The Einstein Intersection
Author: Samuel R. Delany
Release Date: 1967
** spoiler alert ** Well, I’ll admit it. I didn’t understand or care about what was happening for the first 125 pages of this book. The book was only 155 pages long, so that’s a bit of a deal breaker in terms of getting a good score. The story of Orpheus isn’t interesting enough of its own to be a payoff for an exciting ending, and with characters dying and reappearing frequently there was never any real suspense at any moments.
I’ll do my best to summarize the plot, which even reading the back of the book did nothing to clear up for me. So aliens are living on Earth after humans have either left or died out. The aliens are big on making sure everybody can function, speak, hunt, etc. or else they go live in The Kage. The main character is Lobey, who has a thing for a silent girl who can do some special tricks with her mind. She ends up dying. Lobey also finds an old super computer that gives him more questions than answers. He ends up chasing down a guy called Kid Death that’s like a Billy the Kid analogue (not metaphorically, he is actually an incarnation of that figure) while the silent girl may be film star Jean Harlow, or that could just be The Dove. There’s also Green-Eyes and the Spider, who fit in the Orpheus parable depending on when Lobey is getting things explained to him. And it’s possible all of this is just simulated realities by the aliens or the super computer.
Just typing that out made me frustrated at how ambiguous the book is at parts. Instead of clear explanations for the alien civilization (which is also just their version of reliving Earth world life) the reader is thrown in and not given enough reason to care about any of the characters. Also, because it’s a whole retelling of Orpheus and the underworld and everything’s a simulation, nobody really dies and everybody can be resurrected. Also several people have magic power (speaking to animals, telekinesis, knowledge of the exact amount of time somebody can hang off a cliff before falling) to serve the story at random moments. This book was just not for me.