Triton by Samuel R Delany

Four time nebula award winner Samuel R Delany wrote Triton back in 1976 and has since been republished as Trouble on Triton: An Ambigious Heterotopia.

I have to say this book was not what i expected when i started reading it as the blurb on the back of the book reads

‘Interplanetary war. Diplomatic intrigues that topple worlds. A completely new philosophy of existence

I have to say i assumed massive space battles, raging wars and planet destroying weapons but this isn’t really the case, it is much more cerebral that that. Of course the front cover didn’t really help me out but i believe they’ve changed that now. Here is what it says about the book on Amazon:

Triton, the outermost moon of Neptune, was a world of absolute freedom, where every wish could be fulfilled. But for Bron Helstrom, one of Triton’s elite, life had lost its meaning. There, in a world of endless possibilities, Bron began a searing odyssey to find the object of his desires.

Now this description is a lot more fitting to the book from what’s on the back of the copy i have. I should of probably read the plot introduction on wikipedia too as i think that would of given me a good grounding for the book:

As the subtitle implies, the novel offers several conflicting perspectives on the concept of utopia. Utopia literally means “good place” or “no place”. Delany takes the term heterotopia from the writings of philosopher Michel Foucault. Literally, heterotopia means “other place” or “a place of differences”. Foucault uses the term to designate spaces outside everyday fixed institutional and social spaces, for example trains, motels and cemeteries. In the novel’s future solar system, Neptune’s moon Triton supports one of several human societies independent from Earth, which has developed along radically libertarian lines in some ways: though a representative government exists, it has virtually no power to regulate private behavior, and citizens may choose to live in an area where no laws apply at all. Technology provides for a high degree of self-modification, so that one can change one’s physical appearance, gender, sexual orientation, and even specific patterns of likes and dislikes.

Not that i didn’t like the book but i did find i was completely confused through some parts of the book which i just had to keep reading in the hope that it would eventually become clear to me, sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t. I feel there were concepts in the book that i just didn’t get at the time and only now in hindsight i can appreciate them. I did enjoy the book but i know the next time i read on of Samual R Delanys books i definitely going to be better prepared. I have to say i felt a little stupid at points but then again that isn’t a particularily new thing.




Filed under Books, review

4 responses to “Triton by Samuel R Delany

  1. Delany’s works are seldom straight forward — you might prefer some of his early works, like Babel-17 or perhaps, Nova (his best in my opinion, but still quite complicated).

  2. Cheers! I’ll try and give one of those two a go when i’m next feeling the need to confuse myself.

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