I have never read Solaris before but was aware of the criticism over the previous translated versions. My only experience with it were the two movies from 1972 and Clooney's 2002. This last one I strongly advise to skip or you are in danger of forsaken the story definitively.
This new translation is excellent and, as in most cases, goes a lot deeper than 1972's picture.
Solaris is a wonderfully rich story of man's inability to deal with the unknown, both from outside and inside himself. From the unsuccessful attempts to communicate with the living ocean to the disastrous relationships developed with its creations, you are immerse on a elaborated plot that leads to an unsuspected conclusion.
Alessandro's performance is consistent and ads a lot of depth to the telling. He conducts you gracefully trough the book and make it almost impossible to stop listening.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
For well over a hundred years, earth scientists have been obsessed by the planet Solaris, or rather by the sentient ocean gelatinously covering it: observing, classifying, experimenting, contacting, analyzing, theorizing, proving, disproving, publishing, and perishing. Despite all that activity (Solaristics), humanity is no closer to understanding the alien life form. As the novel opens the psychologist narrator Kris Kelvin travels to the space station orbiting the alien world to join three scientists in studying Solaris.
If Lem???s novel were a typical science fiction alien contact story, we might expect Kelvin to take stock of the situation, to glean useful clues from the station???s extensive Solaristics library, to energize his colleagues, and then, by making a conceptual breakthrough and utilizing some technological gadgets, to comprehend the oceanic alien and pacify it (if it is inimical) or cooperate with it (if it is friendly). Lem, however, has no interest in telling such a comforting story.
Instead, when Kelvin arrives at the station he finds his colleagues strangely demoralized and anti-social. Disturbed, he skims through various Solaristics tomes, but only confirms the impossible and arrogant folly of the human project to understand a truly alien life form. And then he, like his colleagues, is visited by an unexpected ???Guest??? or ???Ghost,??? a simulacrum of the most important person from his past, apparently sent by the ocean. Is the alien experimenting on the humans? Torturing them? Giving them a gift? Reacting reflexively to their experiments? Communicating with them? The only thing Kelvin knows for sure is that the sentient ocean has read the depths of his mind to find there his strongest guilt and grief.
Solaris reminds us that for all the appeal of space exploration and for all we learn about the universe therein, we may never understand the labyrinthine depths of the human mind; that we can never escape the physical limits of our perception of ourselves and others; and that love is never easy.
The ocean of Solaris is sublime, with beautiful and awesome structures and behaviors. And though my mind did wander during some of the summaries of the many different Solaristics trends and schools, and though I wish the reader Alessandro Juliani (who does a great Snaut and a fine Harey) could have read Kelvin???s voice with more gravitas, I am glad to have listened to this singular, majestic, and moving novel.
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
Every audio book is an interpretation of the text, so it must be a daunting exercise to embark upon the production of a classic. This is certainly a classic and Alessandro Juliani's is a fine interpretation of its haunting and equivocal messages. I enjoyed the pace of his reading, as well as his tone. His Harey and Snout are both excellent, not how I had previously read them, and yet completely valid.
As for the plot, it is one of those that can be debated ad nauseum and often is at both Secondary and Tertiary levels. Is Kris Kelvin imagining Harey, a past tragic lover? Are the rest of the crew of the space station deluded or delusional? Is Solaris truly alive? What other secrets does Dr Snout have? Does any of it matter if Solaris is alive? The questions are posed and not always answered in this complex, poetic, si-fi classic.
If you like si-fi that makes you think (like "Blade Runner", or "Foundation", or "Eon") I suspect this translation and production will appeal to you for all the right reasons.
I saw there were a lot of rave reviews for this book. It seems to be from fans who were familiar with the movies and probably the author's other books (which would have given them more insights into this book upon re-reading). Having only read the book, I didn't find it engaging. I thought the dialogue was awkward at times. It could be that the intent didn't translate well from Polish to English or because it was written in 1961 and has become dated. As a story, I think the book is lacking. For example, the focus is around the main character Kelvin and the physical manifestation of his "guest" shortly after he arrives on the planet. The other two characters are also facing their own of past regrets and guilts. The book teases the readers with moments where the other two characters are struggling to contain their "guests," but it is never revealed who they are. This left an unsatisfactory feeling. It's as if the author spent all his energy creating the dead lover of Kelvin and trying to unveil the part he played in her death. And he couldn't think of anything else to create for the other two shipmates. The book also spent more time describing the science that emerged from studying Solaris (and all the scientific jargon that evolved) than in developing the characters.
