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Empire Star

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  498 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
On a habitable moon near Tau Ceti, a young man named Comet Jo encounters a devil-kitten and sees a spaceship crash land. One of the people in the spaceship tells Jo that he has to take an urgent message to Empire Star, and dies. Another collapses to form Jewel, a compact, multicolored, multiplexed crystalline entity. Empire Star is the story of Comet Jo's journey to delive ...more
Paperback, 132 pages
Published January 1st 1983 by Bantam Books, Inc. (first published 1966)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,024)
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Nov 01, 2011 Maree rated it really liked it
This is a complex novella, perhaps best understood by multiplex minds. I'm not sure if I fall into that category or not; I believe that at some points that I can, and I'm able to stretch my mind to accept the conclusion of this book, which I assume makes me more than a simplex, but it took an effort, and I don't think that I always stay on that plane.

Jo is right in that things are much simpler when you're a simplex. But I'm not sure that it's so hard to go back. I think that ideally, people sho
Feb 04, 2012 Tania rated it liked it
Recommends it for: SF fans, people into twist endings
Shelves: 3-star-wonders
I can tell you exactly why all the reviews below mine are either 4 or 5 stars - the ending of this novella.

The premise begins very simply with a boy, Comet Jo, in Tau Ceti who is given a mission to reach the Empire Star with a message he does not yet know, but should be aware of upon arrival.
He meets a lot of people along the way - he gets to visit Earth and the Moon - and his mind is expanded as he travels. Why mention about his mind expansion? Because in the universe of the story, people are
Zack Zildjan
Feb 20, 2013 Zack Zildjan rated it it was amazing
Five stars for Empire Star, four and a half for Babel-17.

Only 92 pages and it manages to create a more developed universe and cast of characters than most other science fiction (scratch that...most fiction) out there.

One of the few times I have finished a book and instantly wanted to re-read it (I suppose being only 92 pages helps). I'm sure it won't be long before I end up going through both Empire Star and Babel-17 again.

I'd really like to say more, but I'm going to keep it simplex.
Apr 09, 2014 Andrew rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
I cannot fathom why this is not a Hugo or Nebula winner for Best Novella, as it certainly deserves to be. Somehow a simple yet complex story, it may mark the beginning of Delany's interest in circular logic/stories, and it's incredibly well-executed. I love his classification of rational beings a simplex/complex/multiplex, and he does a great job of explaining this concept through example throughout the book. Each time expanding what it means to be "human" when species is no longer a deciding fa ...more
Feb 04, 2010 Akiva rated it really liked it
I am a sucker for books that go in circles. It is like you are following a path and suddenly you realize it is a moebius strip. You're back where you started but everything has changed. The path that was once unknown is now freighted with meaning. That was the flower you planted. That was where you camped. That's the flower you'll plant. That's where you'll camp. That's where you'll stare up at the stars and imagine what could be, what would be.

Delany is a wonderful writer. Even when he is rushi
May 29, 2008 Res rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sff, slash-interest
Re-reading this much-loved book to determine whether or not it's appropriate for the 9-year-old.

Yep. Perfectly appropriate. And still turns the brain inside-out the way it did when John the potter handed it to me when I was fifteen.
Edward Rathke
Dec 21, 2015 Edward Rathke rated it really liked it
This book really wasn't working for me till about 80% into the book, which is a big problem, but, putting that aside, I really like the way this one works. It's a tricky and slippery book that's messing with time, space, narrative, and perception.

But I do think it starts overly slow, though that isn't really a porblem because the novella is only about 90 pages. I mean, it's not perfect, but I like it well enough.

