Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem

A later printing of Solaris from Berkeley Science Fiction in 1980
As it says on the cover, Solaris is probably Stanislaw Lem's greatest and definitely his most well known work. First published in English in 1970, Polish science fiction writer Lem's novel recounts Dr. Kris Kelvin's travels to the eponymous planet along with his research team to gather data. Solaris is mostly compromised of a strange ocean that the scientists are there to study and communicate with, but what they soon discover is that the highly-sentient planet is actually studying them. Facing each of the scientists with reconstructed people and problems from their past, Solaris is observing the frailty and ultimate inadequacy of human life as they each break down. While Lem's novel has been adapted into several film versions, none of them focuses so much on the extraordinariness of Solaris and its ocean, which Lem believed likely to actually exist, and only showed more of the human weakness instead. This edition features great traditional sci-fi paperback artwork by an unknown cover artist.

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