Babel-17

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Babel Viral Books I have always believed that the language you speak determines the way you think How else can it be really I am a trilingual person who has quite a few monolingual family member

Babel-17 Viral Books I have always believed that the language you speak determines the way you think. How else can it be, really? I am a trilingual person who has quite a few monolingual family members, and I can't even tell you how many times in frustrated fascination I have contemplated the peculiarities of languages, the plays on words that are often impossible to translate, the confusing idioms, and the frustrating lack of certain concepts in one language as compared to another. So many times I realized that merely voicing a concept in a different language changes your understanding of it, its connotation, and therefore the parts of its meaning. Something can be well-intentioned in one language and come off as condescending or rude or dismissive in another. Once you think about it - how much of the stereotype of Italians being passionate and loving, or the Germans being regimented and strict, or the French being seductive comes from the mere way their language sounds to the ears of the observer? Indeed, what you speak determines in part who you are. Because can you even conceive of something when there is no way to express it?"She taught him how to say I and you. They wandered through the graveyard in evening, and we hovered over them while they taught each other who they were."Ever since my teens, I have been fascinated by Samuel Delany's Babel-17, a sci-fi classic about an eponymous mysterious alien language that Rydra Wong, a poet far in the future in the middle of intergalactic war, is trying to decipher. This book has more than just linguistic appeal, however, - it details the futuristic society with genetic engineering, changed concepts of love, star ships, stellar battles, futuristic technology (of course, now riddled with unavoidable anachronisms, but fascinating nevertheless), discorporate members of the society - all this told through Delany's vivid haunting imagery, told in the language that shifts between crisp and poetic, fluidly transitioning between scenes and concepts, illustrated by modernistic and surreal poems at the beginning of each section.But even by my mid-teens I have read many books that belonged to the excellent science fiction tradition. What impressed me about this one, what set this particular book apart for the language-nerdy daughter of a literature teacher was exactly the portrayal of language in it, the mystery of the highly analytical Babel-17, the allure and the power the language has over people, their perception of the world, even their own selves. "Nominative, genitive, etative, accusative one, accusative two, ablative, partitive, illative, instructive, abessive, adessive, inessive, essive, allative, translative, comitative. Sixteen cases of the Finnish noun. Odd, some languages get by with only singular and plural. The American Indian languages even failed to distinguish number. Except Sioux, in which there was a plural only for animate objects. The blue room was round and warm and smooth. No way to say warm in French. There was only hot and tepid. 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."Rydra Wong, the protagonist of this short novel, is a poet revered at the either side of the war, known and loved by the white and blue collar people alike (or, in the language of this world, the Customs and the Transport). She is strong, fiercely intelligent, and competent - a remarkable thing for a sci-fi novel written in 1960s, a time dominated by strong sci-fi manly men who usually got rewarded with beautiful sci-fi cardboard-cutouts women. She excels at reading people, their innermost thoughts and desires - be that through muscle movements or telepathy. As she cracks open the mystery of Babel-17, she discovers more about her inner world as well as some other deep secrets - revealed through the sheer power of language. And the way Delany gives us the glimpse into her - her mind, her reasoning, her perceptions - is so vivid and sophisticated that its almost unsettling, and begs for the reread of certain sections before moving on."You know what I do? I listen to other people, stumbling about with their half thoughts and half sentences and their clumsy feelings that they can't express, and it hurts me. So I go home and burnish it and polish it and weld it to a rhythmic frame, make the dull colors gleam, mute the garish artificiality to pastels, so it doesn't hurt any more: that's my poem. I know what they want to say, and I say it for them."I figured out a big part of the conflict of the book rather early on, but it did not detract in the slightest from being fascinated and enthralled by it, and the fascination did not decrease at all during the reread. The ending is the only part that I have some qualms with - it felt a bit too rushed, too convenient, and lacking a bit compared to the wonder of the story leading up to the resolution. Thus, reluctantly, I have to take off a star.======================================================I loved this book when I first read it as a teenager, funnily enough, translated into a different language than it was written in. Loved it when I re-read it now, in its original language. A masterfully written and smart sci-fi book about the power of language - what's not to love? Wonderful "vintage" sci-fi, a classic that has aged well despite the unavoidable anachronisms. 4 well-deserved stars."Growing older I descended November.The asymptotic cycle of the yearplummets to now. In crystal reveriesI pass beneath a fixed white line of treeswhere dry leaves lie for footsteps to dismember.They crackle with a muted sound like fear.I ask cold air, "What is the word that frees?"The wind says, "Change,"and the white sun, "Remember.". Babel 17 is all about the power of language Humanity, which has spread throughout the universe, is involved in a war with the Invaders, who have been covertly assassinating officials and sabotaging spaceships The only clues humanity has to go on are strange alien messages that have been intercepted in space Poet and linguist Rydra Wong is determined to understand the laBabel 17 is all about the power of language Humanity, which has spread throughout the universe, is involved in a war with the Invaders, who have been covertly assassinating officials and sabotaging spaceships The only clues humanity has to go on are strange alien messages that have been intercepted in space Poet and linguist Rydra Wong is determined to understand the language and stop the alien threat Paul Goat Allen. Good Ebook Babel-17 When you revisit something after a long interval, you never know what you're going to get. A few days ago, I read The Story of the Amulet, the third volume in the E. Nesbit trilogy that starts with Five Children and It. I had been meaning to check this out since I was about 7, but somehow never located a copy. I was worried that I'd left it too late, but in the event there was no problem: it was terrific.So when I saw a copy of Babel-17 in a second-hand bookstore yesterday, I was optimistic. I remembered thinking it was great when I was 14, so why not re-read it? But this time - oh dear. I clearly recalled finding this novel intelligent and sophisticated, but now it was, I hated to say it, naive. The characters were flat. The ending was ridiculous. And, worst of all, the linguistics was all wrong. Since it's a novel where language is absolutely central to the plot, this was a disaster. Maybe the problem was that I just liked the book too much as a teen. I thought Rydra Wong, the poetess/linguist heroine, was so amazingly cool that I must have unconsciously internalized some of her valuations. I think I became much more interested in languages partly as a result of reading Babel-17 at an impressionable age, so really it had a very good effect on me. (How about that? An SF heroine who's actually a positive role-model for a teenage boy?) It was unreasonable to expect the book to work a second time: I'd used it up.I still love Rydra though. I wonder if a bit of her went into Lisbeth Salander? And I'm keeping the four stars I originally gave it. After careful consideration, I think my 14-year-old self judges the book more fairly than I do.

