James reminded me about the twelfth of September. It was hard to tell if we were about to witness an Indian summer until he mentioned StanisÅ‚aw Lem. I was told about what to expect for the term, and there might be a good chance that science fiction would be included in the reading list. I read "Solaris", which came to mind on a few occasions. It happened during a starlit evening. It wasn't a thought-provoking novel, even another book on existentialism.
My coursemate seemed to be in a good mood after he quipped that "Solaris" would teach readers a thing or two about communication. I looked up and searched for the brightest star. And then I attempted to strike a conversation. I was in my second year in the university, and I have trepidation about the coursework. I had a habit of procrastinating on the last minute, which made me cut on my social life. If you could only show me a sign that would help me manage my studies. It was a silent night. I didn't hear a sound until James asked me if I was OK.
Dr. Kris Kelvin was sent to the planet Solaris, where he saw a vision of Harey inside the space station. She was his wife, who committed suicide when he abandoned their marriage. I wondered if he was remorseful about the tragedy. And then I thought of a strange idea. There would be life in Solaris, but it won't be the aliens that moviegoers have seen inside the theaters. It might be invisible, which would come to light after the rays from the two suns bathed the space station. But Dr. Kelvin and his crew wouldn't notice it. Each one of them must deal with guilt. They have personal issues, and those who weren't strong enough would think of taking their own lives.
"Solaris" would be one of the most widely read books in the science-fiction genre, but readers won't arrive at the same conclusion. There would be five ways to look at it:
Communication is always an issue. StanisÅ‚aw Lem illustrated the remote chance for humans and non-humans to make contact and understand each other, but it could mean other things. Human issues would be a hindrance to a happy relationship. There won't be such a thing as a guilt-free world. And count yourself as lucky if you would have a second chance. In Dr. Kelvin's case, living could be a double-edged sword. Isolation would force him to be introspective, and there could be a problem.
Silence can be fatal. In the cold, dark space, the only warmth that Dr. Kelvin and his crew would get were the rays of the two suns. And then what? They didn't travel to the space station for a holiday.
No one can't dismiss the (stifled) emotions. This won't mean that science fiction is a man's world, but Dr. Kelvin would try to make sense of his wife's death. Lem made it clear that the guilt-stricken psychologist wasn't regretting his decision (to leave her), as the life forms in Solaris tried to acquaint themselves. They have a strange way of doing it.
Space tourism may not be a good option. Lem and the other leading figures in science fiction have described a distant future where there were human colonies in some satellites. And space crafts have traveled beyond the Solar System. There won't be an intergalactic treaty, though. Man would try to find his place in the universe, unaware of any life form outside the planet. They may have liked it, they may not.
"Solaris" could be a warning. I wouldn't romanticize a starlit evening, even images of distant planets and satellites. Besides, I wasn't a huge Star War fans.