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1. Dark Reflections
2. Nova
3. Babel-17/Empire Star
4. Dhalgren
5. Times Square Red, Times Square
6. Captives of the Flame; Bound Together
7. Stars in My Pocket Like Grains
8. About Writing: Seven Essays, Four
9. Longer Views: Extended Essays
10. Aye, and Gomorrah: And Other Stories
11. The Mad Man
12. Hogg: A Novel
13. The Fall of the Towers
14. City Of A Thousand Suns
15. The Jewels of Aptor
16. The Motion of Light in Water:
17. Distant Stars
18. The Tides of Lust
19. Shorter Views: Queer Thoughts
20. Flight from Neveryon

1. Dark Reflections
by Samuel R. Delany
Paperback: 304 Pages (2007-04-13)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$1.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0786719478
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

Arnold Hawley, a gay, African–American poet, has lived in NYC for most of his life. Dark Reflections traces Hawley's life in three sections — in reverse order. Part one: Hawley, at 50 years old, wins the an award for his sixth book of poems. Part two explores Hawley's unhappy marriage, while the final section recalls his college days. Dark Reflections, moving back and forth in time, creates an extraordinary meditation on social attitudes, loneliness, and life's triumphs.
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Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars A beautiful, tender novel
Dark Reflections is a terrific novel.It tells the story of a gay black poet's life, in reverse.The novel is about the poet's experience as a black poet, a gay poet, and a gay black poet, but really it's about his life as a poet.Dark Reflections is quite remarkable for it's subtlety and grace.Readers interested in a historical perspective on being gay, black, or gay and black in America will find this a rich trove of fascinating details, as the poets life has been a long one--it's also an interesting narrative about aging.But Arnold Hawley found poetry and became a poet before encountering or discovering any of these other qualities.Dark Reflections is not a book of poetry but a novel about living a poet's life.A poet's life is not necessarilly poetic--this poet's life is not particularly so.It is a quiet, sensitive, tentitive, cautious life, a life in which race politics and sexual fantasy, while ever present and always defining, cannot compete in devastating significance with a typo in the second line of the first poem of the first edition of a second volume of mostly cinquain verse.Dark Reflections is, ultimately, a novel about accuracy, about precision, about sensitivity and beauty.As deep as the lines of race and gender may cut, poetry cuts deeper--for this poet, at least.It's a quiet, tender novel--really a work to be cherished.

Which is not to say that the book undermines the significance of race and gender issues--it just brings to them, with a relentless, patient grace, a poet's perspective.I found this passage beautiful:

"One night, when he leaned the book (Sexual Behavior in the Human Male) against the lamp's bronze base and turned off the light on the bedside table, Arnold lay awake thinking: How . . . cruel!!Even if it _is_ the most debilitating of conditions (which, were it anywhere _near_ as common as Dr. Kinsey said, made it seem unlikely)how cruel, to take us as children and impose such isolating lonliness.Tonight, Arnold thought, in Pittsfield and in Queens and in Appleton and in Fishtown and God-knows-where-else, children are awake, in bed, as I am now, pondering their approaching deaths from this . . . disease, in the midst of a lonliness sharp enough yo clog their ears and scatter their eyes and cloy their throat with grave dust.And, as he had not in a while, Arnold began to cry.Why, why, why lie to them as I was lied to?"

I met Mr. Delany once, briefly, and remember him fondly.I loved Trouble on Triton: An Ambiguous Heterotopia.Perhaps my favorite Delany book is Bread & Wine: An Erotic Tale of New York, which is almost unutterably beautiful.And I used to teach his literary theory just because he's so good at explaining things.But Dark Reflections is quite a different kind of book--Delany has got to be one of our most versatile authors.

5-0 out of 5 stars Dark, Enriching, Satisfying
I've followed Samuel R. Delany's career across galaxies for thirty years. Between the ages of nineteen and twenty-five, Delany had written and published nine novels, two of them winning Nebulas for best science fiction. I've read most of his early work, including Dhalgren, considered by many to be the finest science fiction novel ever written, and, from later in his career, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, as well as the Neveryon series, his foray into the fantasy genre. As a boy I read Nova, Delany's tribute to the space opera genre and a forerunner to today's cyberpunk, which even now remains one of my favorite science fiction novels.

As a heterosexual, I didn't always relate to some of Delany's gay protagonists and storylines, but I always thrilled, even as a boy, to his use of language, his dense prose, descriptive narrative, and vivid imagination. When I began writing seriously it was Delany I endeavored to emulate.

In Dark Reflections, Delany, now a professor of English and creative writing at Temple University, steps away from the science fiction genre to give us a glimpse into the lonely life of Arnold Hawley, a black, gay poet living in Manhattan's East Village. Gone is the dense language that usually accompanies Delany's prose; but the story itself, related with simple honesty, is rife with complexities. A poet himself before turning to fiction, perhaps only Delany knows how much of Arnold's story is autobiographical, although his real life marriage to Marilyn Hacker, also a poet, ended much less tragically than Arnold's. Perhaps it is the alternate autobiography Delany would have written had he not turned to fiction writing.

One of the fascinating aspects of Dark Reflections (and there are many) is that it is told in three parts in reverse chronological order, perhaps to reflect what we see when we glance into the looking glass -- a reverse image of how others perceive us.

In part one, The Prize, Arnold, in his fifties, has just won the Alfred Proctor Award for his sixth book of collected poems. Arnold is the poster child for the starving artist, holding onto the $3,000 stipend the award pays out over three years as a financial godsend to his existence. Emerging writers who read Dark Reflections will take comfort from Arnold's insecurities and envy of others, while non-writers will be afforded a glimpse into the soul of a creative spirit -- its innocence and sensitivity, its desire for recognition. In response to praise for one of his collected works as "one of my favorite books of the last... well, thirty years! In any genre! Really! It's just an... an amazing performance!" Arnold later reflects:

"The fact is, there is no praise as great as the praise I want." He'd said it with tears welling. "That sort of praise doesn't exist -- I know that," Arnold had told Dr. Engles, on his side of the chipped table in the small blue room at Mount Sinai. "It doesn't stop me from wanting it, though -- wanting it so much!" Couldn't he have an entire evening without someone like Michael, sneakily and without warning, reminding him how little he'd had...

The Prize is perhaps the most movingly poignant part of the whole of Dark Reflections. Arnold himself, now sixty-eight and eighty pounds overweight (a mirror image of Delany's own girth), suffering incontinence (entering a subway he wonders if the smell of urine emanates from him or the subway) perhaps best sums up its content: Jesus, he thought, at last on the platform, a tear tickling his cheek, the tears of the old just don't mean anything, do they?

