the Little Red Reviewer

Welcome to Vintage Science Fiction Month! First thoughts on Solaris

Posted on: January 1, 2020

Also, Welcome to the year 2020!

I hope everyone had a joyful holiday season and a wonderful New Years.  I hope 2020 is a wonderful year for all of us.

Anyway, my first Vintage blog post is about Stanislaw Lem’s novel Solaris!  and I’m posting about the book before I’ve finished it!   I’ve found that is a fun thing to do – do a blog post when I’m about halfway through a book,  and then post again when I’ve finished it, to laugh at my guesses and assumptions.


I was reluctant to read Solaris. I think I might have tried to read this when I was in my 20s, and didn’t like it?  I remember being bored to tears when I saw the George Clooney movie. Well, the stars must be aligned, because I am enjoying Solaris so much that not only have I underlined parts of the book that speak to me, but the book is already littered with hand written notes that I’ve stuck inside the pages.   Lem wrote a lot of satires, and I can’t tell if this is a satire or not.  The wikipedia page is horribly short.


Some out of context bits that I underlined:


“We don’t want to conquer the cosmos, we simply want to extend the boundaries of Earth to the frontiers of the cosmos. . .  .  We are only seeking Man.  We have no need of other worlds, we need mirrors.”


“It has been described as a symphony in geometry, but we lack the ears to hear it”.


Included in my scribbled  notes are:


If you Visitor can’t bear to be far away from you, what happens to your Visitor when you die?   And where is Snow’s Visitor?  What happens when you leave the station?  If you have bad thoughts about the person, does your Visitor become violent? Could your Visitor kill you?


regarding the observations of the ocean’s creativity – it’s like it is drawing something, writing something, sculpting something, then thinking to itself “well, that’s crap”, and crumpling up the piece of paper and throwing it away, and then trying again a few days later. Is this a slow-mo version of when you get an amazing thought in your head, and when you try to verbalize it, suddenly the thought is gone?



What is Solaris about?  the plain and oversimplified answer is that Solaris is about scientific failure. It is about that sometimes humans just have to understand that we will never understand something, and that the something we are trying to understand, it will never understand us.  If you don’t mind spoilers, there is an excellent write up about it at, if you’re interested, and here is a neat article about how the novel has an ecological protagonist.


I’ll post more thoughts when I’ve finished the book and had some time to think about it.


In the meantime,  Have you ever read Solaris?  Have you ever read anything by Stanislaw Lem?  What are your thoughts on stories where people simple can not understand, comprehend, or communicate with whatever we are trying to communicate with? How should a character define if they have “succeeded” or not?


of equal importance, did you ever see one of the movie versions of Solaris? What did you think?   This doesn’t seem like the kind of story that would translate well to TV or movies.



Stay tuned for more thoughts on Solaris!

9 Responses to "Welcome to Vintage Science Fiction Month! First thoughts on Solaris"

I saw it on stage last autumn (because how could I resist going to see a gender-swapped version of Solaris and how could that possibly work on stage) and it was amazing. The gender swap changed the dynamic a little, and the cast were just brilliant – I’ve never stayed awake through the Clooney version, but I had no problem keeping my eyes open 😉

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i think this story would work amazing on Stage!

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So atmospheric and claustrophobic – it’s perfect. They went with a cleverly minimalistic set design and used colour washes to imply the planet and its responses, which worked really well!

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I have never read Lem or seen the movie, but I’m curious, especially with the ecological angle. Will definitely look closer. and so glad Vintage SF Month is here! Always a favorite.

Happy New Year!!!

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Skip the movie, it’s boring. but I recommend the book! and the stage play, if you can find it!


I’ve taken a couple stabs at Lem and have yet to manage it. Which is embarrassing! But I haven’t tried Solaris.


I’ve bounced off of some of his stuff too. His novels seem to take freakin’ forever to actually get anywhere. Have you tried his short stories? The Cyberiad and The Star Diaries are episodic short stories, lots of humor and satire.


I never tried any of his work though Solaris is on my “One Day” TBR, a never-ending list. 😉
I’m glad Vintage Sci-Fi Month is back!


I look forward to Vintage month every year! Jacob (Red Star Reviews) and I have been planning and laughing and chit chatting about this for months and having a blast!


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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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