A Lack of Nature
In sharp contrast to Huxley and in minor contrast to Russ, Delany’s heterotopia seems to lack nature. Not only does the book not feature stuff we associate with nature, but the setting of the book is artificial.
There’s artificial gravity and an artificial sky. Is the society of Triton only created in artifice? Even people’s outward appearance can be adjusted at any time to whatever one chooses.
No one gets to see the stars. Instead, there’s a big ol’ sensory shield up in the sky (Delany 1). Why? So the people don’t have to witness the reality of the beautiful, awesome night sky? An artificial ever-day to keep the people from going mad by *always* seeing the stars? Perhaps it even serves as to control the people’s sense of time–no sunrise, no sunset, falsified view of Neptune. We get a brief glimpse of what Triton is naturally like with a blip in the sensory shield and a brief cut to gravity (Delany 31).
According to the April 2015 Ecosystem Services journal, “There is a large and growing body of literature that demonstrates that contact with nature (broadly defined in the introduction and including urban green space, parks, forests, etc.) can lead to measurable psychological and physiological health benefits, as well as numerous other positive effects.” Natural features help, in lack on Triton, help people grow mentally. Plant life doesn’t get mentioned, though it could be merely because the book takes place in an urban environment.
Nonetheless, there is yet the question of why Delany chooses not to feature any natural elements on Triton. Is nature unnecessary? Even if science became so advanced that the physical functions of nature (e.g. food and air production) can be replaced, it would have a negative psychological impact on people, contrary to what the book displays.
Delany, Samuel R. Trouble on Triton. Wesleyan University, 1976.
ForestWander. Forest Night Sky Spruce Trees Stars. 5 July 2010, photograph. WikiMedia Commons.
Sandifier, Paul A. et al. “Exploring connections among nature, biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human health and well-being: Opportunities to enhance health and biodiversity conservation.” Ecosystem Services, vol. 12, April 2015,
pp. 1-15, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212041614001648. Accessed 10 Oct. 2016.
Author’s aside: I’m a little miffed that there’s no one discussing the war aspect of the book with a post titled “Attack on Triton.”