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Customer Review

27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic SF-novel from 1961., 22 Feb. 2003
This review is from: Solaris (Paperback)
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...).
The films exist, but I'd go back to the source novel to bask in the glory of Lem's vision: this book reminding me of those lucid dreams you have & the feeling deep down that you know it's just a dream (but you never want to leave). An excellent science fiction novel, one that easily ranks up there with such great works of the genre as We, The Drowned World, Cities in Flight, The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, The Sirens of Titan & The Man Who Fell to Earth...
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Initial post: 5 May 2012 13:53:31 BDT
I wouldn't take the Faber edition as they're probably the main reason that a proper English translation hasn't existed for 50 years. The new audiobook/ebook edition is the first in English that's not abridged or translated via an intermediary language.
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