1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The human condition explained by an entirely un-human entity,
By A Customer
This review is from: Solaris (Paperback)
Where to begin. As the first book I've ever read by Stanislaw Lem, it took me a bit to get into his style. Once I did, I was captivated. I couldn't get enough. Solaris, in brief, is the story of an astronaut (Kris Kelvin) who arrives on a space station orbiting Solaris, a world orbiting a binary star which has been of much interest to the scientific community over the last hundred years. Immediately upon landing, he discovers a friend (Gibarian) who had been the commander of the expedition, has died under mysterious circumstances. The man to deliver this information is the shady Dr. Snow, who babbles incoherently about "visions" before calming down and speaking lucidly. It's not too long before Kris finds himself seeing "visions," and to tell you anything else would be to spoil the story. Aside from a rip-snorting plot, the laborious attention to detail only enhances the story. The words create a perfect picture in your mind, and every person I've talked to who's read this novel has had more or less the same impression of the station. It has a too-large quality, as if there ought to be more than simply three people on it. This only adds to the suspense. The explorations of the planet's surface itself are fascinating scientific descriptions of formations the ocean creates. The grand "floral calyx stage" is incomprehensible to the human mind, yet Lem can describe it in sparkling clarity. The story also contains much human emotion. Kris is dealing with the suicide of his wife, which he blames on himself. Snow is half mad with "visions," and Sartorius, a third scientist, has locked himself in his lab, with only the odd sound escaping. As Kris strives to understand this colossal mind orbiting beneath him on the planet, he is unconsciously attacking his own brain, racking it for clues as to what he is really feeling. Thought provoking and ultimately tragic, Solaris is a classic from beginning to end. The only problem is the double-translation (Polish-French-English) which is at times clunky. This, however, is a minor complaint against a grand piece of literature.