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Solaris

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  45,911 Ratings  ·  2,082 Reviews
Who is testing whom? 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 living physical likeness of a long-dead lover. Others examining the planet, Kelvin learns, are plagued by their own repressed and newly corporeal memories. Scientists speculate that t ...more
Paperback, 204 pages
Published 1991 by Faber and Faber (first published 1961)
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Robert I've just recently started reading Lem's books, only 3 so far (Memoirs Found in a Bathtub, The Invincible, and Solaris). Although I felt that Solaris…moreI've just recently started reading Lem's books, only 3 so far (Memoirs Found in a Bathtub, The Invincible, and Solaris). Although I felt that Solaris was the best of the three, The Invincible is maybe the best introduction to his work. It is the first one I read, and it left me wanting to check out more.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Nataliya
Many sci-fi authors think that they write about aliens. The truth is, they really don't. Instead, they essentially write about humans. Most sci-fi aliens are little more than an allegory for humanity, a mirror through which we can see ourselves - maybe slightly different-looking, with more (or fewer) appendages, different senses, funny names, different social structures - but still unmistakably human.

And so, when we think of aliens as shown in popular literature/ cinematography, 99% of us wi
...more
Kay
Sep 23, 2011 Kay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who want to read intelligent sci fi
Recommended to Kay by: the ocean made me do it
11/11/11 Update: Reflected on it a bit more, and bumped up the rating to 5 stars. Darn those coercive, psychic ocean mind waves!

**

Despite work, an appalling lack of sleep, work, life, work, copious amounts of laundry, work, and MORE WORK, I finally finished this little gem of a book. I am giving it four stars for now, but depending on how I feel after I absorb more of the book, I may bump up the rating.

Solaris is beautifully written, and the message behind the book is chilling if not eye-openin
...more
Manny
Dec 06, 2008 Manny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm afraid I'm a philistine. I liked the Soderberg remake of the movie most, then the book, and last the original Tarkovsky movie. If you're cultured and sophisticated, I think that you're supposed to have the exact opposite ordering. Oh well.

In my defense, I recall that, when I watched the Tarkovsky version, I looked around at one point and discovered that the people on both sides of me had fallen asleep. As far as I can remember, this is the only time I've ever see it happen.
William1
This is the classic gothic horror haunted house story revisited with an SF twist. It's a testament to the obtuseness of mankind, particularly unemotional, Cold-War era, scientific man. Three scientists on the remote planet Solaris seek contact with the lone enormous creature occupying it -- the ocean. All sorts of experiments are tried over a century or more, but the planet and the humans never achieve, at least to the humans' satisfaction, adequate evidence of a measurable intellectual exchange ...more
7jane
Sep 13, 2016 7jane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(I will review this properly after re-read, but I can say that this book was fantastic; I've seen the newer movie - which was good - and will watch the older at some point. Not action-packed, but more pondering kind of a book.)
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 15, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to K.D. by: 501 Must Read Books; 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: 501, sci-fi
Who could have thought? Who could have thought of a planet, almost covered by ocean and that the ocean is in reality an organism enveloping the planet? Where the waves are actually muscle contractions of that organism? And that organism can "communicate" to the mind of human beings and has the ability to probe and analyze people's mind and manipulate it innermost secrets (guilt included)? And this can lead human beings to lunacy and commit suicide?

I am already at the stage of my life when I alre
...more
[P]
Aug 26, 2015 [P] rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bitchin
When I was a kid my dad was obsessed with the idea of UFO’s and alien contact. He made me and my brother watch endless episodes of trashy American documentaries about sightings and abductions. In fact, I sat through so many of these that I started to have nightmares about bug-eyed extra terrestrial beings entering my room at night. I guess that for my dad – who did not have a partner, whose children were emotionally, if not physically, estranged from him, and whose job was not exactly stimulatin ...more
Darwin8u
Jun 04, 2012 Darwin8u rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
“Man has gone out to explore other worlds and other civilizations without having explored his own labyrinth of dark passages and secret chambers, and without finding what lies behind doorways that he himself has sealed.”