As poignant as The Prize is, part two, Vashti in the Dark, is the most shocking. Arnold, in his late thirties, sits outside a public restroom known to be a place where gay men rendezvous, fantasizing about what takes place inside but lacking the courage to partake, only once venturing inside only to flee in horror. It is here he meets a young homeless woman, Judy, perhaps fifteen years his junior. He befriends the shoeless Judy, takes her to lunch and subsequently buys her some shoes and clothing and brings her back to his apartment where the not quite right Judy, knowing of Arnold's proclivity for men, convinces Arnold that they should wed. A few days later, tested for disease and license in tow, they marry, and Judy's wedding gift to Arnold is to send him out to the public restroom to have the night of his life. Arnold returns to his apartment with young Tony to a shocking scene. This is Delany at his brilliant best, what he reveals both through the narrative as well as what is left unwritten.

The final segment, Book of Pictures, chronicles Arnold's youth as he wrestles with the "disease" a doctor tells him afflicts only one in five thousand men (a greatly skewed number) and with which no Negro has ever been diagnosed, and that he is sure will one day cut his life short.

Throughout the text Arnold, whenever he finds a photograph of himself, invariably turns it over to write on its back, The poet Arnold Hawley, aged -- in anticipation of the biography of his life that is never written. Underlying themes of Dark Reflections are poetry's status as the most ignored field in literature -- Arnold is haunted by the remark a famous white poet made when a poet of color was admitted to a literary society: "Who let the coon in?" -- as well as the loneliness and despair that all too often accompany the life of the creative soul.

Highly recommended reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars A great read for both fans and readers new to Delany's work
I'm not going to reiterate the plot, you can get that from the capsule reviews above.

Mainly I just wanted to say this book contains many examples of SRD's superfine descriptive powers. Almost every sentence is a pleasure to read, and as one follows another you find yourself there, sometimes in the character's mind, sometimes in the vivid settings among the people and events that surround him.

All of SRD's books are worthwhile, but some are more work than others. This one is "easy." Fans will gulp it down and immediately start over, and even new readers will be able to tap into much of what is exciting about SRD's writing: precise observation, emotional immediacy, and a sheer joy in the use of language that makes you want to, well, run out and write a book, or a poem, or at least read another and another one and then talk about it with someone!

For triangulation purposes, my (current) top 5 SRD books are, in no particular order, Dhalgren, Trouble on Triton, Times Square Red/Blue, About Writing, and his book of letters, 1984.

If you have read and liked any of these I suspect you will enjoy this new book as well.


5-0 out of 5 stars A dark reflection of Delany's own life
Even as a long-time fan of Samuel Delany's work (both fiction and non-fiction), I confess to finding it sometimes hard going (I still haven't finished Dhalgren!).But Dark Reflections is his most accessible book in a long time. Even though it's written "in reverse", starting with old age and progressing to youth, there's no difficulty following the narrative, and this would be a good book to start with if you've never read anything by Delany.

But the book takes on an added dimension for those of us who are Delany junkies, since in some way it is (and is not) autobiographical.Arnold Hawley, the central character, is a black gay writer only a little older than Delany, whose books have Delanyesque titles (one of them is actually the title of a Delany book). But his life is the opposite of Delany's... his books are unread (and not even in the New York Public Library!); his sole claim to success is having won one rather questionable prize (is it a coincidence that the author's bio on the back of the book mentions Delany's prizes?); his old age is utterly lonely and his emotional life completely unfulfilled. Even though, like Delany, he married, his marriage (which culminates in the most horrifyingly vivid events that I've ever read) surely did not, let us hope, resemble that of the author!

So what's going on? Is this a "what if" account (as the Publisher's Weekly review, cited above implies)?Rather, I think the title, which is at least triply ambiguous, gives the clue. These are dark reflections (thoughts) about a life, looked at as if reflected in a dark mirror (and, of course, narrated in reflected order). It's time to go reread it and see what I missed reading it the first time.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Life in Reverse
Take a trip back through the life of a gay African American poet as he puts his life in rewind mode and examines it all.
... Read more

2. Nova
by Samuel R. Delany
Paperback: 256 Pages (2002-06-11)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$5.87
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375706704
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Given that the suns of Draco stretch almost sixteen light years from end to end, it stands to reason that the cost of transportation is the most important factor of the 32nd century. And since Illyrion is the element most needed for space travel, Lorq von Ray is plenty willing to fly through the core of a recently imploded sun in order to obtain seven tons of it. The potential for profit is so great that Lorq has little difficulty cobbling together an alluring crew that includes a gypsy musician and a moon-obsessed scholar interested in the ancient art of writing a novel. What the crew doesn’t know, though, is that Lorq’s quest is actually fueled by a private revenge so consuming that he’ll stop at nothing to achieve it. In the grandest manner of speculative fiction, Nova is a wise and witty classic that casts a fascinating new light on some of humanity’s oldest truths and enduring myths. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (24)

3-0 out of 5 stars The salad bar man
There is an incident in life that almost anyone living in the civilized world is familiar with. I call it the salad bar man and I guess you`ve seen it too. Imagine you are at a fast food venue, or any other venue with a salad bar. Suddenly, a nondescript man comes from the counter holding his little white bowl. Faced with the possibility of filling up his bowl with all the salad he can get for a fixed price, he anxiously starts filling it. Broccoli salad and pea salad and potato salad and Caesars and tuna and eggplant until the bowl looks like a hill of congealed goo ready to explode in the man's face.

This is my feeling with Nova by Samuel R Delany. A story describing a clash of titanic dimensions, a future Oedipus in scope (1), along with the story of a 32nd century James Joyce (2), plus the story of the archetypal free-spirited, artist gypsy (3), all crammed up in little more than 200 pages? Sorry, this does not work. Not to mention a mysterious element called illyrion that literally moves the world (the olive oil in the salad bowl).

One explanation for this mesh comes right from the book itself. A character says somewhere "the novel is always a historical projection of its own time". Nova's time is the late sixties. A time when 3 or 4 intertwined storylines in 150 pages were not considered too much and also a time where a blend of science and the occult was considered OK. The last part is very irritating, and makes a modern reader cringe with fury when reading passages about tarot cards taken seriously in 3100 AD.

On the other hand, Delany's writing is very good. One would like to be part of the universe of Captain Von Ray, or Prince, or the Mouse, but unfortunately one never gets to know them enough to care enough.

