A sci-fi book by Samuel R. Delany. One of his more complex books, it takes place on Triton, the moon of Neptune, in a semi-communistic society that places subjectivity before anything else. The main character is a jerk, and eventually switches gender. The book explores a lot of questions about sexuality (the sex scenes are low-key, however). Also see Dhalgren and the Neveryon Series.

A conversational future, narrated by a fool.

Samuel R. Delany is a master of Utopia. His constructions never fail to impose their beliefs and social cosmologies on the reader. Utopian literature exists for one purpose alone - to expose the failings of a present society within the failings of a supposedly perfect one. Trouble on Triton does so, but not by illustrating the failure of his own creation, but rather the failures of those who inhabit it.

Delany's tale is one of a land where there is no poverty, no issues of race or gender, no suffering and infinite creative freedom. No one has to work, and yet most do - not because the society demands it, but rather because it gives those who toil a sense of fulfillment or a sense of advancement within social ranks. Social ranks which are acknowledged by the narrator (Bron) as useless - and yet still desired.

Still more desired by the narrator than an artifical social progress, is the desire to be truly individual. Not a "type" - a concept he constantly struggles with:

"My dear young man," Lawrence had said, "everyone is a type. The true mark of social intelligence is how unusual we can make out particular behavior for the particular type we are when we are put particular pressure."

. . .

"Actually"..."I rather pride myself on occasionally doing things contrary to what everyone else does."

"That's a type too."

In Delany's world, the government exists solely to provide for the existence and welfare of all, yet it never imposes its thought on the citizens. Each citizen elects their own representative in government. Money and even the concept of money is nonexistent. Taxes are irrelevant.

Even the society's laws only apply to you if you choose to let them... According to Bron, one can always expect a certain type to chose to live outside the law.

...And Bron, of course, is unhappy. Like us all.

The strength of Delany's method is not the power of nor the explication of his argument, but rather the ignorance of the narrator under the weight of it. When faced with the ultimate dilemma, our narrator's response is to run in the only way possible - away from his self, and further into ignorance. Deluded that gender is in fact the driving force behind his life, Bron becomes a woman to "see life from the other side" - only to find that Delany's vision of the future is true (at least in the world he constructs).

The problem with the world rarely lies within the world itself, but within the viewer's eyes.

Bron is left with the tragedy that ultimately we all will be left with: that our failures are only our own. The same can be said for our insecurities, illusions, ignorances and denials. The world of Trouble on Triton is a world of true equality and freedom - where the responsibilities of being human and being free rest solely on the individual.

It's not entirely a comforting thought - growing up in a land of welfare, social security and unemployment compensation.


And it hardly needs to be said to anyone who reads Delany, but plot is irrelevant. Ignore it.

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