- Stanislaw Lem, Solaris

description

I'm kinda giddy about both starting and finishing this on June 5, 2012 (Transit of Venus). I figure if I can measure how long it takes me to read this novel in English and French and Polish, I might be able to figure out the exact distance from Solaris to
...more
John
Jul 13, 2007 John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is unfortunate that Lem is labeled as an author of "science fiction", but really only because of what the american traditions for that genre have imprinted on our culture. Solaris is a deeply philosophical look at the notion of "otherness", a meditation on the hard limits at the edges of human cognition, and science's inability to look outside of problems that science can describe.

Read this book instead of watching either of the films derived from it. Tarkovsky's Solaris is brilliant for it'
...more
Stjepan Cobets
Oct 17, 2016 Stjepan Cobets rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Although the book was written back in 1960, the last century, I must admit that I did not notice it at all. This book is a timeless masterpiece of science fiction. Everything we know about the universe in the book there is a review, not to speak of the human psyche that the writer brought to the last hidden parts of humanity. The book examines all. At the end of what we know about the universe, only tiny details and the man is not at all aware of what hidden in the vastness of the stars. The who ...more
Stuart
Solaris: Can we communicate with an alien sentient ocean?
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Solaris is an amazing little novel with a colorful history. First written in 1961 by Stanislaw Lem in Polish, it was then made into a two-part Russian TV series in 1968, before being made into a feature film by famous Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky in 1972. It only reached English publication in 1970 in a Polish-to-French-to-English translation. And just when you thought it had faded from attention
...more
Nickolas the Kid
Oct 16, 2014 Nickolas the Kid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, important
Τι εκπληκτικός συνδυασμός φιλοσοφίας και επιστημονικής φαντασίας!!!

Ο Σολάρις είναι ένας περίεργος πλανήτης.. Οι άνθρωποι τον φοβούνται, τον θαυμάζουν, τον λατρεύουν και εν τέλει θέλουν να τον καταστρέψουν. Όμως δεν είναι μόνο αυτό... Ο πλανήτης μοιάζει με έναν τεράστιο εγκέφαλο. Μπορεί ο άνθρωπος να εξερευνήσει κάθε γωνία του; Να δώσει εξηγήσεις για όλα όσα συμβαίνουν ή ακόμα ακόμα να τον χαρτογραφήσει;;

Φυσικά, ο Λεμ γράφει μια αλληγορία για το συνειδητό και το ασυνείδητο! Αλήθεια τι ακριβώς ε
...more
Hildur
Solaris wasn't very rememberable.
I'm not even completely sure what it was about because not a lot of things happened.

The book is short (just over 200 pages) but it doesn't feel that way.
I had to drag myself through the main character reading endless reports about the planet Solaris. I get it! The planet's weird. Can we move on now? No? FINE, have it you way, Mr. Lem, but you won't get many stars from me on goodreads!

It probably would have been better had it been a picture book. If you could ski
...more
Owlseyes
Nov 21, 2015 Owlseyes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi






In our days, it’s quite normal the “a-new-planet-found” story in the news. We almost have a classification system of the “planetary species” that populate the cosmos. They vary in size and composition, in age and orbits, and distance from here-earth …; we‘re familiar with the topic. Yet, by 1961 that was not the case.

The peculiarity of S. Lem resides in imagining an ocean-planet, a planet-type with intelligent capabilities,messing up …experimenting with humans, stationed there. Humans are vict
...more
Chris_P
After being the victim of constant mockery from friends for never having watched Tarkovsky over the years, I finally decided it was about time. Of course, there's no watching the film without having read the novel first, not in my books. First stop, Solaris.

