Recently, I participated in a book club discussion on Samuel Delany’s Nebula Award-winning novel “The Einstein Intersection,” set in the future after the apparent destruction of Earth sets the stage for an alien takeover.
In this literary science fiction work, Delany’s protagonist, Lo Lobey, equipped with his musical instrument / machete, is thrust on a journey reminiscent of the Orpheus myth. The novel draws from real characters, such as Billy the Kid, as well, to extend this theme of myths. This can be seen in the form of the novel’s most villainous character, known as Kid Death. And in parts of the novel, it even has feel for the American West, but with dragons. These various elements and more are surprisingly woven together with cohesiveness throughout the novel.
One topic we talked about in the book club is the novel’s relevance today. Due to its pop culture mentions (e.g., Elvis and The Beatles) and other wide-reaching references, it is easy to see why this sci-fi classic was popular then, and is still popular now. The novel explores themes, such as those dealing with sexuality, gender and social issues that, perhaps, make it a good introductory read to Delany. Furthermore, the novel’s nonconformity, I think, reflects the nature of our times in America, as our society seems to be moving away from the status quo.