A novel by Don DeLillo, 1976
Published by Knopf, 1976, 438 pages. Jacket design by Fred
U.S. paperbacks issued by Vintage starting in 1980.
Ratner's Star editions.
Here's a funny oddity; an unused cover design.
Dedication: "to Marc and Claudia"
What it's about:
A fourteen year old child prodigy tries to decipher a radio message from space.
Here's the original dust jacket copy.
"Little Billy Twillig stepped aboard a Sony 747 bound for a distant land."
What it's really about:
From the DeCurtis interview: "It seems to me that Ratner's Star is a book which is almost all structure. The structure of the book is the book. The characters are intentionally flattened and cartoonlike. I was trying to build a novel which was not only about mathematics to some extent but which itself would become a piece of mathematics. It would be a book which embodied pattern and order and harmony, which is one of the the traditional goals of pure mathematics."
From the LeClair interview: "There's a structural model, the Alice books of Lewis Carroll. The headings of the two parts--'Adventures' and 'Reflections'--refer to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.... There is also a kind of guiding spirit. This is Pythagoras. The mathematician-mystic. The whole book is informed by this link or opposition, however you see it, and the characters keep bouncing between science and superstition."
Check out the Ratner's Star Media Watch for contemporary reviews of the novel.