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Solaris Audiobook
Solaris
Written by: 
Stanislaw Lem, Bill Johnston (translator)
Narrated by: 
Alessandro Juliani
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 (2845 )
5 star
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4.2 (2369 )
5 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
 (32)
Performance
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  •  
    C. Marcello milano, italy 11-11-14
    C. Marcello milano, italy 11-11-14 Member Since 2014

    mr. fletcher

    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
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    "Great classic sci-fi, amazing performance"

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ronald Albury Cincinnati, OH USA 10-14-14
    Ronald Albury Cincinnati, OH USA 10-14-14 Member Since 2016
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Not Impressed"

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Arius Annandale, VA United States 10-10-14
    Arius Annandale, VA United States 10-10-14 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    5
    ratings
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    "Way better than the movies"
    What did you love best about Solaris?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    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.


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

    I have not heard other performances, but he does a good enough job that I will look at what else he's done.


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

    There wasn't a particularly MOVING moment. I'd say the exposition that exists is unusually good.


    Any additional comments?

    Some of the early scifi authors are truly masters of the craft. Stanislaw Lem knew what he was doing.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. L. Andrist Minneapolis 09-27-14
    J. L. Andrist Minneapolis 09-27-14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    2
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    "Better than the text"

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul V. 07-14-14
    Paul V. 07-14-14
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "Great story...short ending"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Solaris to be better than the print version?

    I really enjoyed the way Alessandro Juliani read the story. I loved him from Battlestar, and he didn't disappoint in his voice acting.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Chanel Mountain View, AR, United States 11-15-13
    Chanel Mountain View, AR, United States 11-15-13 Member Since 2013
    ratings
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    35
    7
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    "Couldn't make it to the end"
    What would have made Solaris better?

    The person who read this book was so boring I couldn't get into it. It was very slow and jumped around a little bit. Maybe if it was read by someone else I could have gotten into it more. I didn't even make it halfway before I stopped trying.


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

    Probably not.


    What didn’t you like about Alessandro Juliani’s performance?

    Very boring and all the characters sounded the same. It was hard to tell when he was talk for which character.


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

    Um, George Clooney plays in the movie?


    Any additional comments?

    Don't waste your time. Its probably the only book Ive ever said this about, but...... Skip the book and watch the movie!!!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Krystal 09-16-13
    Krystal 09-16-13 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Why didn't I just walk away..."
    Would you try another book from Stanislaw Lem and Bill Johnston (translator) and/or Alessandro Juliani?

    No way...


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Narration was great. Story was not for me.


    What character would you cut from Solaris?

    I committed an hour and 45 minutes to this boring book, and I can't name one character.


    Any additional comments?

    Maybe it gets better if you hear the whole book. I gave it almost two hours. But I'm done wasting my time. This book is not for me.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark 09-15-13
    Mark 09-15-13

    Love Sci Fi and non-fiction, but willing to try anything.

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    101
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Great premise, non-ending"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. It's prose was artistic without being artsy. The premise was intriguing the right author could do a lot with it.


    Any additional comments?

    I wish he could have come up with a better ending. Nothing is resolved, not really. The people are damaged, ocean remains as it was. Not very satisfying.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gary Godman Santa Clarita, CA USA 08-29-13
    Gary Godman Santa Clarita, CA USA 08-29-13 Member Since 2001
    HELPFUL VOTES
    52
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    "Slow start very strange"

    I could only stand it for 7 hours and gave up and still did not care about anything that happened.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jason 07-18-13
    Jason 07-18-13 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    58
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    "Interesting Ideas, Odd Pace"

    The story had a lot of interesting ideas but I never felt that it went anywhere.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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