Samuel R. Delany
Babel-17 Cover



I am utterly blown away by the fact that Delany wrote this when he was only 23.

Often when I read 40-50 year old science fiction novels, they seem really dated; they have that "Golden Age of SF" classic-but-clunky-and-outdated sensibility. This book doesn't. It is so well-written, I'd never have guessed that it was published nearly 50 years ago.

The story focuses on a twenty-something linguistic prodigy and celebrated poet who is called in to decipher messages written in an invasive, destructive foreign language, which are threatening to bring down an interstellar confederation.

The central plot themes have been touched upon many times in SF books since then, but at the time it was written, this book would have been very innovative. It is easy to understand all the accolades this book got and continues to get.