So, what's the bottom line? I believe Samuel R Delany had an excellent seed of an idea. He could have made a grand space opera out of this, but ended up with much less than a space operetta. 3 ½ stars for what could have been 5 bright novas.

4-0 out of 5 stars Class and ambition
Nova is a science fiction novel that examines ambition and class. The story is about diving a space ship into a supernova to extract a chemical. This will have profound consequences for everyone in the universe the novel takes place in.

The story mixes characters of different social and economic classes together. The social moors of different societies are examined.

2-0 out of 5 stars Mind exploding schizophrenic harangue
Lorq Von Ray is the peer of start dynasty who will get to rule quite a remarkable star system. In the events of history there has been a bitter fight of powers with theanother Trade House, whose heir is called Prince. The Prince's sister, Ruby, is the object of Lorq Von Ray's unreachable love and affection. This love story is tangled in search of mystical illyrion, heavy energy, which powers all machines in this universe: from space travel to wrist watches. If there only be enough illyrion available, Lorq Von Ray could conquer his rival, The Prince. He has found an unlimited source from inside the exploding Nova. He hires a crew who have socket's in their bodies to be able to steer the veins of the space. The tragedy engages.

The book's prose is unique to anything out there in SF scene. The writing style is strikingly challenging to get into. Part of the time it feels like reading a schizophrenic harangue more than a story. On the other hand you think that this is so bizarre that the writer must be genius whose pen radiates so heavily that you are inside a Nova. And next moment you want to skip over 5 pages because you can't make it to absorb to your senses. You're like being unplugged and plugged in and out of the story. Characters are atypical and they surround the theatre where this macabre is being played. Like puppets hanging from their cords. The early history of various characters is milled like grains of rye to separate the outer layer from the inner. The harvest is gathered together from the sown seeds. This verbal illustration makes perfect sense when you read the book, but nothing prepares you for it. There is no conventional story to be told here.

Two (2) stars. Written in 1968, the grade given should be considered only directional: evaluated as as reading pleasure. The book is not something that you consume for fun, but which requires vigorous soul, in league of Conrad: 'Heart of Darkness'; the book haunts you immediately after you've finished it. The novel is undeniable masterpiece and all the 5 star reviews are also right. Many things will continue to nag your subconsciousness long after you've read tens of other books. Not for a reading pleasure, but recommended if you want a challenge out of your comfort zone.

3-0 out of 5 stars Allegories to the Kennedy's, Class Structure And about a Nova
This is an allegorical story, it's just a question of how far the allegories extend.Many stories of the 60's had space empires/federations/civilizations as extensions of the modern day world where a faster-than-light/space manifolding ship replaces the ocean-traveling-ship/airline of today and the political/economic alignments of star systems represent alignments of countries on earth.In Nova the confederation of stars and planets are broken down into three groups, Draco in the center, of which earth is part of, the outer colonies, and the Pleiades.It's not clear if Delany meant for these to represent the West, the Warsaw Pact and allies (as of 1968 when the story was written), and the third world, or to represent the upper class, middle & lower classes, and nouveau riche, or status quo, progressive, and the masses, or all, or some, combination of the above.As Draco the Dragon is a constellation in the northern hemisphere, one of six constellations Delany could have picked earth to be part of, there's the sense that he meant something negative as Draco was also the name of an autocratic Athenian law-maker (thus leading to the term draconian).The outer colonies are mostly hard working, hard living miners.And the Pleiades is a globular cluster comprised of hot, young stars that are out of the galactic plane of the Milky Way.

The story pits our protagonist from the young, hot stars of the Pleiades, against the antagonist from Draco, with a third character somewhere in the middle until she selects her side at the end.The main energy source in the story is Illyrion and the societies use, acquisition, and distribution of can easily be referred to the same for oil today.Our protagonist believes he has developed a way to acquire this energy source in large quantities, albeit in a risky way.With oil prices having soared this year, this is still as relevant a subject now as it was when the story was written 40 years ago.The ramifications of having such huge quantities of the energy source would lead to large changes in the societal structure in Nova, just as having a huge and inexpensive quantity of oil or another energy source would have today.There are those in the story that would want to limit such a large quantity of inexpensive energy hitting the market and those that would want the benefits of it (this leads to slight difference today in which certain groups would want to obtain large quantities of oil but *not* a different energy source and visa versa).Thus the conflict of the story is set up.The allegories however, could extend further.There's a part in the story where they talk of an assassination of a political figure and how, through the sensory transfer of information of the time, everyone felt the emotion of those surrounding the assassination victim.With the book being written in 1968, just five years after the John F. Kennedy assassination, it's hard to believe that Delany was not referring to that.Also the wife of the assassination person was written as being the most well known person in the galaxy which can easily be a reference to Jacklyn Kennedy.Where the story becomes interesting is that our protagonist, Lorq Van Ray, is supposed to be the nephew of this character, so is he supposed to be a Kennedy, perhaps the young boy who saluted at JFK's funeral.With the Kennedy mystic, one then understands that the protagonist is supposed to be the hero not just in the story, but of today (or of the time the story was written).(I guess the characters are different to enough to still allow the usualnotice on the copyright page that 'any reference to those living or dead is purely coincidental').Another point is that the antagonist fires the first salvo at Van Ray, by calling him, and his family barbarians and pirates, which seemed a little bizarre the way it was laid out in the story but makes sense in the context of the Kennedy fortune having been acquired from rum-running, and the story flows with this historical context in mind with how much the antagonist, which is in the upper crust of society, despises Van Ray.What I liked about Nova is that it actually did refer to a nova, so one need not be aware of all the layers of allegory to appreciate the story.For those that may not know, a nova is the death throes of sun-class star where the ongoing nuclear fusion of the star cannot support it's weight thus it implodes (forming the heavy element that represents the energy source) and sheds it's mass as a nova explosion.

I thought the character buildup to be OK.The story is told from the viewpoint of several other characters, but I just couldn't get into them and I thought they were just OK.There is a poetic element to Delany's writing which, as another reviewer noted, may have seemed brilliant in 1968, but this is 2008, and it comes across as a bit overdone.In terms of space civilizations layouts, it was again just OK.I did think the ending was a bit cruel to certain characters and it seemed that Delany was vanquishing certain haunts of his own.I'm not sure if they were to be someone that slanted Delany in a social situation or represented a class of society he despised, but this group in the novellost and the victory attained for the others was considerable, but the losers had to lose pathetically, disgustingly, and a bit viciously.For all these reasons I gave it 3-1/2 stars rounded down to 3.Four stars or higher are books you should definitely go out and read, but this did not fit in that class.There are better and more interesting books out there.But three stars are enough that if find the subject matter interesting or like the author's writings, then the novel is worth reading.There are those that will rush to click the unhelpful button since this is their favorite book of all time or whatever, but I always thought this was to be forum for opinions of all sides to be fairly represented to allow those that have not read the book different perspectives to decide if they should take the considerable amount of time to read a book, what with job pressures, family pressures and so on.

