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Solaris Audiobook

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 (2674 )
5 star
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Overall
3.8 (2235 )
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3 star
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2 star
 (191)
1 star
 (81)
Story
4.1 (2216 )
5 star
 (909)
4 star
 (860)
3 star
 (339)
2 star
 (78)
1 star
 (30)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    sean Portland, OR, United States 03-25-13
    sean Portland, OR, United States 03-25-13 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A truly unique experience"
    Any additional comments?

    A book that mixes that agony of reliving our deepest fears and regrets with the awe inspiring adventure of the universe's great unknowns. I was hooked immediately with great narration and thought provoking premise of a planet that is a living being. It is not just a re-imagined "alien" story, it is a reworking of the entire idea of making contact. To think that there are things out there so far past our understanding that the best way to comprehend is to realize you can't. I gave it 3 stars because there in incredibly boring run ons of history and technical jargon that slowed things down.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nick Kitchener, Ontario, Canada 02-12-13
    Nick Kitchener, Ontario, Canada 02-12-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    25
    4
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A bit disappointed"
    Any additional comments?

    Overall I found that the book went through spans as long as an hour sometimes when keeping your concentration on the ramblings of scientific theories was nearly impossible. This happens twice in the book, keep in mind it's only an 8 hour book.

    Also, they use some weird synthetic voice for the entire book which I found unnecessary and annoying after awhile.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeremy NEW YORK, NY, United States 11-22-12
    Jeremy NEW YORK, NY, United States 11-22-12 Member Since 2012

    This is the kind of styles I like: good pace, cerebral, well-documented, meaty, mind-bending.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    60
    ratings
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    231
    42
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    FOLLOWING
    6
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    Performance
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    "Definitevely hard to listen"

    I tried to listen to the book, but there is almost nothing that happens and it becomes torture to try to stay interested. Someone arrives in a space station where he finds a crew that is either half-mad or missing; I get it, he is half-mad but the book spends a lot of time illustrating that fact. Then, strange inexplicable things begin to happen although it becomes soon clear there is a presence in the station. The story continues trying to explain the interactions with that presence but there is very little except bland mysticism in this exercise.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bill 11-13-12
    Bill 11-13-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    14
    2
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wow, I am sure that 50 years ago . . . ."
    What disappointed you about Solaris?

    I am sure that some 50 years ago this was considered to be good, but, really this was / is one of the worst novels I have every listened to. I was at least hoping for a story that had some allegorical relationship to 'current events' of the 1960 - I was wrong.

    Not even good foundation to begin the story line. It is just bad. Attempt to confuse reader with such huge and complex thoughts that it just gets to the point where you want to shut off and sleep.


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

    No, just from this Author or the age of the story willl be reviewed before ever ordering.


    Have you listened to any of Alessandro Juliani’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Performance was good - the material was off . . .


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

    diappointment - i think - not sure as I was so confused and was really loooking for a larger word and much more complex way of saying disappointed - but I had to use a simple word as it was only way to be clear about how I felt.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Flint, MI 10-08-12
    Amazon Customer Flint, MI 10-08-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    13
    6
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Just boring"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    A Plot. It totally lacked one. It just seemed to ramble going here, going there, but never really getting anywhere.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Stanislaw Lem and Bill Johnston (translator) again?

    Probably not. I have read several Stanislaw Lem books and after each one I ask myself: 'Why did I read this author again"?


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes, to be fair, the narrator was OK. It was just the material he had to work with.


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

    Nothing. A couple of good twists but nothing really memorable.


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Valeda DENVER, CO, United States 10-07-12
    Valeda DENVER, CO, United States 10-07-12 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Meh"
    What disappointed you about Solaris?

    I was really unimpressed by this book. The author got waaay too caught up in the details, almost as if he felt like he had something to prove. Heck, I'm an aerospace engineer and I was glazing over entire chapters. There definitely was not enough plot and character development to bring the reader into the story, and I'm sad to say that I was actually glad when it was over.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    To amp things up on the entertainment scale, I'll be listening to the 2nd book of the Hunger Games - I'm not usually a fan of following the mainstream, but after being very entertained by listening to the first book I'm interested to see what's to come!


    What do you think the narrator could have done better?

    The narrator did his best with the content he was working with


    What character would you cut from Solaris?

    N/A


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Oscar L Ringenbach S 10-01-12 Member Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    159
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Not what I expected"

    I've heard so much about this book that my expectations were too high and I was a little disappointed. Good story, great narration, but something was missing to make the experience great for me.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Adrianne Wilson 09-27-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    33
    6
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A fantastic listen."

    This is a phenomenal story, worthy of translating. It has you on the edge of your seat at times, and sifting through your own most private beliefs and philosophies at others. It simultaneously stimulates what every sci-fi reader appreciates, while reinforcing that which makes us human. Juliani's performance is second to none.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. 08-28-12
    K. 08-28-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    32
    10
    FOLLOWERS
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    0
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    "Old-school SF"

    "Solaris" is, without a doubt, old-school science-fiction. I did not know that its original publication date was in 1961, though I suspected it was somewhere near the late 1950s after starting to listen to it. This is because it is heavy on exposition and light on characterization and action. But, even when compared to the early novels of Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, etc., Solaris is incredibly dry. I am writing this before finishing the entire book. I plan on continuing to listen simply because I want to see how it is resolved. The performance by Alessandro Jiuliani is fine, particularly his characterizations of the different voices. He is one of the few male readers who does a good job portraying a feminine voice. This is not a beach-material novel, it is one you listen to while driving or on a train; sessions of 30 minutes or less are tolerable but not much more than that. If you want action, Solaris is not for you.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven Kingsford, MI, United States 08-21-12
    Steven Kingsford, MI, United States 08-21-12
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A great listen except..."
    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    yes


    Any additional comments?

    A great piece of science fiction except for the author's endless ramblings on the scientific reports on the planet. It reminded me of university lecture hall and how my mind wandered off when the speaker was telling me everything I ever wanted to know about some point of minutia that no one cares about except for the speaker. And then I pulled back to the speaker to see if he was done yet. Worth your time to listen as otherwise it is a great book.Is that why man invented fast forward? Gotta be.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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