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{Free epub} Babel-17Author Samuel R. Delany –

Babel 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 ThreatPaul Goat Allen

10 thoughts on “Babel-17

  1. says:

    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 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 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 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.

  2. says:

    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 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 fairly than I do.

  3. says:

    Heresy.That s what disliking a book with the reputation of Babel 17 feels like This novel is a recognised classic, re printed many times, including as an SF Masterworks edition, and it has been rated highly by reviewers whose tastes I share and whose opinions I trust.I m a fan of classic SF, and I expected to like Babel 17 Sadly, I feel this novel hasn t aged well.The underlying story is pretty interesting An intergalactic war is being waged Humans on one side and humans on the other Humanity appears to have split in two the Alliance, who are Earth based and the Invaders who are pretty minimally described, but appear to control one or other galaxies outside the Milky Way.The invaders have somehow been mounting damaging sabotage attacks deep into Alliance territory, with only strange, coded radio messages giving any clue to how they are being carried out Linguist and renowned poet Rydra Wong is brought in to decipher the code, which she names Babel 17, and she gathers a crew and a ship to travel to where she believes the next attack will be On her travels she begins to suspect that Babel 17 is less a code than a unique language, a language that could be an extraordinarily powerful and profound threat to the Alliance.So far so good The execution of this story, however, really failed to float my reading boat.There are some interesting ideas in the narrative around language and the way that the structure of language profoundly influence the way we see and interact with the world but I found myself constantly distracted by elements of the story and its execution that didn t gel for me.I struggled to empathise with Rydra Wong, and her crew felt like a living tour around a weird future than a set of real characters Babel 17 feels dated too I usually don t mind the way that older SF this was published in 66 is often full of temporal markers that give away the era in which it was written I make a sport of spotting such markers characters reading paper newspapers on starships in the year 2500 for example, while they chain smoke filterless Camels.Babel 17, however doesn t just have a few markers it feels mired in them Characters refer to darkness as being like the inside of a coal scuttle a reference that was surely dated by the 60s, let alone in the distant future Characters play marbles They use reel to reel tapes They refer to punch cards.The overall effect is Thunderbirds than bright, technological future, hell, a heat ray makes an appearance at one point, and an evil character in a protagonist s past is un ironically named Mr Big.Still, I could look past all this if the story was engaging For me, it wasn t I ve enjoyed concept based SF many times before, and I loved China Mieville s Embassytown, a novel that plays with some fascinating ideas around language and culture Not so with Babel 17 I hauled myself to the end of this one out of duty, dragged along by the feeling that I should finish such a well regarded work Two spaceship eight track decks out of five.

  4. says:

    I liked this one I found it to be quirky, weird, fascinating and unexpected Another arrow in the Galactic secret agent quiver quest The exploration of language as an ultimate tool for conquering and domination wasreally interesting This one was dated, riddled with anachronisms and some retro slightly offensive views on race and gender Not uncommon for a book conceived and written in the 60s There is Delany in my future 3.5ish StarsRead on kindle.

  5. says:

    A fascinating exploration of linguistics theory than a science fiction novel, Babel 17 leaves you intrigued but unsatisfied It is arguably a fantastic intellectual experiment, but the literary enjoyments are few and far between Still, while perhaps not a must read , it is definitely a should maybe read for fans of sci fi and those interested in gaining a broader understanding of the genre.

  6. says:

    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 of the language itself, like brain washing than mind control or hypnosis The concept is based on the Sapir Whorf hypothesis which if I understand it correctly posits that ideas can not be thought of without words to facilitate them The theory has since been disproved so I wouldn t give too much credence to it Excellent basis for an sf novel certainly The weaponized language is the eponymous Babel 17 which is being used to sabotage the war efforts of The Alliance, the side of the war the story is narrated from whether this is the right side is not really dwelled upon in the book The protagonist is genius poet turned starship captain Rydra Wong, she puts a crew of some very odd people together to find the secrets of Babel 17 in order to put an end to the seemingly unstoppable sabotages Members of her crew are all genetically modified and some are actually dead but serving as a kind of high tech ghosts The dialogue concerning a language without the concept of I and Me is one of the highlights of the book The denouement at the in the last chapter is fascinating, though the actual ending is a little abrupt.While I found the ideas and concepts very interesting and thought provoking I also found the pacing to be a little uneven, a couple of chapters simply dragged, in a short novel like this I expected a tighter narrative The character of Rydra Wong is well developed, she is complex and believable, though I don t find her particularly appealing Given the short length of the book the other characters are at least adequately developed, but again I did not feel any emotional investment in them.I would recommend this book to sf readers looking for a short and thought provoking read Don t expect edge of the seat entertainment, but plenty of food for thought.

  7. says:

    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 fair it is a very good book, but the language gets too flowery in places and the excitement of the plot waxes and wanes a bit too much, alternating between dullness, psychedelia and high drama It s almost as if the author is too clever for his own good.In the end, it was enjoyable enough There are some absurdities, especially concerning the oh so strange cast of characters, which I rather enjoyed If you re a Sci Fi connoisseur, you ll have to read this If you re catching up on the Sci Fi classics, ditto If, however, you re neither of the previous, you might consider reading the likes of Dune first.Note I do realise I am biased, since Dune is a personal favourite You might want to bear that in mind as well.

  8. says:

    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 prose is beautiful and filled with energy, the plot also whips you along through huge drama and betrayals, but then there s also poetry and moments of reflection on societal norms and the self It s a clever book Definitely one for the linguistics students.

  9. says:

    Trippy, invigorating, delightful, and beautifully written, this book is totally original, and the fact that it was written over 50 years ago by a 24 year old young man makes it all the amazing I needed to have my head and heart stirred and stimulated in precisely the way that this book did after reading a couple of stolid, predictable books recently It s certainly not for everyone I can imagine folks who want something a little cleanly depicted and structured could get frustrated by it But I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to take a surreal, entertaining, enlightening, provocative journey into a wildly imagined future.

  10. says:

    Well, that was wholly unique This is not so much a story as a poet linguist s exploration of the significance of language CONTENT WARNING view spoiler some misogyny and body horror experimentation Fat shaming Loss of a loved one Psychosis hide spoiler