Nоva – Samuel R. Delany (1968)

Nоva is a science fiction novel by American writer Samuel R. Delany and published in 1968. Nominally space opera, it explores the politics and culture of a future where cyborg technology is universal (the novel is one of the precursors to cyberpunk), yet making major decisions can involve using tarot cards. It has strong mythological overtones, relating to both the Grail Quest and Jason’s Argonautica for the golden fleece. Nova was nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 1969. … By the year 3172, political power in the galaxy is split between two factions: the older Earth-based Draco and the historically younger Pleiades Federation. Both have interests in the even newer Outer Colonies, where mines produce trace amounts of the prized power source Illyrion, the superheavy material essential to starship travel and terraforming planets. Caught in a feud between aristocratic and economically powerful families, a scarred and obsessed captain from the Pleiades, Lorq Von Ray, recruits a disparate crew of misfits to aid him in the race with his arch-enemy, Prince Red from Draco’s Red Shift Ltd., to gain economic leadership by securing a vastly greater amount of Illyrion directly from the heart of a stellar nova. … Within the future society, reading the Tarot is considered both scientific and accurate. The Mouse is actually ridiculed as old-fashioned and uneducated for his skepticism about such things. Much of the story revolves around a tarot reading Tyÿ gives Lorq at the beginning of the second mission, in which she rather successfully predicts the stakes and outcome. For example, The Tower appears, indicating that a powerful family (presumably the Reds or Von Rays) will fall, and the large number of pentacles indicates wealth. Prince and Ruby are represented by the King of Swords and the Queen of Swords, respectively. An anomaly in the reading, however, occurs when Tyÿ drops The Sun—which Lorq considered to represent a nova—and the Mouse pockets it, thus making it impossible for Tyÿ’s reading to include this card. Smaller Tarot readings dot the rest of the novel. …”
Samuel R. Delany: Portrait of the Artist as a Young Super-Nova

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