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Einstein Intersection Paperback – 31 Jul 1998
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When Delany describes to us what he has seen, what he can compute, adduce, intuit or smell in the underbrush, our reaction is to sit bolt upright and cry out, Of course, I have that very wound myself! The ability to produce this reaction in people is one of the commonly accepted and apparently valid appurtenances of genius . . . I look forward to the explosion reading this will create within you. A. J. Budrys, Galaxy Magazine"
-When Delany describes to us what he has seen, what he can compute, adduce, intuit or smell in the underbrush, our reaction is to sit bolt upright and cry out, 'Of course, I have that very wound myself!' The ability to produce this reaction in people is one of the commonly accepted and apparently valid appurtenances of genius . . . I look forward to the explosion reading this will create within you.---A. J. Budrys, Galaxy Magazine
"When Delany describes to us what he has seen, what he can compute, adduce, intuit or smell in the underbrush, our reaction is to sit bolt upright and cry out, 'Of course, I have that very wound myself!' The ability to produce this reaction in people is one of the commonly accepted and apparently valid appurtenances of genius . . . I look forward to the explosion reading this will create within you."--A. J. Budrys "Galaxy Magazine"
From the Back Cover
The surface story tells of the problems a member of an alien race, Lo Lobey, has assimilating the mythology of earth, where his kind have settled among the leftover artifacts of humanity. The deeper tale concerns, however, the way those who are "different" must deal with the dominant cultural ideology. The tale follows Lobey's mythic quest for his lost love, Friza. In luminous and hallucinated language, it explores what new myths might emerge from the detritus of the human world as those who are "different" try to seize history and the day.See all Product description
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I first read The Einstein Intersection as a teenager in 1976 and enjoyed it a lot. Revisiting it forty years later was a huge disappointment. Its loose style, which attempts to combine the mythical with the colloquial, was refreshing when I was 14 but at a distance it's so redolent of the worst aspects of the hippy era I found myself cringing much of the time (the self-indulgent inclusion of extracts from the author's diary, which are excruciating and irrelevant to the overall shenanigans, are particularly bad). The very slim plot is a re-telling of the Orpheus tale in a far-future earth in which the (alien) inhabitants try to make sense of the place by reliving ancient human myths in their own way. In the end - I know this is a spoiler, but it really doesn't matter - Our Hero acts against the pressure to conform to the ancient narrative, presumably to make the very '60s point that Being Tied To The Past Is Not A Good Thing, man.
Actually, I found the ending quite satisfying, and there are some enjoyable moments throughout, but the period "charm" is extremely erratic and the whole thing is ludicrously over-extended. It would have made for a very satisfying novella, but as a novel - even a very short one, which it is - this is a painfully insubstantial work.
And then this. Delany's early (pre-Dhalgren) SF is very engaging. His characters are intense as is are his plot lines, and his imagery is dazzling without being confusing. Even if this novel had no plot whatsoever, you could still read it if only for the intriguing voice the Delany writes with. Yep, it's based on the Orpheus myth (as are some of his later works, which amount to far less than this novel), and Delany succeeds very well with his archetypal characters and plot line. With references to everything from Greek mythology to '60s pop culture, it is certainly thinking-person's reading, but it is also entertaining if you want a short, fun read. It's good to see this one back in print after so many "only available at an obscure used book store" years. If you want somewhere to start with Delany, this is the place, as the book is easily available and is more accessible than his later works (which I still don't like much even today). If you like this try out the harder to find stuff like Babel-17 and Nova (probably in that order, as Nova marks the highlight of Delany's career).
By the way, if you like Delany, check out the works by the lesser-known (but critically perhaps more acclaimed) New Wave author Thomas M. Disch (who's work is newly back in print, I believe).
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