Kris Kelvin, a scientist in his early thirties who has just arrived at the Solaris station. Kelvin descends from space to find that the experimental work station he has reached is in chaos. He feels fearful and disoriented when he discovers that his former teacher, Gibarian, has just committed suicide and that the station’s two other scientists appear to be insane: Snow and Sartorius often hide in their rooms and speak in a cryptic and paranoid fashion. After waking from a much-needed sleep, Kelvin finds himself confronted with the reincarnation of his girlfriend, Rheya, who committed suicide ten years earlier, after he had left her. Although he is repulsed by this replica of a past love, he also appreciates the opportunity to expiate his guilt over her death and continue, if only in a sham, the experience of their relationship. As he talks to the other scientists, reads books in the station’s library, and performs experiments, he gradually comes to understand that she is a projection of his own memories created by the planetary entity he has come to study. When she dissolves at the novel’s end, he is left with the desire to get her back again but has little hope that this will occur.
Solaris, the protoplasmic creature that covers the planet of the same name. For more than a hundred years, Earth missions have attempted to understand this multibillion-ton gelatinous oceanic entity. Although the myriad shapes that form on this global creature suggest sentience, no previous attempts at communication have been successful. Hundreds of theories have attempted to account for this...
(The entire section is 674 words.)