Stanislaw Lem's cult classic novel Solaris is finally getting a direct-to-English translation, reports the Guardian, restoring much of the author's original words.
The novel, originally published in Polish in 1961, tells of humans' struggling attempts to communicate with an alien intelligence. It's inspired films by Andrei Tarkovsky and Steven Soderberg. But for all its canonical status, the only English version was published in 1970, translated from a French translation that Lem himself didn't like. This game of linguistic telephone apparently muddled all kinds of things. Says the new translator, Indiana University professor Bill Johnson:
Much is lost when a book is re-translated from an intermediary translation into English, but I'm shocked at the number of places where text was omitted, added, or changed in the 1970 version . . . Lem's characteristic semi-philosophical, semi-technical language is also capable of flights of poetic fancy and brilliant linguistic creativity, for example in the names of the structures that arise on the surface of Solaris.
Lots of the changes in the new edition will restore original names: Kris Kelvin's wife becomes Harey instead of Rheya; Alpha in Aquarius is Alpha Aquarii once more. Don't go looking for a copy at your local bookstore just yet, though. There'll be an ebook out in the next six months, but despite efforts by Lem's heirs, rights issues might keep the print version a long time coming. At the moment, there is an audiobook version available at Audible — narrated by Battlestar Galactica's Alessandro Juliani.
[via The Guardian]