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The Fall of the Towers (The Fall of the Towers #1-3)

3.61  ·  Rating Details ·  493 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
Come and enter Samuel Delany’s tomorow, in this trilogy of high adventure, with acrobats and urchins, criminals and courtiers, fishermen and factory-workers, madmen and mind-readers, dwarves and ducheses, giants and geniuses, merchants and mathematicians, soldiers and scholars, pirates and poets, and a gallery of aliens who fly, crawl, burrow, or swim.
Paperback, 438 pages
Published February 10th 2004 by Vintage (first published 1970)
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(showing 1-30)
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Jenny (Reading Envy)
May read some day. Will be donating my copy because my brain hates mass market paperbacks.
Ben Babcock
Sunday, the beginning of my week off at the end of the summer. What better way to start it off than with a golden oldie? As with many authors, I’ve been gradually collecting any Samuel R. Delany books that show up at the used bookstore in town, and I haven’t read any for a while. So I picked up The Fall of the Towers, an omnibus of a trilogy that Delany wrote in his early twenties. This is far from “peak Delany” and nowhere near as good as Triton or, my personal fave, Stars in My Pocket Like ...more
The setting could be described as post-post-apocalyptic: nuclear war is 500 years past ,and recovered technological knowledge has allowed the construction of a coastal city that might as well be New York; it even has a depressed, immigrant-populated area suspiciously named "Devil's Pot". But, possibly due to its isolation, social organization hasn't matched pace, and aristocracy still rules the city. The resultant juggling of fantasy and sf motifs is odd, but I can buy it. But while the big pict ...more
Feb 08, 2015 J. rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jul 14, 2014 Michael rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Delany fans, sci fi completists, beginning writers
Recommended to Michael by: serendipity
Shelves: science-fiction
It can be unsettling to go back to the early writings of one of your favorite authors and realize that at one time he or she was nowhere near as unique or original as in later years. This book, while showing promise in a few places, is simply not the kind of brilliant experimental and lyrical work that I expect from Delany. It’s a fairly conventional adventure story, which leans on several sci fi clichés to tell a classic quest and battle of cosmic Good against Evil. For some reason, Delany felt ...more
Jul 31, 2015 Jacob rated it it was amazing
I have been a fan of Delany's for about 2 years now, since I first read what is widely considered his magnum opus. Dhalgren, that work, is the first I read from Delany. Looking back, I wish I had read Dhalgren and the Fall novels more closely together because now several years down the line I have found several suspicions regarding Dhalgren to have some basis.

Namely, Dhalgren has a gnostic or alchemical streak which is intimated at and remains an esoteric gesturing. In City of a Thousand Suns,
May 07, 2011 Genevieve rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, sff
Samuel R. Delany keeps blowing my mind, and all I've read so far is his early stuff--practically juvenilia. I can't wait to get my hands on some of the later works. This trilogy is peculiar in having a pretty straightforward adventure-story plot, with telepaths and aliens and a kingdom at war, but not being written at all like a summary of its plot would suggest, not moving according to any of the expected beats. It's not without flaws, but ... the writing! so good! It's evocative and beautiful ...more
Michael Battaglia
Dec 12, 2015 Michael Battaglia rated it it was amazing
Working backwards with Samuel Delany can be an interesting affair, as so much of his later science-fiction (or novels in general) is so infused with theoretical underpinnings that it's almost a pleasant revelation that he could write a story without having the plot become hijacked because he's in hurry to get to the essay at the back explaining how everything you've previously read was an exercise in his new literary theory of applied semiotics. Not that his earlier works were devoid of ideas ...more
Anne Gray
Nov 12, 2016 Anne Gray rated it really liked it
Shelves: sciencefiction
This was a fascinating if sometimes frustrating book in which various technical or telepathic powers are used in an intergalactic war that for some not entirely understood reason boils down to a local conflict on a post-apocalyptic Earth.

Lots of social psychology and mental manipulation inherent in the depicted events.

Does not pull its blows as to what people are willing to tolerate to support an economically "stable" society. In that way, it is highly relevant to current events.
Jan 29, 2012 Roxane rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
The galaxy suffered from a great fire centuries before, which caused the destruction of the transfering device (I've read this in French so I don't know the exact term used in English for this) humans' only access to the stars, cutting off all the planets from one another. At the planets' surface, the great fire also caused the emergence of a barrier of radiations which prevents humans from settling beyond a certain point.
The Empire of Toromon on Earth has therefore been forced to grow and devel
I'm quite entranced with this novel/novella trilogy. Delaney as an author is often more focused on his ideas/concepts than his plot or characters. This one, while it still contains his customary focus on the former, is much more plot-based and easier to follow. Granted, the plot wasn't overly complex or, dare I say it, interesting, but it's the rest of the novels that give this collection punch and gravitas. As usual, Delaney isn't just telling a story. His writing is highly stylized, with ...more
Aug 06, 2013 Larou added it
Shelves: science-fiction
The Fall of the Towers is an omnibus of a trilogy Delany wrote early in his career, and while it is nowhere near the quality of his best works, it is hard to believe that he was a mere 22 years old when he completed it; it already shows a degree of accomplishment (not to mention sheer inventiveness) that many writers never manage to achieve.

Rather to my surprise, I felt myself reminded of John Brunner's Meeting at Infinity that I read a while back (and the comparison does not seem to be complete
Apr 20, 2009 Akiva rated it liked it
This is early Delaney and it shows (well technically it is a short trilogy packaged in one volume, but he plotted them together and wrote them in quick succession). It's set on an earth that has rebuilt itself into a small empire following a nuclear war, essentially making the setting a science fantasy world of aristocracies, power blades, and a weird alien consciousness always written in italics called The Lord of the Flames.

The pacing is weird and many of the events end up resolving anticlimac
Nov 05, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've always like Delaney for his incredibly complex, creative plots, including the aspects of politics and morality encompassed therein, but the true heart of this novel is the emotional weight each character experiences in times of death. Much like in dhalgren, characters die so unexpectedly, it seems quite real. It is also somewhat painful, even when the character has not been all that important to the story, to watch the other characters react to this death. This, and Delaney's poetic sensibi ...more
Stacey  D.
Feb 03, 2013 Stacey D. rated it liked it
Whoosh. Right over my head! Yes, that's what happens when I read Mr. Delany's brilliant works, filled with deep philosophical thought on life and art. Amazingly, Delany penned The Fall of the Towers in 1964 at the tender age of 22. I was really floored by many of the futuristic flourishes that Delany included nearly 50 years ago: retina scanning, fingerprint-lock recognition, phone tele-viewing and of course, uber-sophisticated computer technology. Lots of great characters that are human, ...more
May 04, 2008 Gabriel rated it it was ok
This is a bit stupid, but I kept getting distracted by the ridiculous name "Jon Koshar." It put me in mind of Lousi Gossett, Jr., in "Enemy Mine"-- "Your Mickey Mossss is one big stupid DOPE!" Probably just my hangup, but Ko-Shar (Action Goy!) was too silly for me.

This book, or at any rate the way it presents itself in language and plot, is locked fathoms deep in the SF ghetto. I read this because I really rather liked Delany's book "About Writing," but, far from "experimental," "Towers" is exa
Matt Ward
Apr 27, 2015 Matt Ward rated it liked it
I absolutely loved Dhalgren, so maybe I came to The Fall of the Towers with some incorrect hopes for what it would be (I really need to stop doing that).

This trilogy must be appreciated in the time of its creation. Delany took many tropes of the time and pushed them in new directions. But the books felt unsatisfying in the modern scene. I could appreciate it, but I never got into it.

It felt a slog to read, and I had to keep pushing myself to pick it back up. I'm not one to look for hand holdin
Apr 17, 2013 Andrew rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I would give it 3.5, if Goodreads had half stars. Amazing, considering he wrote all three volumes before he was even 22 years old. It suffers slightly structurally, perhaps from that inexperience, but is still a non-linear quest that will not fall the way you think it will, ever. And that's what I love about Delany, nothing is straight-forward. The action doesn't go from A to B to predictable heroic climax C. Rather A will happen, then we see vignettes of our characters' lives, then B will have ...more
Kathy  Petersen
An extraordinary journey through time and across the universe ... or is that "universes"? Delany's prose is full of brilliant colors, ambiguous landscapes, exotic but attractive characters, opposing narratives oddly interwoven. His complex yet relevant images are reminiscent in a fleeting way of Bob Dylan's, especially Dylan's work of the 1960s. Delany's book is contemporaneous with Dylan's early work, so perhaps it was something in the very air.

Charles Wilson
Sep 14, 2015 Charles Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this trilogy as a teenager. It's the book that introduced me to Delany, one of the most poetic and socially conscientious writers in science fiction. I'm not sure I understood all of it, but I loved it, especially Delany's trademark dazzling experimental prose. I'm currently re-reading it after convincing my library to get a copy (I sold off my SF library years ago during a financial crisis).
Apr 23, 2010 Derek rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I kept falling in and out of like with this one. On one hand, it's unevenly plotted, with the occasional rough edge to the writing. On the other, the scenes of the cosmic battle against The Lord of the Flames were brilliant and gripping.

It had a Viriconium vibe to it in parts, and the overall effect was unsettling.
Tessa M
This book was interesting. It was my introduction to Delany, and there were many things I liked about this book, but there were also many things I did not. I never felt any true connection to any of the characters, though the world was fabulous. The resolution left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, as well.
Leonard Pierce
Jul 02, 2008 Leonard Pierce rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
A trilogy of sci-fi/fantasy that was among the first indications of what Samuel Delany was capable of. Inconsistent, but overall quite good.
Bob Rust
Jun 07, 2016 Bob Rust rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Fall of the Towers is full of colourful cultural speculation although its melodramatic story of war mutations, mad computers and a malign cosmic intelligence is moderately conventional.
Sawyer Grey
Sawyer Grey rated it liked it
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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 ...more
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Other Books in the Series

The Fall of the Towers (3 books)
  • Out of the Dead City
  • The Towers of Toron
  • City of a Thousand Suns

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