Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Solaris” as Want to Read:
Solaris
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Solaris

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  70,866 ratings  ·  3,728 reviews

The first of Stanislaw Lem's novels to be published in America and now considered a classic, Solaris raises the question: Can one truly understand the universe without first understanding what lies within?

Paperback, 223 pages
Published February 15th 1978 by Berkley (first published 1961)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Solaris, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Krzysztof Klosin The Invincible is a nice one. Also The Fiasco is a good choice if you like to read about yet another attempt of humanity to "connect" with an unknown …moreThe Invincible is a nice one. Also The Fiasco is a good choice if you like to read about yet another attempt of humanity to "connect" with an unknown civilization. (less)
Randy In the Johnston translation, the last two lines in English are: "What further consummations, mockeries, torments did I still anticipate? I had no idea…moreIn the Johnston translation, the last two lines in English are: "What further consummations, mockeries, torments did I still anticipate? I had no idea, as I abided in the unshaken belief that the time of cruel wonders was not yet over."

The Polish edition of the book has the same last line as Kin posted. As an English sentence, I like Johnston's version much better than what Diana posted. Which translation is that from?(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  70,866 ratings  ·  3,728 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Solaris
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 u
...more
Emily (Books with Emily Fox)
I rate books based on my enjoyment and while this was an very interesting take on the whole "alien/first contact" I can't say I had a lot of fun reading it.

I do recommend it if you love that premise and are intrigue about a sentient ocean but it won't be for everyone!
Lisa
"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."

Bizarrely, being on a strange, different planet sometimes is what it takes to discover our inner cosmos. The way Lem describes it in Solaris, our memories rule our perception of what is real, regardless of external circumstances. On the other hand, the external circumstances of any given time are actively impacting on what ki
...more
Manny
Dec 06, 2008 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.
Kay
Sep 23, 2011 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
WILLIAM2
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
Bill Kerwin
May 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction

The premise of Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris (1961) is not unusual: on a small isolated planetary research station, scientists exploring the nature of alien life begin to suspect they are being threatened in some way. What makes Solaris unique are three things: 1) Lem’s treatment of the premise (nuanced, philosophical, detailed), 2) the nature of the threat (lifelike simulacra from the scientists guilty pasts have begun to appear at their sides), and 3) the nature of the planet Solaris (it is uninhabi
...more
Stjepan Cobets
Oct 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of science fiction
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
Patrick
Jun 23, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
[P]
Aug 26, 2015 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
Scott
Mar 15, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever watched a reputed champion for the first time - a Muhammed Ali, a Michael Schumacher, an Andre Agassi by reputation - and been disappointed? Have you heard so much, been expecting something so great, and then watched the title fighter hit the mat in round three, the pole position driver stall on the second bend or the top seed play a dull match with only tantalizing flashes of the brilliance you’ve heard so much about?

That experience is how Solaris felt for me.

Solaris has a big rep
...more
John
Jul 13, 2007 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
Jan-Maat
What I like about this is that Lem throws away what for another writer might have been the central reveal of the story - the sentienancy of the planet. Instead he is relentlessly focused on showing us the one implication of that idea.

Very well says Lem, intellectually we can imagine all kinds of crazy things - travel to distant planets, strange unexpected forms of life, but psychologically can we cope with them, can we cope with ourselves, and what we have done in our lives? Probably not very we
...more
Darwin8u
Jun 04, 2012 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
7jane
Sep 13, 2016 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 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
Spencer Orey
Jun 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thoughtful classic psychological sci fi! I found the language here to be excellent, striking a solid mix of scientific-sounding jargon with flowing descriptions of the station and the raw feelings of the scientists. It's a short book but feels evocative of a much larger galaxy and of humans who are still trying to find their place and their purpose within it.

It ain't perfect. The personal psychological journey of the main character feels dated. Very little from the past can hold up to our politi
...more
Tomas Ramanauskas
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gold
I believe that great sci-fi books are never really about the future and always about the very now. So no wonder that Lem doesn’t spend even a sentence drawing a map of the things to come. Despite being set somewhere in distant future or alternate reality, “Solaris” tackles the human condition of today (nevermind if you were reading it in 60s or in 10s) and does it by dealing with the unerasable past as a recurring spine.

Like all the gargantuan books (depth, not size), the themes touched here co
...more
Ahmad Sharabiani
448. Solaris, Stanislaw Lem
Solaris is a 1961 philosophical science fiction novel by Polish writer Stanisław Lem. The book centers upon the themes of the nature of human memory, experience and the ultimate inadequacy of communication between human and non-human species. In probing and examining the oceanic surface of the planet Solaris from a hovering research station the human scientists are, in turn, being apparently studied by the sentient planet itself, which probes for and examines the thoug
...more
David Katzman
Jun 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Solaris was fantastic, and Lem continues to amaze. This is the second novel that I've read by him, the first being The Futurological Congress: From the Memoirs of Ijon Tichy which I reviewed here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show....

The style of these two books couldn't be more different. TFC is hyper and absurdist and satirical, while Solaris is methodical and claustrophobic and creepy. In fact, I would describe Solaris as a horror sci fi novel with the tonality of an existentialist nightm
...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
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
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
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
...more
Michael
.??? 90s?: i do not know what to say about this book. one of my absolute favorites, with no qualifications, though i can see it being too slow, too abstract, too philosophical for many. i have read this at least 3 times, watched both films, disappointed both times. there are images beyond technical possibility, i guess. or just a failure to translate, embody, depict the ideas rampant in the book. in some ways, written in a postmodern way: academic papers, flight logs, theories of meaning abound. ...more
Kayla Dawn
Yeah uh, I don't know. This was pretty boring and I'm not sure I entirely understood what was going on..
Mariel
Apr 04, 2013 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
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
Nov 29, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: scifi fans, classics fans
Shelves: 1001, fiction, 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
aPriL does feral sometimes
I, while in a state of idle musing as well as amused, have developed a philosophical theory, or a story, extrapolated from reading the science-fiction novel 'Solaris': 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 amoeba-like space monster, which is able to manipulate particles of matter as if it were playing with Legos and it was simply floating around aimlessly without purpose or thought, if it found objects made
...more
Owlseyes
Nov 21, 2015 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
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Tertulia de cienc...: Tertulia de noviembre - Solaris 1 2 Oct 07, 2019 08:42AM  
Guardian Newspape...: Solaris - July 2017 18 26 May 17, 2019 02:08AM  
Reading 1001: Solaris by Stanislaw Lem 3 15 Aug 01, 2018 02:27PM  
Which translation should I look for? 1 27 Apr 17, 2018 08:24AM  
The Evolution of ...: May 2017 Group read - Solaris 59 55 Nov 25, 2017 11:13AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Merge suggestion Solaris 2 27 Oct 07, 2017 03:21AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Roadside Picnic
  • Ubik
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
  • Childhood's End
  • Rendezvous with Rama (Rama, #1)
  • Neuromancer (Sprawl, #1)
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey (Space Odyssey, #1)
  • We
  • Foundation (Foundation, #1)
  • Hard to Be a God
  • I, Robot (Robot, #0.1)
  • The Martian Chronicles
  • The Man in the High Castle
  • A Scanner Darkly
  • Обитаемый остров
  • The Day of the Triffids
  • The Master and Margarita
  • The Left Hand of Darkness (Hainish Cycle #4)
See similar books…
2,724 followers
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

Articles featuring this book

Dystopias, alien invasions, regenerated dinosaurs, space operas, multiverses, and more, the realm of science fiction takes readers out of this ...
531 likes · 499 comments
“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.”
276 likes
“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.” 268 likes
More quotes…