Solaris
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Solaris

by
3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  27,965 ratings  ·  1,149 reviews
A classic work of science fiction by renowned Polish novelist and satirist Stanislaw Lem.

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...more
Paperback, 204 pages
Published November 20th 2002 by Harcourt (first published 1961)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardDune by Frank Herbert1984 by George OrwellFahrenheit 451 by Ray BradburyBrave New World by Aldous Huxley
Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Books
67th out of 4,095 books — 15,231 voters
Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardDune by Frank HerbertThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams1984 by George OrwellFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Best Science Fiction
52nd out of 1,422 books — 2,098 voters


More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
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 wil...more
Kay
Nov 10, 2011 Kay rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
K.D. Absolutely
Jan 23, 2011 K.D. Absolutely rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
William
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 sensate 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 e...more
Manny
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.
Mariel
Apr 18, 2013 Mariel rated it 4 of 5 stars
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
Randy
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
Shovelmonkey1
Jun 29, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
John
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
Patrick
I've been meaning to read this for a while, and bought the book years ago because I know Lem is one of the greats of SF. Plus, I figured if they made a movie out of it, the story had to have some good staying power.

But I had a hard time getting into it. True, I haven't read much Sci-fi lately. But I'm certainly not a genre snob. I like me some Sci-fi, vintage or otherwise.

But the story just felt cumbersome to me. Half of it was an engaging psychological teaser/thriller/mystery, the other half...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
Apatt
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
Becky
Jan 04, 2009 Becky rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
Wendy Browne
After listening to METAtropolis: The Dawn of Uncivilization and really enjoying Alessandro Juliani's narration of John Scalzi short story, I vowed to find more. Delving into my consciousness as Amazon usually does, it presented me with Solaris as an Audible Daily Deal just a week later. I'm used to Amazon, Google and Steam tripping into my thoughts and tempting me with my desires, but listening to Solaris gave me pause...

Kris Kelvin arrives on the station above the planet Solaris where a strange...more
Harry Kane
Stanislaw Lem (Poland) and the Strugatski Bros (USSR) are the only names from the evil empire side of the Iron Curtain, who are easily better writers than all western competitors at the time, with the exception of say Aldiss and Ballard and Dick and Simak. As in 'wacky humanist sci-fi'.

Before Nixon declared LSD the most dangerous substance on the planet, and the whole world jumped with instant enthusiasm at the chance for some more reality enforcement legislation, it was used by scientists and...more
Jim
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
Troy
Recently, I read Roadside Picnic by the Strugatsky brothers, which was the basis of Tarkovsky's Stalker. I realized that I had never read the classic source for Tarkovsky's other sci-fi movie, Solaris. And like Roadside Picnic, the book is significantly different from the Tarkovsky's movie, and different in wonderful ways.

Some of the greatness of the book is the same as some of the greatness of the movie: i.e., a deeply philosophical examination of existence, human exceptionalism, memory and de...more
David
Solaris is a sci-fi classic I'd heard of but never read. Very reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the basic "plot" is that a scientist travels to a distant planet, called Solaris, which human scientists have been studying for generations. The planet is covered by an ocean that can form enormous city-like formations with incredible speed, and dissolve them just as quickly. There is also evidence that the planet responds to a human presence, and may even be intelligent in some way. All efforts t...more
Erik Cameron
This is a very creepy book, with philosophical content that is both substantive and well done artistically. In a lot of ways, it's about a breakdown between the scientific project and the natural world it is supposed to study: the biggest scientific debate of the day is over the alleged sentience of a large, planet sized ocean on a world called Solaris. Hopefully, you put the book down unsure of whether you think the ocean is actually alive or not. (And then proceed to feel skeptical of the noti...more
Simona Bartolotta
"Qua e là si notava qualche ultimo soprassalto disordinato, indipendente dal resto del movimento, sempre più debole finché, attaccato ed eroso senza sosta dall'esterno, il colosso crollava con la lentezza di una montagna e si inabissava in un turbine di schiuma uguale a quella che ne aveva accompagnato la titanica nascita.
Ma che cosa significava tutto questo? Già: che cosa significava..."


