Information about the author.
Ian Watson’s brilliant debut novel was one of the most significant publications in British sf in the 1970s. Intellectually bracing and grippingly written, it is the story of three experiments in linguistics, and is driven by a searching analysis of the nature of communication. Fiercely intelligent, energetic and challenging, it immediately established Watson as a writer of rare power and vision, and is now recognized as a modern classic.
Alex Winter and Deborah Tate arrive by hovercraft at the city of Babylon, lying on the river Euphrates in the Arizona desert. He is a sociology drop-out from the University of Oregon at Eugene who wants to become a Babylonian. She has a much stranger ambition.
Their minds are babbling in the Greek that has been pumped into them via computer interface at the University of Heuristics. To them, English has yet to be invented and the young king Alexander lies dying in his palace. The city is dominated by the tower of Babel, its spiral roadway curling up towards the heavens and wide enough for several donkey carts. And women sit outside the Temple of Ishtar, waiting for some stranger to drop a coin in their laps. The prospect seems to fascinate Deborah. She wants to become one of the Whores of Babylon.