Even though this book was written in 1961, the English translation didn’t show up until the seventies. It got major distribution in the eighties and was finally made into a “major motion picture” last year. The cover of my book has George Clooney on it, guh.
I haven’t read any Lem since college when I read many of the books in his Pirx the Pilot series. Each of these involved a sort of everyman space traveller and the strange worlds he would encounter. It was more like Calvino than Star Trek, this spaceman was no conqueror. This book seems like a more fleshed out version of one of those stories: an astronaut/scientist comes to a space station to continue some research on a planet that consists almost entirely of a sentient ocean being and finds that things have gone wrong. Really wrong.
Lem can be vague to the point of sometimes beign obscure and I always feel a little dumb reading his books as if I were supposed to infer more about the plot than I actually did. This does tend to up the creep factor of his books a lot, since you never quite know what is happening, you also have no way of knowing what is going to happen next. In this book I also felt that I did not know quite what had happened when I got to the last page, so I put it down feeling a little confused. Lem is sci fo for people who love literature. Skip the movie and read the book.