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, complex, and compelling read!
This work is a gem, with deep rhythms and complex considerations of what means to live in any kind of society that has a past. Sit down and really enjoy this one! ... Read more

3. Babel-17/Empire Star
by Samuel R. Delany
Paperback: 311 Pages (2002-01-08)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.55
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375706690
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
Author of the bestselling Dhalgren and winner of four Nebulas and one Hugo, Samuel R. Delany is one of the most acclaimed writers of speculative fiction.

Babel-17, winner of the Nebula Award for best novel of the year, is a fascinating tale of a famous poet bent on deciphering a secret language that is the key to the enemy’s deadly force, a task that requires she travel with a splendidly improbable crew to the site of the next attack. For the first time, Babel-17 is published as the author intended with the short novel Empire Star, the tale of Comet Jo, a simple-minded teen thrust into a complex galaxy when he’s entrusted to carry a vital message to a distant world. Spellbinding and smart, both novels are testimony to Delany’s vast and singular talent. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (22)

3-0 out of 5 stars Mediocre
Some sci-fi just ages poorly. Babel 17 is clearly the future of the 60's, with easy love and extreme body art mixed in with pseudo-linguistic technobabble. I'd really only suggest picking it up if it's used, or if you really liked it when it was modern.

Empire Star was a better story, if much shorter, but has some of the same feel applied to a recursive narrative. Without the novella, this would only be a two star book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great stories
I like the both novels. LUMP's my favorite.

I liked Babel-17 and Empire Star better than Dhalgren, the book I enjoyed but felt it was a little too ambitious to package the story completely. I liked them better than Nova that was entertaining but lacked a depth.

Babel-17 and Empire Star are still SciFi and primarily for entertainment, but there are a certain depth in the book as you may expect from Delany.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Very Interesting Concept - Diluted
The first disappointment I had with this novel was receiving it from Amazon and discovering that the cover was different from the one shown above (which, I am unashamed to admit, constituted about 30% of my interest in purchasing this book).
From there, things improved as I began to read, and then slumped towards the end.Without giving any plot elements away, the ideas behind Babel-17 and the very apparent research Mr. Delany exhibits throughout are formidable and truly engaging.However, they are somewhat compromised by the campier trappings of the time period during which the book was written - Babel-17's vision of the future is complete with groovy furniture that inflates from the floor tiles - so its potential seems squandered.However, it also reflects a form of sci-fi that rarely rears its head nowadays; thought-provoking without having to be ironic, dramatic without having to be dystopian, Babel-17 is an undeniably unique and entertaining read.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent thought-provoking sketches
These are incredibly entertaining and thought-provoking stories, but they're not pure entertainment. While they are not quite as abstruse as something like Philip Dick, they do require some work on the part of the reader in order to be appreciated fully. Readers who want a pure fun sci-fi adventure will likely find these somewhat disappointing, as will those who prefer a thoroughly fleshed out and minutely detailed universe. That isn't the purpose of these stories. These are short sketches, intended to investigate ideas about perception and existence. Taken for what they are, they are wonderful gems, both of them.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
Linguistic heroine saves the day.

One of those books where the author comes up with something a bit strange and different, especially as far as the crewing of Rydra's ship goes.

A brilliant young woman's help is needed to deal with communicate with aliens, otherwise much bloodshed.

Along with this she has to deal with military politics into the bargain.

A very cool book.

4.5 out of 5 ... Read more

4. Dhalgren
by Samuel R. Delany
Paperback: 816 Pages (2001-05-15)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$7.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375706682
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Editorial Review

Product Description
In Dhalgren, perhaps one of the most profound and bestselling science fiction novels of all time, Samuel R. Delany has produced a novel "to stand with the best American fiction of the 1970s" (Jonathan Lethem).

Bellona is a city at the dead center of the United States. Something has happened there…. The population has fled. Madmen and criminals wander the streets. Strange portents appear in the cloud-covered sky. And into this disaster zone comes a young man–poet, lover, and adventurer–known only as the Kid. Tackling questions of race, gender, and sexuality, Dhalgren is a literary marvel and groundbreaking work of American magical realism.Amazon.com Review
What is Dhalgren? Dhalgren is one of the greatest novels of 20th-century American literature. Dhalgren is one of the all-timebestselling science fiction novels. Dhalgren may be readwith equal validity as SF, magic realism, or metafiction. Dhalgren is controversial, challenging, and scandalous. Dhalgren is a brilliant novel about sex, gender, race, class, art, and identity.

A mysterious disaster has stricken the midwestern American city of Bellona,and its aftereffects are disturbing: a city block burns down and is intacta week later; clouds cover the sky for weeks, then part to reveal twomoons; a week passes for one person when only a day passes for another. Thecatastrophe is confined to Bellona, and most of the inhabitants have fled.But others are drawn to the devastated city, among them the Kid, awhite/American Indian man who can't remember his own name. The Kid is emblematic of those who live in the new Bellona, who are the young, the poor, the mad, the violent, the outcast--the marginalized.

Dhalgren is many things, but instantly accessible isn't one of them.While most of this big, ambitious, deeply detailed novel is beautifullypellucid, the opening pages will be difficult for some: the novel startswith the second half of an incomplete sentence, in the viewpoint of a manwho doesn't know who he is. If you find the early pages rough going, pushon; the story soon becomes clear and fascinating. But--fair warning--thecentral nature of the disaster, of its strange devastations anddisruptions, remains a puzzle for many readers, sometimes after severalreadings.

Spoiler warning: If you want to figure out the secret of the novel as youread Dhalgren, then stop reading this review right now! If you wantto know the secret before you start, this is what the novel is about: theexperience of existence inside a novel. Time passes differently fordifferent characters. A river changes location. Stairs change their number.The Kid looks in a mirror and sees not himself, but someone who looks anawful lot like Samuel R.Delany. Central images include mirrors, lenses, and prisms, devices thatfocus, reflect--and distort. The Kid fills a notebook with a journal thatmay be Dhalgren, and is uncertain if he has written much, or any, ofit. The characters don't know they're in a novel, but they know somethingis wrong. Dhalgren explores the relationship between characters andauthor (or, perhaps, characters, "author," and author).

