What's All This Then?

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What's All This Then?

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Solaris
by Stanislaw Lem

Field-Tested by M. Oliver Ferguson

in Byron Bay, Australia

During a week of my teenage study, spent abroad in Byron Bay, Australia, I joined Kris Kelvin, a psychologist, through a science fiction psychological drama. Like myself, he was close to a paradise ocean; his being the purple cognitive intelligent life form covering the planet Solaris, viewed from an orbiting space station, and mine being that of what can only be described as the a surfer’s haven, viewed from the safety of the shore.

There are not many ways to pass the time in Byron Bay. The only ones confirmed are catching waves, partying, and procrastination, all while tanning at record speeds. Byron is the quintessential lazy summer day environment, inviting one to enjoy both hard complex reading and the usual trashy novels.

I decided to get my brain into gear for a book offering questions that not even the smartest of us could answer. Never the less, to my surprise, I got through it very quickly, only taking four or five afternoons over a week. Some of these days where violently windy and, some were calm and ludicrously hot for my pale British complexion. Either way, the sounds of the waves were clear as we arrived at the orbiting station. The crew had already started to study Solaris aggressively and the sentient planet had reacted by creating humanoid ghosts designed from the repressed memories of everyone on the station.

Kelvin is sent up to facilitate everybody who’s left stuck on the station, but is led into his own dark past. He explores what can only be described as a voyage into the depths of despair while trying to discover what the ‘thinking’ planet is doing to himself and the crew.

Kelvin too, is haunted by a visitor from his past; his long since dead wife, Rheya, is returned to him as a physical simulation, concocted by the planet’s ocean from a regretful blue print within Kelvin’s guilty memories. This prerequisite delves deep into the questions of our unshakable past and the complex riddle of existence, an all too close cut to bone in most peoples’ cases.

You have to drink a lot of water in Byron’s scorching weather, and I am always deprived of sleep in hot climates. One gleans one’s thoughts in this place.

Theories of Being, God, and Life are constant throughout the pages. The drama of Kelvin’s haunting wife, who in fact isn’t his wife before him, but a creation converted from his guilt, lift us into a personal mission — an irreversible blame game on the self, forever ending the same way; that you and I did, or didn’t do something to prevent this consequence.

It all ends on a hot and sunny evening. I walked to Sunrise Beach, then southwards to the main Byron Beach, paddling into the Coral Sea. I doubt I was letting the book sink deep into my psyche much. I preferred to reminisce of other places and people I had met long ago. Kris Kelvin did the same on another planet.

M. Oliver Ferguson is an ex-live sound engineer and a Master in Media & Art from London. He also studied music and audio when he was younger. In his spare time he likes to write, travel and compose. He is now working on his first screenplay, whilst rehearsing music for an independent album. He flies around a lot, but is based in Southern England. He can be found through his website.

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