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!

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!

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4 years ago

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… Read more »

4 years ago

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.

Avada Kedavra
4 years ago

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.

Andrea J
4 years ago

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.

4 years ago

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.

Cait @ Paper Fury
4 years ago

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.

Danya @ Fine Print
4 years ago

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!