Quel che Solaris possiede di più ammaliante è la sua credibilità. Non trovo parole semplici che possano aiuta...more
terpkristin
I listened to this book based on Luke Burrage's review on the Science Fiction Book Review Podcast. Overall, I thought it was pretty good, and would recommend it to others. It ended up getting 3 stars from me, instead of 4, because at times it went pretty heavy into the physics--to a point that my mind started wandering (and once I fell asleep, but I'll blame part of that on some medication I took). Normally, I don't like the overuse of science in science fiction, because usually authors get it p...more
Robert Delikat
If one could rate Lem's descriptions of the planet Solaris and its ocean as stylistic invention, I would have to give the author 5 stars. In Snuff, one of Terry Pratchett’s characters asks another who we presume is Jane Austen (personification) how she could be “a successful author if all the words in the language have already been invented and only their order could be different.” Well, that is kind of the magic of good writing isn’t it? Lem concocts words from those that are familiar but that...more
Sonja
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sam
I got home from work today and settled into my chaise with the intent of relaxing and knocking out the first few chapters of Solaris. Hours later, I arose from the same chair having finished the book in a single sitting. I had been advised that Solaris is considered a classic of science fiction; I was wholly unprepared, however, for a novel so engrossing and with such emotional and philosophical complexity.

The overarching themes grasped me from start to finish: mankind expanding into an infinite...more
Linda Robinson
Talking with a friend about movies, she mentioned seeing the newer version of Solaris (George Clooney). Better yet, read this book. Fascinating, icy, edgy, maddeningly complicated, and timely, as just in the last month, the ironclad notion that a stable planet cannot exist in a solar system with two suns has been reversed. Solaris is a stable orbit planet in a two sun solar system. And there the stability ends. Decades of research, lives lost, reams of paperwork and microfilm, interest in what S...more
29alabs
Solaris es difícil, no leerlo, el concepto de Solaris en si es difícil pero resuelve uno de mis más grandes quejas con la ficción especulativa, el hecho de que cuando intentamos contactar con otra raza extraterrestre es simplemente sencillo. Usualmente se parecen mucho a nosotros (que debo admitir hay teorías que pueden avalar esto véase la cefalización) y siempre tienen la gracia de entender nuestras comunicaciones y siempre pueden comunicarse con nosotros, no siempre es así, pero siento que oc...more
Christopher
Here's the deal:

You're a space traveler/scientist studying a planet named Solaris. It's inhabited by a single organism, a vast ocean of plasma that covers most of its surface. Sentient plasma. Sentient plasma that can read your memories and manifest the objects of your guilt in your spaceship. In your case, that's your dead lover who committed suicide because you're an anus.

But that's impossible, you think. She's dead, she can't be here. So you flush her out of the spaceship into the ether. But...more
Charles Dee Mitchell
Packed into his landing module and jettisoned from an interstellar spacecraft, Kris Kelvin heads towards Solaris. Solaris is a watery planet that has been under Earth’s observation for over a century. The consensus opinion holds that the ocean covering its surface is a single intelligent life form, but any detail of its nature or of the possibility of human communication with it has remained open to question. Over the past decade or so, interest in the planet has cooled among all but the most de...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Masculine imagination? 19 123 Jun 05, 2014 12:37PM  
Classic Science F...: * November-December 2013 Read: Solaris 19 31 Jan 21, 2014 01:35PM  
Classics Without ...: Chapters 8-14 11 65 Jun 29, 2013 03:37PM  
Classics Without ...: Book vs Movie (spoilers!) 4 67 Jun 26, 2013 10:05AM  
Classics Without ...: A Rose By Any Other Name 12 62 Jun 09, 2013 09:14PM  
Goodreads Librari...: DVD? 4 35 Apr 12, 2013 09:54AM  
  • Roadside Picnic
  • Limes inferior
  • Ubik
  • Camp Concentration
  • Perfekcyjna niedoskonałość
  • The Status Civilization
  • Star Maker
  • Stand on Zanzibar
  • Way Station
  • Rogue Moon
  • The Crystal World
  • Dhalgren
  • More Than Human
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
More about Stanisław Lem...
The Cyberiad The Futurological Congress: From the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy Tales of Pirx the Pilot The Star Diaries: Further Reminiscences of Ijon Tichy Eden

Share This Book

“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.” 74 likes
“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.” 66 likes
More quotes…