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The Einstein Intersection

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  4,383 ratings  ·  402 reviews
The Einstein Intersection won the Nebula Award for best science fiction novel of 1967. The surface story tells of the problems a member of an alien race, Lo Lobey, has assimilating the mythology of earth, where his kind have settled among the leftover artifacts of humanity. The deeper tale concerns, however, the way those who are "different" must deal with the dominant cul ...more
Paperback, 136 pages
Published July 15th 1998 by Wesleyan University Press (first published 1967)
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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mark monday
Samuel R. Delany: scifi master, queer black boundary-crosser, critic and outsider, beloved cult figure, college professor, poet, genius.

i had a hard time with this one at first, and gave up about a third of the way in. i didn't understand what was happening and i resented the novel - it confused and frustrated me. but then i rallied, mainly due to a flash of shame at thinking that i needed my novels to be spoon-fed to me, with traditional narratives, easy answers and easily digested themes, fami
Oct 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I would be a liar if I said I could map out the plot to this novel in any kind of linear fashion. One read through is definitely not enough. So, is it even permissible to give the book my highest rating when I cannot, admittedly, lay the plot out in a plain diagram for you?

Oh, heck yes!

This book will play tricks with your mind, no doubt. But if you enjoy strange dreams that hold their own internal logic - unexplainable in the waking world, but somehow making perfect sense to your sleeping self -
Megan Baxter
Aug 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
I had never read any Samuel R. Delany before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. And I don't think I was expecting this lyrical, mythical, entrancing science fiction. Delany weaves together new and old myths into a science fiction story about a race living in the ruins humans left behind, trying on their lives and living out their stories until they work through them and can finally move on to their own.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enf
The Einstein Intersection: New Wave SF with style but story lacks discipline
Originally posted at Fantasy Literature
It doesn't get any more New Wave SF than this very slim 1968 Nebula-winning novel (157 pages), and it's hard to imagine anything like this being written today. It's a mythical retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice story in a far-future Earth populated by the mutated remnants of humanity.

Being a Delany book, the writing is disjointed, jazzy, lyrical, playful, and tantalizing. The su
Jul 28, 2016 rated it it was ok
As morning branded the sea, darkness fell away at the far side of the beach. I turned to follow it.
So ends The Einstein Intersection. My own interest in Delany may be terminated as well. The novel began as Orpheus and became Red River and ended as David Copperfield. All that without Walter Brennan. Delany lards his fiction with ideas, with theory. Unfortunately he can't stop acknowledging that. A future grimdark place where the humans have left. Mutants remain, clinging to our myths. This novel
Timothy Urges
May 28, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
…it’s changing, Lobey. It’s not the same. Some people walk under the sun and accept that change, others close their eyes, clap their hands to their ears and deny the world with their tongues. Most snicker, giggle, jeer and point when they think no one else is looking—that is how the humans acted throughout their history. We have taken over their abandoned world, and something new is happening to the fragments, something we can’t even define with mankind’s leftover vocabulary. You must take its i ...more
Ben Loory
Jan 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
if neil stephenson wrote this book, it'd be 157,000,000 pages long. delany does it as a novella and somehow it contains the whole world.

i wish they'd let him keep the original title, though: a fabulous, formless darkness was much better.
Ian Farragher
Jun 21, 2007 marked it as do-not-have
Dude. I was about 3 chapters into this book and some guy flat out stole this book from me.

Nastyguy: 'Do you mind if I read this?'
Me: 'Yes, I'm reading it.'
Nastyguy: 'Can I take a look at it at least.'
Me: 'Ummm, okay. But I'm in the middle of it, so don't leave with it.'
Nastyguy: 'Okay.'

-- About 2 hours later, after Nastyguy leaves ---

Me: (searching all over) Did anybody see the book I was reading?
Sister: I think I saw Nastyguy leaving with it. He said you let him borrow it.
Me: Awwwh, #@*%!

It mus
Dec 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is the only book by Delany that I've ever cared for & I love it. He blends SF & mythology, a post-apocalyptic world filled with wonders & monsters. Our hero journeys through this world, discovering more about it, himself & the human race. He shows mankind's greatest failures & achievements through the eyes of something else. A very interesting read & re-read.

I read it again & although the words are very familiar after all these years, still they move me in different ways & make me think of
Jan 01, 2009 rated it liked it
Psychedelic 60s SF version of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, quite nicely done. The Orpheus character is sympathetic and well-realized, as is his demonic opponent, Kid Death. Eurydice is suitably beautiful, tragic and mysterious, but doesn't have much of a personality. Not a serious problem, however, since she's dead for most of the book.

