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Nova Paperback – June 11, 2002
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“[Nova] reads like Moby-Dick at a strobe-light show!” —Roger Sale, Time Magazine
“Here are (at least some of) the ways you can read Nova: As fast-action far-flung interstellar adventure; as archetypal mystical/mythical allegory (in which the Tarot and the Grail both figure prominently); as modern myth told in the SF idiom . . . The reader observes, recollect, or participates in a range of personal human experience including violent pain and disfigurement, sensory deprivation and overload, man-machine communion, the drug experience, the creative experience—and interpersonal relationships which include incest and assassination, father-son, leader-follower, human-pet, and lots more.” —Judith Merrill, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction
“Samuel R. Delany is the most interesting author of science fiction writing in English today.” —Gerald Jonas, New York Times Book Review
“Samuel R. Delany, right now, as of this book, Nova, not as of some future book or some accumulated body of work, is the best science-fiction writer in the world, at a time when competition for that status is intense. I don’t see how a science fiction writer can do more than wring your heart while explaining how it works. No writer can. The special thing that science fiction does is to first credibly place the heart in an unconventional environment. A particular thing that recent science fiction has been doing is to make that unconventional environment a technological one. Another has been to make it a romantic one, sometimes calling it an intensely humanistic one . . . All of these things are accomplished in Nova.” —A.J. Budrys, Galaxy Magazine
“One of the most complete and fully realized pictures of an interstellar society that I have ever read.” —Norman Spinrad, Science Fiction Times
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Top Customer Reviews
Nova is to be compared with the great works of literature, both in theme and achievement. The story centers around a reckless quest by starship captain Lorq Von Ray, a figure reminiscent of Melville's Ahab in his oversized dimensions and emotional complexity. Von Ray hires a crew of "cyberstuds", men who interface with machines to navigate the vast distances between the worlds of their interspace confederation. The mission is to enter a sun as it novas, during the first few hours, to gather an element that is used as the basis of space travel. The element is mined on planets, but rarely found. However, in the core of a sun during a nova, the element is found in great abundance. As the quest continues though, Von Ray's darker obsessions become evident and the tale plumbs deeper themes of revenge, political freedom and the search for the Holy Grail.
From the outset of the novel, Delany captures you with the originality of his prose style and the deeper resonance of his characters. Most of the tale is told through the eyes of a gypsy musician, the Mouse and his friend Katin, who is collecting notes for a novel he is destined not to write. These characters are fully drawn, but set up parallels to Melville's Ishmael and Quee Queg. Von Ray is introduced carefully, first by reputation, as an old mad former crewman in a bar describes him. The ties to Coleridge are unmistakable.Read more ›
But beyond the simple, near-cliched plot line lies a deeper level of meaning, when each of the characters, gadgets, and indeed even the portrayed socioeconomic structure is viewed as a symbol or metaphor for larger items. Careful reading and thinking about this book will reward the reader with some unexpected insights into courage, environment versus heredity, the use and abuse of power, the influence of 'little people' on the course of history, and many other items.
His control of language is illustrated by this quote:
He was an old man.Read more ›
Nova is a giddy dash across a shiny future civilisation where economic forces are about to act on a large scale to change people's lives. If the quest of Captain Lorq von Ray succeeds, energy prices will plummet and power will shift from one ruthless faction to another. The stakes are high and both sides will stop at nothing.
Into this situation, add some more ingredients. Nearly everyone, aristocrats to lowlife, is equipped with neural sockets which allow then to jack into any machinery from starships down and inhabit a virual reality where the machinery becomes an extension of themselves. Yes - cyberpunk fans will be amazed at how much of their genre Delany foresaw/invented. Throw in a synasthaesic musical instrument, an overheated love affair and a pysychotic or two and the brew is starting to bubble nicely. Add a sense of history, the Tarot and a hint of decadence and the pot is starting to look as if it will boil over.
It very nearly does. Delany's style, which dazzled when the book was first published in the mid-'60s, now seems more flashy than brilliant and there's rather too much exposition for a book of this kind. In the end, though, bravado carries all and the reader's irritation gives way to exhilaration.
It's a wonderful ride on the Roc with Lorq von Ray and his motley crew. If only it were longer...
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read this book. This guy has been ripped off through the years.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I don't want to give much away about this, the book I have as #1 on my list of the BEST SCIENCE FICTION BOOKS EVER! (that's my list, I haven't seen it on anyone else's). Read morePublished 2 months ago by Architect Fred
I loved this... a book about a guy trying to writing a book about a guy on a quest... in space.Published 5 months ago by Betty in Bangor
I was underwhelmed by this book - supposedly a minor classic by a highly acclaimed author. The dialogue was clunky - a lot of partial, interrupted, or unfinished sentences, as... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Robert M.
<<Although he was barely twenty-five when he wrote it , Nova was Samuel Delany’s eighth novel in a short space of time.
..... Read more
OK, I know this is SF blasphemy, but I thought this novel was mediocre. Yes, the writing is highly visual. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Mark Luster
This is early Delany, and it doesn't disappoint. The characters are complex; often times you can't decide who represents vice and who represents virtue (of course, the truth is... Read morePublished 9 months ago by M. Miles
I've read a lot of older Science fiction and so often the tale has been over run by technology and current science. This story is more of a social science piece. Read morePublished 9 months ago by M. Bartholomew