Rydra Wong is a poet, a captain, an erstwhile cryptographer, and a burgeoning telepath. She’s been asked to review a code known only as Babel-17, in the hopes that she can crack it. But she quickly discovers that it isn’t a code at all but a language—and a language unlike any other she’s ever encountered. Determined to learn where it came from, she gathers a delightfully weird crew—including many a surgically enhanced human, several dead counselors, and a triple of lovers—on a mission to a distant space station. On the eve of her departure, she says to a friend, “[M]ost textbooks say language is a mechanism for expressing thought…But language is thought. Thought is information given form. The form is language” (23). And learning the form of Babel-17 will change the way she thinks about the universe and time itself.