The final chapter can be even tougher going than the opening pages, withits viewpoint change and its stretches of braided narrative--and the novelends with the beginning of an unfinished sentence. But the last chapterbecomes clear as you persevere; and when you get to that unfinished closingline, turn to the first line of the novel to finish the sentence and closethe narrative circle. --Cynthia Ward ... Read more

Customer Reviews (111)

5-0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Mystery
You really have to read it in order to understand what anyone is talking about when they describe Dhalgren. It should probably be in a genre of its own. It isn't science fiction nor poetry, but probably a little of both. I doubt anybody will ever understand it like one "understands" an ordinary novel. One can enjoy it much like one enjoys poetry, though. There a lot of sex described, but I can't remember once being turned on by it, strangely enough. Delaney sometimes described what happened without telling the reader why it happened; he often leaves out the motivations end the driving forces of people. It's a very special reading experience. It's not a normal page-turner (no cliff-hangers), but I still think a lot of people will have a hard time putting away the book.

1-0 out of 5 stars i actually threw this book across the room
never have i loathed a book as much as this book. when i had to read the abomination "The Scarlet Letter" as a kid I thought it couldn't possibly be worse then two page sentences and entire paragraphs describing a bush. I WAS WRONG!!

I absolutely hated this book and I made it until the pages went wonky and then I just go so mad I threw it across the room, then in the trash- something i have never done before.

5-0 out of 5 stars Deserted Cities of the Heart
Where to begin with a book like this? This book should be an essential, classic novel of 20th C American life, but can't be because of its frankness and graphical descriptions of, among other things, sex that have come to be a perceived blemish on Delaney's career. My college roommate accused me of reading pr0n over this one. So I guess I might as well begin with that caveat, that this book doesn't flinch when it comes to those things we don't usually talk about, including sexual activities generally regarded as deviant.

In fact, one of the main themes explored in this book is literally the things we don't talk about, Lou Reed's "wild side," but in a realistic way, including all the dirt and fleas. If I were to describe literally what this book is about, I guess I'd have to say it's roughly about the "underground," the world you may have found in underground Seattle in the 1960's, or in New Orleans. But even more, it's about a world where that's all there is.

And Delaney was aware of what he was doing. This was a novel about the mental and psychological state that accompanies that life, and what understanding is found for anyone so lost as to arrive there in the first place. Because that place is also known as the Bardo in Budhist literature. It's a place you can only get to by being lost.

And the book is extremely unique in its form. I've never encountered anything like it before or since. It begins as a 3rd person narrative of a young amnesiac wandering an abandoned city who happens on a notebook written by, it eventually becomes clear, other amnesiacs who have wandered the city. He begins to read it, and to add his own notations, and indeed to add notes in the margins. And as he does this, notes appear in the margins of the paperback -- a totally unique approach to printing a paperback and no-one since has done it to my knowledge. You begin to read the story from a 3rd person and first both on the same page, or alternately a first-person and his own commentary on it written sometime after the fact.Sometimes the distinction between commenting on his own memories and on those of other previous owners of "the notebook" become deliciously unclear.Delaney has used the word "palimpsest" more than once in his books, and his appreciation for that artistic license is never more apparent.The book begins to take on some of the same hypnotic allure of the original tape loop music by Terry Riley, or Brian Eno.

If you are into actually reading Carl Jung, Ram Dass, Tibetan art, Jack Kerouac, or in fact, Roger Zelazney, you may find something you really like here. Most others will be left cold. To be very blunt, it is a very philosophical novel and perhaps first and foremost is about aeschatology, ideas about the end of the world. Walker Percy spoke on this a good bit. To be blunt, he as well as some writers on anthropology wrote that the general theme of a great catastrophe at the end of all things is present in all societies, and indeed in all individuals. But our universal image of the end of the world is not truly a time in the future, but is a place in our own minds, and what we find there is knowledge of ourselves that we often would rather not face. To rather ostentatiously quote the title of a song by Cream, this book is about the "Deserted cities of the heart."

Added later:
I wanted to mention that a great part of Dhalgren appears to be about the diminishing little things; watching somebody drinking from a cup with a crack in it, of discretely exploring the underside of a dinner table with one's hand while dining, a conversation between two people digging a latrine.This emphasis on the simple, or profane reality is not for no reason.It's also of some minor note a theme William Gibson dwells on at length in his novels, years down the road.Thanks, Delaney, for a humane treatment of the novel.It's a rarity.

5-0 out of 5 stars Mirrors, Prisms, Lenses
Out of curiosity, I just dropped in to have a look-see at the current reviews and was not surprised. As it was in 1977, so it is in 2009. What a book! It is rare to find a work that can cause such divergent responses from its readers over such an extended period of time. In the old days it was mainly the complaint concerning "the talent wasted by SRD." Why won't he write "Babel 17" again? Like Joni Mitchell said, she was not going to "paint A Starry Night again, man." Most of these negative reviewers do not seem to even be familiar with SRD's older work, so at least that seems to be over.

I first read this work upon its release, when both I and the author were young men. The artistic, cultural, racial, sexual, and political contexts that were explored in the novel were those shared by many in the urban centers of North America at the time. The concept of relativism seems to be one which many of the negative reviewers seem to unfamiliar with. I have re-read "Dhalgren" at least every couple of years, which means that I really cannot remember how many times I have waded through it. All I can say is that it was worth the journey every time Bellona was re-entered. There is no "getting it". There is no "riddle to be solved". Like life, the novel is not meant to be understood, it is meant to be experienced.

William Gibson said it best: "It turns there, on the mind's horizon exerting its own peculiar gravity, a tidal force urging the reader's re-entry. It is a literary singularity...Dhalgren does not answer, but goes on. Revolving. A sigil of brass and crystal, concrete and flesh."

1-0 out of 5 stars The Worst Novel in the English Language
...or perhaps even any human language. Never has the mind of man conceived of such a self-indulgent exercise in deliberate obscurity, empty artifice and lexorhea. SPOILER: Its a book about itself. The book. A literal literary circle j@rk. Ooooooooo so deep and worthwhile - NOT.

I love novels. I love the evolving form of the novel, from Swift and Defoe through Austen, Scott, Dickens, Twain, Wells, Hemingway, Joyce, Faulkner, Burroughs, Brunner and beyond. This is a crime against the concept of the novel. It is abomination.

I burned my copy. That does not make me a book-burner, Delaney's monster doesn't count. Sometimes I wake up at night in a sweat, shaking in horror remembering this un-book. I wish I could burn the memory of it out of my brain. Burning my copy will have to do. ... Read more

5. Times Square Red, Times Square Blue
by Samuel R. Delany
Paperback: 203 Pages (2001-11)
list price: US$20.00 -- used & new: US$12.60
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Asin: 0814719201
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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"Measured but emotional, illuminating but challenging."-The San Francisco Chronicle


"Essential."-The Nation

"In a provocative and persuasively argued cri de coeur against New York City's gentrification and the redevelopment of Times Square in the name of 'family values and safety,' acclaimed science fiction writer Delany proves himself a dazzlingly eloquent and original social commentator. . . . This bracing and well-calibrated blend of journalism, personal history and cultural criticism will challenge readers of every persuasion."-Publishers Weekly[starred review]

Both a celebration of the kaleidoscopic possibilities inherent in urban diversity and a eulogy for the plurality of human contact and stimulation squelched by the Times Square makeover."-Village Voice

If one street in America can claim to be the most infamous, it is surely 42nd Street. Between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, 42nd Street was once known for its peep shows, street corner hustlers and movie houses. Over the last two decades the notion of safety-from safe sex and safe neighborhoods, to safe cities and safe relationships-has overcome 42nd Street, giving rise to a Disney store, a children's theater, and large, neon-lit cafes. 42nd Street has, in effect, become a family tourist attraction for visitors from Berlin, Tokyo, Westchester, and New Jersey's suburbs.Samuel R. Delanysees a disappearance not only of the old Times Square, but of the complex social relationships that developed there: the points of contact between people of different classes and races in a public space. In Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, Delany tackles the question of why public restrooms, peepshows, and tree-filled parks are necessary to a city's physical and psychological landscape. He argues that starting in 1985, New York City criminalized peep shows and sex movie houses to clear the way for the rebuilding of Times Square. Delany's critique reveals how Times Square is being "renovated" behind the scrim of public safety while the stage is occupied by gentrification.Times Square Red, Times Square Blue paints a portrait of a society dismantling the institutions that promote communication between classes, and disguising its fears of cross-class contact as "family values." Unless we overcome our fears and claim our "community of contact," it is a picture that will be replayed in cities across America.Amazon.com Review
An award-winning science fiction writer, esteemed professor of comparative literature at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and celebrated essayist and memoirist, Samuel Delany is one of America's keenest observers. He was also a longtime habitué of many of the sex theaters in New York City's Times Square, spending, by his own estimate, "thousands and thousands of hours" at the Capri, Variety Photoplays, the Eros, and the Venus. In the 1990s all of these theaters were shut down through new restrictive zoning laws, part of a combined effort by the Walt Disney Corporation and the administration of Mayor Rudy Giuliani to gentrify the area, replacing these seedily memorable institutions with antiseptic, innocuous architectural and cultural creations in the name of health safety. But as Delany reveals in his new book, Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, the decision to clean up Times Square had little to do with public health, and everything to do with corporate greed.

In the two essays that comprise this eloquent, provocative book, Delany grieves for the loss of this strip of sexual release. Though he is careful not to romanticize or sentimentalize the peep shows and porn theaters, he does illuminate the way in which these venues crossed class, racial, and sexual orientation lines, providing a delightfully subversive utopia--and a microcosm of New Yorklife. In the first essay, "Times Square Blue," Delany details his shared erotic and conversational encounters with working-class and homeless men in the theaters (which primarily showed straight porn films) and the genuine friendships that resulted; these immensely personal reminiscences also provide a social history of late-20th-century Times Square. Drawing on historical and theoretical resources in the second essay, "Three, Two, One, Contact: Times Square Red," Delany next builds a thoughtful and passionate argument against the gentrification of the area and the classist, characterless direction in which he sees New York heading. Read together, the essays of Times Square Red, Times Square Blue are both heartfelt homage to a beloved city and lament for a quirky vitality increasingly phased out by encroaching capitalism. --Kera Bolonik ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars hey, reader! stop giving no-star ratings to this book!
A confused "Amazon Customer" is repeatedly inserting blurbs from other periodicals into the "customer review" section of this page, AND failing to give "star" ratings to these inserts -- thus steadily dragging down the star-rating of this book.Since the blurbs are positive and have been repeatedly entered, I assume this "Amazon Customer" wants people to be interested in the book.Well, by failing to give a star rating, you're doing exactly the opposite!So either stop inserting blurbs altogether, or start giving them star ratings.This book is too cool to be muddied up by your confusion.

5-0 out of 5 stars Prelude and fugue
Samuel Delaney has done the near imposible - he has written a book that is both titillating and informing.Dividing his cogent 21st Century social philosophy into two parts is at first disconcerting: Why are we reading(buying) a book that lets us in on the gossip of firsthand observation ofTimes Square New York, then in a page turn becomes a sophisticated academictreatise on our current social problems, in the City, and in a Country? Once past this mirage of a hurdle Delaney makes it patently clear why hechose this format.If we are introduced to a problem in a seductivemanner, we pay closer attention to the bigger issues.This superb littlebook is illuminating in its exploration of where we are in ourinterpersonal relationships, our interplay with those around us (street,neighborhood, city, country), and our current drive to homogenize ourworld.Beautifully written, immensely readable, and a very importantcontribution to our social perceptions!

5-0 out of 5 stars An intelligent, touching book
I always thought of Samuel Delaney as a writer of science fiction, my least favorite genre, so this is my first book by him.I was impressed and delighted.The worst thing I can say about it is that Mr. Delaney has alove of dependent clauses strung along inside comma-copious sentences thatwere sometimes hard to read.But he has awesome insights too, andcompassion and wisdom lace every page.Makes me wish I was old enough topartake of that culture.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sex and the City
A remarkable book, with both the frankest discussion of people's sexual desires and needs of any book I've read in years, and a compelling argument about the crucial role places like the old Times Square play in the life ofa city.A paeon to America's cities and an intimate history of a culturebeing destroyed.Delany's masterful prose makes this brief book a treat toread.A great stocking stuffer for the intellectually and sexuallyadventurous.

