Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Review: Triton

Triton is my second encounter with the science-fiction work of Samuel R. Delany. The first book was Nova--a fascinating piece of work both in style and content. Triton is very similar in its style and ability to capture a reader's attention. It is complex look at the world of politics, art, and relationships.

The story of Triton revolves around Bron Helstrom, a former male prostitute from Mars who is now working on Triton as a metalogician. Bron is a sort of lonely character as he mostly shuts his own emotions off from those around him--as opposed to other characters who openly express themselves. He is outwardly unemotional until he wanders through the u-1 unlicensed sector and discovers The Spike, an actress who runs a microtheater troupe and becomes Bron's object of desire. There are also the characters of Lawrence, an older man in whom Bron confides his emotions, and Sam, a government officer whom Bron quietly admires.

Coincidences are encountered in Bron's life throughout the course of the novel--so many, in fact, that even Bron considers it fate at times. Among such moments are many chance meetings between Bron and The Spike and mutual acquaintances.

The complexities of the world that Delany creates in Triton have to deal with subjects as vast as politics and war, sexuality and relationships, and origins and customs. Triton is caught in the middle of a war between allies of Earth and allies of the moons without a side to choose--and the reasons for war are never fully explained, adding to the confusion of life on the world. Relationships on this world are primarily sexual, and in this reality it is possible to alter one's sexual preference, leading to confusions of gender and preference. And there is plenty of stereotypes to go around about people born on different planets and moons--one phrase that echoes throughout is "everyone is a type." The people all migrate to other planets and moons to encounter varying cultures (even within Triton), but still hold their own traditions and stereotypes.

Samuel R. Delany is adept at creating such spectacular science-fiction worlds with his use of language and style. Yet, he keeps to the simplest of ideals in that the science is always secondary to the plot, which gives the reader an enjoyable encounter with a world removed from reality but based in the basic emotions and concepts of life.

1 comment:

Diesel said...

Sounds like an interesting book. I started Nova, but didn't get very far. Not because I didn't like it; I think I just got busy.