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)
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 read many of the reviews that Audible bubbles to the top and was persuaded to give this one a go. This book is called a classic and some of the other reviews dismiss certain criticisms as unwarranted. Well I am here to add my voice to the dissenters.
First the positive. There is certainly an interesting story here about mankind's first contact with a new life form on the planet Solaris. This alien is an ocean and it is so different from our notion of life that it sparks hundreds of years of debate and becomes a new branch of science. We join the story as Kris Kelvin arrives at Solaris station and begins to try to solve the riddle.
Kris meets the other scientists stationed on Solaris and it is obvious right away that something strange is going on. The interactions between the characters can be awkward at times but I can let that slide due to their questionable mental state and the fact that this book is a translation.
However, strewn throughout the book are long periods of time when Kris is searching for clues and reads scientific books and journals that contain theories about Solaris. These range from the philosophical to the scientific. While it is impressive that Stanislaw Lem was able to create so much detail within his story it doesn't make it entertaining to listen to. These boring periods can be oppressive and if you are driving while listening then you risk falling asleep at the wheel. Alessandro Juliani does the characters well enough but he can't bring life to the dead sections of the book.
Combine the long periods of boredom with an unsatisfying ending that feels incomplete and I just can't recommend this one.
I have never read Solaris before but was aware of the criticism over the previous translated versions. My only experience with it were the two movies from 1972 and Clooney's 2002. This last one I strongly advise to skip or you are in danger of forsaken the story definitively.
This new translation is excellent and, as in most cases, goes a lot deeper than 1972's picture.
Solaris is a wonderfully rich story of man's inability to deal with the unknown, both from outside and inside himself. From the unsuccessful attempts to communicate with the living ocean to the disastrous relationships developed with its creations, you are immerse on a elaborated plot that leads to an unsuspected conclusion.
Alessandro's performance is consistent and ads a lot of depth to the telling. He conducts you gracefully trough the book and make it almost impossible to stop listening.
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
For well over a hundred years, earth scientists have been obsessed by the planet Solaris, or rather by the sentient ocean gelatinously covering it: observing, classifying, experimenting, contacting, analyzing, theorizing, proving, disproving, publishing, and perishing. Despite all that activity (Solaristics), humanity is no closer to understanding the alien life form. As the novel opens the psychologist narrator Kris Kelvin travels to the space station orbiting the alien world to join three scientists in studying Solaris.
If Lem???s novel were a typical science fiction alien contact story, we might expect Kelvin to take stock of the situation, to glean useful clues from the station???s extensive Solaristics library, to energize his colleagues, and then, by making a conceptual breakthrough and utilizing some technological gadgets, to comprehend the oceanic alien and pacify it (if it is inimical) or cooperate with it (if it is friendly). Lem, however, has no interest in telling such a comforting story.
Instead, when Kelvin arrives at the station he finds his colleagues strangely demoralized and anti-social. Disturbed, he skims through various Solaristics tomes, but only confirms the impossible and arrogant folly of the human project to understand a truly alien life form. And then he, like his colleagues, is visited by an unexpected ???Guest??? or ???Ghost,??? a simulacrum of the most important person from his past, apparently sent by the ocean. Is the alien experimenting on the humans? Torturing them? Giving them a gift? Reacting reflexively to their experiments? Communicating with them? The only thing Kelvin knows for sure is that the sentient ocean has read the depths of his mind to find there his strongest guilt and grief.
Solaris reminds us that for all the appeal of space exploration and for all we learn about the universe therein, we may never understand the labyrinthine depths of the human mind; that we can never escape the physical limits of our perception of ourselves and others; and that love is never easy.
The ocean of Solaris is sublime, with beautiful and awesome structures and behaviors. And though my mind did wander during some of the summaries of the many different Solaristics trends and schools, and though I wish the reader Alessandro Juliani (who does a great Snaut and a fine Harey) could have read Kelvin???s voice with more gravitas, I am glad to have listened to this singular, majestic, and moving novel.
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
Every audio book is an interpretation of the text, so it must be a daunting exercise to embark upon the production of a classic. This is certainly a classic and Alessandro Juliani's is a fine interpretation of its haunting and equivocal messages. I enjoyed the pace of his reading, as well as his tone. His Harey and Snout are both excellent, not how I had previously read them, and yet completely valid.
