HomeGroupsTalkExploreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

Babel-17 (1966)

by Samuel R. Delany

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,301715,429 (3.71)143
Winner of the Nebula Award: In a war-riven world, saving humanity will require . . . a poet?   At twenty-six, Rydra Wong is the most popular poet in the five settled galaxies. Almost telepathically perceptive, she has written poems that capture the mood of mankind after two decades of savage war. Since the invasion, Earth has endured famine, plague, and cannibalism--but its greatest catastrophe will be Babel-17.   Sabotage threatens to undermine the war effort, and the military calls in Rydra. Random attacks lay waste to warships, weapons factories, and munitions dumps, and all are tied together by strings of sound, broadcast over the radio before and after each accident. In that gibberish Rydra recognizes a coherent message, with all of the beauty, persuasive power, and order that only language possesses. To save humanity, she will master this strange tongue. But the more she learns, the more she is tempted to join the other side . . .   This ebook features an illustrated biography of Samuel R. Delany including rare images from his early career.  … (more)
  1. 40
    Embassytown by China Miéville (kevinashley)
    kevinashley: Both these books take the relationship between language and thought as central themes. They explore it in different ways but with a similar thoroughness; both really explore just how 'other' alien can be.
  2. 30
    The Languages of Pao by Jack Vance (burschik)
    burschik: If you are interested in the linguistics, that is.
  3. 10
    Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee (amanda4242)
  4. 00
    The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks (LamontCranston)
  5. 00
    The Centauri Device by M. John Harrison (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: The same ephemeral beat prose. And of course Space Opera, updated. Strange mystery, assemble a crew of lively characters, go explore it.
  6. 11
    Ringworld by Larry Niven (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: Space Opera, updated. Strange mystery, assemble a crew of lively characters, go explore it. Sound familiar?
  7. 11
    Sundiver by David Brin (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: Space Opera, updated. Strange mystery, assemble a crew of lively characters, go explore it. Sound familiar?
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 143 mentions

English (67)  Italian (2)  German (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (71)
Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
You know how I know it's spring break? I finished a book. How do I know it's a great book? I want to just go back to page one and start all over again. ( )
  ByronDB | May 17, 2022 |
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." ( )
  tENTATIVELY | Apr 3, 2022 |
Okay, this book really needed to be put in context for me to like it more, because I didn't grow up reading Delany and I knew nothing about him. Samuel R. Delany is a gay black man, and this book was published in 1966.

So that helps with how Rydra Wong is always described as the most beautiful desirable woman ever, because man oh man does it make me angry for a woman to be talking linguistics only to have the man fawning over how beautiful she is and not really taking in what she's saying. Which I guess might be accurate? I don't know, but the author is the one taking liberties to create this society so they don't have to put it in there.

It also helps with the description of Babel-17 at the end, because it's...kind of really dated.

But some of my issues with the book were my own personal discomfort with intimate settings. Rydra is exceptionally good at reading body language, so characters' movements and tics are described in more detail than normal. I've been struggling with how to describe it - more tell than show? Or it might actually be more show than tell because we see exactly what makes the body language indicate a certain mood. It automatically makes me kind of recoil when I read because it feels too visceral. But it's a deliberate choice of Delany's, which I have to respect. ( )
1 vote Tikimoof | Feb 17, 2022 |
Delany, Samuel R. Babel-17. 1966. Orion, 2010.
I last read Delany’s Babel-17 sometime in the late 1960s, probably in its first Ace paperback edition. I was impressed at the time with its somewhat poetic style and its innovative use of linguistic themes in a space opera. The only things I had read to rival it were Dune (Frank Herbert 1965) with its power words and strange navigators and The World of Null-A (A. E. van Vogt, 1948) that delved into general semantics. Rereading Babel-17 now, I am less impressed by the linguistic theory, but I am still enchanted with its youthful ebullience and more appreciative of the audacious originality of its characters and its society. It is a world in which poetry and language in general shape minds and have power we never suspected. The novel provides hints of the gender bending themes and racial diversity that would mark Delany’s later novels. Stylistically, Delany gets away with things that in lesser writers would be insupportable. What, for example, are “hyperstasis currents” and “the spacelli Snap”? We aren’t told, but they just seem to fit. The ending of the novel seems rushed, but it leaves one with an intended mental whiplash. Much new science fiction today seems extremely pedestrian by comparison. Five stars, with flaws, but five stars for sure. ( )
  Tom-e | Jul 20, 2021 |
Language shapes thought which shapes identity. That concept is the basis for this unique, beautifully-written, and entertaining science fiction adventure.