The book is interesting from a philosophical perspective. Humanity is arrogant in thinking that it can study and understand an alien life when we don't even understand ourselves. Also it appears that the planet Solaris could be one giant life form. Humanity's attempt to make contact with it would be like an ant trying to make contact with an elephant.
Harry Turtledove fan
Very good performance by narrators. Could feel the bright heat and light of the fierce blue sun and also the orange glow of the deep red sun.
Each actor is narrated well, especially the scene with Liquid Oxygen.
The book itself seems meandering too much. It takes random walks into past and leaves us stranded there for long time.
This book had such a great premise. I was drawn in very quickly. It was a little technical but nothing I couldn't get through. The story kept building and building. You had no idea how the characters would get out of the situation they were in. I felt bad for the "bad guys" of the book as well as the "good guys", (although the definition of bad guys and good guys is not as stark as in other books). Anyway, I was hooked ......... and then the end came. So abrupt, so unsatisfying, awful. Its not that the bad guys or good guys won. Its not that everything always has to end up good or its a bad story. Its nothing like that. Its like embarking on a 100 mile road trip and 80 miles in you hit a brick wall and sit there on the side of road wondering what just happened.
"Audible is the most efficient of high quality entertainment."
Though Solaris may initially seem awkward and full of unnecessary back story, all of this information will be used and make sense in time. In hindsight, the non-traditional delivery and over reliance on suspension of disbelief helped place the reader among the strange circumstances of the book's characters.
Ultimately, Solaris delivers a refreshingly creative science fiction context for some very human emotions. Solaris is clearly a classic.
It was a pleasure to hear Alessandro Juliani's voice again after his prominent role in Battlestar Galactica. As one of his earliest narrations, his style was slightly more dry and stilted than I'd prefer. Still, he succeeded in bringing the characters to life and pulled off some of the difficult emotional passages.
The combination of the story and the narrator's portrayal of the different characters made this audio book really enjoyable and as I also bought the whispersync'ed Kindle book it was really easy to get into the book
The depths of the characters and their internal struggles combined with the alien context they were in.
Where the main character reconciles with the strangeness of his reproduced wife and comes to love this new person
Sometimes you need to travel far to get in touch with your inner self
Say something about yourself!
Solaris is widely considered a classic of science fiction, and with good reason. Working with just a limited cast and an alien world unlike any other I'm aware of in the genre, Stanislaw Lem writes a story that manages to be compelling and confounding at the same time. His handling of something that might be considered "first contact" feels completely fresh, even if the book was written 50 years ago and you've probably read many stories dealing with first-time encounters between humans and alien worlds.
Not to take anything away from the book itself, but it was the narration that really blew me away. The narrator manages to sound weary, depressed, or even detached when the story calls for it, while still managing to pull the reader/listener along. I had no problem losing myself in the narration as if the story, written in first person, was being told by the person who experienced the events. I can't think of a time when I've been more impressed by an audiobook's narrator.
After finishing the book and reading more about the narrator, Alessandro Juliani, I was quite surprised to learn the he was the actor who played Gaeta in the 2004 Battlestar Galactica series. At no point was Gaeta brought to mind during the narration, but I was startled to learn this because I was struck when listening by how much one of the characters sounded like Colonel Tigh on that same show. Weird.
Anyway, this one lives up to the hype and fully deserves its status as a classic.
I remember many years ago as a child, watching the Russian movie Solaris by director Andrey Tarkovskiy. To tell you the truth, I really did not understand it one little bit. It was a confusing film that nearly put me to sleep. It was hard to grasp and I had a very difficult time understanding the concepts around the ocean and its manifestations. But the story lingered in my mind thereafter and I knew that one day I would have to read Stanislaw Lem’s novel to understand it as an adult. Finally I got to listen to this incredible novel. This is one of the very best science fiction novels ever written. Lem really studies our inner soul and its interaction with the impossible. As you engross yourself in the novel, do not be disappointed that there is no final answer to the mystery of the ocean, but marvel in the way he entices you to answer the questions the protagonist struggles through. What would you do in an event like this? That is really what Lem is asking of you … A must read!