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)
I was intrigued by this book and the movie versions, but had not made the jump until it came up here.
I was not disappointed. This is a beautifully written and intelligent story. I was drawn in right from the beginning. The narration is outstanding - although it is really a performance - it is more like a wonderful radio play. The story does end somewhat abruptly without a neat resolution - that is the intent - the story is thought provoking. I loved it, although it is also disturbing in parts. I agree with the reviewer who said it could have been written last week, apart from minor issues. These do not detract from the story at all. This book will be read for many, many years to come. It is a classic.
This is Audible at its absolute best. This story will not be for everyone, but it deserves a very wide audience. Highly recommended.
I'm an avid reader and movie watcher, I love to play WoW (don't judge me). I also cook and sew and garden. I'm a Renaissance Woman!
I've heard a lot about this book and was anxious to finally give it a listen. This is where I admit that I had to force myself to finish it. I was so BORED with all of the intricate detailed unnecessary "history" of the planet. Yes, we need some background on the planet, but the amount of detail supplied was insane. I found my mind wandering through much of it and when I came back to the story, I never felt as though I'd missed anything. It was as though I was sitting through one of Charlie Brown's classes at school with the teacher's voice saying "wah wah wah wah wah". Ugh. When the story came back to real time events it was very interesting, but there simply wasn't enough of that to keep me going. In my opinion, you could have tossed 50% of this book and it would have been a decent read. Apologies to those of you who loved it. I was disappointed.
The idea behind the book is terrifically original and the setting is creepily isolated. But every time suspense is building, the author breaks away for a review of scientific theory. i understand this is supposed to add realism but it could have been done with much shorter sections.
The narrator does a good job with a very limited cast of characters.
This book started with immense potential as a unique sci-fi story, but a some point it turned into a love story and philosophical treatise. I would have enjoyed it more if he finished any one of these genres but it just ended with a thud and many loose ends. I agree with many others that although written 50 years ago, Mr. Lem was ahead of his time and despite some outdated technical items, the book shows excellent technical creativity. I was also impressed with extensive descriptions of this fantasy world. Although in the end, his complex ideas and descriptions of the alien life forms built expectations of some unique world which would leave me dumbfounded - then nothing... As for the narration, Allesandro was great and I now I want to watch BSG again to see his other work. I thought about returning it but then again maybe I have to read it again to see what I missed, since others went gaga over it - maybe not! Come on Rothfuss and GRRM - we can't wait forever!
Newly retired, I am a reading fiend! I like many types of books, both fiction and non-fiction, with the exception of romance and fantasy
Lem does sci-fi the way I like it. You can tell he has explored the ins and outs of his subject matter, usually alien contact or the lack there of. I can not elaborate on the story as eloquently as others have, and I don't feel the need to repeat something that has been so well-described in previous reviews. This was a very enjoyable book with a lot of dimensions and much food for thought. The narrator was masterful. Solaris was an all around compelling listening experience for me, classic Lem. I feel so lucky to have discovered Lem in the last year!
I was blown away by this book. Narration by Juliani is excellent. The journey and imagery that Lem created was to me profound. After listening to this book I rented the movie version. Didn't hold a candle to this book (don’t judge a book by it’s movie really applies here). The planet is a character in and of itself, fascinating. This book made me wish I lived in a universe with Solaris so I could see the amazing transformations created by the planet. Highly recommend.
This book didn't live up to it's hype. The first few hours were promising. But then the story line was truncated by long, boring technical descriptions that added nothing to the book and seriously rained on the plot parade. By the time a few of the threads were picked up again, I'd lost interest.
The ending was unsatisfactory too. It didn't resolve anything, and much of what could and should have been wrapped up was left hanging.
The narration was excellent, but couldn't save the book.
Overall, very disappointing.
Wonderfully narrated -- actually one of the best narrators I've ever heard! So many voices were used that it was more like a radio show than a book reading. The story had a very good beginning but it began to drag after a while. Still good... it kept me reading, but I was waiting for more action that did not come. The end was o k a y . Just kind of petered off instead of a real conclusion but there was some interesting philosophy presented, so it was still good. The first and last chapters were the best.
I will listen to NO boring book. Old Fav's,Card, King , Hobb. New Fav's, Hill, Scalzi, Sawyer, Interested in Lansdale, Crouch, Konrath
The critics love it. They say it is profound. They say it is beautiful. It explores the depths of human existence.It stands the test of time.
That is academia speak for it sucks big time. Someone a long time ago, who was high up in academia and who never read a Science Fiction novel in there life, deemed this a classic. All of his minions did not want to seem stupid, so they agreed.
Call me stupid, but I found this a long boring uninspired story. There were some interesting questions brought up, but nothing Heinlein or Asimov have not discussed. The difference being that Heinlein and Asimov are readable. If you are not into science fiction and you love the classics then you can read this love it and pretend you have read science fiction. If you are a true science fiction fan, who loves the wonder of Arthur C. Clarke's writing, you will be very disappointed. This can also be very frustrating. It is one of those books where the main character ask questions, but never gets answers. Everyone is always put off one hour. "Why do you pick your nose with your left hand". Answer "I can't tell you now come back in an hour." An hour later "I don't know why I pick my nose with my left hand, I must be crazy."
I am not trying to be mean, just feel it is my duty to warn others from wasting there money. This is my second and last Lem novel.
I put the narrator on fast play and he still sounded slow. He reads this whole thing in a somber whisper.
An avid reader who once abhorred the concept of "listening" to books, I now enjoy audiobooks as an alternative to the radio while commuting.
After having seen the film, "Solaris," from Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky several times, I had been looking for the novel upon which it was based. Instead I listened to the Audible version -- only my second audiobook experience. I see now why Lem decried the film (and the subsequent American remake). The story as written is not "love in outer space" (Lem's phrase), as the films (particularly the American version) would have one believe. Instead it is a meditation on how humans try to understand, scientifically, that which cannot be understood.
Not being a big fan of science fiction, I was hesitant to give this title a go. I'm glad I did. Lem has written one of the most intelligent novels in any genre. The narration by Juliani was superb. Even the voice he gives Hari -- the lone female in the story -- is believable and heartfelt.
Overall, "Solaris" is a highly recommended choice for a thought-provoking novel which, despite its setting in deep space, is not your standard science fiction tale.
Excellent audiobook. True science fiction with a depth most can only aspire to. The only thing that I have no
"Judge not for you might be judged - maybe?"
Yes. The sequence of reveals made me want to see if it was self-consistent.
The alien. It seemed to have something to say and significantly more presence than the human characters.
Launch into space. It was decent bit of action with some tension.
No. I thought the main character was particularly heartless for someone portrayed as "missing something from his life".
As book, as audio, as film and film again, Solaris casts a mythic spell. There is something in the idea of it that appeals to one's sense of longing and home and understanding of the past that works at an almost dream-like level. The deadpan reading works well here; far from emphatic or actorly, like the prose itself, its ordinariness is part of its extraordinary hypnotic power
"Didn't like it"
It was confusing, drawn out and I really wanted it to end, not because I enjoyed it, but I wanted to get on to a more enjoyable book.
This might be a classic, but the writer goes on and on about the "history" of the actual story... After a while I got really bored. There's no suspense and the story doesn't lift off. It was probably a cult book at it's time, but those days are over...
The narrator is OK
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