Regular price: $19.95

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

Editorial 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.

Critic Reviews

"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 Ratings

Overall

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    1,103
  • 4 Stars
    1,149
  • 3 Stars
    741
  • 2 Stars
    237
  • 1 Stars
    99

Performance

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    1,300
  • 4 Stars
    1,010
  • 3 Stars
    377
  • 2 Stars
    90
  • 1 Stars
    35

Story

  • 3.9 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    977
  • 4 Stars
    908
  • 3 Stars
    627
  • 2 Stars
    231
  • 1 Stars
    90
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Between Physics & Dreams

An outstanding performance of one of the greatest Science fiction novels to have come out of Europe in the past few decades. Few novels can examines both the theoretical difficulties of extraterrestrial communications and the futility of human desire with equal skill, but Lem pulls it off.

Stanislaw Lem is considered a national treasure in his native Poland and once you've experienced Solaris you'll understand exactly why. Very highly recommended.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Wanted to love it....

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Sc-fi with too much science, too little fiction

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • gerry
  • milton, ON, Canada
  • 10-05-13

Misleading as Sci-Fi

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!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Saman
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 01-31-13

Engrossing.

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!

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Erica
  • United States
  • 06-13-12

Breathtaking Story

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Amazing & evocative story

What made the experience of listening to Solaris the most enjoyable?

Excellent story - Johnston has done a remarkable job in translating this sci-fi and philosophical masterpiece. The performance is top notch as well, making this easily one of the best and most enjoyable books I've purchased from Audible.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Very Interesting story and great narration

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. Good old fashion Sci Fi that makes you think.

What about Alessandro Juliani’s performance did you like?

Alessandro was simply great.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Excellent narration

What does Alessandro Juliani bring to the story that you wouldn???t experience if you just read the book?

The performance - it's more than just a narration - is exceptional. There's a review up the top of the page on Audible that makes a note of the narration's similarity to a 'pre-parody Shatner', and there's some truth in that; at least, I'm glad I'm not the only one who heard a similarity. Juliani does a remarkable job in shifting from character to character, even though there are only five characters with speaking roles: they're all distinct, nobody is a parody or stereotype. Diction is clear and precise.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No. It's not that kind of book, to me. I find it one of ideas best digested slowly; if I could get this version in print, I'd be reading it slowly as well, not gulping it down.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Patriq
  • Oslo, Norway
  • 12-20-11

Food for thought and soul

Where does Solaris rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is t h e best audiobook I've listened to. It is the total of all things that come into play when you produce an audibook that makes this a ecxellent piece of performance. The end result convinces me to my heart.The story is a heartening story of sorrow and beauty at the same time. It challenges and tickles perception, values and ethics as the events and circumstances in the story put them to test since what we are presented with is something rather different than anything we experience(d) on earth.

What did you like best about this story?

Most rewarding in the story is the sincere and profound love the main character holds for his late wife. And the torments he goes through as a rational being, trying to grasp and understand what he encounters at Solaris. What this means for him personally, and for man in a grander perspective.It is very rewarding to read a book that in an intricate way challenges the reader to concider value, love and achivement. At the same time it is one of those sci-fi stories that uses the settings to explore new topics, and where the sci is not just an end in it self. The story is just as fascinating even if one doesn't ponder all the new questions that it raises.

What does Alessandro Juliani bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

Alessandro performs something close to a radio broadcast. He really brings the characters to life. He draws upon an apparent talent to portray many different personalities. The only other way really to experience something similar is to view the movie(s). Even though one of the treats of reading a book, is that it lets one self build up a convincing portray of a character - sometimes the imagination of an actor or a narrator does a better job than one self and is more rewarding than just reading the book.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Personally, I with this book enjoyed the way I listen to audio books. In small portions on my way to and from work. Because the scope merits from being digested.

Any additional comments?

There is an odd blend of two types of narration. That of what is directly experienced by the characters, and that of an almost dry historical documentary of Solaris as a phenomenon. I think I have an idea of what the author wanted to achive with this. But I think that this might put off some readers that might feel as if the story telling is put on hold.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Mr. C. Horsfall
  • 11-12-11

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.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Chris
  • 07-21-11

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.

6 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • B. L. Pinches
  • 01-18-18

brilliant sci-fi

still cutting edge 50 plus years on. this is an utterly involving and moving story with fantastic, visual descriptions of Solaris. brilliantly read

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Paul
  • 01-10-18

Classic Sci-Fi

This has to be one of the best narrator's performance, he brought the characters to life. I loved the story, although some of the characters could be frustrating at times. Great overall though, well worth a listen.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Ms. Ruth Messenger
  • 01-07-18

Bored

Waited and waited and waited for action. No action. Awful depiction of women, but then it was written in 1961.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Neil
  • 01-02-18

Finally given a proper translation

A classic sci-fi novel finally given a proper translation.

Forget the movies, they miss the whole point of this story.

Not the easiest of listens, but thoroughly enjoyable with a little effort. Not a book to listen to whilst doing something else. So find a quite hour each day.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Blaze Jay
  • 12-31-17

So hyped... not that good.<br />

the story isn't as good as I've expected.
performance was good but could be better.
all in all I'm disappointed.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • ebizzer
  • 12-26-17

Soooooo boring

Great narration, but the story was even more boring than Clooneys movie-version. Could not wait for it to end.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • JammersRush
  • 12-16-17

Short but tough

I generally dip in and out of the audio books I listen to - which may have been problematic on this particular title. I picked it because it was relatively short and I thought it would be an easy listen. Unfortunately for me, this was a massive error. The story itself is very beautiful, an alien world that seems entirely disinterested in the various attempts to contact it - and the world of Solaristics is incredibly detailed. It's this however that makes it a difficult listen/read - the text lurches from academic detail about the planet and the history of the study of Solaris to hyperbolas exchanges between the various characters. I imagine that back in 1961 this book was zippy and fast paced but I'm afraid that although the story is beautiful the text can get a little cumbersome and bogged down. Not an easy listen.....unless you can do it all on one go on a mammoth trip, perhaps a flight or a car journey.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Sandy mg
  • 12-08-17

Went on and on

This book started well- I was intrigued by the storyline. Then it became so tedious I gave up and returned it. Too bogged down in trying to explain the science!! The best thing about it was the narrator.