Scifi, Scifi month, Well known books

Solaris by Stanislaw Lem Or a famous sci-fi classic you should consider reading

I’ve been so happy about November being #RRSciFiMonth that I’ve only noticed now that I haven’t actually posted (haven’t even considered joining… ah, problems of a new blogger). That might be something to do with the fact that scifi is a normal part of my life, not just a one month in a year thing, or that I found out about it quite late, but hey. Last days of November. Still good to go!

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So I did read some scifi books this month, including A Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet and Blindness – ones I did post about. But my only tagged post is this one – about a scifi classic Solaris.

It’s not going to be an awfully long post though – as you might imagine, it’s not easy writing a review for a book that is more than half a century old. Most people have already written god knows what sorts of things about it. It’s like.. like writing a review about Harry Potter, or something.

But still, I guess my 2 cents might do some of my friends and readers some good. So I’ll try.

So, why should you read this? First of all, it’s a classic. Second, it’s a scifi classic, and dare I say, a psychological classic (is that a thing?) I have to admit though, this book was not easy to read. It deals with very painful topics (what is it with me stumbling into these books lately? You might remember my review about Blindness). This book is about human drama, tragedy, love and loss and, well, guilt, mostly. It’s also about a very different consciousness to ours – ever since I’ve finished this book (which was, in truth, more than a week before writing this review), I’ve been thinking that indeed the author was right. When we write, read and appreciate scifi, we only ever want to hear about humanized aliens. Nobody can relate to something so alient that we can’t even imagine it. Yet this book is about that. And you can only ponder about its motives and ideas. Perhaps that is the central part of this book (not the love and emotion, as the movies based on this story seem to have promoted – although don’t mind me, I actually haven’t seen the movies – true bookworm). But I’ve found that it was hard to care about a consciousness I absolutely coult not relate to. So I guess the author was right – we do only want to read about humanized aliens. Can’t help it. Built that way.

Anyway. It’s a classic, and I think you should read this book. But you shouldn’t start reading it with expectations. It’s not some crazy love story, like it is often sold to be. Yes, there’s love and loss, but it’s not about that. It’s more like an old-style hard scifi story (not surprising either – written in 1959-1960). It’s just that it happens to involve love and loss and other psychological constructs. And you might find that by the end, you still aren’t really sure what to make of it. And I think that was the idea.

I liked this book. I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads. But I feel like it’s something I’ll have to read again in maybe 10 years and then try to make something of it. For now, it just keeps me wondering – it leaves so many questions unanswered.

Have you read this book? If you have, please share your opinions. I’m curious!

I’m Evelina and I try to blog about books that matter, with a bit of fun there too! Disability and equality will be topics you see a lot, but there’s also a lot of scifi, fantasy and… GIFs. I’m also the proud founder of #ARCsAnonymous.

14 thoughts on “Solaris by Stanislaw Lem Or a famous sci-fi classic you should consider reading

  1. You know I’ve heard of this book but have no experience with it, so I was intrigued to see your review. I don’t know much about what it’s about, but they did make a movie or two out of this didn’t they? And I can totally see where this might be hard to read- I’ve found that some of the hard scifi from the 50’s or 60’s can be a challenging read, as they’re so different from today’s stuff. I have heard this is a classic though, and maybe I should give it a try?

    I like stories about consciousness and what it means to be human, or “conscious” (not necessarily the same thing) so this does look good in that regard. It’s funny, I’m reading The Long Way To A Small Angry Planet at the moment and that deals with consciousness too (in different ways I’m sure) with the whole Lovey thing.
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    1. Hi Greg! Nice to hear from you again. The deal with Solaris being tough to read wasn’t because it was old (I read Victorian books too xD), it was because it dealt with some really painful topics. It was just emotionally a tough read. Maybe you should give it a try, it was a strong book. And a classic too, yes.
      So glad you’re reading A Long Way! It’s one of the best books everrrrr (I forget if you’ve read my review about it). Absolutely loved it. Looking forward to your review of it 🙂

      1. I did read your review, and that had me move it up on my TBR ha ha. Yours and other reviews were all positive so I tried it, and I’m glad I did. I’m at 70% now but it already may be my favorite SF book this year. The crew are just… I don’t know, I want to know them, you know? Sissix and Rosemary and Ashby… and Kizzy and Jenks. Such great characters.
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        1. Oh, that’s right, you even commented, I think 🙂 sorry I forgot! I’m so glad you moved it up, that book was like one of the best reads of this year for me. The crew are like real people! They’re so alive it seems they’ll jump right out of the page. Which is your favorite? Although it’s so hard to pick favorites. I think mine might have been Sissix. Also, brace yourself. The ending will be.. quite something.
          Please drop by and tell me if you review it 🙂 really curious about your thoughts!

