Stanislaw Lem, Richard Fleishcher, RIP


Stanislaw Lem, the Polish science fiction writer best known for the novel Solaris, is dead at the age of 84. From the Wash Post obit:

"Solaris" (1961) was a novel about the paranoia that overcomes a scientific expedition sent to study a sprawling—and living—ocean on the planet Solaris. When the scientists cannot comprehend the sea, they attack it with radiation. The liquid body responds by recreating figures symbolizing great guilt for each scientist.

As with many of his books, "Solaris" showed a probing intellectual hero who explores eerie situations that have emotional and psychological repercussions. He was unsatisfied with Soviet filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky's 1972 film version, once saying, "Tarkovsky wanted to show that the cosmos is very nasty and unpleasant, whereas on Earth it is fine. But I wrote and thought quite the contrary."

He was also unimpressed with Steven Soderbergh's 2002 version that cast George Clooney and Natascha McElhone. He said the film should have been renamed "Love in Outer Space."

Lem's writing is often great–and so was his courage in standing up both to Nazis and to Stalinists. Whole thing here.

And Richard Fleischer, director of films ranging from Tora! Tora! Tora! to 10 Rillington Place to 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, is dead at age 89. And of course, Fleischer (the son of pioneer animator Max) helmed the camera for Soylent Green, one of Charlton Heston's great apocalyptic trilogy of terror (along with Planet of the Apes and The Omega Man). Wikipedia on the enduring pop cult significance of SG here.