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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 (2332 )
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4.1 (1906 )
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Performance
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  •  
    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
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    12
    2
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    "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
  •  
    Simone 09-25-13
    Simone 09-25-13 Member Since 2006

    Join me on GoodReads too!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    485
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    459
    325
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    67
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    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Just Not Enough"

    I wanted something short to read that I could be sure to finish before going on vacation and this was the shortest one on my list.

    I’ve been curious about “Solaris” the book ever since the movie flopped, and after reading it I think I have an inkling as to why: its 5% story and 95% talking about the story… how do you make a movie out of that?

    I suppose the movie takes the 5% of the book in which something actually happens and expands on that idea – and it’s not a bad idea I must say… but I just simply would have enjoyed a little more action… and suspense… and drama.

    Now that I am done with the book, I am very curious about the movie – flop or not I think I’ll rent it.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    SHELDON 07-10-12
    SHELDON 07-10-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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
  •  
    Nicole MINNEAPOLIS, MN, United States 03-27-12
    Nicole MINNEAPOLIS, MN, United States 03-27-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    11
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    Performance
    Story
    "Haunting"

    The handling of the characters is dated, and the plot more cerebral than overtly compelling, but it is haunting, alternately lovely and terrible, and ultimately...interesting. That sounds weak; I don't mean it to be. The concept of Solaris is interesting enough to justify a book that is, at times, difficult.

    I confess I found the reading a bit invasive. Juliani's voice for one of the characters in particular was too exaggerated for my taste.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Michal Potwin, KS, United States 03-27-12
    Michal Potwin, KS, United States 03-27-12 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    7
    ratings
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    26
    8
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    0
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    Story
    "Dull, Dull, Dull!"

    I purchased this book because of the reviews, and I stuck it out until the end. It was a complete waste of a credit and my time. There really isn't any plot or point to this story.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason 03-23-12
    Jason 03-23-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    0
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    41
    1
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    Story
    "Time in your life you will not get back…."
    What disappointed you about Solaris?

    This story was one I wanted to love but it just went on and on. Every time you thought its just about to get really good it didn't.


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

    The worst thing to me was the way it ended. There were no answers to anything. I finished the book with a felling of being ripped off.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    The reader was very good but the story wasn't.


    Any additional comments?

    I have never written a review for any of the books I have read but I wanted to stop anyone else from wasting there time and money.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arlene Boulder, CO, United States 01-30-12
    Arlene Boulder, CO, United States 01-30-12 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    4
    3
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    "Engrossing, but missing something"
    What did you like best about Solaris? What did you like least?

    I liked the relationships. The descriptions of the phenomena I found tedious.


    What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

    I didn't know it was the ending. That was my biggest problem with the book.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    I enjoyed the conversations between the two men.


    Did Solaris inspire you to do anything?

    Try other types of books.


    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Minneapolis, MN, United States 12-19-11
    Matthew Minneapolis, MN, United States 12-19-11 Member Since 2009
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "No... really dragged. Unique but..."
    What disappointed you about Solaris?

    Long passages about the characters researching a a library, made up mainly with the names of fictional scientists and the endless details that dragged on and on..


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

    The translation was fine


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    It had an awesome premise that kept me listening till the end hoping it would develop..


    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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