About Author

  • Samuel R. Delany Post author

    Samuel Ray Delany, also known as Chip, is an award winning American science fiction author He was born to a prominent black family on April 1, 1942, and raised in Harlem His mother, Margaret Carey Boyd Delany, was a library clerk in the New York Public Library system His father, Samuel Ray Delany, Senior, ran a successful Harlem undertaking establishment, Levy Delany Funeral Home, on 7th Avenue, between 1938 and his death in 1960 The family lived in the top two floors of the three story private house between five and six story Harlem apartment buildings Delany s aunts were Sadie and Bessie Delany Delany used some of their adventures as the basis for the adventures of his characters Elsie and Corry in the opening novella Atlantis Model 1924 in his book of largely autobiographical stories Atlantis Three Tales.Delany attended the Dalton School and the Bronx High School of Science, during which he was selected to attend Camp Rising Sun, the Louis August Jonas Foundation s international summer scholarship program Delany and poet Marilyn Hacker met in high school, and were married in 1961 Their marriage lasted nineteen years They had a daughter, Iva Hacker Delany b 1974 , who spent a decade working in theater in New York City.Delany was a published science fiction author by the age of 20 He published nine well regarded science fiction novels between 1962 and 1968, as well as several prize winning short stories collected in Driftglass 1971 and recently in Aye, and Gomorrah, and other stories 2002 His eleventh and most popular novel, Dhalgren, was published in 1975 His main literary project through the late 1970s and 1980s was the Return to Nev r on series, the overall title of the four volumes and also the title of the fourth and final book.Delany has published several autobiographical semi autobiographical accounts of his life as a black, gay, and highly dyslexic writer, including his Hugo award winning autobiography, The Motion of Light in Water.Since 1988, Delany has been a professor at several universities This includes eleven years as a professor of comparative literature at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, a year and a half as an English professor at the University at Buffalo He then moved to the English Department of Temple University in 2001, where he has been teaching since He has had several visiting guest professorships before and during these same years He has also published several books of criticism, interviews, and essays In one of his non fiction books, Times Square Red, Times Square Blue 1999 , he draws on personal experience to examine the relationship between the effort to redevelop Times Square and the public sex lives of working class men, gay and straight, in New York City.In 2007, Delany was the subject of a documentary film, The Polymath, or, The Life and Opinions of Samuel R Delany, Gentleman The film debuted on April 25 at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.

