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Ratner's Star

3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  1,476 Ratings  ·  129 Reviews
Billy Twillig has won the first Nobel Prize ever to be given in mathematics. Set in the near future, this book charts an innocent's education when Billy is sent to live in the company of 30 Nobel laureates and he is asked to decipher transmissions from outer space.
Kindle Edition, 446 pages
Published January 11th 2011 by Billy Twillig has won the first Nobel Prize ever to be given in mathematics. Set in the near future, (first published 1976)
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Ian "Marvin" Graye
Feb 03, 2017 Ian "Marvin" Graye rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Nathan Redman

Hard Books

"[Don DeLillo's] books are hard: all of them expressions of someone who has ideas (I don't mean opinions), who reads things other than novels and newspapers (though he clearly reads those too, and to advantage), and who experiments with literary convention."

Frank Lentricchia

) -: 0/0 :k. : k' ""( -( .

"...epic, piquant disquisitions on the philosophy of logic, the logic of games, the gamesmanship of fiction and prehistory, these early efforts preparing the way fo
Seems like Delillo took a bunch of postmodern conceits (funny names like Calliope Shrub and Elux Troxl; precocious kid; unrealistic, posturing dialogue; near-opaque symbols; metafiction) and threw them together in a broken blender. Everything works well for the first half, the elements blending together and whirling faster and faster like the book's aborigine. Then something goes horribly wrong; the top pops off, causing the blender to spew postmodernism all over the walls. And as we all know, p ...more
Aug 21, 2011 Greg rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
According to Wikipedia this is Don DeLillo's favorite of his novels. It's not mine. I think that I missed something in the book, like DeLillo was doing something that I didn't quite catch, or I caught but I wasn't that impressed by it. I'm not sure what I'm saying.

This is DeLillo's first 'big' novel. I haven't read Underworld yet, but from the books of his I've read I think I like him best when his books are compact. I think it's possible (this could change as I read the rest of his works) that
Sep 02, 2007 Aaron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My reactions to this novel can be put rather succinctly. If David Foster Wallace is indeed a fan of Don Delillo, this is the novel he has stolen from most. If Don Delillo is indeed a fan of Thomas Pynchon, this is the novel that Pynchon most directly inspired. But regardless of its influences or the work it later inspired, because those things are speculatory, it is certainly true that this novel, Delillo's fourth, is his first great novel.

The novel centers around child math prodigy Billy Terwi
Dec 10, 2011 Hadrian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
DeLillo has always been more of a novelist of ideas more than the basic linear event-event-event-conclusion linear plot style.

Here he experiments with mathematics, logic, and the meanings of language, and language as a means to shape the world. This is no bullshit and repetition of terminology - he's obviously done his homework - I see discussions of Higgs theory, the origins of language, and the intersection between the pursuit of science and the almost mystical devotions of mathematics/languag
My favorite Delillo so far, by a wide margin, inclusive of Underworld.

First Nobel in mathematics goes to teenage protagonist, whose work was “understood by only three or four people” (4), which work kid has designated as “zorgs” (20): “it’s pretty impossible to understand unless you know the language. A zorg is a kind of number. You can’t use zorgs for anything except in mathematics. Zorgs are useless. In other words they don’t apply” (id.). These statements are of course manifestly dishonest, a
May 01, 2016 Regan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ratner’s Star is a profound(ly funny) work of metaphysical fiction. It is metaphysical in both the Ancient (Pythagorean/Parmenidean)sense, and the Modern (Dialectic of Enlightenment) sense.

It is an enormously ambitious novel that presents and resides in the age-old tension between reason and faith, truth and superstition, science and art, pure math and formal logic, mind and body, being and becoming, everything and nothing. Abstractly speaking--as the precocious young mathematician that serves
Sentimental Surrealist
This comes off to me as someone self-consciously trying to write a postmodern novel and not quite succeeding. There are big swaths of Gaddis, Pynchon, and Heller and little hints of Gass and Barth throughout this novel, but those authors did a far better job of combining the intellectual concerns Ratner's Star takes on with interesting stories. When Gravity's Rainbow (still a terrific novel, mind) has more narrative coherence than what you're doing, you're sort of in trouble.

Ratner's Star is a n
May 09, 2012 Kua rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, a-3-3, boring
Chiariamo subito che il libro si è preso una stella sola e che l'altra è per me, che sono riuscita a finirlo. Devo ammettere che in alcuni passaggi mi è sembrato addirittura di aver visto una luce, ma forse era il delirio indotto dalla lettura. Un'esperienza traumatica :D... però è servita a farmi capire alcune cose:

