Solaris
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ibsn13: 9780156027601

Fantastic genre-bending sci-fi.

My mind’s eye has never been very good so I rarely latch on to descriptions of the spaces that characters find themselves in. But, the descriptions of Solaris’s space station and the planet it’s orbiting were so vivid and interesting that it elevated the story for me.

The space station’s color scheme of white combined with stripes of vibrant colors lit by the alternating blue and red hues of the system’s both suns was breathtaking.

** SPOILERS AHEAD **

The station’s retrofuturism aesthetic (actual paper books in an actual library for example) combined with the disorder caused by the station’s inhabitants slowly losing their minds (or are they?) contrasted beautifully with all of the above.

The story was gripping (and horriffying in a way that I wasn’t expecting). Following Kelvin’s descent into madness — grappling with the ever present entity that he can’t escape from kept me at the edge of my seat.

The philosophical ideas the text puts forth like: “what makes a person a person vs. a non-person?” turned the surface level horror into existential dread and spooked the pants off me.

What didn’t I like?

There’s a few dozen pages of Kelvin reading deep lore about the planet and technobabble in the station’s library. I would have trimmed that part down a little bit but it wasn’t too bad.

The text is a little dated in parts — we’ve got at least one slur and a dated reference to autism (“autistic ocean” hehehehehehe lmaoooooooooo).

Overall though, Solaris is a wild ride with a healthy helping of existential dread on the side that I’m really glad to have read. I can’t wait to watch the 1972 movie (based on the book) by Andrei Tarkovsky!