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Babel-17 (The Gregg Press Science Fiction…
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Babel-17 (The Gregg Press Science Fiction Series) (original 1966; edition 1976)

by Samuel R. Delany (Author), Robert Scholes (Introduction)

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2,653845,532 (3.68)176
Babel-17, winner of the Nebula Award for best novel of the year, is 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.
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Title:Babel-17 (The Gregg Press Science Fiction Series)
Authors:Samuel R. Delany (Author)
Other authors:Robert Scholes (Introduction)
Info:Gregg Pr (1976), Edition: First Edition, 158 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
Tags:goodreads

Work Information

Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany (1966)

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» See also 176 mentions

English (80)  Italian (2)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  All languages (84)
Showing 1-5 of 80 (next | show all)
For a book written in 1966 it was quite innovative in how the author saw the future and unique in how space travel, with its complexities, was controlled by specialists using emotions, instinct and heightened senses to master the controls and navigation- with some of these specialists in the crew being deceased with their thought patterns and memories retained artificially.
The main thrust of the plot is the use of language and how it shapes thinking in individuals and cultures. The effort to transmit this concept was often hard to follow and detracted from enjoying the story. The ending too was sudden and somewhat disappointing in my opinion. ( )
  Daniel_M_Oz | Feb 29, 2024 |
Aha, something from my 2015 support-POC-in-genres list. This is classic sci-fi, with the spaceships and battles and whatnot, but I enjoyed it. Much more about language and class and identity and skepticism of war. Cool to know this man was out there in the 60s imagining new worlds and winning awards for it. ( )
  Kiramke | Feb 20, 2024 |
It's been a long long time since I've read this book for the first time. I think it was school? Or maybe university? Somewhere at that time I read it for the first time and was seeded with this idea that our language defines our perception. Many years and books since then I just read it for a second time as that seed grown into a one hell of a weird tree... sorta.

It took me years to explore this idea and put it into conscious belief. I explored some languages, some concepts, I compared and thought about many little things, I started noticing them in translated books, I paid attention to the cases when author explicitly provided commentary for nuances and difficulties.

Overall this was just a right book at the right time. ( )
  WorkLastDay | Jan 18, 2024 |
A science fiction classic from 1966, and one that is, sadly, still somewhat ahead of the times. Not in terms of the technology (there are still phone booths!), nor the linguistic theory (Sapir-Whorf linguistic determinism having since fallen by the wayside), but in terms of its social and sexual diversity. Delany paints a world lush with strange and interesting details that aren’t directly required for the story—body modification, polyamory, ethnic diversity, many of which are still considered outlandish by some people today. Rydra Wong, poet and linguist extraordinaire, is the character who pulls all the disparate elements together, even as she builds bridges among people of different classes, ideologies, and languages.

Communication is a key theme. An intergalactic war is going on between the Alliance and the Invaders. Key Alliance military targets are being sabotaged, and when they are, a strange transmissions are detected that the military believes to be a code but that Rydra recognizes as a language. How Rydra goes about translating that language is the core of the plot, but there are many fascinating side trips. Rydra’s recruiting her spaceship crew to take her to the scene of what she’s determined will be the next target of sabotage takes up a good part of the early chapters, and this is where Delany flaunts the sociocultural details that color his universe: from the stiff, bureacratic Customs officer who is introduced to the wrong side of town, to the bars and wrestling rings where potential pilots with exotic body modifications fight, to the Morgue where a dead navigator is brought back to be the third member of the required polyamorous triple of navigators; these chapters were my favorite part of the book.

I haven’t read enough Delany, and I’m inspired to take on Dhalgren at long last. ( )
  Charon07 | Jan 15, 2024 |
Not recommended (4/10)
The pulpy style and esoteric Analytical Philosophy (of language) leaves little for the reader to digest. Only the gene-splicing was fun. ( )
  MXMLLN | Jan 12, 2024 |
Showing 1-5 of 80 (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 (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Samuel R. Delanyprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brumm, WalterÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Montanari, GianniTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Moore, ChrisCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Perrin, MimiTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Podwil, JeromeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Rosenberg, MirtaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
s.BENešCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schmidt, JakobTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
林叔堯Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Babel-17, winner of the Nebula Award for best novel of the year, is 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.

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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.
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