As for the plot, it is one of those that can be debated ad nauseum and often is at both Secondary and Tertiary levels. Is Kris Kelvin imagining Harey, a past tragic lover? Are the rest of the crew of the space station deluded or delusional? Is Solaris truly alive? What other secrets does Dr Snout have? Does any of it matter if Solaris is alive? The questions are posed and not always answered in this complex, poetic, si-fi classic.
If you like si-fi that makes you think (like "Blade Runner", or "Foundation", or "Eon") I suspect this translation and production will appeal to you for all the right reasons.
I saw there were a lot of rave reviews for this book. It seems to be from fans who were familiar with the movies and probably the author's other books (which would have given them more insights into this book upon re-reading). Having only read the book, I didn't find it engaging. I thought the dialogue was awkward at times. It could be that the intent didn't translate well from Polish to English or because it was written in 1961 and has become dated. As a story, I think the book is lacking. For example, the focus is around the main character Kelvin and the physical manifestation of his "guest" shortly after he arrives on the planet. The other two characters are also facing their own of past regrets and guilts. The book teases the readers with moments where the other two characters are struggling to contain their "guests," but it is never revealed who they are. This left an unsatisfactory feeling. It's as if the author spent all his energy creating the dead lover of Kelvin and trying to unveil the part he played in her death. And he couldn't think of anything else to create for the other two shipmates. The book also spent more time describing the science that emerged from studying Solaris (and all the scientific jargon that evolved) than in developing the characters.
The book is interesting from a philosophical perspective. Humanity is arrogant in thinking that it can study and understand an alien life when we don't even understand ourselves. Also it appears that the planet Solaris could be one giant life form. Humanity's attempt to make contact with it would be like an ant trying to make contact with an elephant.
Love excellent narrators like Ray Porter. Love the Joe Ledger series.
Very good performance by narrators. Could feel the bright heat and light of the fierce blue sun and also the orange glow of the deep red sun.
Each actor is narrated well, especially the scene with Liquid Oxygen.
The book itself seems meandering too much. It takes random walks into past and leaves us stranded there for long time.
Juliani is excellent. His narration is the only reason I continued to listen. Sorry Stanislaw, stay in the lab.
The last sentence.
The narration and possibily the concept of a global sized entity.
I waited and waited for the story to develop. All I heard was pontification of nonsense. The storyline could be easily condensed into one 20-30 minute short story. Instead we are exposed to endless theorms of theorems. I listen for entertainment. This was torture.
I remember many years ago as a child, watching the Russian movie Solaris by director Andrey Tarkovskiy. To tell you the truth, I really did not understand it one little bit. It was a confusing film that nearly put me to sleep. It was hard to grasp and I had a very difficult time understanding the concepts around the ocean and its manifestations. But the story lingered in my mind thereafter and I knew that one day I would have to read Stanislaw Lem’s novel to understand it as an adult. Finally I got to listen to this incredible novel. This is one of the very best science fiction novels ever written. Lem really studies our inner soul and its interaction with the impossible. As you engross yourself in the novel, do not be disappointed that there is no final answer to the mystery of the ocean, but marvel in the way he entices you to answer the questions the protagonist struggles through. What would you do in an event like this? That is really what Lem is asking of you … A must read!
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, A hoper, a pray-er, a magic-bean buyer. If you're a pretender come sit by my fire
Solaris is hauntingly beautiful with enough action to still fall under traditional Sci-Fi territory. The narration is nothing to write home about, but it doesn't detract from the story. Listen to Solaris if you're a fan of old-school Sci Fi (2001, Foundation, etc.) and you'll love it.
A pessimistic view of communication with an alien intelligence. Sombre, serious, and weighty. Excellent narrator.
"Glad to of read the book - more detail than film"
More detail than film and more haunting. Well recommended as a better alternative to the film. It's less "commercial" and far more interesting.
But it ends and leaves more questions ... But isn't that just what Solaris is ... A mystery of incomprehensible size and reasoning
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.
"ok but is a bit self indulgent"
I know this is an icon, but I found it a bit too self indulgent with some of the histories of made up theories. The end was a so what! I doesn't so much finish as fade away.
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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