One thought on “Babel-17

  • I have always believed that the language you speak determines the way you think How else can it be, really I am a trilingual person who has quite a few monolingual family members, and I can t even tell you how many times in frustrated fascination I have contemplated the peculiarities of languages, the plays on words that are often impossible to translate, the confusing idioms, and the frustrating lack of certain concepts in one language as compared to another So many times I realized that merely [...]


  • When you revisit something after a long interval, you never know what you re going to get A few days ago, I read The Story of the Amulet, the third volume in the E Nesbit trilogy that starts with Five Children and It I had been meaning to check this out since I was about 7, but somehow never located a copy I was worried that I d left it too late, but in the event there was no problem it was terrific.So when I saw a copy of Babel 17 in a second hand bookstore yesterday, I was optimistic I remembe [...]


  • Samuel R Delany was on a short list of famous sf authors I have never read, the list includes Cordwainer Smith, Henry Kuttner, C J Cherryh, Stephen Baxter and Neal Asher I will try to get to all of them next year, any recommendations concerning these authors would be welcome.Babel 17 is a very short novel too long to be a novella may be about the power of language, a culture called The Invaders creates a language which can be used to control thoughts and actions through the structure and content [...]


  • The linguistic issue introduced here is not entirely new For example, in The Languages of Pao Jack Vance a similar theme is addressed Babel 17, however, is considered a Science Fiction classic It was released around the same time as Dune, with a year or so separating them Therein lies the problem Dune had become the new standard, or benchmark, against which all Space Operas were gauged And it had set the standard pretty darn high So, Babel 17 is a colourful, clever book, but it s no Dune To be f [...]


  • This is one science fiction s classics and I can see why Delany s writing is magnificent It s very literary compared to a lot of SF and actually a lot of the plot is to do with language It centres around a woman called Rydra Wong who is a gifted poet and linguist in a far future where an alliance of humans and aliens is at war with other aliens She is approached by the military to decode a strange language that appears to be being used to sabotage weapons and ships across the galaxy Delany s pro [...]


  • Wow, Samuel Chip Delany wrote at the ripe young age of 23 an amazing new wave SF space opera about a starship captain, linguist, poet, and telepath named Rydra Wong who is desperately trying to solve the mystery of what Babel 17 is and how it is being used by the Invaders against the alliance It explores the Sapir Whorf hypothesis of language and how it shapes personality, thought and actions, and spins off dozens of other fascinating ideas and images in just under 200 pages Anybody who is a SF [...]


  • gets a little confused confusing after the midway point, but delany s writing at least on these early books is so fast and fun and clear and smart, it s easy to overlook the flaws this kind of space opera is so much fun than the heavy realistic dune type stuff that kinda took over the genre soonafter there s so much room here to feel and breath and enjoy things, it s really exhilarating not as brilliant and expansive as Nova, maybe, but just as vivid and alive makes you wanna run out of your h [...]


  • I ve a bad habit of going big or going home when it comes to various authors, one that is bad if only for how the history comes back to bite me when I go after their less monumental works The Golden Notebook made for a less striking The Good Terrorist, The Second Sex resulted in a piss poor The Mandarins, and I haven t even tried the smaller respective compatriots of Infinite Jest or Almanac of the Dead for fear of being less than blown away yes, I technically read DFW nonfiction post IJ, but th [...]


  • A lively, interesting young novel that is very clearly written by a very young man, who is very impressed with himself I found I wanted to like it than I actually did because I like what it is trying to do, both ideologically and artistically, but I m not convinced by how it s actually done Overall feels rather light and stilted, and I found it particularly annoying how Delany would happily lecture his readers on any subject that came to hand, despite being monumentally and disinterestedly igno [...]


