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The Jewels of Aptor

3.28 of 5 stars 3.28  ·  rating details  ·  420 ratings  ·  40 reviews
One of the most universally acclaimed first novels in science fiction--by the man who become one of the most stellar writers in the genre's history. On the orders of Argo, the White Goddess, an itinerant poet and his three companions journey to the island of Aptor. Their mission: to seize a jewel from the dark god Hama and bring it back home. With this precious stone Argo ...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published August 1st 2002 by Gollancz (first published 1962)
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Nate D
I've been reading a lot of fairly abstracted stuff lately, so it was actually totally refreshing to read something composed of pretty much straight narrative by a deft storyteller. Even at age 20, when this debut was published, Delany has a fully satisfying storytelling voice and plot-sense. And though as a kind of fantasy-adventure novel there's some standard journey-through-strange-and-dangerous-lands stuff that's a little hard to get excited about at this point, much of the narrative actual c ...more
Kernos
The novel describes a post-apocalyptic civilization a number of centuries after an atomic "big fire". The action occurs on two islands or continents, one with a dark age civilization. Leptar, where the highest technology are sailing ships and swords; the other the radioactive island Aptor populated by mutant flora and fauna as well as humanoid 'scientist' populations who have kept or rediscovered the old knowledge and technology, two opposing groups forming priesthood like enclaves, keepers of t ...more
Fred
An interesting first novel, but clearly the work of an apprentice in the craft. Delany was that rare author with the brilliant idea to marry an editor, thus helping to grease the wheels for this novel written at age 19. It is not a great novel, but the willingness to jump in and grapple with philosophical ideas foreshadows Delany's later work. In this piece the narrative is clunky, and the characters motivations unclear. There is a lot of psionics, always a turnoff, and goofy aliens. The battle ...more
Simon
I do not think this was a great introduction to Delany. Reputedly one of the greats of the genre and I've only now gotten around to trying one of his works.

This is one of those far future/post apocalyptic SF stories where knowledge and understanding has declined leaving the populace in a faux medieval condition. Relics of their technological past linger but are indistinguishable from magical artefacts as far as most of the populace are concerned.

There was also quite an emphasis on the philosoph
...more
Skjam!
Jul 23, 2013 Skjam! rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Older SF fans, Samuel R. Delaney fans
This is the first novel by Samuel R. Delaney, published in 1967. He was one of the first successful African-American science fiction authors, as well as one of the first openly gay SF writers, and certainly the most successful person so far to be both. He’s associated with the New Wave movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, although this particular novel is closer to the old model of SF.

Geo, a poet, his sailor friend Urson, and a Strange One thief nicknamed Snake are recruited by the White
...more
Rhys
Delany is one of my favourite living writers, one of my favourite writers full stop in fact. This is his first novel and was published when he was only twenty. Although it’s probably the weakest of his books, it’s still an enthralling and engaging work of fiction. I first read it when I was about 17 years old and for some reason didn’t like it. I found the story confusing. But after this re-reading I am baffled as to why I thought that. Analog described it in a review as ‘gorgeously implausible’ ...more
Jenne
Feb 06, 2010 Jenne rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: sf
First line: "Afterwards, she was taken down to the sea."

I decided to actually start reading some of my collection of pulp novels (which I mostly collect for the covers).
I didn't realize this was his first novel, but it makes sense--he certainly came a long way in the 22 years between this one (1962) and Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (1984).
The tone of the story is kind of a combination of H. Rider Haggard and Motel of the Mysteries: part gruesome adventure story and part archaeology of
...more
Gabriel
In a few ways, this reads like a first novel. In a few ways, this reads like a Delany novel. It's never fully in one camp or the other, and that's part of the charm. It's a fun little adventure with a little theology and brain science thrown in. Very much akin to Babel 17 in that manner, although Babel 17 showed Delany playing with language a little more.

