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)
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.
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.
The performance was amazing despite a few changes in the audio that made it seem like the narrator had changed.
the philosophical musings
2001: A Space Odyssey
The final reflections of the main character
Can't believe it was published in 1961!
Be warned, this is not an action movie
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.
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.
He was by far the best thing about this. Were it not for his performance, I wouldn't have finished the book.
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.
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.
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.
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