2-0 out of 5 stars Not worth it
This book promises to be a history and social commentary on Times Square's sleazy recent past. But in reality the book is told from a very narrow and restrictive point-of-view (. . . )There's nothing wrong with that except he practically ignores the fact that the West 42nd Street sex shops, peep shows, and massage parlors were also an attraction for heterosexual men. The reader will get painfully tired of reading endless descriptions of Delaney's sexual exploits among the XXX theater crowd. Additionally, the handfull of black and white photos of the empty storefronts of the "Forty Deuce" were taken after most of the shops had been driven out of business. Without good photos of the way 42nd Street used to be, the vibrant nature of the area is greatly diminished and Delaney's text doesn't make up for it. If you are looking for a social history of the old Times Square, something balanced and better illustrated, try Josh Alan Friedman's "Tales of Times Square" instead. ... Read more

6. Captives of the Flame; Bound Together With the Psionic Menace By Keith Woodott
by Samuel R Delany
 Paperback: Pages (1963-01-01)

Asin: B002AORLN8
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7. Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand
by Samuel R. Delany
Paperback: 376 Pages (2004-12-15)
list price: US$23.95 -- used & new: US$14.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0819567140
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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The story of a truly galactic civilization with over 6,000 inhabited worlds. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

2-0 out of 5 stars Needlessly Complex for its own Sake
Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand is, to put it mildly, a challenge for the reader. This is not necessarily a bad thing and in fact may be good, for great pieces of literature should be challenging. They should force us to ask questions we might otherwise not ask, and should throw even the familiar things we take for granted into a new light. Unfortunately, this is not the sort of challenge that Delaney presents us here; rather, to understand what was going on at all in this book proved the biggest difficulty.

The reason is that Stars in my Pocket Like Grains of Sand falls into the old science fiction trap of trying to be too clever, too unusual, trying to present the alien as truly alien without any point of reference for the reader. The world that Delaney has built here is wonderfully complex and would probably be interesting if he took the time to make it accessible. But he does not, and instead the novel reads like you already know what the strange terminology is, like you are as familiar with the universe of the story as Delaney himself. Further, Delaney's love for his creation shows again in that the story, both in terms of character and plot, is buried under pages of detail that isn't really relevant to either. There is a love story here, or at least a lust story, between the "industrial diplomat" Marq Dyeth and Rat Korga, the sole survivor of a planetary catastrophe, and for some reason Rat Korga becomes associated with an ancient and charismatic tyrant, but none of this really goes anywhere. Neither man seems to have any real control over his destiny, and the only active forces in the story are mostly offstage.

Now, not even these problems are fatal for a novel; it is perfectly possible to have a passive character and still have an interesting story. But when that passivity is buried under page after page of exposition about a complicated setting that doesn't really seem to relate to the characters, the result is a mess, even in the hands of a marvelous prose stylist like Delaney.

3-0 out of 5 stars A disappointment, sorry to say
Delany is a highly-regarded science fiction author known for his notoriously hard-to-read novels (such as this one, or Dhalgren). As a voracious reader of sci-fi, I had to eventually give him a try. Stars in My Pocket is the book I tried, and I hate to say it, but it was disappointing. The book has an Agenda, big time, and really very little story. It seems that, back in 1984, Delany, a gay black man, decided to try to shake up the "straight" world with a book that turns our notions of "normal" sexualtiy inside out. But even in 1984, this was familiar territory, and the trail had been blazed by James Baldwin Another Country in "mainstream" fiction, and of course Heinlein in Time Enough for Love and I Will Fear No Evil, among others. So, the "strangeness" factor is not enough to carry the book, which is too bad, since there's not much of a story here. And as Heinlein and others have shown, a novel need not lack a plot while investigating what it means to be human. Though the preface proclaims that the book is "the most truly galactic novel ever written", I'd have to say I've seen it done much better elsewhere. A good recent example is the Golden Age trilogy by John C. Wright [start here:The Golden Age (The Golden Age, Book 1) ]. The 6000-world backdrop of this book are just part of the Agenda, which is to force diversity down the reader's throat, and damn the sales figures. It's a shame, because I happen to be sympathetic to Delany's cause. But if you want to change the world, why not write something that will be widely read? From what I've read here, I'm guessing Delany is not capable of seeing beyond the bounds of his race and sexual gender. Either that, or he is just writing for himself, and doesn't care who buys his books. In either case, I will pass on Professor Delany from now on.

5-0 out of 5 stars extremely subtle, occasionally difficult, and enigmatic, but 1st rate scifi
I wrestled with this novel more than usual.It is vividly written, a genuinely beautiful style that evokes a brilliantly conceived future world without completely explaining what is going on.If this is something you enjoy unravelling - even re-reading - this is a true masterpiece of scifi that can stand on its own as a fine novel.It is of the same caliber as Octavia Butler or Frank Herbert, in my view.

This novel plays with the reader in a number of unusual ways.First, there is the race of the protagonists:it makes a difference in the plot and meaning depending on how you picture it in your mind's eye.Second, there are so many basic plot/theme inferences that there are many different ways to connect the dots.While confusing, it is also a challenge.Third, there are many seemingly unrelated incidents, which may indeed form a whole if you can recognise the overall pattern of the tapestry.It is deliciously mysterious and fearfully evocative.

Spoiler warning.My reading of it is that there is a crisis, with the strangely destructive and apparently unknowable aliens.Into this, a learning disabled man miraculously survives a completely destroyed planet and with the help of technology assumes the charisma of an enlightened despot, which establishes a cult following of a frightened populace.But what is so amazing about this is the detail of the world as imagined, from the turtle-like nature species to the bizarre practices of an elite family (they taste rocks while hunting).

Warmly recommended.

4-0 out of 5 stars An entertaining, thought provoking read
This novel starts out slow, as many of Delany's novels do.His creative use of language takes a couple of chapters to comprehend, but then his narrative and storytelling grabs you and keeps you completely involved in the story.The main character is "human" and there is the familiar human side of the story, but this is intertwined with the alien side of the story in a universe of many planets with different cultures.
I found myself filling in the many "blanks" Delany did not include in the story.Believe me, I am not complaining about the lack of details, he provides plenty. This novel is thought provoking and entertaining.

5-0 out of 5 stars As thought-provoking today as it was when first published
Samuel R. Delany is a novelist and critic, currently teaching English and creative writing at Temple University. A renowned author of science fiction, he has won both Hugo and Nebula awards. Now the Wesleyan University Press has published a 20th anniversary edition of one of Delany's very best science fiction epics, Stars In My Pocket Like Grains Of Sand. The central issues Delany addresses in a fictional format (technology, globalization, gender, sexuality, multiculturalism) have become even more center stage with the passage of time. This anniversary edition will serve to introduce a whole new generation of readers to Delany's imaginative and superbly skilled storytelling abilities with a science fiction novel that is as entertaining and thought-provoking today as it was when first published in 1984.
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8. About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, & Five Interviews
by Samuel R. Delany
Paperback: 432 Pages (2006-01-04)
list price: US$27.95 -- used & new: US$18.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0819567167
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Essential reading for the creative writer. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

5-0 out of 5 stars Delany on Writing
Samuel R. Delany has proven himself to be a polymath of the highest rank during a brilliant career that's expanded the bounds of every genre he has touched.His work in the Seventies helped shape my own desire to join the ranks of published writers and I read this book at a point when I've already written a novel, had numerous nonfiction articles published and continue to hone my craft as a fiction writer.

