Somnium & Solaris

07 Sept 2013

This illustration exhibition will focus on two science fiction texts – Somnium (1634) and Solaris (1961).

The Somnium is a scientific fantasy written by 16th century astronomer Johannes Kepler. The Icelandic protagonist, Duracotus who is the student of mathematician Tycho Brahe, is transported to the moon by occult forces where he begins an imaginative descriptive study of the lunar surface and it’s inhabitants: large, tough-skinned, intelligent beings which are adapted to the lunar extremities. Not only is it a work of imaginative and enlightened dreaming, it is also considered one of the first serious scientific treatise on lunar astronomy.

The other half the exhibition will focus on the depiction of the ‘Mimoid’ from Stanislaw Lem’s 1961 novel Solaris. Of all the science fiction I have read I think Lem gets more to the heart of what alien life could be like. The being in Lem’s novel, the giant omnipotent sea, creates vast structures which are stimulated by the psychology of the characters in the book. Of course this kind of being is completely absurd and very unlikely to exist, but it is the fact he wrote about a being so beyond our comprehension and scale which sets him apart from other science fiction writers who describe their creatures almost as human as us.