Solaris by Stanisław Lem
People will always search for something unusual and miraculous on the planet since there are a lot of things to be investigated. The main human interest consists in recognizing the world of dreams better than it is recognized by people. The eternal dilemma of belief and interpretation of dreams has lasted for a long time; the topic is reviewed in Chapter 9 named ‘Liquid Oxygen’ which describes the dream of the main hero, Kris Kelvin. In that part, Gibarian, who was already dead, came to warn him about the danger. The spirit convinced Kris to find some weapon. In this part of the book, idea of anthropomorphism is revealed because it is not possible to understand the motivation of such dreams or any other occurrences. The space and dreams can be considered as something truly alien and related to each other in human conscience. Nevertheless, not everybody can understand these bonds.
However, there are people who understand the truly alien nature of space and who are granted access to such nature of the planet. Astronauts can be viewed as examples of such people in the real world. For instance, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were those astronauts who were able to experience something bigger than just space beyond the horizon and observe something hidden from average people. This could be explained with the help of aspiration to explore, which is inherent to astronauts. They are able to truly comprehend the space as oppose to average people, who do not understand the exact nature of all what happens in the space. Consequently, the main hero of the novel describes his own feelings about the matter, saying, “They are thoughts… I get a feeling as if they were not from inside myself, but somewhere further away. I cannot explain it, cannot put words to it…” (Lem, 1961).
Solaris is a book that describes a planet that can read human minds as well as possesses the ability to give people what they need or miss at the given moment. It starts with telling a story about two men that died on a station when they were going around the planet on their spaceship. Rheya was a wife of the spaceman, Kris Kelvin, who was a psychiatrist there.
The main idea that was laid at the basis of the book relates to applicants. This thesis states that all the people in life are incorporation of both knowledge and feelings about them. Somehow they appear in human dreams, thoughts, or ideas in those figures that were perceived by our mind regarding certain people. I also liked the idea of reincarnation that was depicted by Stanislaw Lem in this novel. In my opinion, it deserves to be developed in science fiction books and films as it has proofs in the real world. Many times people told they had seen a cat with human eyes or they saw ghosts in their bedrooms. It can be real after all.
Another thing I liked about the book is that the author addresses everlasting human topics. Solaris is full of emotions, and it explores great ideas of faith, love, memory, God’s existence, and the afterlife. These themes will always be relevant and will be interpreted in a rather interesting way in the science fiction books. Therefore, author’s fantasy does not have any borders that can limit him in his desire to depict an afterlife with the help of space or love motives.
However, there was a thing I did not like about this book. For a reader, it can seem that the author concentrated more on the topic of love than on the extraterrestrial life in the space. To my mind, this book was not dedicated to exploring the problems of human relationships. Lem wanted to reveal the connection of life with something that cannot be narrowed to human ideas. I had a feeling that half of it was psychological thriller and another half was a novel describing human feelings. However, in the novel, there were too many dialogs which could also distract a reader from the main idea of this book.
After finishing the book I had these questions:
Why author picked out suicidal death for Rheya? He could grant her death in many other ways. Did the author mean that Solaris was Heaven? How could the story relate to biblical motives?
Comparison to biblical motives can be fair enough because the book is full of hidden biblical metaphors. Religious aspect of Solaris can also be viewed as a story of Jesus. Rheya can be perceived as a woman who interacts with something invisible and specific. In the Bible, it is described as God. The motive of endless love can also refer to the biblical story where Jesus begs everyone to love thy neighbor. Solaris itself can be compared to “mirror” that verifies all Earthly beliefs with the holiest sense.