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
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.
"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)
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.
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.
Very well read by the narrator and well written. Great story with a little bit of philosophy mixed in.
Overall good read
I'm a web developer based out of Sacramento, I listen to books while I work, and love audible.
Interesting, but a bit dry. I really liked the ideas, however the characters seemed question their sanity far too quickly. And I honestly lost interest in the last hour of the audio-book and don't even recall what happened.
The ideas where pretty cool and the planet was very alien I have to say. It's a decent read if you are in the mood for hard, dry Sci-Fi.
I listened to this some time ago, but it has kept with me. I will be listening again, I think. The pace and darkness is married with light and revelation in such a beautiful, consistent and heart-wrenching way that I savoured every moment. The narrator similarly became one with the tale, perfectly conveying it. I highly recommend this book, especially for those who want to understand why a book doesn't need to be fast-paced to be good.
Alessandro Juliani performance is really amazing: he can bring a lot of atmosphere and depth to all characters without exceeding with his interpretation. His delivery is perfectly understandable for a non native speaker yet it's still full of character and personality.
The story itself is a little slow at the beginning but once you're involved in the characters and their emotions it's easy to get lost in the narration.
I especially loved the "world-building" work the author put in the story: the setting is completely alien and still completely believable, the creation of a meta-scientific-literature really does the trick and the descriptions of Solaris are suggestive and evocative.
I watched the 2002 movie just after finishing the book and it really doesn't hold a candle to the book. If you saw the movie and was put off do yourself a favor and listen to this audiobook.
I realize this is a 'special' book that is well thought of and has been made into multiple movies ... but I was really not impressed.
While some of the philosophical underpinnings of the book are thought provoking, the book itself is boring. There is very little action, or even character interaction. We don't 'see' much of anything going on. Instead we are inside the head of the central character as he reads scientific studies ... lots and lots of scientific studies written by people with long names who introduce long winded theories.
If you don't mind a book that is almost exclusively exposition, then maybe this book is for you.
If you had told me an author would be able to write about a truly alien intelligence, I'd have been skeptical. But Stanislaw Lem was able to capture the alien even better than Lovecraft. I was really impressed.
Lem also knows human thinking - he's able to capture how scientists would approach the alien intellect he created - and all the reasons it would have problems.
I have not heard other performances, but he does a good enough job that I will look at what else he's done.
There wasn't a particularly MOVING moment. I'd say the exposition that exists is unusually good.
Some of the early scifi authors are truly masters of the craft. Stanislaw Lem knew what he was doing.
Recently at a book store I picked up an (I can only assume) differently translated version of Solaris. The text was beyond dull. Perhaps built for a new American audience it contained only plot and none of the deviations into "Solaristics" the history and ideas of the planet Solaris. This bothered me, knowing how much I enjoyed the audiobook.
I will inevitably have to look into this, but for now know, this is the best version of Solaris that I've come across.
I really enjoyed the way Alessandro Juliani read the story. I loved him from Battlestar, and he didn't disappoint in his voice acting.
The story was great. The ending came up pretty quick and uneventful. While the destination was a little lack luster, the journey getting there was very entertaining.
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