Written by: Stanislaw Lem
Reviewed by: Brad Williamson
One of the toughest duties of a critic is to voice dislike for unanimously praised works. I wanted to love this book, and I did like it–parts were quite engrossing–but overall it fell flat. Maybe my expectations were too high, maybe it has aged poorly, maybe I didn’t like the romantic aspect interfering with the science-fiction, but I am disappointed to say that I did not love “Solaris”. Still, it was a good book.
The first thing that impressed me was the tone. A very atmospheric book, “Solaris” is, in many ways, an homage to older science-fiction, bridging a gap between the ancient and the modern, the cliche and the original, the scary and the macabre. I loved the backstory and for lovers of entertaining info dumps, this novel is for you.
The tone changed with the introduction of romance, though. The science throughout was fascinating and intriguing, and the writing remained consistently top-notch, but I lost interest during the final third of the book. I tried giving it a rest and returning, but the magic of the introduction never returned and I was ultimately unable to enjoy the conclusion.
This is the type of story that remains with you, crawling into your brain to nest. I don’t often reread novels, but this might be one I return to in the future to see if a different version of me views the conclusion in a new light.
Despite this rather tepid review, I highly recommend “Solaris” to fans of science-fiction, romance, and literary novels in general. It has much to offer and even if it slightly disappoints, no one will regret reading it.