What Are Some Good SF Masterworks Books
Samuel R. Delany: Nova
The review is based on the English original; The German version is translated by Heinz Nagel.
The 31st century: Captain Lorq Von Ray wants to fly his spaceship through an exploding star to collect tons of the incredibly valuable energy source Illyrion. He is driven by a thirst for revenge. There is a mixed crew on board: Gypsy boy The Mouse plays the syrynx, an instrument that appeals to all sensory organs. Katin wants to revive the archaic form of the novel, has more than 5,800 notes, but no topic yet. Then there are the twins Idas and Lynceos as well as Tyy and Sebastian and their winged beasts.
An enigmatic captain with a thirst for revenge, an illustrious crew and of course a big one Quest: Delanys nova It's not considered a kind of "Moby Dick in Space" for nothing. The similarities aren't just limited to the staff. Other famous quests - Arthur's search for the Holy Grail, Jason's hunt for the Golden Fleece - clearly serve as role models.
Delany has a distinctive writing style, a poetry of its own, and in this early novel, published by the author in 1968 at the age of 25, his compositional ability is already evident - if a little more pretentious than it should be. For a Delany is nova comparatively coherent and straightforward; comparatively, since the story, which is just over 200 pages short, still takes a few branches. Whenever you think: "Now the story has to start", there is a detailed look back at the animosities between Von Ray and his adversaries Prince Red (that's not a title, that's his name) and Ruby Red (yes, really) to explain; or an equally detailed pseudo-scientific treatise on tarot; or long conversations about the art of (not) writing a novel. There are also numerous references to art, pop culture at the time and other science fiction authors (I do not claim to have discovered or understood them all). As I said, the similarities to Moby Dick are not limited to the staff. Instead of the White Whale (or the Holy Grail, or the Golden Fleece), the nova appears here as a literal fixter.
Apart from these junctions, is nova a pretty clear adventure story, a space opera with well thought out futuristic elements. Delany already anticipates some elements of cyberpunk here. Content is nova a bit thin, idea and style take precedence over story, character development and comprehensible motifs (although the consistent non-characterization of Ruby Red, which only exists as an extension of her psychotic brother, is interesting in itself). I have nova enjoy reading, but find the novel weaker than other books by the author (Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand andBabylon-17th). For a long time I fluctuated between 3½ and 4 stars, for the self-reflective humor on the last page there was the last half-star.
If you like science fiction from the 1960s to 1980s, you should take a look at Delany. nova would be a good way to start - as it is very straightforward and also quite short. If, however, the terms “New Wave” and “New Age” roll up their toenails, they prefer to read something else.
About the author (with information from Wikipedia and from the book):
Samuel R. Delany, born in 1942, is considered to be one of the most important black voices in American science fiction and, along with Norman Spinrad, Harlan Ellison and Roger Zelazny, is one of the most important representatives of the American New Wave, a literarily ambitious, experimental movement in science Fiction literature. In 1962 Delany published his first novel, in 1985 in German as The jewels of Aptor published. Time and again, Delany deals in his novels with language and its effects on our thinking, with sexuality and sexual orientation and with social issues, albeit in a rather cryptic manner. From 1975 Delany taught at universities, from 1988 to 2015 he was a professor at Temple University.
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