Friday, June 17, 2011


The first ever direct translation into English of the Polish science fiction author Stanislaw Lem's most famous novel, Solaris, has just been published, removing a raft of unnecessary changes and restoring the text much closer to its original state.
Solaris is one of my favorite novels, despite the fact that the only version of it that I've ever been able to read is a translation of the Polish original by way of a reputedly shitty French translation (why master Lem translator Michael Kandel never got a crack at it, I don't know). So this is exciting news!

But arrgh:
It has just been published as an audiobook download by Audible, narrated by Battlestar Galactica's Alessandro Juliani, with an ebook to follow in six months' time. Lem's heirs are hoping to overcome legal issues to release it as a print edition as well.
I can't do audiobooks (and wouldn't want to hear Alessandro Juliani's smarmy face reading me fucking Solaris anyway), and would either have to sit at my computer or print out a ream of paper to read the damn ebook.

Fuck "legal issues."

In other "I should just learn Polish" news, can someone please just go ahead and translate The Lunar Trilogy into English, for the love of whatever?


George Jones said...

I read whatever translation is out back in December, and at points found it clunky if not incomprehensible.

The Tarkovsky film, now that was excellent. You must've seen it...thoughts?

Richard said...

I read the bad translation a couple years back... more or less liked it.

I also thought the much-maligned Soderbergh/Clooney film version was damn good, as its own thing.

Ethan said...

Love the Tarkovsky, but haven't watched it in long enough that I don't really have any thoughts, unfortunately. My only really clear memory is the ten or fifteen minutes of bleak highway footage, and the seemingly random switches between color and black and white. I should rewatch that soon. Speaking of Tarkovsky, we tried watching Stalker recently but the picture was really odd--like, kind of pulsating and dragging all over the place. Not sure if it was the DVD or our TV or both, but I'm pretty sure it's not the way it's supposed to look. Anyone know if that movie looks really fucking weird? And if it does, how so?

The Soderbergh, on the other hand, I absolutely hated, but maybe (maybe?) I should try've been right where others were wrong before, Richard. Speaking of which, Birth is an utterly wonderful movie, people. Awful music, though. And speaking of film scores, the music in the Soderbergh Solaris, by Cliff Martinez, is gorgeous; considered as a an album it's fantastic.

The last time I read Solaris I had some complex thoughts about the planet's creations as metaphors for consumer commodities, in terms also of David Bohm's ideas of the implicate and explicate orders, but unfortunately I don't remember much of that either.

Apologies for the rambling; I'm tired.

Ethan said...

Other thing I was going to say about the Tarkovsky is I remember thinking of it as a really good counterpoint to the novel, that there are some really neat tensions between the perspectives of the two (Tarkovsky's being the more human), but I also don't really remember enough to talk about that, either. Gotta watch that again.

George Jones said...

I haven't seen Stalker in a long while, but don't remember the picture pulsating or whatever. maybe there are some clips on youtube that might give you an idea of what it's supposed to look like?

Richard said...

How far into Stalker did you get? The beginning looks very strange, almost like a saturated sepia-tone? but I think it's meant to contrast with the forbidden area the Stalker takes the others... almost like a Wizard of Oz BW-to-color sort of thing, only much more unsettling, obviously. Stalker was rough-sledding for us though. Aimee refuses to talk about it, it was so depressing.

The Soderbergh film works better, I think, if you pretend there's no book or original movie (helpfully, I saw it before experiencing either, and I was riveted). I think it suffers by comparison, not because it's bad, but because it's not the others. But I'm not sure it's trying to be anything like them. I thought it was a fascinating meditation on love, how those we love are in some sense projections we imagine (or how they can't live up to our projections or fantasies of them). Something like that, anyway (I'm a little sleepy).

Ethan said...

No, it wasn't the sepia--that came through nice and weird for us. We only made it about five minutes in before being like, this really probably shouldn't look like this, and stopping.

Youtube, good idea! And yeah, checking there, there's no sign of the weirdness I'm talking about. There must have been something up with it when we tried to watch it. Really hope it was the DVD, not our TV.

Richard, I've thrown the Soderbergh back into my Netflix, I'll try again at some point...