Samuel R. Delany

Samuel R. Delany is a science-fiction writer and critic. Although probably best known in the mainstream literary community for his criticism or his massive and Joycean novel Dhalgren, he first received attention and acclaim in the science fiction community for some of his early novels; both The Einstein Intersection and Babel-17 won the Nebula, the yearly prize given by the Science Fiction Writers of America.

Babel-17 is a prescient book--although written in 1966, before Dawkins wrote The Selfish Gene, it deals with languages in a manner very similar to memetics. The Babel-17 of the title is a language invented as a weapon, a language which allows one to think so efficiently that it supercedes other languages; one subconsciously accepts the underlying political premises of the language. Language functions as meme functions as weapon functions as language... Babel-17 is the ur-meme, the meme strong enough to displace any other. It filters the protagonist's perception of the world. It enables the protagonist, a linguist and poet named Rydra Wong, to analyze events and situations in ways she otherwise would not have. It is, to steal a phrase, a word bomb.

But aren't they all?

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