[Stanislaw Lem] Solaris

  • Title: Solaris
  • Author: Stanislaw Lem
  • Translated by: Joanna Kilmartin & Steve Cox
  • Published: 1961
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber
  • ISBN: 978-0-571-31157-6

There are things, situations, that no one has dared to externalize, but which the mind has produced by accident in a moment of aberration, of madness, call it what you will. At the next stage, the idea becomes flesh and blood.

Am I responsible for my unconscious?

from the book

What if we have to encounter your deep desire? Can we dare to confront our deepest self that we even do not know?

Solaris is one of the most widely known novels by Stanislaw Lem due to the popular movie – the same title – by Andrei Tarkovsky. Unlike the more enigmatic film version, the book is more lucid, less emotional, and scientific.

The story follows two lines – one for the emotional battle of the crew members of the space station orbited around Solaris and another for the research/exploration history of the planet Solaris.

Humans are rational beings who think and act reasonably. We learn how to live with others and can control our desires and emotions accordingly. Lem’s novels always deal with how Contact with other intelligent life forms possible can be. In Solaris, we have two types of Contacts: the Contact with the life form in Solaris and the Contact with your hidden self. The result is not pretty. You have to accept the illusion and cross the boundary of reality and hallucination. Or you succumb to the depth of madness. Intelligence is a gift as well as a punishment. We are responsible for where we stand and where we are going.

Contact with the unknown is what the book tries to show us. Anthropocentrism is the belief that human beings are the most important entity in the universe. It is not a simple prejudice. It might signify our intellectual boundaries. When we meet our inner self, it is more complicated. It is the battle against the known unknown – the entity that we know but cannot materialize.

The book gives us a chance to embark on a journey without a destination, which is why I think the book is a masterpiece.

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