Rydra Wong is a renowned poet with an uncanny ability to perceive the thoughts of others and express them in powerful verse. Her ability also makes her an excellent translator and cryptographer, which is why a general comes to her for help translating "Babel-17" -- a complex code the enemy in a long interstellar war has been using to coordinate acts of sabotage. Rydra quickly realizes that Babel-17 is more than a code, and she sets off on a mission to find its source and the next sabotage targets.

Surprisingly, this poet has starship captain's papers, and her first act is to put together a crew, which introduces the reader to a strikingly original vision of interstellar travel. Pilots are surgically enhanced humans who 'wrestle' with the interstellar tides to guide the ship; a polyamorous trio with the designations Eye, Ear, and Nose act as sensors; and discorporates (ie: the dead) are part of crews.

Throughout the adventure, Delany uses Rydra's unique perceptions of language, especially of Babel-17, to shape the narrative. The reader needs to be nimble to follow along with the shifts of language and accompanying shifts of *being* which propel the plot.

"The Arrival" also uses the central importance of linguistic structure as the basis for a science fiction story. "Babel-17" does it better.

( )
  jsabrina | Jul 13, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 67 (next | show all)
If Babel 17 were published now as a new book, I think it would strike us an great work that was doing wonderful things and expanding the boundaries of science fiction. I think we’d nominate it for awards and talk a lot about it. It’s almost as old as I am, and I really think it would still be an exciting significant book if it were new now.
added by paradoxosalpha | editTor.com, Jo Walton (Jun 23, 2009)
 

» Add other authors (13 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Samuel R. Delanyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Montanari, GianniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Podwil, JeromeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
--this one, now, is
for Bob Folsom,
to explain just a little of
the past year--
First words
It's a port city.
Quotations
A language, however, has its own internal logic, its own grammar, its own way of putting thoughts together with words that span various spectra of meaning. There is no key you can plug in to unlock the exact meaning. At best you can get a close approximation.
If there's no word for it, how do you think about it? And, if there isn't the proper form, you don't have the how even if you have the words.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Winner of the Nebula Award: In a war-riven world, saving humanity will require . . . a poet?   At twenty-six, Rydra Wong is the most popular poet in the five settled galaxies. Almost telepathically perceptive, she has written poems that capture the mood of mankind after two decades of savage war. Since the invasion, Earth has endured famine, plague, and cannibalism--but its greatest catastrophe will be Babel-17.   Sabotage threatens to undermine the war effort, and the military calls in Rydra. Random attacks lay waste to warships, weapons factories, and munitions dumps, and all are tied together by strings of sound, broadcast over the radio before and after each accident. In that gibberish Rydra recognizes a coherent message, with all of the beauty, persuasive power, and order that only language possesses. To save humanity, she will master this strange tongue. But the more she learns, the more she is tempted to join the other side . . .   This ebook features an illustrated biography of Samuel R. Delany including rare images from his early career.  

No library descriptions found.

Book description
The commander of the Earthpeople's Alliance journeyed into the bizarre depths of Transport Town to seek Rydra Wong, the cosmic poetess whose words reached across space and whose mind could perceive the meaning of all the world's tongues. And his request placed her into the heart of the vile interstellar war between the Alliance and the Invaders.
The new weapon of the Invaders was Babel-17, a menacing hum clogging up Alliance space communications. Rydra had to decipher the communications power of Babel-17 before it could lead to intergalactic defeat. And to do that, she would have to be the target of the next outer-space attack. a fascinating tale of a famous poet bent on deciphering a secret language that is the key to the enemy’s deadly force, a task that requires she travel with a splendidly improbable crew to the site of the next attack.
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (3.71)
0.5 1
1 8
1.5 1
2 27
2.5 14
3 135
3.5 44
4 205
4.5 27
5 88

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 171,926,624 books! | Top bar: Always visible