Mixed feelings is what I have about this one, I must admit. At first, I was so hooked, I almost lost my sleep over it. I loved the atmosphere. During the first half, there's this constant, unnerving feeling of dread like the one you get when
...more
Mariel
Apr 04, 2013 Mariel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I can't stand my knees
Recommended to Mariel by: turning to snow
"Typical me, typical me
I gave my cargo to the sea
I gave the water what it always wanted to be."
- Destroyer's Rubies

Was the ocean a living creature? It could hardly be doubted any longer by any but lovers of paradox or obstinacy. It was no longer possible to deny the 'psychic' functions of the ocean, no matter how that term might be defined. Certainly it was only too obvious that the ocean had 'noticed' us. This fact alone invalidated that category of Solarist theories which claimed that the oc
...more
Oscar
Desde siempre había oído hablar de 'Solaris', según muchos, la mejor novela de ciencia ficción no anglosajona que se ha escrito, siendo para muchos otros un absoluto plomazo. Ni tanto ni tan poco, como suele decirse. Ciertamente, era remiso a un primer acercamiento por esta fama de lectura difícil y filosófica, pero el libro se lee bastante bien, aunque es verdad que hay que prestar atención a su lectura. Y es que no estamos ante una novela de aventuras espaciales, sino más bien todo lo contrari ...more
Miquel Codony
Jul 14, 2016 Miquel Codony rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(4,5/5)

Los diálogos se me han hecho muy raros y se lo atribuyo a la traducción, aunque lo cierto es que los pasajes descriptivos sonaban muy bien.

Fama merecida y precioso final, pero todavía tengo que procesarlo un poco.
Alex ☣ Deranged KittyCat ☣
description

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 wo
...more
Shovelmonkey1
Jun 21, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like George Clooney
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: sci fi geeks
This book has a picture of George Clooney on the front.
That's good.
It is the necessary dangling of a Clooney shaped carrot.
Because that is the sort of bribe you have to hand out in order to get me to read sci-fi.

Seriously, I know that sci-fi has a huge following and many of my favourite reviewers on this website are enthusiastic readers of sci-fi. I do get why it appeals but I've yet to find a cosy niche in the sci-fi genre which appeals to me. I've tried Scalzi, Banks, Silverburg et al. This h
...more
Cindy
Sep 08, 2009 Cindy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thanks to a smart GR friend, I recently found out that Solaris was made into a movie long before the 2002 George Clooney/Soderburgh release. And it was in 1972 in the Soviet Union! And it gets great reviews over at IMDB. (What ever did we do without IMDB?) And if World Cat isn't lying to me, it looks like the library one town south of me has a copy! Well, well, well, a project for 2011.

Anyone out there seen it?

(Update! March 7, 2011 - I saw the Tarkovskiy adaptation last night. Check out my mini
...more
Sinem
Aug 30, 2016 Sinem rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
ilk kez bu kadar önemli bir kitabı okumak için bu kadar beklediğime üzülmüyorum yoksa ıskalamak işten bile değildi
Randy
Oct 19, 2009 Randy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reason for inclusion on Reading List:

Turned up recurrently in researching themes of interest in my project and I thought it might be a good example of philosophical speculative fiction.

Brief synopsis of story:

A psychologist, Kris Kelvin, boards a space station orbiting an alien planet that consists solely of a strange ocean that exhibits signs that it is a massive, intelligent organism. It has a knack, it seems, for recreating things it witnesses or perceives and seems to spontaneously run ex
...more
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
Nov 29, 2016 Evelina | AvalinahsBooks rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: scifi fans, classics fans
Shelves: fiction, 1001, sci-fi
Been thinking for a while what I should put in this review. Clearly, everything has already been said about this book. It's like writing a review for Harry Potter or something.

But still, I guess my 2 cents might do some of my friends some good. So I'll try.

So, why should you read this? First of all, it's a classic. Second, it's a scifi classic, and dare I say, a psychological classic (is that a thing?) I have to admit though, this book was not easy to read. It deals with very painful topics (wha
...more
Apatt
Feb 17, 2013 Apatt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Always nice to take a break in the middle of a long book (Les Miz!) and read something nice and short. Solaris clocks in at only around 200 pages (I read the Kindle edition). It started off like a creepy haunted house story but quickly morphs into something very odd and mind blowing. Solaris is a planet with a single ginormous occupant, a living ocean of some weird alien liquid. When us puny humans set up a hovering station there and started messing about with the living ocean the latter does no ...more
Jim
Sep 18, 2016 Jim rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, 2fiction, 1audio
This is supposedly one of the classics of SF, but it was boring & pedantic. A shame because it has all the elements to make it great. The execution was lacking, although it was well narrated.

