Can the award-winning science fiction novels of the past actually still be worth reading several decades later? Do they have messages, technology, and characters that are pertinent in modern society? Have I just been reading rehashed versions of past award-winners? There's only one way to find out...
read and review the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus award-winning novels.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Babel-17, by Samuel R. Delany

Babel-17, by Samuel R. Delany, tied for the Nebula Award in 1967. As best I can remember, this is the first book by Delany that I've ever read. It blew me away.

I'm a sci-fi fan. I don't go to (many) conventions, but I'll watch almost any genre series on TV. Two of my favorites are Babylon 5 and Firefly. Brilliant writing, brilliant execution, and worthy additions to the genre. Clearly, in reading Babel-17 I'm going better-late-than-never where these series' creators have boldly gone before. I found many delightful descriptions and scenes in Babel-17 that I now recognize as homages in Babylon 5, Firefly, and other series & films. Delany has a fleet of shadow-ships, and smaller spider-ships, that were more than familiar from B5. Early in the book, a female character writes "Present location: I'm sitting in a folding chair in the freight lock looking over the field." If you've watched Firefly, you'll remember Kaylee in precisely this scene. There are many others, and it's fun to recognize them, even after the fact.

Delany gets to join my list of authors who love word-play, and who are skilled at it. I'll avoid specific examples, because they're just so darn fun to read (and I hope you'll find this book and read it!); I'll just say that the strategies for his space battles are novel and descriptive.
Rating: 5/5

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