Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Einstein Intersection

Samuel Delaney was one of the important members of the New Wave of science fiction that started in the 60s, and The Einstein Intersection is one of the books which heralded the new direction science fiction was taking.  Less literal, more allegorical, and, in this novel, very explicitly mythical.

Delaney evokes the stories of Theseus, Orpheus, the Crucifixion and Resurrection, and Billy the Kid.  Unusually, the protagonists are aware that they're re-enacting these archetypal stories, even as they switch among them.  In theory, this should give the plot more power, because we don't really know what's going to happen -- our Orpheus-hero could turn out to be working through a different story altogether.

But I found that the book was robbed of power instead.  There's some sense that the characters have to re-enact all the old stories in order to find new ones for themselves, but I don't understand why they want to.  Why would they stay on a hostile Earth (and it's clear that leaving is an option) and live old mythswhen there's no need?  It's never really explained.

On a side note, the Einstein Intersection of the title is very 60s, and doesn't make much sense to me.  There's some weird thing about Einsteinian provable truths crossing with Godelian non-provable truths, and it rather rubbed me the wrong way.

No comments: