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Nova (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 1968


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Melville in the Future 17. Juni 2003
Von Christopher Forbes - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
I have a feeling this is going to be my summer of Delany. I read Nova on the heels of his short story collection Aye, and Gomorrah and the virtues that I found in that collection are also to be found in this novel in spades. Delany writes with an attention to detail, prose and character that is astounding, and in doing so he creates a scifi world that is truly natural and lacks the self-consciousness of much of the genre.
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. Then, when Von Ray makes his appearance, he is already clothed in the stuff of myth that makes him such an unforgettable character. His nemeses in the book, Prince and Ruby Red, are every bit as oversized and yet as believable as Von Ray. Prince is rage personified, while Ruby is both sympathetic and devious.
This is a work that will haunt the mind for days afterwards. And yet, it is also a first rate scifi yarn as well. Delany's attention to technology, and consistency within the world he creates is remarkable. Delany writes as if we too inhabit this world, artfully showing us the parallels to our own and pointing out the differences with elegance and wit. Anyone who enjoys scifi should make the acquaintance of this author. But even if you don't like the genre, Delany is a writer than should be read. His craft is impeccable and the themes underlying the book are universal, as all great literature should be.
21 von 23 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Stellar (Dis)-Integration 12. November 2001
Von Patrick Shepherd - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
I consider Nova to be one of Delany's best works. While written comparatively early in his career (1968), it shows maturity in handling of both language and character. The narrator, the Mouse, is Delany's typical nail biting, one shoed foot outsider from civilization (gypsy like, in this case), who, while intriguing in his own right, makes an excellent contrast to Prince Red, spoiled, rich, and equipped with an artificial hand that he is extremely sensitive about, and Captain Lorq von Ray. The plot is near space opera, with a race to visit a star in the first stages of nova to collect trans- uranic elements, commonly referred to as Illyrion, that are the power basis of the stellar economy, and also the basis for the high level political/corporate battle. Illyrion is also used to power one of the most unique gadgets I have come across in SF, the sensory- syrynx, which can produce music (or any type of sound), moving holographic images, and scents, all under the control of a single player. This instrument figures prominently in the final climatic scene where Prince gets his just dues. The book also introduces the idea of socket inserts in humans, allowing anyone to plug into any machine and control the machine as an extension of his body.
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.
He was a strong man.
As the Mouse pulled his hand to the edge of the table, the derelict lurched forward. Hip
banged the counter. Long toes struck a chair leg: the chair danced on the flags.
Old. Strong. The third thing the Mouse saw: blind.
He swayed before the Mouse's table. His hand swung up; yellow nails hit the Mouse's cheek.
(Spider's feet?) "You, boy..."
The Mouse stared at the pearls behind rough, blinking lids.
A finely crafted book rich in ideas and well drawn, idiosyncratic characters, told with near-poetic style.
12 von 12 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A classic rollercoaster ride 5. Juni 1998
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
It seems extraordinary that this seminal novel should be out of print. Perhaps Delany is out of fashion, or maybe readers have beeen put off by the reputation produced by books like Dhalgren that he is hard to read.
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...
10 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Allegories to the Kennedy's, Class Structure And about a Nova 26. September 2008
Von Antinomian - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
This is an allegorical story, it's just a question of how far the allegories extend. Many stories of the 60's had space empires/federations/civilizations as extensions of the modern day world where a faster-than-light/space manifolding ship replaces the ocean-traveling-ship/airline of today and the political/economic alignments of star systems represent alignments of countries on earth. In Nova the confederation of stars and planets are broken down into three groups, Draco in the center, of which earth is part of, the outer colonies, and the Pleiades. It's not clear if Delany meant for these to represent the West, the Warsaw Pact and allies (as of 1968 when the story was written), and the third world, or to represent the upper class, middle & lower classes, and nouveau riche, or status quo, progressive, and the masses, or all, or some, combination of the above. As Draco the Dragon is a constellation in the northern hemisphere, one of six constellations Delany could have picked earth to be part of, there's the sense that he meant something negative as Draco was also the name of an autocratic Athenian law-maker (thus leading to the term draconian). The outer colonies are mostly hard working, hard living miners. And the Pleiades is a globular cluster comprised of hot, young stars that are out of the galactic plane of the Milky Way.