  • I don t get this book.Worse, I don t buy its setting If it was comedy or possibly allegory, fine But it seems to be Big Idea SF Or is it It s so preposterous and baroque it s even got ghosts that I m not sure I don t find it particularly funny anyway.Still worse, the ending is painfully bad Exposition The mysteries are revealed Lots of books are like this but this time we get preached bad science and plain nonsense The final clever trick theatratically revelead to the reader involves among other [...]


  • There are two types of codes, ciphers, and true codes In the first, letters, or symbols that stand for letters, are shuffled and juggled according to a pattern In the second, letters, words, or groups of words are replaced by other letters, symbols, or words A code can be one type or the other, or a combination But both have this in common once you find the key, you just plug it in and out come logical sentences A language, however, has its own internal logic, its own grammar, its own way of put [...]


  • Jo Walton s take tor blogs 2009 06 stil12.0% Liked the kindle sample and picked it up Seems much likeable than Einstein Intersection 17.0% He was unkempt and towheaded and sapphire eyed, but the only cosmetisurgery evident was the bright rose growing on his shoulder 35.0% The discorporate crew deperceptualized 50.0% I m swimming in language theory, and it s cool 81.0% Now it s being weird All done I think I liked the first half better than the second half I believe I reacted to Nova the same wa [...]


  • Only the second Delany I ve read, and as with the first one, the thought that comes to mind is what took me so long I ve loved both the first for its myth and poetry, and this for the ideas, the prose, the explorations of self and identity These are hitting exactly in my wheelhouse This is closer to straightforward science fiction than was The Einstein Intersection, but with a magic all Delany s own.Note The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in policy and enforceme [...]


  • Babel 17 is one of the greatest classics in the history of literary SF, and I now know why Delany is a veritable genius what we gush about today in Mieville is but a sophisticated, complex offshoot of Delany s ingenious conceptions of making the abstract concrete.Language is what defines us, our thoughts, our perceptions What separates our critical thinking processes is the perception of I as different from you, the awareness of an independent conscious existenceWhat happens when you are strip [...]


  • 9 10 Spectacular I can see whay it has won some literary prizes back in its day It packs quite a lot of ideas for the number of pages it has Most of those ideas relate to language and communication, but there is also weapon development, faster than light navigation, genetic enhancement, a bit of battle action and a memorable trip through a dystopian city peopled with oddball characters, both alive and incorporate.Beyond the scientific speculations, I have to comment on the narrative style of Del [...]


  • Samuel R Delany was always one of the great wasted talents of sci fi In the very early Sixties, he was one of the first writers to bring a deliberately literary edge to sci fi, to try to go beyond the hard science, alien invasion, starship wars conventions of the genre Delany s early books just turned genre tales inside out, and by the time he reached The Einstein Intersection and Nova at decade s end, he was writing beautiful, eerie, thought provoking tales that let you feel part of new and ver [...]


  • Ruby and Python are on display this evening This is, unfortunately, the line that will probably most stick with me from the book in a book written in 1966, that compares natural and computer languages using the examples of Fortran and Algol, how can you not love this Ruby and Python are wrestlers in context the line is a throwaway It s just such a fantastic coincidence Beautifully written, obviously, but the idea of weaponizing language does fall a bit short of its potential, and there s a monol [...]


  • I picked up the Babel 17 audiobook because I thought it was a recent release And as I listened to it, I had no other reason to think otherwise for the first few chapters The hero poet and space captain Rydra Wong is on the autism spectrum Her friends are in polyamorous, non binary relationships, and are very much into body modification Coding is a part of the plot Then I heard some dated language and looked the book up it was published and won the Nebula in 1966.I don t want to tell you any tha [...]


  • Linguistics, yay You know, I ve studied linguistics besides of computer science So, this important work of mixing SF with linguistic motives was interesting 20 years after university At the time Babel 17 was published in 1966 and won the Nebula Award , Linguistic relativity in short language structure forms the world view was considered to be a valid theory I don t want to bother you with details like the strong Sapir Whorf hypothesis or absence of pronouns Just let me tell you that I think that [...]


