Empire Star

By Samuel R. Delany

Rating: 4 stars

Comet Jo is a teenager on an single-produce asteroid who dreams of the stars. When an organic spaceship bearing a special jewel crashes near him, he’s entrusted with a message that must reach the Empire Star to free a slave race upon whom interstellar civilisation depends, and his journey to a wider universe begins.

I felt this book to be quite disjointed in places but about half-way through realised that this was because of a somewhat unreliable narrator. That and the somewhat Ouroboros-nature of the story make it difficult to keep track of what’s going on at times, but it’s worth it. There’s a strong coming-of-age story here, and the central idea that modes of thinking are ‘plex’ (as in simplex, complex and multiplex) and that these can be learned, is good. Jo starts off as a simplex kid, with narrow ‘small-town’ horizons, but by the end, his thinking has widened and becoming multiplex, enabling him to analyse more complicated situations. This is a very short book, at just over 100 pages, but it packs a lot of ideas into that space. Enjoyable stuff.

Book details

ISBN: 9780553234251
Publisher: Bantam Books, Inc.
Year of publication: 1966

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