tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE's Reviews > Babel 17

Babel 17 by Samuel R. Delany
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Delany was married to poet Marilyn Hacker from 1961 to 1980. From 1970 to 1971 they coedited 4 "Quark" anthologies. "Babel-17" was originally published in 1979. To quote from the back blurb: "A brilliant poet and her colorful crew range the galaxy to solve the riddle of a language that has become a deadly weapon in the hands of the enemy." Delany has lived the life of a sexual explorer, of a person acutely thoughtful about language, a person experimenting w/ his life full-blown - & his novels reflect this. His heros are often people of a nature similar to himself. They aren't armor-clad Space Marines - transplanted macho military men in a rush to blow away the monsters - they're street performers, poets, people trying to be free & coping w/ the difficult problems of universes w/ imagination & liberation instead of brute force. Language as a weapon? Language as a trap? Language as a conceptual labyrinth full of power?

"She didn't "look at the room."

She "somethinged at the something." The first something was a tiny vocable that implied an immediate, but passive, perception that could be aural or olfactory as well as visual. The second something was three equally tiny phonemes that blended at different musical pitches: one, an indicator that fixed the size of the chamber at roughly twenty-five feet cubical, the second identifying the color and probable substance of the walls - some blue metal - while the third was at once a place holder for particles that should denote the room's function when she discovered it, and a sort of grammatical tag by which she could refer to the whole experience with only the one symbol for as long as she needed. All four sounds took less time on her tongue and in her mind than the one clumsy dipthong in 'room', Babel-17; she had felt it before with other languages, the opening, the widening, the mind forced to sudden growth. But this, this was like the sudden focusing of a lens blurry for years."
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message 1: by Eddie (new)

Eddie Watkins You've convinced me to finally get around to reading some Delany, and I thank you for that. If you'd recommend 2 or 3 in particular I'd appreciate it.




tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE I'd recommend just about all of it! "Babel-17", "Dhalgren", & "Triton" are from the period that I like the most but everything has something to recommend it.

By the way, yr bk reviews are some of the strongest I've read on GoodReads & if I weren't already swamped w/ things-to-read I'd probably check out just about everything you review positively that I'm not already familiar w/! Maybe we shd start an "intellectuals who used to work for Kinko's" club or something.


message 3: by Eddie (new)

Eddie Watkins Thanks tENT. I'd rather not come across as an intellectual. Maybe I should do more drugs. You don't seem like a club kind of guy anyway.

I appreciate the recommendations. I had a copy of Dhalgren for probably 20 years and never read it and now I've lost it. Lame, but I'd rather not read a mass market format now anyway.

Your library of reviews is vast and fascinating.


tENTATIVELY, cONVENIENCE Well, really, I've started thinking of you as a giant cabbage that leaks a strangely irridiating pinkish fluid but, gee, I didn't want to tell you that - bein' so shy n'at. As for the club? Well, I was kidding - but you're wrong I AM A CLUB KINDOF GUY [insert utterly incomprehensible private joke reference to one of my movies here:] I'm a P'OLO CLUB kinda guy [reference to the extremely obscure "Discontinuous Universe" made w/ "Sylli G"]


message 5: by Eddie (new)

Eddie Watkins Rather an oozing cabbage than an intellectual any day. And by the way isn't that a cauliflower tattooed on the back of your head? Instead of a club maybe we could be in a garden together. I know some clever scallions and imaginative rutabagas.


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