An avid reader who once abhorred the concept of listening to books, I now enjoy audiobooks as an alternative to the radio while commuting.
After having seen the film, "Solaris," from Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky several times, I had been looking for the novel upon which it was based. Instead I listened to the Audible version -- only my second audiobook experience. I see now why Lem decried the film (and the subsequent American remake). The story as written is not "love in outer space" (Lem's phrase), as the films (particularly the American version) would have one believe. Instead it is a meditation on how humans try to understand, scientifically, that which cannot be understood.
Not being a big fan of science fiction, I was hesitant to give this title a go. I'm glad I did. Lem has written one of the most intelligent novels in any genre. The narration by Juliani was superb. Even the voice he gives Hari -- the lone female in the story -- is believable and heartfelt.
Overall, "Solaris" is a highly recommended choice for a thought-provoking novel which, despite its setting in deep space, is not your standard science fiction tale.
Lord it was unwieldy. Spent more time on pseudo-science than plot or characters. So if you like the pseudo-science fiction, this is up your alley. Very detailed descriptions. If you are looking for substance and a good story think twice...
I've heard a lot about this book and was anxious to finally give it a listen. This is where I admit that I had to force myself to finish it. I was so BORED with all of the intricate detailed unnecessary "history" of the planet. Yes, we need some background on the planet, but the amount of detail supplied was insane. I found my mind wandering through much of it and when I came back to the story, I never felt as though I'd missed anything. It was as though I was sitting through one of Charlie Brown's classes at school with the teacher's voice saying "wah wah wah wah wah". Ugh. When the story came back to real time events it was very interesting, but there simply wasn't enough of that to keep me going. In my opinion, you could have tossed 50% of this book and it would have been a decent read. Apologies to those of you who loved it. I was disappointed.
The idea behind the book is terrifically original and the setting is creepily isolated. But every time suspense is building, the author breaks away for a review of scientific theory. i understand this is supposed to add realism but it could have been done with much shorter sections.
The narrator does a good job with a very limited cast of characters.
This book started with immense potential as a unique sci-fi story, but a some point it turned into a love story and philosophical treatise. I would have enjoyed it more if he finished any one of these genres but it just ended with a thud and many loose ends. I agree with many others that although written 50 years ago, Mr. Lem was ahead of his time and despite some outdated technical items, the book shows excellent technical creativity. I was also impressed with extensive descriptions of this fantasy world. Although in the end, his complex ideas and descriptions of the alien life forms built expectations of some unique world which would leave me dumbfounded - then nothing... As for the narration, Allesandro was great and I now I want to watch BSG again to see his other work. I thought about returning it but then again maybe I have to read it again to see what I missed, since others went gaga over it - maybe not! Come on Rothfuss and GRRM - we can't wait forever!
Besides incessant listening to audiobooks, I also read on my Kindle at night, birdwatch, garden (roses, daylilies), and do genealogy.
Lem does sci-fi the way I like it. You can tell he has explored the ins and outs of his subject matter, usually alien contact or the lack there of. I can not elaborate on the story as eloquently as others have, and I don't feel the need to repeat something that has been so well-described in previous reviews. This was a very enjoyable book with a lot of dimensions and much food for thought. The narrator was masterful. Solaris was an all around compelling listening experience for me, classic Lem. I feel so lucky to have discovered Lem in the last year!
I was blown away by this book. Narration by Juliani is excellent. The journey and imagery that Lem created was to me profound. After listening to this book I rented the movie version. Didn't hold a candle to this book (don’t judge a book by it’s movie really applies here). The planet is a character in and of itself, fascinating. This book made me wish I lived in a universe with Solaris so I could see the amazing transformations created by the planet. Highly recommend.
Psychologically profound sci-fi
The perfection of this work lies in its integration of scientific logic with ordinary human feeling. I read this book after seeing the recent film; without expecting to love it, I found I couldn't stop listening. Unlike the film, the book dwells on the mechanics of Solaris as well as the psychology of the station inhabitants, so it's a far richer experience.
Anyone expecting a thrills-per-minute hair-raising ride will be disappointed, but for readers who love genuine exploration, this beautiful novel works on all levels, and is the most seamless integration of the human condition (pain, loss, desire) with the scientific condition (trial, error, knowledge) I've ever found. Strange, haunting, highly recommended.
How first contact with life form other world may not be so clear and how this parralels with how little know about ourselves.
The end when Snout and kevin excahnge on the results of there experience
Yes. The narrator did a good job of differentiating the characters. There was a lot of technical discourse that would have been hard to follow reading that came alive being read to you.
Rheya was the character I found fascinating. As she came to terms with who or what she was and inevitably takes the same course of action her original human self pursued. If I had one complaint it would be the book did not probe the nature of Rheya even more.
My favorite scene was when Dr. Kris Kelvin reaches this remote space station with no way to get home quickly and finds himself trapped with the apparent madman Gibarian as his only company.
When Kris tricked the first Rheya into the rocket. It was both sad and horrific at the same time. The trusting innocence of Rheya juxtaposed with the cold calculating actions of Kris really made the scene work.
Reminded me a little of "2001 a space odyssey". Human beings encountering the incomprehensible but Solaris does it in a more personal way.