Reading these early Delany novels is always interesting, but I think most of them ar
Jul 26, 2013 Sean rated it really liked it
I took Delany's novella as an opportunity to perform the wistful work of reflecting on "life." Jewel, the narrator, eases you right into thoughts of "consciousness" and "time." Yes, I too can be an armchair philosopher. Yet somehow, against the abstract worlds Delany delineates, these inquiries did not feel broad or general, but remarkably definite. I might use the word "textured," to imply the impart of "feelings," both rough and smooth, that accompany a "multiplex" consciousness running its di ...more
Oct 24, 2014 Tina rated it really liked it
Shelves: space-opera-good
I apologize for the brevity of this post, but I read this over a week ago and all I can recall is that it was enjoyable, complex but not complicated, and I liked the characters quite a bit. Jo grows in a number of ways throughout, and as he takes on more "multiplex" thought processes, so do we. It's never a dull experience to read through a Delaney novel (or novella in this case) and this one I remember I kept wishing was longer. This is definitely the story I'd give to someone who had never rea ...more
Noah Lyons
Jul 26, 2014 Noah Lyons rated it liked it
Shelves: sf, metafiction
Needs a second reading - read within hours, and knew from the on-set that the 'multiplexity' of this novella (NOT a novel) requires a loop back to the beginning. Plays upon SF and Fantasy tropes, as well as the typical bildungsroman, coming-of-age novel, but with the Delany twist. So from my initial reading, I will just say: too short and too fast for the themes of time-travel, multi-dimensional and multi-subjectivity that are central to the "plot". Regardles, enjoyable as a riff on SF conventio ...more
Jun 06, 2014 Andrewcharles420 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sf12
Comet Jo witnesses a spaceship crash landing on his backwoods planet and agrees to carry their message to the center of the galaxy. He encounters many interesting and enlightening entities on the way as he develops from a simplex, to a complex, and then multiplex mind.

Excellent, twisted, complicated (complex, multiplex even!) story. I enjoyed the writing, the characters, and the situations. I thought 'Lump' was a silly name for a computer, but I'm sure 'Apple' or 'Siri' (etc) seem silly to peopl
Jan 14, 2010 Paul rated it liked it
It was an interesting read, but I'm not entirely convinced that the convoluted timelines and loops and so on actually make sense in the end. Trying to map out events and such, especially the war and where it stands in relation to everything else, usually ends up in confusion and in the end it comes off as Delaney just having fun with a clever trick instead of trying to work up a solid world and storyline.
Byron  'Giggsy' Paul
A decent novella, with some emphasis on linguistics, which is why this novella is sometimes published with Delany's Babel-17, also dealing with linguistics (in fact, Delany wanted them published together when Babel-17 was released as an Ace double-feature)

I recommend reading this novella with Babel-17, which is better. They pair well for comparison.
May 29, 2008 Max rated it it was amazing
short book which does time traveling/black hole stuff really well. I like puzzles and this one was fun.
Feb 06, 2016 Alazzar rated it it was amazing
Considering how much I've enjoyed his books, I don't know why I don't read more Delany.

There are other authors I like more, sure. When I finish a Neil Gaiman book I sit back and wonder how someone could create something so interesting and beautiful. When I finish a Roger Zelazny story I marvel at the man's imagination and prose. But if Empire Star is any indication of how things generally go, when I finish a Samuel R. Delany book I feel like a previously dormant section of my brain has been awak
Ernest Junius
Also a wacky tale by Delany, mentioned in the Babel-17, which according to the story is a novella created by Ryndra Wong's husband, Muels Aranlyde (wittily arranged, an anagram of Samuel R. Delany). I like this story more than Babel-17.

Also read like a mad thesis (I think Delany is more a scientist than a writer), Empire Star is very much abstract to me. I don't know what the hell is going on in the realm, everything seems like a floating world, like Universe is melting into liquid inside a blen
Apr 17, 2010 Raj rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Comet Jo is a teenager on an single-produce asteroid who dreams of the stars. When an organic spaceship bearing a special jewel crashes near him, he's entrusted with a message that must reach the Empire Star to free a slave race upon whom interstellar civilisation depends, and his journey to a wider universe begins.

I felt this book to be quite disjointed in places but about half-way through realised that this was because of a somewhat unreliable narrator. That and the somewhat Ouroboros-nature o
Nov 14, 2014 Bad-at-reading rated it really liked it
The Phantom Tollbooth in outer space, roughly. Probably worth burning through again to suss out the temporal shenanigans. I'm reading Delany's bibliography in order and after the clumsy Aptor, Towers trilogy, and Ballad, here finally is one that really connects throughout.
Dec 21, 2011 Andreas rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
An interesting novella about a boy who lives on a remote planet and needs to go on a quest to deliver a message. I found the quest itself too "scripted". Everyone is helping him to reach his goal so he is not much more than a vehicle to drive the story. The end holds a nice surprise though and there were a couple of good ideas that I really liked, e.g. the difference between "simplex", "complex" and "multiplex" thinking.