This is a really short book and I didn't really care for it, so I'm forgoing my usual format to just include a few words.

I've never read anything by Mr. Delany before, and if this is an indication of his work, I likely won't read anything else.

My understanding however is that this is one of his earlier works, so maybe I'll like his later works better.

This was the January 2014 pick for Sword & Laser and I've had pretty good luck with the Sci-Fi picks in 2013, sadly the trend hasn't continued to k
Mar 05, 2020 rated it liked it
There's no denying Delany's enormous influence on the genre, yet I always seem to have trouble connecting to his writing. Perhaps my powers of imagination are lacking, or my ability to see beyond to something deeper, or my skill in piecing together the puzzles he lays out, but reading him always seems like a chore. I find his style irritatingly imprecise, disjointed and illusory, falling short of a compelling narrative. My two cents.
May 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite books of all time, rather odd since I've never cared for anything else that Delany wrote. None of his other books hooked me at all & I've tried several over the decades quite a few times. I've often wondered at his popularity until I found out he's black & gay (Who cares?) so put it down to political correctness especially after attempting to read Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders which is such gross gay porn that I wonder how anyone could get through more than ...more
Aug 05, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This book wasn’t very interesting to me. I was on the plane coming home and it put me to sleep multiple times. It had a few interesting parts but overall a complete bore.
Jan 11, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: Think Galactic book group
Shelves: sci-fi
Lobey is a herder in a small village. Although they live a simple life, they live atop the ruins of a maze of tunnels filled with abandoned computers. Further, it seems that radiation and limited genetic diversity create so many mutations that the villagers hardly look human. Still, it's a quiet life. He and his childhood friend, Friza, are finally becoming romantic with each other when she apruptly, inexplicably, dies. Unwilling to accept her death, Lobey ventures outside his village and finds ...more
I give some Samuel Delany books 4 stars where I would give someone else 5, but only to be able to distinguish the whole-nother-plane ones like the einstein intersection, which gets its eerie effect by literalizing the impression that one's culture and language sometimes feel as though they might be a strange dead shell left by another people in another place. it uses that classic scifi trick that, in this alien world that humans colonized, the thing we refer to as a "dog" may turn out have spine ...more
Jan 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
I don't know what to say about this book. It very obviously wasn't for me. It was obtuse. It regularly put me to sleep, even though it was only ~130 pages long. The best part of the book was the introduction written by Neil Gaiman, and even then....I felt like he set the book up to fail. Because what he painted was not what this book was. It was myth, metaphor, an attempt at telling a story but telling it in a way that was purposely confusing. I dunno, I guess I'm not smart enough to get it. I r ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
When this was the first Sword and Laser pick of the year, I was thrilled. After all, one of my 2014 reading goals was to finally read Delany. I'm not sure what to think of this particular book as an introduction to his work!

I think I need this book to be a graphic novel. It is brief, just over 150 pages in my edition, but is chock full of ideas. At first they seemed random but as the parts of the story filled in toward the end, they became more obviously intentional. I'm certain Delany knows mor
Phil Jensen
Nov 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Hyper-intelligent and cryptic. Some readers compare it to a Roger Zelazny novel, but it reminds me more of Gene Wolfe or Viriconium. Delany explicitly states throughout the novel that myth exists to tell us basic truths that are unutterable otherwise. Very well, what are the unutterable truths he is expressing in this book?



Lo Lobey is a descendent of aliens who took over the vacant bodies of humans. Several generations prior, humans used technology based on Godel
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
*shrug* Maybe Jenny would understand this novella.

This guy seems to understand it. http://yellowedandcreased.wordpress.c...
Nate D
Fall 1965 through Spring 1966 was a significant period for Samuel Delany. The gripping but somewhat limited The Ballad of Beta 2 had just come out. In September 1965 he finished writing Babel-17/Empire Star, which would win him his first Nebula, and first major award, when published the following year. Babel-17 remains possibly his greatest achievement pre-Dhalgren, but the work immediately following it were on a similar level. He spent the rest of September writing two novellas, the fantastic " ...more
Jeremy Kohlman
I'm not sure what to say about this book. It's one of those stories that, having read it, I know has changed me. But changed me how? That I do not know. I am different from having read this story. (that's actually quite an ironic statement, you'll get, if you read it!)

