Friday, December 11, 2015


This week I've been reading Samuel Delany's Nova. It cane a few years before Dhalgren, which I read a few years ago, and has a similar hero.

The story concerns a minstrel named "the Mouse" working aboard an interstellar ship helmed by Lorq Von Ray. Von Ray is sometimes called a pirate but in some ways seems more like a commercial sailor. He's in a turf war against a family called the Reds, which also involves him in an old love triangle where the other angles seem kind of incestuous.

The writing in all this is very information dense. I have a hard time picturing the reader who gets everything Delany is going for. Once you warm to it, though, the weirdness is engaging. There's a sequence where the other characters explain to the Mouse, who's a Gypsy and also the only Earth native on board, the elegant science behind Tarot reading. It feels like a descendant of Melville's bizarre cetology tangents in Moby Dick.


susan said...

The only book I ever read by Delaney was Dhalgren and that was many years ago when it was first published. I still remember it as the strangest and most psychedelic book I'd ever read. Since I never did manage to finish Gravity's Rainbow it may still hold that record.

You make Nova sound like a more accessible book than Dhalgren. I know the author is considered to be among the best sci-fi writers so I may just have to put this one on my list.

Ben said...

I haven't cracked Gravity's Rainbow yet. I've read some strange books, and sometimes I come up swimming, other times not. So maybe I'd make it through and maybe not.

Nova may well be more accessible. On the other hand a lot of Dhalgren has stayed with me, so I'll have to wait a couple of years to see if Nova has made as much of an impression.