June 1, 2007
Finished reading Solaris in only 3 days. It felt great to speed through a fascinating novel with a strong driving plot and a mystery that’s never fully explained. The book’s protagonist and most of the characters are scientists themselves, and took a logical, Sherlock-Holmes-like approach to the planet’s surface.
I actually watched the movie about a year ago, and kept expecting the book to follow the movie’s plot. I did like the movie, but thought the novel did a good job of leaving certain mysteries unsolved and making the unknowable nature of the planet a main theme of the story.
Lem himself had a great commentary on the movie vs. the book:
[Some critics] speculated that while the producer won’t make a lot of money and there will be no crowd at the box office, the film belongs to the genre of a more ambitious science fiction – since no one got murdered and neither star wars, nor space-werewolfs nor Schwarzenegger’s Terminators were present.
In the US an atmosphere filled with very concrete expectations usually accompanies the release of every new film. I found it interesting that although my book is quite old – almost half a century means a lot in present times – someone wanted to take the risk despite the fact that the plot did not meet the abovementioned expectations. (Along the way he might have gotten scared a bit, but the latter is a pure speculation on my part.)
The full article can be found here.
Lem’s comment on the “deep, concrete ruts of thinking” and “stereotypes of American thinking regarding science fiction” are a good commentary on the dangers of unoriginal sci-fi writing.