Hugo & Nebula Awards: Best Novels discussion

The Einstein Intersection
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Monthly Reading: Discussion > August 2018 "Einstein Intersection" Discussion <Caution! Spoilers May Be Present!>

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message 1: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2549 comments Mod
Thanks for nominating this book, heard good things about it.


message 2: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan | 481 comments Mod
It took me a day to finish The Einstein Intersection. It is one of those books, that I can tell there is so much more to it than what I got out of it and I'll need to reread it. In the mean time, maybe someone smarter than myself can help show me the way.

I like that it was post-apocalyptic, and ever more so that it was post-human space traveling. I like that it was so alien and the story wasn't spoon feed to you.

I don't like that it was so short. I feel like if it had been a bit longer, then maybe it could have been clearer. I feel that the quotes from different authors/people muddled the story and could have been better or should have been taken out.

I'm kind of lost on the point of the story. I know at the heart of the story, it is about Lobey trying to get Friza back. I get that Kid Death is the adversary, and pretty obviously Billy the Kid. I also get that it is a statement about how people who are "different" are/were being treated. I got the references to the New Testament and several mythologies.

I guess, I'm just feeling underwhelmed. The book comes off as a strong, thought provoking story, but turns into a scifi western that simply could have been better.

I don't know, I'll think more on it and read what everyone writes and see if my opinion on it changes. I am looking forward to reading other works by Delany.


message 3: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2549 comments Mod
To me that whole novel seemed like a short story (or a novelette) that spun out of control by means of ingesting one psychedelic too many.

I liked how the "old world" of humans was experienced by main character but I felt as if there were some inconsistencies regarding the setting, also to me it wasn't entirely clear whethet oddities such as "dragons" belonged to our world (via mutation) or they were brought over with the rest of the "colonists".

In any case, I am also pretty excited about reading more of his stuff in future.


message 4: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan | 481 comments Mod
Art wrote: "...that spun out of control by means of ingesting one psychedelic too many..."

Ha! That's true. I never really think about the substances (if any) an author may have been on while reading their book. No proof of it, but this one kind of fits.


message 5: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2549 comments Mod
The comment on mind-enhancing substances is pure speculation on my part (though scenes with "flowers" fighting "dragons" tip the scales somewhat!), but leaving my earlier comment aside, I really believe that the story would work better had it been a short story.

My speculations are based on the fact that the majority of the world building works so much better with the vagueness and mysteriousness. Had it been explained any further, it would probably lose its charm, though I wouldn't mind learning more about the fate of the humankind and of its history. Not to mention the fact that, as Bryan's pointed out, it essentially is a basic story of "western"-esque retribution.

If it was a short story, my rating would've been one star higher. Do I want to read any more of his work? Hell yes I do. Would I recommend it to a fellow sci-fi lovers? Hesitantly yes, but only because it only takes a couple of hours to go through even without rushing.


message 6: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 632 comments I read this long ago and don't have clear memories. I do know that I have liked other Delaney works much more than I liked this one.

For those who say they want to read more Delaney: Good! Go for it. But be careful. Some of his books are porn. Not just regular gay porn, either. Some really disgusting and not always consensual stuff that I don't even want to think about. The worst, so far, is "Hogg", but "Mad Man" and "Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders" aren't far off.

Some of the ones I loved include the series starting with Tales of Nevèrÿon (which can be read in any order), Trouble on Triton: An Ambiguous Heterotopia, and Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (supposedly the first part of 2, but book 2 was never written and doesn't seem necessary.)

He is fiercely intelligent, and his non-fiction is also good, but I don't always understand it.


Antti Värtö (andekn) | 727 comments This was really pure, uncut New Wave SF. I liked many things about this book, but it does feel like a product of its time. I got a strong feeling that Delaney wanted to write something very different (and more serious/literary) than pulp SF, and if that meant going full postmodernist, well, so be it.

Bryan felt it was too short, Art thought it was too long, and to complete the Goldilocks I felt it was just right. The ending came pretty abruptly, but it felt proper for a story that was all about trying to emulate mythology but not really succeeding.


message 8: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 632 comments I was in a used bookstore yesterday and I put my hand on The Einstein Intersection. The worker nearby said "You want to read that." I explained that I've already read it and don't remember it but am not sure I want to read it again and that led to a discussion. Turns out he wrote a dissertation on Delany!

We both agreed that his later stuff is much better. While he was already writing sophisticated stuff in his early work, it got more sophisticated later. We agreed that he almost makes semiotics interesting, though we don't pretend to understand what semiotics means.

While writing the dissertation he felt compelled to at least try to read all of Delany's work, but, like me, he couldn't get far in "Hogg".