The other comparison point for Delany readers is Nova. both are first and foremost adventure novels. The only difference being that Nova is con
...more
Morris Nelms
This was Delany's first published work, completed when the author was 19. Most of what he would later do with his fiction is evident here. He has a way of being unexpectedly profound and poetic, often in the middle of an adventure story that feels a bit like "been here, done that." He's always worth reading, and he is continually provocative and surprising.
He, more than most sci-fi writers, is not really writing about what he's writing about on the surface. This is a story about a post-nuclear
...more
Olethros
-Un gran viaje empieza con un primer paso, por muy dubitativo que sea.-

Género. Ciencia-Ficción (con toques fantásticos, sin la menor duda).

Lo que nos cuenta. En un mundo que hace mucho tiempo sufrió un apocalipsis y en el que de los restos de la civilización ha comenzado a desarrollarse una nueva sociedad y cultura, Geo (joven poeta), Serpiente (un mutante mudo de cuatro brazos) y Ursus (un gigante hedonista), acompañan a una sacerdotisa en un peligroso viaje hacia Argo para hacerse con el res
...more
A. D. Jameson
I like this little book more than I probably should, but it's the perfect intersection of pulp and philosophical science-fiction. Delany plays so many clever games with limited perspective and elided narration to investigate epistemological limits, and I love him dearly for it. I wish I, too, could write a book like this in one month!
fromcouchtomoon
Basically unreadable. Marrying an editor helps, I suppose.
Daniel Otto Jack Petersen
(The following review is cross-posted from my blog They Have Pulled Down Deep Heaven On Their Heads.)

To be honest, if it weren't for the fact that the 19-year-old who wrote this novel went on to become an icon of New Wave science fiction, I'm not sure the book would still be remembered. The Jewels of Aptor (1962) shows promise, but I'm not sure how truly distinguished it is in the mountains of 'skiffy' out there. Don't get me wrong, though: I thoroughly enjoyed aspects of this novel and it truly
...more
Roddy Williams
‘Was their leader a mistress of science or a witch of mutants?

QUEST AMID FUTURITY’S RUINS

What was the strange impetus that drove a group of four widely different humans to embark on a fear-filled journey across a forbidden sea to a legendary land?

This was Earth still, but an Earth of a future terribly changed after a planet-searing disaster, a planet of weird cults, mutated beasts, and people who were not always entirely human. As for the four who made up that questing party, they included a wom
...more
Kiv
So, I woke up this morning (February 28th) with the plan to fit one more book into February, and ended up not getting the chance to read until around 7 pm. -_- So, I figured I should go for something short, that I had read before, and I picked up The Jewels of Aptor by Samuel R. Delany.

I had read this book once before, about four years ago, and honestly, didn’t remember much about it. I figured it was a good bet, though, seeing as Samuel R. Delany is one of my all time favorite authors. I was r
...more
Bad-at-reading
After being baffled by Dhalgren and intimidated by Triton, but appreciating the colossal talent behind them, I was eager to read something more conventional from Delany, especially in light of the fantastic shorts "The Star Pit" and "Prismatica". Jewels of Aptor may be conventional, a relic of a time when it only took 150 pages to save the world, but it has its own baffling and intimidating moments to contend with. Delany's distinctly comic-booky dialogue is fully developed even this early in hi ...more
Manuel G.
Il romanzo si svolge tra una quindicina di secoli, dove la Terra è ben diversa da come la conosciamo. Nuove razze di uomini mutanti si muovono in libertà, popolando le tenebre come gli incubi gremivano il sonno dell’umanità antica (noi, gente di oggi). La religione padroneggia ed è fondata sui ricordi della scienza del passato, ripresentata sotto forma di rito e magia. In questo scenario si muove Geo, un poeta, Urson, un burbero omaccione, e Serpe, un ragazzo mutante dalle capacità telepatiche. ...more
tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE
Samuel Delany is in my top 5 favorite SF writers - & there's much more to him than that. He might've been around 19 when he wrote this so it's pretty damned precocious but his later writing's so much 'better' that I have to acknowledge this as somewhat 'immature'. Brilliant, but obviously written by someone who has a long way to go. Delany's one of those people who sets just about anybody's stereotypes on their heads by being such a free thinking, strong minded individualist.

I remember read
...more
J. Boo
None of the major power-players seems to have a strategy that makes much sense, and the characters' motivations are murky -- and not in a good way. The writing itself isn't bad, but the plotting needed a severe work-over.