  2. I have heard so much about the book and movie. It’s like one of the best sci-fi novels written. I wanted to watch the movie after reading the book. I even bought the book and it is sitting on my shelf. I need to pick up the book and read it. Thanks for the review.

    1. Hi! Thanks for stopping by. Oh yes, you should pick up the book because it’s a fast read, and it’s, well, different. It could be a one night read, to be honest. I need to see the movies myself!

  3. I should try Solaris again. I’ve read a handful of Lem and enjoyed most of them, but I’ve never been able to finished Solaris, it just gets too slow for me.

    1. Yeah, I can understand that. It is a very small book, comparatively, but it is slow and.. I don’t even know what the word is, but.. it’s just static. I think it’s meant to be that way, cause that story is very deep in thought, I think.

  4. Classics just make my head hurt. I have tried THREE of Jane Austen’s books but gave up after reading like halfway through?? Anyways, I ALSO GAVE UP ON THE HOBBIT. (classics and me aren’t the best of friends ahem #sorrynotsorry) Maybe I will try this one since my local library has it ( I think I saw it there) and it is sci-fi.
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    1. Oh, I think it’s completely normal to drop classics. When it comes to classics, most of the time it’s older stuff and it’s harder to relate to it cause it’s been written hundreds of years ago xD or at least a hundred.
      It was rocky for me as well with Jane Austen at first, but then I started enjoying her tone and sarcarm. She’s witty in her writing. But I do enjoy Victorian writing in general, but I do agree it’s not for everyone.

      I did enjoy The Hobbit, I read it twice, once when I was a kid, and I loved it. But I have to admit I did not make it through The Lord of The Rings 😀 not even the first book.

      If you don’t read a lot of scifi, you should not try Solaris because it will probably bore you out 🙂 if you want to try scifi, go for Becky Chambers or something like that, this could be too heavy a read 🙂

  5. I haven’t read it! (No surprise I’m sure hehe, since I barely read sci-fi….although I kind of do want to try some?!? I’ve been getting into adult epic fantasy lately so WHO KNOWS. Maybe I’ll be brave and try some sci-fi soon too and realise I love it! *fingers crossed*) But I totally get that feeling of how hard it’s to review and old and famous book! That was me reviewing Harry Potter last year. So I basically just flailed and everyone laughed at my 10+ year late pain.
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    1. Haha, Cait, we have more common than I initially thought 😀 same here with Harry Potter! I STILL haven’t read half of it. Not for lack of wanting to. But I don’t have to explain – something tells me you know full well why and how that stuff happens xD

      As for Solaris – don’t read it, it’s not a Cait book xD I think we had previously agreed that if Cait wades into scifi territory, it will be by way of Becky Chambers’ A Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet 😀 now that’s a Cait book. Then again, you also read Illuminae. That’s scifi. But that’s sort of a scifi cross between.. hell knows what. I can’t say YA. But it definitely has a touch of it, don’t you think? Maybe too much violence, but it deals with teens and their feelings a lot. Something that doesn’t happen at all in adult books, and not in that way. So it’s a mixture of sorts.

  6. I’m glad you mentioned that this is more of an old-school hard SF story than a sweeping romance, because whenever I’ve heard other people talk about Solaris they always make it seem romantic. There’s nothing wrong with a good romance (I do love them) but I’m not a big fan of expecting one thing and getting another from my reading, so it’s good to be prepared!
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    1. Hi, sorry for taking so long to reply 😀 yes, I think when they talk about Solaris, they talk about the movies, and even thought I haven’t seen those, I think they are much more geared towards the romantic part of the story than the rest. Yes, there was a painful love story in the book, but that was not what the book was ABOUT. I guess especially for the newer movie, marketing it through romance will sell a lot more, so maybe they made the movie with that idea.

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