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3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  36,663 ratings  ·  1,586 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
Paperback, 204 pages
Published November 20th 2002 by Harcourt (first published 1961)
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Paweł Zuzelski Depending what you are looking for. There is really a wide spectrum of Lem's works. My absolute fav is Perfect Vacuum. It isn't really sci-fi. Rather…moreDepending what you are looking for. There is really a wide spectrum of Lem's works. My absolute fav is Perfect Vacuum. It isn't really sci-fi. Rather surrealistic literary experiments in which author plays with the form, convention and the very idea of literary work. But for the starter I'd recommend The Cyberiad. It's a lightweight collection of short sci-fi fairy tales, touching topics like math (Probability Dragons!), language (How The World Was Saved), dangers of arguing with idiots, physics, creating the ideal world, creating the happy world (when the former proves impossible), recovering from disasters caused by attempts to create a happy world, and the meaning of life.(less)
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
68th out of 5,149 books — 17,558 voters
Dune by Frank HerbertEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams1984 by George OrwellFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Best Science Fiction
53rd out of 1,907 books — 2,849 voters

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Community Reviews

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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
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
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
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.
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
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'
Aug 27, 2015 [P] rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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
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
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
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
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
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

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 victi
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
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
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
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
Léonard Gaya
"Solaris" fut traduit en français en 1964, trois ans seulement après sa publication en Pologne (les tournures de cette traduction sont d'ailleurs assez datées). Le roman de Stanislas Lem devint très tôt un classique du genre, sans doute propulsé par l'adaptation cinématographique de Tarkovsky en 1972 (le grand film de science-fiction soviétique, en réponse sans doute au "2001" de Kubrick / Clarke). Soderbergh proposera une autre version (avec George Clooney) trente ans plus tard.

Il s'agit d'un l
Sta reci... Solaris je podjednako drama koliko i naucna fantastika, sto se i moze ocekivati od poljskog pisca i sto je najveci plus knjizi.

Svidja mi se, ali se oseca da je pisano pre vise od 50 godina i pretrpano je nepotrebnim detaljima iz Solaristike kao da ta nauka zaista postoji (sad vise znam o Solarisu - koji je izmisljen, nego o Mesecu koji mi visi nad glavom). Ne kazem da mi to mnogo smeta, ali knjiga je povremeno bila poprilicno dosadna i zatrpana podacima koji nicemu ne sluze.

Za svaki
Macoco G.M.
Un clásico de ciencia ficción. Error.

Comienzo con esta frase ya que el etiquetar este libro como ciencia ficción me parece un completo disparate. Y es que aunque sea una novela que se desarrolla en el espacio y cuya historia narra viajes interestelares y búsquedas de otros planetas donde la raza humana pueda habitar, si lo clasificáramos en este género estamos cometiendo un auténtico crimen. "Solaris" va mucho (muchísimo) más allá, siendo un compendio filosófico sobre la esencia del propio ser
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
Capolavoro in assoluto della fantascienza filosofica.
Era il 1961 quando lo scrittore, filosofo e scienziato Stanislaw Lem pubblicò Solaris. La vasta cultura dell’Autore, candidato al premio Nobel, traspare in ogni riga, e il romanzo rimane attuale come ogni classico che si rispetti. La solida preparazione scientifica rende credibili le dispute accademiche, le rappresentazioni degli ambienti, delle apparecchiature e degli strumenti. Gli eventi sono narrati con toni minimalisti, senza indugiare s
The alien that makes up the ocean covering the entire surface of the planet says "screw you" to the humans and ignores their incessant need to make contact. Its how one of the characters say about humans - humans want to map everything they find in cosmos against Earth's template. They put humanity on a pedestal and try to measure the alien race against it. Everything that's encountered should be quantifiable in Earth's terms and human tendencies. They don't think of a possibility where the said ...more
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
“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


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
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
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
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
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
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Masculine imagination? 19 165 Jun 05, 2014 12:37PM  
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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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“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.” 126 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.” 118 likes
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