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3.83  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,654 Ratings  ·  239 Reviews
First paperback edition.

From the back cover: "These are [at least some of] the ways you can read NOVA: as a fast-action farflung interstellar adventure; as archetypal mystical/mythical allegory (in which the Tarot and the Grail both figure prominently); as modern myth told in the S-F idiom... the reader observes, recollects, or participates in a range of personal experienc
Paperback, #H4738, 215 pages
Published November 1st 1969 by Bantam (first published January 1st 1968)
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mark monday
flawed but heroic space captain, on a mission that is part vengeance and part noble quest, assembles a disparate crew to fly through a nova. this is Samuel R. Delany so that synopsis just barely scratches the surface.

I'm going to copy & paste a post regarding this book that I just made in a group I moderate. hopefully the pasted post will eventually turn out to be notes for an actual review, but who knows, I'm whimsical. and lazy!

Delany's prose reminds me of a couple musicians I like, John C
Oct 25, 2015 Lyn rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
“NOVA!” – Queen sings – Ahhh-Ahhhh!

Reading this, I could not help thinking about the 1980 Mike Hodges film Flash Gordon starring Max von Sydow and Sam Jones. Many critics and reviewers have used the term “space opera” to label and describe Samuel Delaney’s imaginative Hugo nominated 1968 science fiction novel, and I think I will join those ranks.

Wikipedia defines “space opera" as follows:

Space opera is a sub genre of science fiction that often emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure,
Nova: A New-Wave Grail Quest space opera from the 1960s
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
Nova is Samuel "Chip" Delany's 1968 space opera with mythic/Grail Quest overtones. It is packed with different themes, subtexts, allegorical and cultural references, and literary experiments, and the young author (just 25 years old) is clearly a very talented, intelligent, and passionate writer.

But I didn't enjoy it, sadly. While I thought Babel-17 was a very fast-paced, vivid and engaging space opera t
Ben Babcock
Ah, classic space opera: futuristic setting, oddball characters with oddball philosophies, and ships and science well beyond what we ken. Unlike a good deal of space opera, Nova is not a doorstopper. It is more modest in length and in focus, though not in scope. The cast of characters is small, but the events have large repercussion. Captain Lorq von Ray certainly has much in common with Captain Ahab, and obsession is an important motif in Nova. I hesitate to compare it to Moby-Dick—not because ...more
Aug 24, 2014 Mark rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Finished a reread of Samuel R. Delany's Nova for my reading group. I'll post a longer review later, but for now...

Nova is considered by some critics as the last of Delany's early period, "lesser" novels. I think it is the first of his masterpieces insofar as he fully embraces what will become a trademark in the next several---Dhalgren, Trouble On Triton, and all the Neveryon books, ending with Stars In My Pocket Like Grains Of Sand, namely the full use of metafiction. Many mainstream literary no
Leo Robertson
Jan 23, 2016 Leo Robertson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For those of you unfamiliar with Delany, let me explain to you what it's like reading one of his novels. (And Delany is a clever PLUS, so I think there should be way more raving about him than there is- I don't quite hear enough!)

Here's the blurb they give you:
"The balance of galactic power in the 31st century revolves around Illyrion, the most precious energy source in the universe. The varied and exotic crew who sign up with Captain Lorq van Ray know their mission is dangerous, and they soon l
Jun 20, 2013 Mike rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Nova does not cease telling you how clever it is. It does this with plenty of the goobledigook that can mar any narrative, sci-fi or not. First: the neologisms meant to indicate that the writer really thought through his futuristic world ("sensory-syrynx" and "psychorama" are among the plenty). These are meant to broadcast the legitimacy of his imagined world and that, yes, he took care to note that language evolves with the times. Yet the dialogue and language otherwise has timeless problems: s ...more
Dec 25, 2013 Mitchell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This novel might be off-putting to readers of current SF or fantasy novels. Its approach to prose and plot is very different from contemporary works, and I note that SF novels of the 50s and 60s often approached plot as an exploration of ideas. It's not that they weren't often entertaining and well structured. But novels by Delaney, Spinrad, Dick, LeGuin and many others seemed to develop their characters and setting and plots in the service of theme, developing and testing ideas, and extrapolati ...more
When reading/reviewing this novel, you need to ignore the "science" parts of science fiction, as this was published in 1968, before the moon landing, let alone feasible space mining or colonization. Yet, Delany's ideas are not so out there to be considered improbable (or at least distracting to the story). Illyrion is quite properly described not as a substance, but as a superheavy material - that is, something more akin to particles than something you can hold in your hand (worst explanation ev ...more
Maggie K
Nov 01, 2014 Maggie K rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
wow-a very charismatic space captain somehow gets a crew to take on a near-suicide type mission that's both greed and vengeance oriented...and it is so believable you will think its possible to fly into a nova!

I find it so awe-inspiring that Delany stuffed all this into a 200 page book, but there you are. The most content per word book ever!
SF. Space miners! Space ships! Weird syntax! Sadly, it's the weird syntax that stuck with me after reading this.

Most of the action is set in the year 3172, in a universe where most of the galaxy is colonized by humans. In the Pleiades Federation, natives speak a dialect that always puts the verb at the end of the sentence. It gave us a lot of dialogue like: "I if his advisory meeting over is will see." The entire time I was reading I was wondering what kind of a culture puts its verbs last, and
Aug 27, 2007 Adam rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of 60's Lit and Sci Fi
Bizarre psychedelic jewel of novel that sometimes reads like prose poetry. Allusions to Bester, Holy Grail, Moby Dick, tarot, City of the Dreadful Night add to the enjoyment all with interesting thoughts on film and music, the future of the novel, humanity and technology, work and other weird thoughts.This book has an especially chilling finale alleviated by the humurous last line and an unsuspected conclusion. First Delaney I've made it through but maybe this will give the urge to tackle more(I ...more
Aug 08, 2015 sologdin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: speculative
Nutshell: always already dashing petit bourgeois outsider seeks to break interstellar monopoly of Old Money aristocrat via innovative stellar semiotics.

Text is kickass in its presentation of celestial objects and outer space, “where night means forever and morning’s a recollection” (18). Space itself: “the vermillion rush, in which hung the charred stars” (90). Each star is similarly “a furnace where the very worlds of empire are smelted” (86). One planet’s inhabitants speak with a dicked-up Yod
Tudor Ciocarlie
Jun 23, 2012 Tudor Ciocarlie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: jo-waltons-rec
Wow! Nova is one of the greatest pieces of art that I've encountered in my life!
Kyle Muntz
Nov 18, 2014 Kyle Muntz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
it's astounding how time has changed this book. this is the last of Delany's early science fiction novels, and in a lot of ways it's as striking and intelligent as I remember.... though in others, I think it's transparent why he abandoned this kind of SF, and it's almost odd how apparent elements of the transition are in the book.

but yeah: shouldn't say more for now. huge discussion piece on this book should be coming at Entropy within the next few months
Aug 22, 2015 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sci fi fans, Delany fans, literati
Recommended to Michael by: Serendipity
Shelves: science-fiction
This is probably my least favorite novel by Samuel R. Delany, which is to say that it’s excellent, but not perfect. It’s actually more ambitious than The Fall of the Towers, but, perhaps because of that, winds up not having as many interesting digressions or memorable characters. On the whole, it is classic Galactic Space Opera, though it tries at times to be something more.

The central story wants to be a kind of Grail Quest, but it’s actually more of a Moby Dick revenge tale. We have the driven
Meredith DeVoe
Jul 07, 2016 Meredith DeVoe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read Nova when I was a teenager. I just decided to start reading it again, almost 40 years later. Unlike many "vintage" Sci-fi books, nothing feels dated; it reads as fresh and original as it did decades ago. I rated it "amazing" because it amazed me. To not have forgotten it after one read for 4 decades says it all.
Nate D
May 24, 2010 Nate D rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, read-in-2010
This was fun. Samuel R. Delany is a talented writer with a lot of ideas and a good sense of character and social context. He's certainly not reaching here like he did in his masterpiece, Dhalgren, and a lot of this boils down to a drama cast in archetypes: bold, vaguely Ahab-esque captain, back from previous failed expedition plans next. Semi-amoral rival with a beautiful sister. Street-smart orphan who tries to live in the present without introspection. Etc. Except Delaney manages to make most ...more
Oct 10, 2014 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
I read this immediately following Babel-17 and they are great companions. The von Rays and the Princes are leaders of industry - the Princes are from Draco, which includes Earth, and the Von Rays are from the Pleidas Federation. The Reds are old money; the Von Rays are new. At the core of the story is a feud between Lorq von Ray and Prince Red. Ruby Red is Prince's sister and cohort. She is also someone to whom Lorq is quite attracted, which only enhances the feud.

But there are other interesting
Mar 27, 2011 Andreas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I first read this book years and years ago as a teenager. I can still remember staying awake half the night, then finishing it the next evening. It is a magnificent grail quest of sorts, complete with manic captain, a demonic enemy, big stakes, a rich and varied past for the characters, and a fabulous setting. The ease with which the prose flows, and the believable and interesting situations and interactions make this one of SciFi’s masterpieces.
Kirsten *Dogs Welcome - People Tolerated"
Wow! This book was incredible. It grabbed on to you and just wouldn't let go! What makes it even more amazing was that it was published in 1969.

Take one obsessed captain (lord of industry), two devious villains, a rag-tag crew, and an impossible dream and you've got one rollicking space opera.

Jul 08, 2012 Andrea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, my-collection
Reading this is like gorging on a ten course exotic banquet. As I was reading I felt as if the words were dancing and singing, but in fact like Mouse's syrynx, Delaney's writing satiates every sense. It's a gem.
Noah Appelbaum
Oct 07, 2015 Noah Appelbaum rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's nuts that this book came out in 1968, because the science fiction universe it establishes seems pretty much completely believable from a current perspective.
The writing feels a little dated at times, as Delaney goes overboard with needless explication and "history" in a way that seems like it might have been helpful for people in the 1960's who had never used a computer trying to imagine the future. Most of this is delivered in tortuous monologues by Katin, one of the book's central charac
Robin Bo
Feb 29, 2016 Robin Bo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi-fantasy
A book chosen for one of the book clubs I belong to, I was unsure what to think of it. The first 20 odd pages were very scientific and it threw me a bit as I am anything but scientific. However as you can tell from my rating I really ended up enjoying it.

