This is a book about a comet that hits the Earth and the life the survivors lead. I think it's inherent in this premise that the overall story is a miThis is a book about a comet that hits the Earth and the life the survivors lead. I think it's inherent in this premise that the overall story is a mixed bag. First, there are a lot of characters some of which have interesting stories, others that do not. Plus, some story lines get dropped for no reason.
The first third (or so) of the book is before the comet hits and we get introduced to a lot of the characters we'll see later on. Once the comet hits, there's a lot of different things happening. There's some excellent scenes, but long periods where it's people trying to survive, but not much is happening plot-wise.
On the plus side, the last portion of the book is very well done (almost enough to rate another star), but it's a long time to get to that point....more
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this novel. First, a bit of background. Up until this edition, all English translations of thisRating: 3.5 stars
I have a lot of mixed feelings about this novel. First, a bit of background. Up until this edition, all English translations of this novel were translated from Polish to French and the French edition was used to translate to English. Needless to say, the author wasn't happy about this, but since it was still in print, no publisher wanted to redo the translation properly. Audible (with the blessing of the author) commissioned this new translation direct from the original Polish. One noticeable difference is that the original names are preserved (they're different in the other English editions). That said, I hated the narrator, which definitely clouded my opinions of the book. There's now apparently a printed version of this edition, stick to that, not the audiobook.
I quite like the description on the Wikipedia page, that this is "one of Lem’s philosophic explorations of man’s anthropomorphic limitations". It's about a small group of men (Kris Kelvin, Snaut, and Sartorius) conducting research on the planet Solaris which is one giant organism.
There's a lot of technical jargon being thrown around and long passages of proposed explanations found for different phenomena seen on Solaris. Other people would argue that one can skip these and while one could, reading them one sees the gap between the known and unknown and the limitations of man's knowledge.
There are manifestations of people from the character's memories (we only see Kris Kelvin's deceased wife, Harey) and this provides for fascinating psychological exploration of Kris and the other characters based upon his (and their) interactions with these manifestations. This forms the heart of the book, but it does tie into the limitations of man's knowledge, since somehow the planet can create these, but man can find no way of communicating with the planet.
Is it possible that we can meet something so alien to us that we won't be able to communicate with it or understand it? That's the central theme of the book and it's well worth reading just for that exploration.
This book takes a very long time to get going and has a lot of characters and story lines. The audio version has an excellent narrator, but there isn'This book takes a very long time to get going and has a lot of characters and story lines. The audio version has an excellent narrator, but there isn't a noticeable break when a switch to a new story happens so it can be difficult to follow....more