First published in Warsaw in 1961, the 1970 Polish-to-French-to-English translation of Solaris is the best-known of Lem's English-translated works. The book, not just for it's time but even now, is far ahead and far beyond a normal science fiction book and shows the ultimate inadequacy of communication between human and non-human species. Solaris, with whom Terran scientists are attempting communication, is almost completely covered with an ocean that is revealed to be a single, planet-encompassing organism. While the scientists are perfoming there experiments the ocean itself is experimenting with the scientists minds and is confronting them with there most painful and repressed thoughts and memories without revealing anything about itself. I have seen both movie adaptions, the one from Andrei Tarkovsky which was released in 1972 and Steven Soderbergh's adaption from the year 2002 which both fail in my opinion to capture the main themes from the book which are Lem's highly philosophical approche too the human self-image and and self-understanding. Lem himself observed that neither feature movie much depicts the extraordinary physical and psychological “alienness” of the Solaris ocean: “I only wanted to create a vision of a human encounter with something that certainly exists, in a mighty manner perhaps, but cannot be reduced to human concepts, ideas or images” I hope that there will be a movie in the future that does the book at least some justice.
Solaristics, wrote Muntius, is a substitute for religion in the space age. It is faith wrapped in the cloak of science, contact, the goal for which we are striving, is as vague and obscure as communion with the saints or the coming of the Messiah.