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Solaris: The Definitive Edition | [Stanislaw Lem, Bill Johnston (translator)]

Solaris: The Definitive Edition

At last, one of the world’s greatest works of science fiction is available - just as author Stanislaw Lem intended it. To mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Solaris, Audible, in cooperation with the Lem Estate, has commissioned a brand-new translation - complete for the first time, and the first ever directly from the original Polish to English. Beautifully narrated by Alessandro Juliani (Battlestar Galactica), Lem’s provocative novel comes alive for a new generation.
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Audible Editor Reviews

This fine, new, direct-to-English translation of Solaris allows listeners a new opportunity to marvel at the way Stanisław Lem managed to pack so much into such a compact story. As well as being a gripping sci-fi mystery, his novel stands as a profound meditation on the limitations of knowledge and the impossibility of love, of truly knowing another: how a vast, cold galaxy can exist between two people. In how many relationships does the other turn out to be a projected hologram? At the book's heart is the dark and mysterious planet of Solaris: working out what it means is half the fun of the book. One thing is clear: the possibility it offers of alien contact represents "the hope for redemption", a Schopenhauerian longing to be rid of the endless cycle of want, need, and loss. In one passage, the main character notes with a touch of envy that, "automats that do not share mankind's original sin, and are so innocent that they carry out any command, to the point of destroying themselves". The motivating forces that have traditionally sustained mankind - love, relationships, belonging - are exposed as so much space debris. In a book that contains one of the most tragic love stories in modern literature, the idea of a love more powerful than death is "a lie, not ridiculous but futile".

Alessandro Juliani is a veteran of television's Battlestar Galactica, though here it's a young, pre-parody William Shatner-as-Captain Kirk that his performance sometimes evokes: the same cool, clipped delivery and occasional eccentric choice of emphasis. If he occasionally under-serves the book's dread-filled poetry, his character studies clearly carry the wounds of their earlier lives: at first, his Kris is an opaque tough guy, coolly removed from the unfolding, terrible events, until he touchingly gives way in the end to an overwhelming sense of loss. His performance as Snout is a mini-masterpiece in feral intensity, an intelligence crushed by the immense weight of limbo. As Harey, caught in "apathetic, mindless suspension", he manages to make his voice unfocussed and passive, as if distilling the bottomless sadness of her self-awareness of her own unreality. It's also a strong tribute to his performance that he can carry the pages and pages of philosophising, argumentative theology, and semi-parodic scientific reports without coming across as didactic. What could easily drag the story to a standstill is, in this recording, compellingly conveyed as an essential part of Lem's heartfelt investigation into the painful limitations of human knowledge. — Dafydd Phillips

Publisher's Summary

At last, one of the world’s greatest works of science fiction is available - just as author Stanislaw Lem intended it.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the publication of Solaris, Audible, in cooperation with the Lem Estate, has commissioned a brand-new translation - complete for the first time, and the first ever directly from the original Polish to English. Beautifully narrated by Alessandro Juliani (Battlestar Galactica), Lem’s provocative novel comes alive for a new generation.

In Solaris, Kris Kelvin arrives on an orbiting research station to study the remarkable ocean that covers the planet’s surface. But his fellow scientists appear to be losing their grip on reality, plagued by physical manifestations of their repressed memories. When Kelvin’s long-dead wife suddenly reappears, he is forced to confront the pain of his past - while living a future that never was. Can Kelvin unlock the mystery of Solaris? Does he even want to?

©1961 Stanislaw Lem. Translation © 2011 by Barbara and Tomasz Lem (P)2011 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Few are [Lem's] peers in poetic expression, in word play, and in imaginative and sophisticated sympathy." (Kurt Vonnegut)

"[Lem was] a giant of mid-20th-century science fiction, in a league with Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick." (The New York Times)
"Juliani transmits Kelvin’s awe at Solaris’s red and blue dawns and makes his confusion palpable when he awakens one morning to find his long-dead wife seated across the room. Juliani’s performance is top-notch." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (2151 )
5 star
 (617)
4 star
 (760)
3 star
 (513)
2 star
 (180)
1 star
 (81)
Overall
3.8 (1759 )
5 star
 (534)
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 (579)
3 star
 (419)
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 (158)
1 star
 (69)
Story
4.1 (1742 )
5 star
 (670)
4 star
 (695)
3 star
 (288)
2 star
 (61)
1 star
 (28)
Performance
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  •  
    Amazon Customer Tucson, AZ United States 04-30-12
    Amazon Customer Tucson, AZ United States 04-30-12 Member Since 2005
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    18
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wordy"
    Would you listen to Solaris again? Why?

    maybe. it was interesting but some of the descriptions were a little wordy


    What did you like best about this story?

    The strange characters


    Which character – as performed by Alessandro Juliani – was your favorite?

    Chris


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard South Africa 01-31-12
    Richard South Africa 01-31-12 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    37
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Struggled with this book."

    Whew, maybe something is lost in the translation, really struggled with this one, gave up I'm afraid, certainly no best seller in my view.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark M Littleton, CO USA 12-19-11
    Mark M Littleton, CO USA 12-19-11 Member Since 2003

    Mark

    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    26
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Horrible, just horrible"
    What would have made Solaris better?

    The story was so boring, it was like having a made-up science book read aloud.


    What could Stanislaw Lem and Bill Johnston (translator) have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Bill Johnston could have chosen an interesting book to translate.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    The narrator was fine. I didn't mind him at all.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    I was disappointed this book didn't end sooner.


    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jean Of mArc Canada 11-08-11
    Jean Of mArc Canada 11-08-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    38
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "More of a fictitious research summary than a story"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    I believe that those with a deep interest and knowledge of science, particularly biology and astronomy, may enjoy the fictitious exploration of the planet.


    What was most disappointing about Stanislaw Lem and Bill Johnston (translator) ’s story?

    This book has a very loose plot; the central point of the book was in trying to understand, scientifically, a very unusual planet and its side-effects. There is just as much written about the history and controversy, in textbook format, as there is any progression of time within the novel. This may be interesting to some, but did not fare well for the storyline, in my opinion.


    Which character – as performed by Alessandro Juliani – was your favorite?

    All characters performed by Alessandro Juliani were great. His distinct voices and expression fit the characters almost perfectly. I would consider the discovery of this talented narrator as the highlight of this audiobook.


    What character would you cut from Solaris?

    I would say that they all serve a purpose, though only the main character has enough depth and development over the course of the novel.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is full of imagination, however it does not use the imagined world for a very interesting plot or storyline. I felt more like the book was about history and research than it was about progression of characters and of containing any message.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Assegai Durham, NC 10-20-11
    Assegai Durham, NC 10-20-11 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Horrible!"

    I have no idea what this story was about! I am a long time sci fi fan and widely read in that genre - the message in this book could (should) have been conveyed in one paragraph. Shame on Audible for even promoting this.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marc Versley Tampa, FL, USA 09-10-11
    Marc Versley Tampa, FL, USA 09-10-11 Member Since 2005

    mvers

    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    15
    9
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Clogged"

    As I listened to this story it difficult to understand where it was going. In the end, it was unsatisfying. The story was clogged with psychological ramblings and many unanswered questions. Perhaps it was the translation or the age in which this was written. The concept was solid but the execution was not.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bell Vista, CA, United States 09-01-11
    Bell Vista, CA, United States 09-01-11 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    62
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "To much description and wispering."

    Perhaps it is just the way I listen, but I often listen in the car. The constant changes in volume meant I was constantly rewinding and raising the volume. While I can appreciate an attempt to act through it, I still need to be able to hear it. And as a previous user mentioned, the descriptions go on and on.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert KENT, WA, United States 07-08-11
    Robert KENT, WA, United States 07-08-11 Member Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    16
    5
    Overall
    "definitely for the sci-fi heads..."

    enjoyed the story, but got lost in the monologues. some of the terminology, description, and concepts just flew right over my head. based off the other reviews, i think it's easy to see that if you're really into sci-fi, this book is for you.

    good story and enjoyed most parts otherwise.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan PHOENIX, AZ, United States 06-12-11
    Ryan PHOENIX, AZ, United States 06-12-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    12
    2
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    "An interesting book with a terrible ending"

    This feels like it was the center section of a longer novel. The book jumps right into the meat of everything and ends with no resolution to anything.

    6 of 20 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SHELDON Thornhill, ON, Canada 07-10-12
    SHELDON Thornhill, ON, Canada 07-10-12 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
    27
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    25
    19
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    1
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent - but could benefit from an abridgment"

    I loved this book and the story was captivating. However I found some of the descriptive passages regarding the planet boring. I think a slight abridgment might help the bok be even better. In any case, the narrator was excellent.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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