Reviews of Nova (1968)
Review by clong (2006-03-19)
Nova is in some ways a much more traditional scifi yarn than The Einstein Intersection (Delany's previous book): it tells the story of the various members of the small crew of a starship that visits a series of planets in the course of an interstellar quest. In other ways it is every bit a surreal and challenging as anyone who reads Delany has come to expect. This is virtuoso writing; he may leave you confused but you have to admire the manís facility with putting together words to achieve exactly his desired effect.
Delany takes us from intriguing world to intriguing world, and paints compelling pictures of the strange places man has come to inhabit. The long scene set on Earth is especially compelling. Nova features an interestingly bizarre cast of characters who are caught up in intriguing relationships, most notably the incestuous pairing of the villainous Prince and his sister Ruby Red. The book is rife with, and at times even a bit heavy handed in its use of symbolism and plays on familiar mythology (in particular the Grail and Tarot cards).
My biggest disappointment came in the climactic final chapter, where Captain Von Lorq, Prince, and Ruby Red each meet their respective destinies. The final resolution felt rushed, not really worthy of the buildup that had preceded.