 years, an unabridged English edition of Solaris has been long overdue. The inferior version otherwise available, an abridged Polish to French to English edition can finally be put aside.

While neither Amazon nor Premier Digital Publishing have publicised the fact, this is the new full direct translation by Bill Johnston, previously only available as an audiobook. I just downloaded a sample chapter to confirm that this indeed that version.

I'm still looking forward to putting a paper version on my shelf next to the remainder of my Lem editions, and await others of his works that have not made it to English.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The main brain 28 Oct 2009
This book has been on my list for awhile. Solaris is about the alienness of aliens, and how ultimately two such diverse species are incapable of fully understanding each other. Humans, in their common hubris, discover a planet that is essentially a giant ocean of a brain and go to study it. Needless to say, the species with the larger brain ends up studying them. This brain can manipulate the humans and cause them to see what they feel the most guilty about, driving most of the visiting astronauts insane. Kris Kelvin visits Solaris and is in turn visited by his dead wife, Rheya, who died not long after they married. At first she behaves just like the deceased wife, but she gradually changes.

At times the translation from the Polish was a bit clunky (loads of filters and some awkward phrasing) and at times the book divulged into long ruminations of the astrophysics behind the alien, which I found rather dull. Aside from that, it was an engaging read that raised interesting philosophical points about human nature and the effect the brain can have on the body.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
What a great story. Visionary,scary and disturbing. A masterpiece of modern sci-fi !
Published 28 days ago by fatmanbat46
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking
Very enjoyable and thought-provoking book. Probably for Sci-fi fans mainly. I read it after watching both films, and found the the extra depth and discussion about the attempts... Read more
Published 1 month ago by amazon_buyer
3.0 out of 5 stars Great start, weak end
It's viewed as a classic and though it had a great start, I felt some of the descriptive parts disrupted the flow of the plot and detracted from the tension and intrigue around the... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Alex
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Bought the book after seeing the most recent film remake of this book. Great storyline. Cleverly thought provoking about some of the assumptions we make about the life forms we... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Trevor Farmer
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but a bit disappointing
Early in this book the pace and suspense is very high and it is gripping. Unfortunately it becomes a bit bogged down with descriptions that don't help the story and the book dips. Read more
Published 3 months ago by guy b myles
5.0 out of 5 stars still as powerful as ever
Forget the movies, Solaris is all about communication and experience, and the reality that we find it hard enough to convey our thoughts and feelings to another human being- let... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Matthew Howard
5.0 out of 5 stars Solaris
I really enjoyed this book. One of the best science fiction novels I have ever read. A classic in every sense of the word.
Published 9 months ago by K_reader
3.0 out of 5 stars Solaris by Stanislav Lem
A puzzling book, allegedly now a cult book. One man's vision, did he manage to put it into words others could understand and feel similarly, in translation? Read more
Published 9 months ago by A. W. Thom
4.0 out of 5 stars Creepily stunning
This is a must for sci-fi fans. The idea that Lem has come up with is original and surprising in its simplicity. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Lewis
4.0 out of 5 stars Almost a classic
Almost a classic, but not quite, I think this intense and very clever work benefits from being both old (pulbished over 50 years ago) and 'foreign' in that it comes out of the... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Andrew J Chamberlain
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