- Leggo perchè mi piace essere portata "altrove"; l'altrove in cui vorrei essere portata NON è lo scenario sconclusionato di questo racconto. La scrittura mi deve prendere per mano,
Jul 09, 2008 tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is plentiful evidence of DeLillo's brilliance strewn throughout these pages, but for the most part the going is laboriously slow. In the imaginative conclusion, math and science are revealed to be just as much a creation of the human mind as mysticism and language, where no single one of these approaches is any more able than another to objectively answer the question: "What is the universe as it exists beyond the human brain?"
I was not able to appreciate this one. It felt as if DeLillo was struggling between describing a teenager discovering sexuality and a genius kid who does nothing other than wandering the Center. Even though DeLillo was praised for his ability to investigate maths and physics, etc, I wasn't able to make sense of much of what was described.
Nov 25, 2013 David rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
Man, woman or child:

Do not be alarmed. Ratner’s Star is complete bullshit. Your assessment within the first few pages will prove to be correct. This is a powerful study on the the excesses, the triumphs and failures of the human mind. Bruce Allen from the Chicago Tribune sums it up best. Ratner’s Star is a prodigious satire on those pioneers who journey beyond the frontiers of knowledge and end up more ignorant than they were when they set forth.

Billy, our Nobel Prize winning mathematical genius
Jun 27, 2010 Holly rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Earth has received an apparent message from a planet circulating Ratner's Star, and a brilliant mathematical boy is called in to decipher the message. Commentary on science and astronomy and a study on brilliant minds and how they relate (?)

Despite the interesting premise, this book was torture to read. The ideas expressed are as vast and disconnected as the characters created to portray them. The characters were not integrated into the plot - not only did you (slowly and painstakingly) read alo
Lara Bell
Mar 24, 2009 Lara Bell rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Totally tedious. Made me regret that I can't stop reading a book once I start it. Put me to sleep after 3 pages every night. It's that kind of pretentious, look how smart I am, off-kilter writing that a college math freshman would probably spooge over. The beginning is fun and sucked me in enough that I waded through to the end for the somewhat predictable payoff.
I guess if you like math give it a try...
May 08, 2012 Kibisis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Se la logica è la scienza propedeutica ad ogni possibile conoscenza, il Logicon è il linguaggio scientifico in cui riflettersi (e/o su cui riflettere) per riuscire ad interpretare le proprie avventure.

Le avventure (che si svolgono nei primi 12 capitoli) sono quelle dell'adolescente Billy Twillig , geniale premio Nobel per la matematica (il premio non esiste ma è stato appositamente inventato per l'occasione) chiamato a decifrare un codice proveniente dalla presunta stella di Ratner, si succedon
Sep 28, 2014 Paolo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Opera del 1976 tra le prime di De Lillo (autore peraltro per nulla precoce).

Un premio Nobel preadolescente genio della matematica viene assoldato assieme alle menti più eccelse per studiare un linguaggio in grado di rispondere ad un messaggio pervenuto dallo spazio da - si pensa - intelligenze aliene.

Metalinguaggi, logica, matematica, astrofisica immaginaria ed una variopinta galleria di sciroccatissimi luminari che operano in una specie di centro - ricerche che ricorda un po'la fabbrica di cioc
Brent Legault
Reading this has been like panning for gold in a mud-riven creek bed. There were a few flakes of value but not even enough of them to buy a new mule. And my brain now feels like it could use a thorough hosing or beer bath.
Jun 07, 2012 Patrick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really odd, somewhat incoherent and ultimately quite wonderful novel. I’d only previously read ‘White Noise’, ‘Underworld’ and some of the author’s later books and stories, so I was surprised to find a totally different style at work in ‘Ratner’s Star’, one more comparable to Thomas Pynchon, Kurt Vonnegut or Philip K. Dick. To begin with it very much has the feel of a quirky mid-70s comic sci fi novel, being concerned in a fairly druggy way with conspiracy theories, secret transmission ...more
B. Rule
Apr 24, 2016 B. Rule rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
DeLillo is an unbelievably skillful writer. Just on a sentence by sentence level, the man's ability to put words together is a marvel. Which is really the only saving grace of this early work. The whole book is written in a self-assured post-modern prose familiar to any reader of DeLillo (and to any reader of Pynchon, DFW, etc.) There are intermittent flashes of brilliant and hilarious dialogue peppered throughout. The book is full of manic ranting and cosmic mumbo-jumbo on science and the natur ...more
Mo Ringey-gareau
For me, this novel is the full experience; challenging, hilarious, intellectually puzzling, thought-provoking, suspenseful and compelling. Though the more-pointed parts of the mathematical jokes are over my mathless head, the punchline is impossible to miss.

Having harbored a girly crush on Don Delillo's mind since my first reading of "Underworld", with the reading of this book I would say I am beyond smitten. The intellectual hilarity is, as noted in many a review, somewhat Pynchon-esque (I am
Jul 01, 2008 Ashton rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who overanalyze literature so they can tell me what it means.
first half: a clever (though definitely off-kilter) satire of the scientific community peppered with allusions to philosophy. Also, it's pretty funny.

second half: digresses into an incomprehensible vortex of weirdness, leaving all possible insights or coherence buried under piles of bat guano ... literally.

