Critic's Opinion

Below, the Ocean - the planet's only inhabitant, organic, sentient, unimaginably powerful, profoundly indifferent to humanity. Above, the space station set from Earth, pathetically hovering over Solaris in an attempt to fathom some of the oceans mysteries, to tap a little of its knowledge. Newest arrival at the station is Kelvin, psychologist, principal character of a science fiction novel which has all the makings of a classic.

This station is all but deserted, its crew reduced to a couple of half-crazed, furtive creatures, who are men of high repute among their fellow scientists. Are there but the three of them on board? Kelvin soon finds out, or thinks he does, when he is visited in the middle of the night by a lady bearing an uncanny resemblance to his long dead wife.

This is a dense and profound book, a parable and a thriller written at several levels and yielding more at each examination, yet it remains extremely readable throughout.

John Hartridge, Oxford Mail

 

Solaris is the most famous of Lem's works which made him a world-famous writer.  In its genre it ranks higher than almost all Polish literary works:  it is considered to be a classic, its title can be found in all basic science fiction compendia among books by Wells, Stapledon and Dick.  Solaris probably owes its success to the masterly combination of the serious problem of contact with an emotional, romantic plot.

Solaris is one of the most philosophically sophisticated science fiction works.  Most commentators considered this book to be a "Metascience Fiction" - an example of a profound critique of the genre and an exploration of the potential of science fiction....

Solaris leaves room for a few parallel and even contradictory interpretations;  one can see it as a Swift-satire, a tragic romance, an existentialist parabola in Kafka-style, a metafictional parody of hermeneutics, an ironic tale of knights reminding of Cervantes or a Kantian meditation about the nature of the human mind.

Jerzy Jarzebski