"Solaris" by Soderbergh
After the premiere of this remake of the Tarkovski movie I read a number of critical reviews, which appeared in American press. The divergence of opinions and interpretations was enormous. The Americans in a somewhat childish manner "grade" films just like children's papers in school. Hence there were critics who gave Soderbergh's "Solaris" an "A", the majority agreed on a "B" and some gave it a "C".
Some reviewers, like the one from the "New York Times", claim the film was a "love story" - a romance set in outer space. I have not seen the film and I am not familiar with the script, hence I cannot say anything about the movie itself except for what the reviews reflect, albeit unclearly - like a distorted picture of one's face in ripply water. However, to my best knowledge, the book was not dedicated to erotic problems of people in outer space...
I cannot say anything reasonable about its creation - the book somehow "poured out of me" without any previous planning and I even had difficulties with the ending. However since I wrote it over forty years ago, from today's perspective I perceive it in a much more objective and rational way. I am also capable of finding analogies to other works, located in high regions of the world literature. Melville's "Moby Dick" could serve as an example; on the surface the book describes the history of a whaling ship and Capitan Ahab's pernicious quest for the white whale. Initially the critics destroyed the novel as meaningless and unsuccessful - after all why care about some whale the captain most likely would have converted into a number of cutlets and barrels full of animal fat? Only after great analytical efforts the critics discovered that the message of "Moby Dick" was neither animal fat nor even harpoons. Since much deeper, symbolic layers were found, in libraries Melville's work was removed from the "Adventures at Sea" section and placed elsewhere.
Had "Solaris" dealt with love of a man for a woman - no matter whether on Earth on in Space - it would not have been entitled "Solaris"! Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, an Americanized Hungarian specializing in literary studies called his analysis "The Book is the Alien". Indeed, in "Solaris" I attempted to present the problem of an encounter in Space with a form of being that is neither human nor humanoid.
Science fiction almost always assumed the aliens we meet play some kind of game with us the rules of which we sooner or later may understand (in most cases the "game" was the strategy of warfare). However I wanted to cut all threads leading to the personification of the Creature, i.e. the Solarian Ocean, so that the contact could not follow the human, interpersonal pattern - although it did take place in some strange manner. The method I used in the novel to demonstrate this was the particular outcome of the interest of people, who for over one hundred years have been studying the planet "Solaris" and the ocean covering its surface.