Triton, by Samuel Delany

I think I originally read this when I was about 15 years old. It cast a long shadow. Re-reading it…. boy is it a slog, and a not very good novel. But the bravura of Delaney’s science fiction is pretty undeniable. Much more explicit about gender fluidity than his contemporaries (including, I think, LeGuin, who approached it from an ethnographic rather than individual psychological perspective). Yes it borders on stereotypes of pop psychology (ok, not border, right in the middle). And a lot of good discussion of genetics, which 50 years later seems almost on target in terms of gene expression etc. And the foregrounding of individual – indeed, basically just one person- stories in “the future.” it’s the future, and yet everything is still banal, and like Adam Smith wrote in 1776 you still worry more about the look someone gave you in the office than news that 10 million people dies in a war on another moon or planet. Bron does have to be one of the most annoying characters ever written.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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