Babel-17 (1966)
Spine Front Cover Book Details
Samuel R. Delany
Publication Date 2001
Format Leather-bound (225 x 145 mm)
Publisher The Easton Press
Genre Science Fiction
Product Details
Series Masterpieces of Science Fiction
No. of Pages 189
Paper Type Acid-neutral paper
First Edition No
Personal Details
URL This book on
Rating 8
No. of Reviews 14
Frontispiece/Illustrator Ron Walotsky
Introduction/Foreward Stephen H. Goldman
Original Details
Original Publication Year 1966
Author of the bestselling Dhalgren and winner of four Nebulas and one Hugo, Samuel R. Delany is one of the most acclaimed writers of speculative fiction.

Babel-17, winner of the Nebula Award for best novel of the year, is a fascinating tale of a famous poet bent on deciphering a secret language that is the key to the enemy’s deadly force, a task that requires she travel with a splendidly improbable crew to the site of the next attack.
Collector's Notes

Samuel R. Delany burst upon the science-fiction scene like the title of his 1970 novel Nova. After publishing a series of novels that only later received the attention they deserved, Delany won 1967 for Babel-1 7 (shared with Daniel Keyes' remarkable Flowers for Algernon), in 1968 for The Einstein Intersection and another for his first published short story, "Aye, AND Gomorrah. . ." and a fourth in 1970 for his novelette "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones," which also won a Hugo Award that year. When he won his first Nebula he had just reached the tender age of 25.

The Nebula is presented by the Science Fiction Writers of America, and from the beginning Delany was a writer's writer, polishing his words like a lapidary working with those "semi-precious stones." But his concern for language did not interfere with his gathering a substantial popular following. His epic 1975 novel Dhalgren became a paperback best seller, and since then his books have earned both critical acclaim and solid readership.

The son of a Harlem funeral director, Delany attended some of the best schools in New York City: first the Dalton School and the Bronx High School of Science; then, for a couple of years, the City College of New York. He was fascinated by poetry. He was poetry editor of his high school journal and later married (and divorced in 1980) poet Marilyn Hacker, but Delany chose to make his mark in science fiction, which he believed offered its authors the opportunity to write more interesting sentences than any other literary form. From his earliest days as an author, he was involved with the structural aspects of writing.

Delany's first novel, The Jewels of Aptor, was written when he was 19 and published when he was 20. He followed that with Captives of the Flame, The Towers of Toron, and City of a Thousand Suns in 1963, 1964, and 1965. They were revised and published together as The Fall of the Towers in 1970. The Ballad of Beta-2 and Empire Star in 1965 and 1966 preceded Babel-17. Dhalgren was followed by Triton in 1976, Distant Stars in 1981, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand in 1984, The Splendor and Misery of Bodies, of Cities in 1985, Flight from Nevèryon in 1985, and The Bridge of Lost Desire (1987).

Delany has published three short-story collections: Driftglass (1971), Tales of Neveryon (1979), and Nevèryona (1983). He also has achieved a major reputation as a writer of critical essays about science fiction, which have been collected in The Jewel-Hinged Jaw: Notes on the Language of Science Fiction (1977), Starboard Wine: More Notes on the Language of Science Fiction (1984), and The Straits of Messina (1988). He has written an entire book, The American Shore, (1978), offering a sentence-by-sentence and even word-by-word structuralist reading of a story by Thomas M. Disch, "Angouleme." Although he never finished a college degree, his erudition has made him a frequent visiting professor at universities and now holds a full-time teaching position.

Delany also has published two books of autobiography: Heavenly Breakfast (1979) and The Motion of Light on Water (1988). The latter won the Hugo Award for non-fiction.

A special introduction to Babel-17 was commissioned by Easton Press from Professor Stephen H. Goldman of the University of Kansas. His specialties are medieval literature and linguistics; his love is science fiction and he has written extensively in the field, including several introductions in this series. Medievalists seem to have a particular affinity for science fiction, and his linguistics background provides insights into the puzzling verbal problems that launch poet Rydra Wong on her eventful voyage into the unknown and create the modern tower of Babel, Babel-17.