  • Critics and fans tend to divide the work of Samuel R Delany into two periods pre and post Dhalgren The argument is that Dhalgren marked a change both stylistically non linear narrative, postmodern techniques and subject matter eroticism, power differentials, and liminality While Babel 17 does have a straightforward, genre cognizant plot, the trippy, mind fuck aspects of his later work are very much in evidence The story concerns a poet linguist starship captain and her attempts to decipher a my [...]


  • 3 3.5 stars Some really interesting concepts and lovely prose introduced me to some linguistics terms I was unfamiliar with prior to this novel, which was nice My only real issue is that it felt like it was over just after it d started I feel like I would have liked to see of the world or universe, rather explored further 192 pages didn t quite feel like enough time to really get into everything Idk Need to think about this one some .Might write out a longer review later Probably won t lmao


  • I picked this up after attempting to read The Death Of Grass, a misogynistic turd of a book, which Babel 17 did a lot to remedyyou can only call something dated up to a point Also, i went to see Rogue One soooo good and fancied some sci fi So, this novel has a supercool female poet spaceship captain protag, a bunch of non hetero normative characters, and is space culturally diverse in a way that few science fiction books even are NOW, let alone in 1966 That automatically makes Delany a fucking c [...]


  • Nutshell intense translation thriller in which the military very rationally calls upon a poet to stop intergalactic invasion.I m starting to think that there s nothing in Mieville that wasn t first in Delany I ve not read Embassytown, so it s not the linguistic stuff Rather, the remade bodies, the lyric prose, the high minded philosophy, the leftwing politics I guess if Delany is SF s James Joyce, Mieville will be content to be SF s Pynchon.Antecedent to Scott Bakker to the extent it lays out a [...]


  • To read something so playful in language, so inventive in language, is a treat To read something so intelligent regarding language, to decide what language is important and how it becomes important and why different languages may possibly lead to different cultural ideas and vice versa is also a treat To have it wrapped in a wonderful bundle of book full of spies, pirates , Galactic War, far flung trips through space, aliens, futuristic foods and body modification goes beyond the richness of any [...]


  • Babel 17 is a classic far future science fiction novel revolving around language and communication It opens following a military official, General Forester, as he searches for a famous poet, Rydra Wong, to ask her to translate a message broadcast in an alien language Babel 17 alongside an Invader attack.I loved the exploration of the themes of language and the differences between languages and how different peoples communicate however, I felt that the philosophy of language and communication ove [...]


  • Babel 17 certainly deserves its status as a classic of the genre Although a linguist would probably have a field day pointing out all the errors in Delany s novel, and the strong version of the Sapir Whorf hypothesis is currently considered disproven, Delany has managed to build a very good novel around these concepts It is a novel that does what science fiction ought to do, provoke thought on scientific theories and concepts that are packed into a good story It s obvious why this novel made an [...]


  • Snow Crash andThe Languages of Pao among others have taken the central conceit further and to greater plot extent, but here there is the pure revelry in language and thought.With all the posthuman influences and their subversive ideas for 1966 the group marriages that suggest a homosexual component, the body modification the thing that jarred me was a brief warfare discussion with disturbing relevance today a secondary explosion delayed some hours after the first Just enough time for rescue work [...]


  • I found this book at the University of Washington bookstore, in the textbooks and assigned reading section, what better place to find deep, interesting books, right I was in high school, and the premise, about the power of language to convey information wrapped in a SF thriller, blew my teenage mind I m not surprised this has never been made into a movie even with the crazy futuristic body modifications and space ship pirates, this is a book about words and meanings How the way you think can inf [...]


  • The one where poet Rydra Wong takes a starship out in search of a language I didn t mean to re read this again I really didn t I only meant to skim the opening to see whether it was likely to draw in my non sf reading poet friend And then I turned around and found myself halfway to Jebel Tarik again, and at that point it was harder to tear myself away than just to finish it Here s the source of another big chunk of what I thought was original about my own writing and thinking if I keep re readin [...]


  • Babel 17 is basically strong Sapir Whorf, the novel A series of attacks on Alliance military bases are preceded by strangely coded messages, and when polymath poet, linguist, and space captain Rydra Wong discovers that the Babel 17 messages are a language not a code, and one of incredible precision and expressive power, it s up to her to find the source and start a dialog.Delany is a master of eyeball kicks of language, of strong self indentity and beautiful decadence Wong puts together a fascin [...]


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