Review: Solaris — Stanislaw Lem

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To Go: 69

Book List:
31. Solaris — Stanislaw Lem

Who’s testing whom? When Kris Kelvin arrives at the planet Solaris to study the ocean that covers its surface, he is forced to confront a painful, hitherto unconscious memory embodied in the living physical likeness of a long-dead lover. Others examining the planet, Kelvin learns, are plagued with their own repressed and newly corporeal memories. Scientists speculate that the Solaris ocean may be a massive brain that creates these incarnate memories, its purpose in doing so unknown. The first of Lem’s novels to be published in America and now considered a classic,Solaris raises a question: Can we truly understand the universe around us without first understanding what lies within?

Okay so this was a for-class book which means I’m less inclined to delve into it (I’ve got to save some good stuff for my final paper, which I suspect I’ll be writing on Solaris). So here’s the quick and dirty:

Solaris is not the worst thing I’ve ever read, but it’s not great either. It’s slow to start, but if you stick it out it does get interesting, and very involved. However, there are times where Kris Kelvin, the main character, delves into an analysis of historical texts written on the planet Solaris, and that could pretty much put anyone to sleep. That particular issue happened three or four times, and it was just brutal.

I liked that it wasn’t purely science fiction, and also delved into dreams, psychology, and the unconscious. Plus there’s this continued metaphor of mirrors and duplicates, which is really interesting. (Probably final essay-stuff for me to mull over. Sorry, I’ve got school on the brain.)

Next book: The Wasteland, Prufrock, and Other Poems — T.S. Eliot (What?! It’s short, okay?!)

– Kelsey


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