The idea of a planetary consciousness & our issues even understanding that it was conscious, much less communicating with it, & the history of the effort was excellent. It's a great setup for true alien contact, but the writing was boring. There were too many info dumps, such as the one on format
...more
Jim
Apr 20, 2009 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had read Stanislaw Lem's Solaris decades ago, and it made a strange impression on me. Then I saw Andrei Tarkovsky's film version and wanted to re-visit the novel. Before, I thought it was worth four stars; now I give it five. I put it in the category of those classics which are too painful to read. That pain is a measure of Lem's success.

Solaris is a distant planet that has been studied by earth scientists for generations. Circling it is a space station to which Kris kelvin goes to join the cr
...more
Becky
Oct 26, 2008 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Becky by: Science Fiction Films Group
Very, very interesting story. I didn't know what to think of this story at times, so I will describe, as well as I can, the different impressions I had at different times while reading. If this makes no sense, please accept my apologies. I'm gonna try to keep it clean, but be warned, there may be spoilers ahead. :)

Starting the book, it felt like your standard science fiction, pop into a space-suit and into your pod/shuttle/ship/whatever (please SF fans, no throwing stones!) and take off for part
...more
Ana  Vlădescu
There's SF that seems plausible but not possible, SF that seems possible but not probable, and then SF that seems impossible and you wish it to be possible with all your senses. "Solaris" is a planet on which resides an intelligent ocean - so intelligent that it has been granted the honor of being called "conscious", even if its description confines it to being mechanical in nature. This is not the first time I'm reading about an intelligent "object" in SF - matter of fact, the romanian translat ...more
aPriL does feral sometimes
I can develop a philosophical theory, a symbolic story, extrapolated from the science-fiction novel 'Solaris': of why a god of the universe disappears after our 'creation' (I am an atheist, just saying).

What I mean is, if a being, perhaps an ameba-like space monster, able to manipulate particles of matter as if it were playing with Legos, floating around aimlessly without purpose or thought, found objects, say for the sake of my symbolic story, certain molecules, like a child picking up kelp at
...more
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10991
Stanisław Lem (staˈɲiswaf lɛm) was a Polish science fiction, philosophical and satirical writer of Jewish descent. His books have been translated into 41 languages and have sold over 27 million copies. He is perhaps best known as the author of Solaris, which has twice been made into a feature film. In 1976, Theodore Sturgeon claimed that Lem was the most widely read science-fiction writer in the w ...more
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“On the surface, I was calm: in secret, without really admitting it, I was waiting for something. Her return? How could I have been waiting for that? We all know that we are material creatures, subject to the laws of physiology and physics, and not even the power of all our feelings combined can defeat those laws. All we can do is detest them. The age-old faith of lovers and poets in the power of love, stronger than death, that finis vitae sed non amoris, is a lie, useless and not even funny. So must one be resigned to being a clock that measures the passage of time, now out of order, now repaired, and whose mechanism generates despair and love as soon as its maker sets it going? Are we to grow used to the idea that every man relives ancient torments, which are all the more profound because they grow comic with repetition? That human existence should repeat itself, well and good, but that it should repeat itself like a hackneyed tune, or a record a drunkard keeps playing as he feeds coins into the jukebox...

Must I go on living here then, among the objects we both had touched, in the air she had breathed? In the name of what? In the hope of her return? I hoped for nothing. And yet I lived in expectation. Since she had gone, that was all that remained. I did not know what achievements, what mockery, even what tortures still awaited me. I knew nothing, and I persisted in the faith that the time of cruel miracles was not past.”
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“We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. We don't know what to do with other worlds. A single world, our own, suffices us; but we can't accept it for what it is.” 166 likes
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