This is a very short story. Just 143 very short pages. It doesn't take much time at all to finish. But again, I know there's far more than 143 short pages of meaning lying here. I might just start to understand what this book is sa
Delany wrote this brainfood with humanistic background in 1965. So, there are clumsy computers, 33' and 45' records, there are Beatles, Bob Dylan references etc. But the archaic touch doesn't matter at all - the concepts are important, here.

Probably, this isn't for one who doesn't know Orpheus and Eurydice. It's more fun having a wikipedia nearby to search all the catchwords. So, it will be a slow read and second read might bring even new dimensions of insights - though I won't re-read it. Refe
Delany's off-kilter semi-poetic examination of myth and its uses, using Orpheus as the main pattern, set in a post-apocalyptic (view spoiler) Earth. Delany's fascination with the subject is clear, the atmosphere is unique, and some passages are beautiful, but sometimes it wavers between too slipperly allusive and too on-the-nose here's-what-this-symbolizes. For instance, (view spoiler) ...more
Peter Tillman
I remember almost nothing about this Nebula award-winner except that I didn't care for it. But this extended blurb at almost makes me want to try again:
"Einstein Intersection is Samuel R. Delany’s riff on the Orpheus myth. Except this is Delany, so things get weird quick. Lo Lobey, our Orpheus, lives in a wayyy post-apocalyptic future, probably descended from a race of people who crashed on Earth after what we know as “civilization” collapsed. He plays a flute that is also a machete, and
3.5 to 4.0 stars.

Nominee: Hugo Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1968)
Winner: Nebula Award for Best Science Fiction Novel (1968)
Maris Bave
A longer version of this review can be found on my blog:

I don't know what just happened. I don't know what bookshelves to put this one on. I'm lost on a strange planet in a sea of words and blood.

In other words, this book is great. Did I understand it? Not really. Did that stop me from enjoying it immensely? Not at all. The protagonist, for all he's meant to be an alien, comes across very humanly. He's socially awkward and makes mistakes and spends most
Sep 11, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sci-fi, abandoned
DNF at 12%

Despite this is a really short book, I was unable to read it any longer than these few pages. I've read it once, put it down, tried for the second time and still couldn't understand what the heck I'm reading - it was just gibberish. Probably I would have had the same experience reading something in bulgarian. Just no.
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
I hated Dalghren years ago, but I thought I would give him another try . . .

Bizarre, psychedelic, but interesting. I'm glad I read it, but I will probably avoid his books in the future. They just aren't for me.
The Einstein Intersection is set far in the future on a post-apocalyptic Earth, where the humans have died out due to radiation from nuclear fall-out, and the planet has become inhabited by alien beings. Their myths and culture are based on the scraps of stories and knowledge they find left behind by the planet's former inhabitants, which leads to an interesting mixture of our present-day mythologies and popular culture (or, well, present-day for the mid-1960s). It follows the adventures of Lo L ...more
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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 7th Av ...more

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“Wars and chaoses and paradoxes ago, two mathematicians between them ended an age d began another for our hosts, our ghosts called Man. One was Einstein, who with his Theory of Relativity defined the limits of man's perception by expressing mathematically just how far the condition of the observer influences the thing he perceives.
The other was Goedel, a contemporary of Eintstein, who was the first to bring back a mathematically precise statement about the vaster realm beyond the limits Einstein had defined: In any closed mathematical system--you may read 'the real world with its immutable laws of logic'--there are an infinite number of true theorems--you may read 'perceivable, measurable phenomena'--which, though contained in the original system, can not be deduced from it--read 'proven with ordinary or extraordinary logic.' Which is to say, there are more things in heaven and Earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio. There are an infinite number of true things in the world with no way of ascertaining their truth. Einstein defined the extent of the rational. Goedel stuck a pin into the irrational and fixed it to the wall of the universe so that it held still long enough for people to know it was there.
The visible effects of Einstein's theory leaped up on a convex curve, its production huge in the first century after its discovery, then leveling off. The production of Goedel's law crept up on a concave curve, microscopic at first, then leaping to equal the Einsteinian curve, cross it, outstrip it. At the point of intersection, humanity was able to reach the limits of the known universe...
... And when the line of Goedel's law eagled over Einstein's, its shadow fell on a dewerted Earth. The humans had gone somewhere else, to no world in this continuum. We came, took their bodies, their souls--both husks abandoned here for any wanderer's taking. The Cities, once bustling centers of interstellar commerce, were crumbled to the sands you see today.”
“I do not say, however, that every delusion or wandering of the mind should be called madness. Erasmus of Rotterdam, The Praise of Folly There” 1 likes
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