The entire second part seems oddly extraneous, or maybe I'm just not intelligent enough to grasp it.
Apr 26, 2016 Nick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
More thoughts to come, but this was rather confounding for me. My reactions varied widely; for a good stretch I'd be delighting in the reverie of abstract theory after theory, bordering on slapstick. An amusing inundation on the reader. Other stretches this same stimuli overload became turgid causing my eyes to glaze over. I can't say this is my favorite Delillo book, but it certainly adds another dimension to his oeuvre that I had yet to experience.
Aug 18, 2007 Rustam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with some patience
One of the first Delillo novels, where I actually considered not finishing at two or three points. Very slap-sticky if you can geek out on the math/science commentary. It read kind of like a Kubrick movie.
Oct 08, 2015 Arya19 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
La matematica è ciò che è il mondo quando sottraiamo le nostre percezioni...
Mark Sacha
This is hands-down the funniest and most absurd book Don Delillo has ever written, a science fictional piece in a dunce cap that frequently breaks down, between riffs on philosophical literature, into fits of paranoid muttering. DeLillo's work in general juggles its themes between postulation and satire, but in this case it's all so forcefully ludicrous that it borders on disdain, an impression that is strongest amid his portrayals of science and scientists. The first two-thirds of Ratner's Star ...more
Mircalla64 (free Liu Xiaobo)
Respira! Splendi! Verbalizza! Muori! matematica e gli alieni, il futuro, il passato,i buchi nel deserto, le grucce usate per scavare, mangiare i vermi della terra, gli scienziati impazziti e quelli già pazzi, il ritorno dei messaggi che ci mandiamo da soli, un orario indicato da una profezia, gente che sclera e gente che soprattutto "credici, idiota!"


"- Sono la signora Laudabur, della Cooperativa missionaria biblica mondiale. Mi hanno detto di parlare con un certo signor Dy
La traducción no le hace justicia. Cuenta con varios pasajes (e ideas) satíricos memorables, pero el absurdo se agota muy pronto; el ritmo se disgrega; al igual que sucede con los objetivos de los experimentos, la historia va perdiendo en interés y, paralelamente, en propósito (el sin sentido es simplemente demasiado--y pertenece en exceso a su tiempo--1976-, en el que este tipo de experimentación resultaba novedoso); aunque, eso sí, las últimas cien páginas son verdaderamente buenas, trepidante ...more
Dec 13, 2008 Daved rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Math + fiction, how can you go wrong? This book starts out well as the main character is enlisted to decode an enigmatic radio transmission received from space. This takes place in a futuristic compound centered around Space Brain--a super computer that is mapping the universe. The protagonist, an insanely gifted child mathematician, encounters an odd assortment of scientists and academics and there are some interesting thoughts around the relation of math, science, and culture. From here, there ...more
Whacky story where a young boy wins a nobel prize in mathematics and is then recruited to solve the messages seeming originate from Ratner's star.
Bizarre characters and scientific geek language abounds.
Nov 13, 2015 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't sure if I had it in me to finish this book. Apparently I did.
It's a never-ending banquet of absurd obsessions and perversions. I am totally dumbfounded by it. But somehow I feel that I have been transformed by the experience of it, perhaps on some microbial level.
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Goodreads Italia: GdL Narrativa Maggio 2012: La stella di Ratner di Don DeLillo - Commenti e discussione 41 82 Jun 23, 2012 01:34PM  
coincidence 1 18 Aug 12, 2009 07:53AM  
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Don DeLillo is an American author best known for his novels, which paint detailed portraits of American life in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He currently lives outside of New York City.

Among the most influential American writers of the past decades, DeLillo has received, among author awards, a National Book Award (White Noise, 1985), a PEN/Faulkner Award (Mao II, 1991), and an American
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“Shit is universal no matter which language.” 22 likes
“As always when he worked with this much concentration he began to feel a sense of introverting pressure. There was no way out once he was in, no genuine rest, no one to talk to who was capable of understanding the complexity (simplicity) of the problem or the approaches to a tentative solution. There came a time in every prolonged effort when he had a moment of near panic, or "terror in a lonely place," the original semantic content of the word. The lonely place was his own mind. As a mathematician he was free from subjection to reality, free to impose his ideas and designs on his own test environment. The only valid standard for his work, its critical point (zero or infinity), was the beauty it possessed, the deft strength of his mathematical reasoning. THe work's ultimate value was simply what it revealed about the nature of his intellect. What was at stake, in effect, was his own principle of intelligence or individual consciousness; his identity, in short. This was the infalling trap, the source of art's private involvement with obsession and despair, neither more nor less than the artist's self-containment, a mental state that led to storms of overwork and extended stretches of depression, that brought on indifference to life and at times the need to regurgitate it, to seek the level of expelled matter. Of course, the sense at the end of a serious effort, if the end is reached successfully, is one of lyrical exhilaration. There is air to breathe and a place to stand. The work gradually reveals its attachment to the charged particles of other minds, men now historical, the rediscovered dead; to the main structure of mathematical thought; perhaps even to reality itself, the so-called sum of things. It is possible to stand in time's pinewood dust and admire one's own veronicas and pavanes.” 8 likes
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