(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

Samuel Delany’s first novel, The Jewels of Aptor, was published in 1962. By 1969, he had won four Nebula Awards. Triton is another work in a strong career. In 1990, it was compiled, along with Suzy McKee Charnas’ Walk to the End of the World (1974) and Joanna Russ’s The Female Man (1975), into a collection for the Book-of-the-Month Club titled Radical Utopias.

Delany uses Triton, subtitled “An Ambiguous Heterotopia,” to discuss gender roles, family roles, and sexual freedom. The society of Triton offers a variety of living arrangements. There are co-ed co-ops, male or female homosexual co-ops, male or female heterosexual co-ops, male or female unspecified co-ops, family communes, single-parent families, and a variety of other options. Bron and others in this society often comment on the fact that whatever one’s sexual, religious, or other preferences, there is someplace and someone to match it. That does not hold true for Bron.

As in most utopian or dystopian novels, there is an outsider who does not fit in; in Triton, this is Bron. He is originally from Mars, and the fact that he is “from a world” marks him as different from the other “moonies.” Martian society had legalized male prostitution, but female prostitution remained illegal. Bron, a former prostitute, finds that when he gets to Triton he cannot find a sexual or gender role that is right for him. He...

(The entire section is 449 words.)