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Born to Be Bron: Destiny and Destinerrance in Samuel R. Delany’s Trouble on Triton
Science Fiction Studies (2009)
  • Wendy Gay Pearson, The University of Western Ontario

Bron Helstrom, the protagonist of Samuel R. Delany's Trouble on Triton (1976), articulates an ideology of masculinity that is deeply at odds with his society and that his friend, Lawrence, labels a "logical perversion." Deploying Derrida's concept of destinerrance (the notion of arriving at the wrong place, or reaching the right place only by going wrong), this article argues that Delany's complex investigation of questions of gender, sexuality, and race in Triton exposes the extent to which such ideologies depend on irrational self-justification and outright duplicity. Bron is caught in the tensions among destiny, destination, and destinerrance; this, quite ironically, makes him in many ways the most utopian character in this ambiguously heterotopian world. Bron has a blueprint for a better society, even if that blueprint is rooted in a nostalgic fantasy of an antiquated realm of sexual hierarchy. However, because Triton's heterotopian narrative and locale cannot be wholly dissociated from the concept of utopia, the novel also demonstrates that, since utopia is more of a critical concept than a realizable destination, contemporary utopics have no choice but to deal with their inherent destinerrance. Whether male or (after his chosen gender reassigment) female, Bron's only possible destination is nowhere at all.

  • Samuel R. Delany,
  • science fiction,
  • utopia,
  • dystopia,
  • transgender,
  • gender,
  • sexuality,
  • heterotopia
Publication Date
November, 2009
Citation Information
Wendy Gay Pearson. "Born to Be Bron: Destiny and Destinerrance in Samuel R. Delany’s Trouble on Triton" Science Fiction Studies Vol. 36 Iss. 3 (2009)
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