Delany has a unique way, in this book, of combining the familiar (from our time) with the unknown (the books time). The character of Katin is a fantastic narrator of the differences that we from the 21st century might think of their universe.

Jun 21, 2015 Bryan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hmm. I seem to be having a bit of trouble with some of the classic New Wave SF. First with Brunner’s Stand On Zanzibar and now with Nova, I’ve found that parts of these books are really working for me, but my enjoyment in both cases was mitigated by fairly pronounced flaws that I just couldn’t get past. I should say, though, that I didn’t dislike either of these novels – I enjoyed them both. It’s just that I usually love classics of any genre, so not loving a classic story almost feels to me lik ...more
Feb 28, 2015 Ethan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I've enjoyed some of Delany's later, more experimental books (such as Dhalgren and Triton), but I had yet to read one of his earlier works. Nova's greatness lies in the fact that you can see Delany's literary genius at work, but you also get a more conventional plot that sits within and yet expands many space opera tropes. It's all the more impressive that Delany wrote this in his mid-20's.

There's an eccentric star ship captain, Lorq, with grudge and a plan as well as his rag tag crew of misfits
Nov 08, 2014 James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The common definition I heard about this novel was that it was a “space opera.” It does fall into the category of space opera but to me it is more than that. Delany sets this story in the 32nd century. Humanity has colonized most of our section of the galaxy. The political structure falls into Draco, the Pleiades, and the outer colonies.
The main driver of the plot is a feud between the von Rays from the Pleiades and the Reds from Draco. Basically, Lorq von Ray is going to fly into a nova so he
This story seems like an outer space opera version of Moby Dick. The captain Lorq Van Ray is obsessed with his quest to capture a star as it goes nova in order to possess the valuable material Illyrion that makes space travel possible. If he captures the star and gains the rare material it could possibly upset the balance of power in the universe/galaxy. In this scenario, there is Draco (Earth solar system - representative of the Old World), Pleiades Federation (representative of the New World), ...more
Sep 27, 2012 Alazzar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my third Delany book (after The Einstein Intersection and Babel-17 , and it was my least favorite of the three. This could be largely attributed to outside distractions (it seems like any time I sat down to read, I started thinking of something else I should be doing), but it’s also possible that Nova just wasn’t as good as those other books.

In any case, it’s not bad. I’d put Nova at 3.5-4.0 stars. In proper Delany fashion, you get a cast of characters that are vastly different from
Sep 22, 2007 Owen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like science fiction
Recommended to Owen by: ryan the girl
i liked it! at first i was measuring it (skeptically) with an octavia butler yard stick, and it is not like octavia butler's books - most of the characters are men, you don't get into their heads as much, and the language is peppered with star trek-like words, which made me worry a little bit about who i am becoming. the book sucked me in, though, with a great story line and interesting cultural critique.

this book was set thousands of years in the future in an intergalactic society.

there was gr
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Discourse in a Di...: Samuel Delany and Nova 10 6 Apr 13, 2016 04:01PM  
Science Fiction A...: * October 2014 Read: Nova by Samuel R. Delany 14 38 Nov 01, 2014 01:44PM  
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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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“But the point is, when the writer turns to address the reader, he or she must not only speak to me—naively dazzled and wholly enchanted by the complexities of the trickery, and thus all but incapable of any criticism, so that, indeed, he can claim, if he likes, priestly contact with the greater powers that, hurled at him by the muse, travel the parsecs from the Universe’s furthest shoals, cleaving stars on the way, to shatter the specific moment and sizzle his brains in their pan, rattle his teeth in their sockets, make his muscles howl against his bones, and to galvanize his pen so the ink bubbles and blisters on the nib (nor would I hear her claim to such as other than a metaphor for the most profound truths of skill, craft, or mathematical and historical conjuration)—but she or he must also speak to my student, for whom it was an okay story, with just so much description.” 5 likes
“There are three types of actions: purposeful, habitual, and gratuitous. Characters, to be immediate and apprehensible, must be presented by all three.' Katin looked toward the front of the car.

The captain gazed through the curving plate that lapped the roof. His yellow eyes fixed Her consumptive light that pulsed fire-spots in a giant cinder. The light was so weak he did not squint at all.

I am confounded, Katin admitted to his jeweled box, 'nevertheless. The mirror of my observation turns and what first seemed gratuitous I see enough times to realize it is a habit. What I suspected as habit now seems part of a great design. While what I originally took as purpose explodes into gratuitousness. The mirror turns again, and the character I thought obsessed by purpose reveals his obsession is only habit; his habits are gratuitously meaningless; while those actions i construed as gratuitous now reveal a most demonic end.”
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