Le Clezio began at 23 as an infant prodigy of angst with the publication of The Interrogation, a stylish, deliberately dehydrated account of a febrile young man at odds with the universe. Since then his novels have grown more and more abstract, cooler and grayer than anything in French fiction outside of Butor and Robbe-Grillet. Unlike them, though Le Clezio has always had a poetic strain. Now at 35 it seems to be bursting into odd bloom with the incantatory and futuristic parable, The Giants. ""I tell you: free yourselves! It is time, it is high time. If you wait any longer it will be too late."" This is the mysterious voice of the narrator who opens his aria on the first page and then goes on for quite a few more pages before we realize what's what. ""Free yourselves, yes, free yourselves. But from what? Where are the walls? . . . And what lies beyond these walls, unknown to me, what free landscape, what country of thought?"" The problem is, how can modern man break through the somnambulant, imaginary city of Hyperpolis--the technological monster he himself has created? How can he overwhelm the masters of language, the speech merchants, who hold him enthralled? Because Le Clezio is so good a writer and operates on so many different fronts simultaneously (the parodies of post-industrial programming and advertising or of a polygraph session are brilliant), the attentive reader is carried along on his intrepid wavelength even though the aura of ambiguity never lets up. (As with most sci-fi romances the complicated story deals with a failed rebellion.) At times reminiscent of We and 1984, The Giants lacks their stature and political clarity, but it has its own eerie presence, makes its own lyric points. A flawed work, but by far the most interesting Le Clezio has yet given us.