I have tried to read Nova from the same author and was disappointed. Empire
Jan 05, 2009 Raja99 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ebooks
There are two kinds of Delany books: Those that I understand--and usually love--and those that go over my head. Empire Star is my favorite of the former, at least among Delany's fiction; it's an amazing short work (novella length) with more ideas and allusions than get put into trilogies nowadays. It's a fun space opera about a kid from a backwater planet who witnesses a spacecraft crash and has to deliver an urgent message as a result. It's a book about freedom, slavery, the cost of war, time t ...more
Oct 09, 2014 Tim rated it really liked it
Good, short, and a little bit too self consciously goofy for my tastes... but twisting and convoluted in a satisfying way.
James Broussard
Aug 09, 2011 James Broussard rated it it was amazing
I started and finished this novella in two hours I think, but in classic fashion Delany delivers big. I'm a little shocked that this wasn't nominated for either a Hugo or Nebula, but they can't all be winners, and if he'd been able to package it with 'Babel-17' like he'd wanted I'm sure the two of them would have won an award.

The more of his work I read the more I'm blown away by Delany's style. Even this novella, which for another author might have turned into an easy paycheck written in that 6
Apr 21, 2016 Connor rated it liked it
Not as fully formed as the rest of Delaney's work, but still pretty good.
K Wells
Apr 08, 2016 K Wells rated it it was amazing
Cool concepts & nifty handling of time manipulation. A fun yet serious read.
Feb 18, 2016 Lorena rated it really liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Loved the layers and recursive themes in this one...really masterful writing.
Aug 01, 2015 Bee rated it it was amazing
a short, beautiful, mindfuck of a book.
Sep 16, 2010 Virginia rated it liked it
What the jhup? My brain feels like taffy being pulled in too many directions after trying to figure out what the heck was going on in this Ouroboros-type novella. Circular, confusing and definitely mobius strip-like, I really can't explain what happened, but I can definitely say I've never read anything of the like. Delany is certainly ambitious - and I almost hate the conceit of his writing style. However, I mostly have to admire him for his incredibly nimble mind.
Jan 20, 2013 Traci rated it really liked it
I feel like I'm getting the hang of this style of Sci Fi book. The first couple of pages are so disorienting and you don't know what's going on, but if you hang in there you'll figure it out. I enjoyed this one, though as with the last Delany book I feel like you need to sit for a few minutes after finishing the book and try to figure it all out. A time travel mess, it reminds me of the great Captain Janeway's take on temporal paradoxes "it gives me a headache."
Bruno Silva
Sep 19, 2011 Bruno Silva rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
Este livro é verdadeiramente complexo, simplex e multiplex pois o fim e o início sobre a forma de libertação dum povo construtor de mundos destruídos "Lll" faz parte do plano dum pequeno rapaz simplex que não sabe quantas pessoas vai influenciar por ir a Empire Star, o centro da galáxia onde o presente, o passado e o futuro que há-de acontecer se interligam, permitindo a quem lá estar controlar o Universo. Muito bom
Ευθυμία Δεσποτάκη
Όταν έχεις να κάνεις με έναν συγγραφέα που τιτλοφόρησε ένα διήγημά του "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones" δε μπορεί παρά να περιμένεις από αυτόν το καλύτερο, το το πιο μαγικό ταξίδι. Πιθανόν το Αυτοκρατορικό Αστέρι να είναι λίγο πιο ψυχεδελικό απ' ότι θα μου άρεσε, αλλά αυτό δεν το κάνει λιγότερο απολαυστικό.
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Simplex, Complex, Multiplex 1 9 Oct 17, 2008 11:59AM  
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Samuel Ray Delany, also known as "Chip," is an award-winning American science fiction author. He was born to a prominent black family on April 1, 1942, and raised in Harlem. His mother, Margaret Carey Boyd Delany, was a library clerk in the New York Public Library system. His father, Samuel Ray Delany, Senior, ran a successful Harlem undertaking establishment, Levy & Delany Funeral Home, on 7t ...more
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