SolarisSolaris by Stanisław Lem

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

oh…. lovely. a first contact story with a real alien in it.

despite the stupid kissy cover, the best parts of this book aren’t about the love story, they’re about the alien. a huge, oceanic alien whose way of being humans have not even begun to understand.

all the years of sci-fi aliens with plastic foreheads on their real heads haven’t prepared one for this: an alien alien. one cannot even say with certainty that it has a self, let alone having Ee’d Plebnista kinda government or dreams of electric sheep. this entity can’t be understood on any human term… and that makes it pretty effing cool, and quite irresistible.

i’m quite surprised at how visual this book is–for all that the humans are pretty sketchy, the light and the ocean are beautifully described. it’s the sort of description that makes a poor earth-bound critter wish desperately for a rocketship.

personally though i think the book rather disproves one of its own hypotheses: that humans want to go out to the stars only to find other species that can reflect us back to ourselves, or that we can conquer, or that we can worship as having perfected utopia. the very loving description of the Solaris alien–such as can be had, of an alien alien–is proof to me that what we want to get out there for is some serious strangeness. what a thrilling (and sometimes intensely horrifying) picture… vive la difference!