Saturday, January 25, 2014

Nebula Update: The Einstein Intersection

The Einstein IntersectionThe Einstein Intersection by Samuel R. Delany

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I read this because it was the January 2014 Sword & Laser pick, and because it's one of the few Nebula Best Novel winners I hadn't read. I waited until the Sword & Laser wrap-up podcast to write this review, in case I heard anything that changed my mind. It didn't; it rather intensified my general dislike for this book.

I believe that plot and setting are important components of novels. Further, I believe that an author has an obligation to his or her readers to convey the plot and setting. Yet, the Sword & Laser podcast hosts, while attempting to summarize The Einstein Intersection, repeatedly fumbled or hedged based on their lack of understanding of what the hell was going on in this book or what the setting for it actually was.

Some people like how much this book left to the reader's imagination, or for the reader to figure out. I think the best novels are capable of layering depths of meaning over a coherent story. As an example, this book contains references to the myth of Orpheus. Nobody ever reads about Orpheus and says, "Huh, I'm not sure what happened there." It's a story.

Two stars instead of one for being well-written (in the sense of having a pleasing command of language) and because the plot wasn't completely incomprehensible. But it's not a good sign that I picked up another book (Diplomatic Immunity) in the middle of reading this (short) one because I wasn't enjoying it enough.

I now have 8 Nebula Best Novels (out of 49) left to read:
  1. 1966: Flowers for Algernon (tie)
  2. 1966: Babel-17 (tie) (also by Delaney, sigh)
  3. 1968: Rite of Passage
  4. 1976: Man Plus
  5. 1978: Dreamsnake (not available for Kindle -- boo)
  6. 1981: The Claw of the Conciliator (I started this and didn't finish; not a good sign)
  7. 1987: The Falling Woman (also not available for Kindle)
  8. 1990: Tehanu

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