The most interesting thing he told me, though, was that there is a recent new novella published in F&SF and that it is good and is not porn! I've dug around and found it is called "The Hermit of Houston" and it won a Locus award. One review says

In tone, this story reminded me of The Einstein Intersection, but instead of myths its main concern is memory: individual memory and collective memory alike. What do we remember and which of those memories do we choose to tell? How do we curate our stories? How does a society curate its narratives, decides which stories are acceptable and which are not? How does our understanding of what's acceptable change over time?


Final thought: If you, too, decide to write a dissertation on an SF author, you may someday find yourself working in a used book store!


message 9: by Bryan, Village Idiot (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bryan | 481 comments Mod
Nicely put Ed. I'm going to have to look up "The Hermit of Houston." I find it interesting it didn't pop up on goodreads when I tried to make a link for it.

Antti: We had to have someone meet in the middle!


message 10: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 632 comments GR doesn't index short stories unless they are published separately. The new story is included in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume Twelve.


message 11: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3407 comments Mod
I finished it yesterday. Quite a strange piece. The 'scientific' explanation is the usual misunderstanding by humanitarians :D
He mixed Einstein with Heisenberg and got Gödel wrong


message 12: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 632 comments Oleksandr's review reminded me of something. Most of Delany's novels have a male character who chews their nails. Usually fingernails, but in this case it was toenails!

(Aparently Delany thinks it is sexy for a guy to chew his nails.)


message 13: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3407 comments Mod
Ed wrote: "(Aparently Delany thinks it is sexy for a guy to chew his nails.) "

Interesting... I guess he tries to convey something with it, maybe the nerve-strung personality? But it isn't the case with Lobey I guess


message 14: by Ed (new)

Ed Erwin | 632 comments Oleksandr wrote: "Ed wrote: "(Aparently Delany thinks it is sexy for a guy to chew his nails.) "

Interesting... I guess he tries to convey something with it..."


Perhaps. But I think he just finds it sexy. He talks about it in his non-fiction as well.

Another thing that also appears often is a character (always male?) wearing only one shoe.


message 15: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kateblue | 3615 comments Mod
I am so annoyed! I did not read this because I did not have a copy . . . I thought

As it turns out, I just found a hard copy in the bookcase!

Grr.

TMB, SLT (too many books, so little time)


message 16: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3407 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "I am so annoyed! I did not read this because I did not have a copy . . . I thought

As it turns out, I just found a hard copy in the bookcase! "


It is quite short, so if you decide to read it anyway, your comments are welcome!


message 17: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kateblue | 3615 comments Mod
I'm reading this month's now. Maybe later


message 18: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kateblue | 3615 comments Mod
I finally read this, though I skipped part of the middle.

Basically, I don't think it mattered that I skipped, it was pretty incomprehensible in any case. It does have that psychedelic feel, but I would rather read Nine Princes in Amber if I want that.


message 19: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3407 comments Mod
Kateblue wrote: "It does have that psychedelic feel, but I would rather read Nine Princes in Amber if I want that."

It is definitely strange and the main difference from most other works is that we usually by default assume protagonists to be human, but in this case they are all imitators


message 20: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kateblue | 3615 comments Mod
Yes, agree that it's an interesting twist which I didn't really expect


message 21: by Art, Stay home, stay safe. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Art | 2549 comments Mod
Glad that you got a chance to catch up with the group with this one. It reminded me that I would like having another go at Delaney's work. Might be my next nomination.

I might re-read this one and see if I can can give it another star, but remembering the lack of satisfaction from the ending and the whole "western" vibe makes me hesitate doing so.


message 22: by Oleksandr, a.k.a. Z (new) - rated it 4 stars

Oleksandr Zholud | 3407 comments Mod
I've read his Babel-17 last month and it was more interesting that The Einstein Intersection for me, but still not exactly my cup of tea.


Antti Värtö (andekn) | 727 comments "Dhalgren" could be interesting, although I've understood it is extremely long and it divides opinions fiercely. Some think it's a masterpiece, most don't finish the book because they find it dull and incomprehensible. Sort of an SF/F analogue to "Ulysses", I'd suppose.


message 24: by Kateblue, 2nd star to the right and straight on til morning (last edited Oct 31, 2018 04:00PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kateblue | 3615 comments Mod
I hated Dhalgren years ago when I read it, but I was a kid. What did I know? If this group determines to read it, I will try it again, and if I still hate it, I will quit.

I know I read Babel-17, but I can't remember a thing about it. Maybe I only started it and gave up. So ditto. (I do remember little bits and pieces of Dhalgren.)

But I am not in a hurry to read anything by him. SMB, SLT (so many books, so little time)


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