First book of his I've read, and this was his first novel, written at nineteen. Apparently there are also two versions of the book-- I read whichever one is on Gutenberg. I'd be willing to give Delaney another try.
Jeff Doten
Delany is one of my all time favorite writers. But I can't say I've actually ever finished this book. In hindsight I took this book ( literally this very copy) all away to Florida, a lifetime ago. It didn't hold my attention then either, on that never ending flight.

It has a beautiful and intriguing opening, which still seems to have no relation to the rest of the book. I'm sure that my skim reading has something to do with that, but I see no evidence of a return to those characters.

Oh well, I'v
...more
Chris
Generally a passable sci-fi novel; I enjoyed reading it, and although the characters were rather generic, some of the ideas were quite good. As "Jewels" was the debut work by one of sci-fi's most important authors, it was interesting from that standpoint as well.

That said, it was only okay. The only other book I've read by Delany is "Dhalgren," which is a masterpiece, so this was somewhat underwhelming. There are glimpses of the stylistic genius that elevates his later prose above so much of the
...more
wigwam
Scifi has been on my mind since finishing Gravity's Rainbow and wishing it were only its scifi elements on their own. I read one other Delany (Nova) and then before the 2 and a half of CS Lewis's Silent Planet trilogy after my cousin gave them to me for Christmas in college and before I decided the third one was too boring to get through. So I'm not much of a scifi reader but Delany seems like a cool dude and Dahlgren sounds great but intimidating so I wanted to start small. Nova was too small m ...more
Olethros
-Un gran viaje empieza con un primer paso, por muy dubitativo que sea.-

Género. Ciencia-Ficción (con toques fantásticos, sin la menor duda).

Lo que nos cuenta. En un mundo que hace mucho tiempo sufrió un apocalipsis y en el que de los restos de la civilización ha comenzado a desarrollarse una nueva sociedad y cultura, Geo (joven poeta), Serpiente (un mutante mudo de cuatro brazos) y Ursus (un gigante hedonista), acompañan a una sacerdotisa en un peligroso viaje hacia Argo para hacerse con el res
...more
Matt
This has been a fun read. Somewhere in between sci-fi and fantasy I finished it rather quickly. Great concepts and definitely indicates that great writing will come from Delany.
Otis Campbell
Dropping in on a cold morning, my white breath
Believes in the thoughts I express
So, I can't forget you, it's a bit mysterious
Jewel in love, love is flowing
Chris
Meh. There's better Delany out there. His first book, so it has some problems. But I still like it ok
Derek
You come away from the book, and especially its ending, feeling like the author is starting to grapple with themes and ideas which he apparently develops through subsequent novels. Here the repeated themes of duality eventually wind up coming out of the characters' mouths, which made it all very chatty with explanations and discussion.

Still, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing and devoured the whole thing trying to figure out what was going on and how it all connected together.
Rebecca
This was amazing. The setting was beautifully realised and amazingly not dated even though it was written so long ago. I almost want to read it all over again to pick out the nuances I missed the first time. I didn't quite get the ending, but I think on a later reread it'll make more sense. I cannot recommend this book highly enough, and it's a free e-book on Project Gutenberg, so if you have an e-Reader, you have no excuse.
Jeremy Hauck
Things we used to worry about but don't so much anymore, No. 1: Nuclear Holocaust.
This book was a fast vacation read in the vein of Planet of the Apes, although you can see in the writing chip already gearing himself up for the writing of his magnum opus, Dhalgren, with the muscular characters always always walking around and these jewels that allow the narrative to go in virtually any direction at any time.
Jamie
Nov 13, 2007 Jamie marked it as to-read
Found a used copy of Samuel R. Delaney The Jewels of Aptor yesterday. I will buy pretty much anything by Delaney, and am interested to read this, his first novel. (Written at the age of 19, grrr... Stupid geniuses.) I've found his other early stuff to be a bit clunky, his overflowing of ideas fitting awkwardly into the characters and plots, but it's always worth it. Nobody writes like Delaney.
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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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