Posted by : S. Anupam Jul 1, 2012
Solaris, a polish novel by Stanislaw Lem is satirical, sci-fi with the irresistible philosophy that gonna hunt you in the end for quite some time, like Denis Lahane's Shutter Island, a psycho novel.
Not only for Sci-fi lovers, but for true readers who love the philosophy mused with sci-fi, psychology, adventures not just like Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer or Time Machine and love saga of Stephen Meyer's classic twilight but still hunt for more. The novel keeps engrossed once you cross more than 50 pages, and in the end it will make you crazy, and simultaneously shy that ah! it's finished. A few pages are there you will go through again to understand the Lem's world & philosophy. The sheer philosophy of life and then understanding them through the conversation between the human being and alien like creatures which themselves were the reflections of ocean tides. Lem has written a number of books, fictions like The Investigation (1959), Return from the Stars (1961), His Masters voice (1968), Katar & Nonfictions like Luba Crazy, Sex Wars, Dialogs but Solaris was the most acclaimed one. Which later was translated into more than 30 languages and has been made into three successful films of the same name.
Well, what makes it so interesting and unique??
Lem's mind, right from Men from Mars (1946) then The investigation - which was a mystery novel was trying to capture more of mystery, sci-fi, lively romance (from the dead, Rhea) and psychology of mind with unparalleled philosophy, which could finally achieve in Solaris. Take it
"...We take off into the cosmos, ready for anything: for solitude, for hardship, for exhaustion, death. Modesty forbids us to say so, but there are times when we think pretty well of ourselves. And yet, if we examine it more closely, our enthusiasm turns out to be all sham. We don't want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of Earth to the frontiers of the cosmos. For us, such and such a planet is as arid as the Sahara, another as frozen as the North Pole, yet another as lush as the Amazon basin. We are humanitarian and chivalrous; we don't want to enslave other races, we simply want to bequeath them our values and take over their heritage in exchange. We think of ourselves as the Knights of the Holy Contact. This is another lie. We are only seeking Man. We have no need of other worlds. We need mirrors. We don't know what to do with other worlds. [...:] We arrive here as we are in reality, and when the page is turned and that reality is revealed to us--that part of our reality which we would prefer to pass over in silence--then we don't like it anymore."
There are people I met, saying I don't believe in Philosophy/religion/God.
I think, they actually don't know what these are or they have narrowed these words meaning as per their comfortableness. The uniqueness of Solaris lies in the conversation between Past and future of Dr. Kris Kelvin in his present. The protagonist, Kelvin, saying, "A planet dominated by a huge devil, who satisfies the demands of his satanic humour by sending succubi to haunt the members of a scientific expedition...?"
The moments will leave you gasping and creepy during the interactions of Kelvin, the prime character with those alien like creatures and finally when he decided not to leave them but the human beings. Unlike the American sci-fi authors like Charles Beaumont, Edward Bryant and Steven Byrst whose novels turn fast from the beginning appears boring intermittently, Lem's starts slowly even though the events such as Solaris ocean waves characteristic change, were happening very fast Lem kept the process of understanding - which naturally happening through the Kelvin's mind, slow. Hence the more you read the more you are left mused.
There are three movies based on the Novel, of the same name. I have seen the latter two. Andrey Tarkovsky's Solyaris the Russian one, you must go for, even though it appears boring in the beginning particularly when Tarkovsky shows Donats (Kelvin) driving a car for 5-10 minutes. But the characters have become alive with the roles played by Natalya as Harey and Donatas as Kelvin, while Tarkovsky has kept the sensibility of the novel which lies on beyond Solaris waves ...somewhere in the philosophy that appears in Kelvin mind through the events. The Movie appears among the best of Russian Classics.
The other Solaris despite the big names is not even worth to watch. Produced by Cameron and directed by Sodenberg have almost killed the script and there were not much room for Clooney to work for as Chris Kelvin.
Note: You might be rambling at the end, if you skipped the pages in between.