Samuel Delany: BABEL-17

Published: 1966
Winner or Rec? Nebula winner 1967 (tied with FLOWERS FOR ALGERNON)
Started reading: September 3rd
Finished reading: September 7th

Epic Reading Project book #20

Did you know I minored in linguistics when I was in college? True story! I had it as a double major with English for a while, but then my favorite linguistics professor left the university in a huff due to some personal drama with the administration, and I discovered that while linguistics was pretty cool, what had driven me to take it as a  major was the charisma and sheer talent for teaching possessed by that one professor. SIGH. So I dropped it to a minor.

Considering my background in linguistics, I feel like I should have taken somewhat more of a shine to this book than I did. It is a book about language, but… Well, I’ll be honest. I read this back in September, and it’s July when I’m writing this review, and I don’t remember much of anything about it besides “language” and “eh, not for me”.  I remember that there were passages that were quite beautiful, but I felt that perhaps the novel as a whole was a little bit too in love with what it was trying to accomplish. Scale it back a couple ticks, BABEL-17.

Delany was only 26 when he wrote this book, which is fairly incredible, but I feel that he improved as he went on, because I liked THE EINSTEIN INTERSECTION, the next book of his that appears in the reading project, more than BABEL-17. It’s almost like practice is good for your writing, or something! Who’d have thought?




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