Feb. 5th, 2010

Triton

Feb. 5th, 2010 10:27 pm
perlmonger: (books)
Triton, Samuel R. Delany2010.5: Triton, by Samuel R. DelanyThis is a tricky one: how to even attempt to do justice to a book as multi-layered and complex as this? A central protagonist who's emotionally crippled and self-deceiving and self-destructive (never mind about his effect on those around him) to an extent unprecedented outside mainstream 20th (and 21st) Century consensus masculine normality lives in a society that, for all his pretense to himself and his contemporaries, is totally alien to him. A society that is about to, and does, enter into a war without soldiers, but with human casualties of a scale and meaninglessness anticipated 25 years ago that only stares into our faces now.

The book, inevitably, suffers from predictive failures that, in the early stages, grated; that's unfair, but it still felt awkward until the deeper flow of the novel rendered them irrelevant; it is, after all, like all books ultimately a reflection of the context of its creation (and the commonality of now with then far outshines the dissonances).

The relationship of the text with its writing, with its reading, is of course at the core of the book: beyond its nature as an SF novel, its exploration of human/societal relationships, of sex, sexuality, gender identity, of race and cultural/metacultural identification, the main part of the book and its final appendix are also the first two parts of Delany's semiotic exploration and analysis (both within and without the book) Some Informal Remarks toward the Modular Calculus, the third part of which also forms part of the Nevèrÿon cycle. I'm not qualified to comment on that aspect of the work, and in any case would need to re-read that third part first, so I'll let that pass for now, beyond noting its existence and importance.

Bron's dissociation, dissolution and final disintegration remains the heart of the novel to me: an utterly dysfunctional human being who for all his background as a prostitute on Mars (where male prostitution is legal and female illegal) and life in the Outer Satellites (where both prostitution and marriage are illegal (outside their Unlicenced Sectors)) is a child of Earth (where, in his time, the Martian situation is reversed) in his ultimate, broken, patriarchal, identity.

I'll be reading this again soon, I think, though a re-read of all the Nevèrÿon books will come first.

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