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Solaris Audiobook

Solaris: The Definitive Edition

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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 (2865 )
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Performance
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  •  
    michael jones 09-25-15 Member Since 2016
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    12
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    Story
    "Ouch"

    Hard to immerse into story. Technology outdated (of course written 1961) human condition/awareness story line syrupy and long in tooth. Good narration only reason I stuck with it.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tor Sandstrom 07-19-15 Member Since 2015
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    1
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    "Solaris - poetic story of what extraterrestrial be"

    What if we meet another intelligence and it is uncomprehensible, different in every way. What if love is impossible?

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bob Washington State 07-15-15
    Bob Washington State 07-15-15 Member Since 2013

    I am an avid lover of books and stories. Audible has provided a great outlet for me to read when otherwise I couldn't. I love dogs.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I don't understand the fuss"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    No, it just seemed off from the beginning.


    Has Solaris turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, i was expecting a classic and it wasnt'


    What does Alessandro Juliani bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    he is a very good voice actor.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dylan J. Lawrence Taiwan 07-08-15
    Dylan J. Lawrence Taiwan 07-08-15

    Dylan

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    "meh..."

    what do you get with an alien which the author defines as beyond human comprehension? A drawn out rambling of a story without any conclusions or even concrete hypothesis.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    m. nonymous 07-08-15
    m. nonymous 07-08-15 Member Since 2014
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    3
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    "A great story but a little too much interpretation"

    Nothing but positive thoughts on Lem's work. However, Juliani's performance goes a bit too far, for my taste. Character-voices are not just distinct, they're comical. The dry scientific tone of the narration (which I find suitable) gets traded for hysterical, breathy lady-imitations and a tittering British accent which are really just distracting.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    zerihoun demissie 07-06-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Great book for those tired of predictable tropes"

    The performance was amazing despite a few changes in the audio that made it seem like the narrator had changed.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer socal 06-30-15
    Amazon Customer socal 06-30-15 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "an intriging thought experiment"
    What did you love best about Solaris?

    the philosophical musings


    What other book might you compare Solaris to and why?

    2001: A Space Odyssey


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The final reflections of the main character


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    See above


    Any additional comments?

    Can't believe it was published in 1961!
    Be warned, this is not an action movie

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jay Quintana 03-17-15 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Interesting premise, reads too often like a manual"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    I'm no expert on life in the universe, but Lem's depiction of extraterrestrial life sounded plausible. So, if a friend were interested in this subject, I'd recommend the book. If he or she wanted an entertaining read, I wouldn't.


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

    I wish the depiction of Solaris was suggested rather than painstakingly detailed. It was hard to follow all the scientific discourses. It felt like these meandering, jargon-filled passages comprised at least half the book.


    What does Alessandro Juliani bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He was by far the best thing about this. Were it not for his performance, I wouldn't have finished the book.


    Did Solaris inspire you to do anything?

    I'm not sure if inspired is the right word, but it did prompt me to do some internet research so I could fully understand what Lem was trying to say here.


    Any additional comments?

    I honestly wanted to like this book. I'm a huge PKD fan. Lem, I believe, said PKD is the best American novelist. So I'm automatically inclined to like Lem's work. PKD may not have the science correct, but he knows how to tell a story. His stories sail along, never finding any doldrums. This wasn't the case for me with Solaris.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tarike Ocala, FL, United States 02-08-15
    Tarike Ocala, FL, United States 02-08-15 Member Since 2012
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    "Good vision, terrible delivery and execution"

    This story has all of the necessary pieces to become an excellent listen: great, and original storyline, a hand full of solid characters with a good protagonist, but the execution and delivery of it all never truly adds up to anything special.

    The author goes into incredible detail about particular topics that have very little to do with the outcome or the progression of the story. It's all a tremendous waste of words for such a short story to begin with.

    I kept "hanging in there" to see if this formula would develop into something worth listening to, but it never happened. Even in the last hour when I truly was just hanging on by a thread of hope for the story to turn into something, the author truly disappoints the listener by leaving the story open ended.

    The narrator did all that he could with this one, and I truly can't blame him for anything other than giving it his best.

    Please, save your credit and listen to something more fulfilling, anything other than this.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Just Me 01-19-15
    Just Me 01-19-15

    M

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    65
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    Story
    "For those interested in very specific details."

    I personally enjoyed the action parts of story.

    However a large chunk of this book is a very detailed and a very long explination of the alien being. It's extremely thorough and well written and board me to sleep two minutes in. But that is my own taste and not a fault of the book.

    In this audio book the voice actor did a terrific job, especially in playing the part of Snout.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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