The story pits our protagonist from the young, hot stars of the Pleiades, against the antagonist from Draco, with a third character somewhere in the middle until she selects her side at the end. The main energy source in the story is Illyrion and the societies use, acquisition, and distribution of can easily be referred to the same for oil today. Our protagonist believes he has developed a way to acquire this energy source in large quantities, albeit in a risky way. With oil prices having soared this year, this is still as relevant a subject now as it was when the story was written 40 years ago. The ramifications of having such huge quantities of the energy source would lead to large changes in the societal structure in Nova, just as having a huge and inexpensive quantity of oil or another energy source would have today. There are those in the story that would want to limit such a large quantity of inexpensive energy hitting the market and those that would want the benefits of it (this leads to slight difference today in which certain groups would want to obtain large quantities of oil but *not* a different energy source and visa versa). Thus the conflict of the story is set up. The allegories however, could extend further. There's a part in the story where they talk of an assassination of a political figure and how, through the sensory transfer of information of the time, everyone felt the emotion of those surrounding the assassination victim. With the book being written in 1968, just five years after the John F. Kennedy assassination, it's hard to believe that Delany was not referring to that. Also the wife of the assassination person was written as being the most well known person in the galaxy which can easily be a reference to Jacklyn Kennedy. Where the story becomes interesting is that our protagonist, Lorq Van Ray, is supposed to be the nephew of this character, so is he supposed to be a Kennedy, perhaps the young boy who saluted at JFK's funeral. With the Kennedy mystic, one then understands that the protagonist is supposed to be the hero not just in the story, but of today (or of the time the story was written). (I guess the characters are different to enough to still allow the usual notice on the copyright page that 'any reference to those living or dead is purely coincidental'). Another point is that the antagonist fires the first salvo at Van Ray, by calling him, and his family barbarians and pirates, which seemed a little bizarre the way it was laid out in the story but makes sense in the context of the Kennedy fortune having been acquired from rum-running, and the story flows with this historical context in mind with how much the antagonist, which is in the upper crust of society, despises Van Ray. What I liked about Nova is that it actually did refer to a nova, so one need not be aware of all the layers of allegory to appreciate the story. For those that may not know, a nova is the death throes of sun-class star where the ongoing nuclear fusion of the star cannot support it's weight thus it implodes (forming the heavy element that represents the energy source) and sheds it's mass as a nova explosion.

I thought the character buildup to be OK. The story is told from the viewpoint of several other characters, but I just couldn't get into them and I thought they were just OK. There is a poetic element to Delany's writing which, as another reviewer noted, may have seemed brilliant in 1968, but this is 2008, and it comes across as a bit overdone. In terms of space civilizations layouts, it was again just OK. I did think the ending was a bit cruel to certain characters and it seemed that Delany was vanquishing certain haunts of his own. I'm not sure if they were to be someone that slanted Delany in a social situation or represented a class of society he despised, but this group in the novel lost and the victory attained for the others was considerable, but the losers had to lose pathetically, disgustingly, and a bit viciously. For all these reasons I gave it 3-1/2 stars rounded down to 3. Four stars or higher are books you should definitely go out and read, but this did not fit in that class. There are better and more interesting books out there. But three stars are enough that if find the subject matter interesting or like the author's writings, then the novel is worth reading. There are those that will rush to click the unhelpful button since this is their favorite book of all time or whatever, but I always thought this was to be forum for opinions of all sides to be fairly represented to allow those that have not read the book different perspectives to decide if they should take the considerable amount of time to read a book, what with job pressures, family pressures and so on.
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Eloquent space opera with a dash of cyber. 11. Januar 2001
Von Hexanova - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Delany, considered by many to be the most complex and original sci-fi author out there, shines in this book. Nova is probably Delany's most mainstream work, meaning that he cranked the intellect and dialect dial down just a tad so us mortals can just enjoy a fun book for once. And Nova delivers. The story centers around a the haunted captain of the Roc (a ship) that is on a quest for the equivalent of his Holy Grail. Along the way he recruits arguably the most interesting ensemble cast of supporting characters I've ever encountered. The search takes the crew to many strange places and situations. I'm amazed at how much Delany can pack into such a short novel, quite amazing and something that modern sci-fi authors seem unable to do unless they have 700+ pages to work with.
Delany offers many innovative ideas in Nova, probably the most important being the pre-cursor to the cyberpunk movement. Man-machine interfaces abound in Delany's books, a decade or more before William Gibson ever wrote or thought of Neuromancer. It's a shame this book is out of print, but you can easily find it at any used book store. Do yourself a favor and pick up some of the classics of bygone days...this being one of them in my opinion.
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