I've read numerous texts in recent years about writing and it's not easy to say very much that is new, given the many titles in the space.But I did find a lot of value in this book.Like most of Delany's work, the reader has to work pretty hard, but then is rewarded by various gems. For example, I found his section on the nits of grammar in the back to be very helpful, as he provided clear examples of how to use various subtle techniques such as the em-dash properly. I've kept this section close at hand during some recent editing sessions.

Delany does not say that we are all made to be writers (quite the opposite) and his thesis that the decisive factor for success is Talent will upset some readers. Nonetheless, Delany has much to say about what it takes to become a published writer and I believe this book will be valuable for writers at various levels along the path to publication and beyond who want to become better writers.

4-0 out of 5 stars Arrogant but informative
Delany is a writer's writer and has a lot of useful insights. He tends to become a bit conservative though, but it doesn't hurt the book. You just have to remember to preserve your own vision while reading.

4-0 out of 5 stars A great reference tool for the serious writer
For writers, About Writing is a drop-everything-and-read-right-now kind of book that can be used while you're going over your outline, while you're writing a scene or a chapter, and while you're revising that scene or chapter.This is not the kind of book you'll want to wait until the end of writing to read, rather you should consider using About Writing as a reference during the process. For teachers, his Introduction, essays, and appendix could be useful tools in an intermediate to advanced fiction writing course--although not as hand outs but as points of discussion.

Do not skip the Preface or the Introduction, as both are packed with ideas on good writing versus talented writing, which will make you study each paragraph of your writing for clarity and language.Of his essays, "Some Notes for the Intermediate and Advanced Creative Writing Student" is the most inspired and inspiring.This essay is on narrative structure, but more than that, it is about breaking away from the formulaic narrative structures that can hold a novel to mediocre writing.He advocates knowing the old structure in order to revise or subvert it.He makes a point of differentiating plot and structure: "Plot exists as a synopsis that often has no correspondence to text.... Structure exists, however, only in terms of a particular text, so that to talk about it in any specificity or detail you must constantly be pointing to one part of a page or another, at these words or at those: structure is specifically the organization of various and varied textual units." (p. 144)

Of his letters, read Letter to Q--.It is a criticism of Toni Morrison's Bluest Eye, from the intention of the writer to the failure of the historical milieu to the biased discussion on intra-racial discrimination.It's a brilliant rant: "I begrudge no one his or her enjoyment of Morrison's novel. Still, I feel obliged to say: If a reader thinks this story gives an accurate or even a meaningful portrait either of the subjective lives of dark-skinned black or of light-skinned blacks, that reader knows none of us. And that goes for black readers as well as white." (p. 176)

His interviews were included because he sees them as a form of written work, because he received the questions in writing and answered them in writing.This section could have been strengthened with the interview, "Black to the Future," which discusses William Gibson's critically acclaimed and popular Cyberpunk novel, Neuromancer.

About Writing ends with an appendix on various topics, from POV to punctuation to a discussion of the axiom: write what you know.If you only read the appendix, you'd still be better off now that where you were as a writer before.

The primary strength of About Writingis the many ways Delany discusses writing from the point of view of writer, reader, a teacher, and a critic.

The primary weakness is that the package deal of Delany's experience, success, and knowledge comes with a tone that can be off-putting, a tone supported by his edict in the Preface that only serious writers should read About Writing.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Minor Delany Book
I am of the opinion that Samuel Delany's Dhalgren is one of the most important novels of the last forty years. It is as challenging as Gravity's Rainbow, but much more rewarding and politically complicated. And as a friend said once, it makes you feel kind of funny when you read it.

I love most of Delany's work, the essays on French theory, the memoirs on growing up black, queer and dyslexic in New York City, the science fiction, most of the gay erotica (though not even I can stomach Hogg) just about all of it really. So, when I saw this volume of his collected writings on writing, I had high hopes. I was disappointed. Delany on just about anythingis an interesting, but here, I think he fell short. Good books on writing are hard to come by, beyond the technical nature of writing, there is little that can really be imparted in an essay, and especially an essay by a guy who is more comfortable with Lacan and spaceships than he is with self help talk of finding the writers voice.

That is not to say there are not some helpful tidbits in here, there are. There is some solid technical advice, and some interesting rambling about what it means to be a writer, creating worlds day in and day out. Unfortunately, though much of this I found below the usual level of Delany brilliance. If you're looking for some good Delany, instead of About Writing, read Dhalgren, Nova, Longer Views, The Motion of Light in Water and 1984

5-0 out of 5 stars Strongly recommended to all literature enthusiasts, readers, writers, and students
About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, And Five Interviews by literary critic, writers workshop teacher, and world renowned science fiction author Samuel R Delany (Professor of English and Creative Writing, Temple University, Philadelphia) is an informed and informative study of the expertise necessary for a writer in any genre to become more organized, more knowledgeable, and more effective with the ultimate goal of profitable publication. As an analysis of modern and contemporary writing styles, About Writing informs the aspiring author of the ins and outs of technique, ideals, and styles for the most effective writing. About Writing is very strongly recommended to all literature enthusiasts, readers, writers, and students.
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9. Longer Views: Extended Essays
by Samuel R. Delany
Paperback: 384 Pages (1996-11-15)
list price: US$27.95 -- used & new: US$7.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0819562939
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A comprehensive expansion of the theoretical writings of one of our most important cultural critics.Amazon.com Review
While most literary critics can take a text apart, few cancreate them as expertly.Samuel R. Delany is a noteworthyexception.Delany is the author of great science fiction works likethe novel The Mad Manand the short stories in Tales of Neveryon.He isalso an able assessor of literary theory and a cognoscente of thescience fiction genre.Longer Views is a collection of essaysin literary criticism, ranging from a close reading of Donna Haraway's"Manifesto forCyborgs," in which he is critical of the feminist author'snaively positive take on technology, to a fascinating consideration ofthe artistic styles of RichardWagner and Antonin Artaud.Of particular interest to cybernauts and science fiction fans alike isDelaney's consideration of how readers and viewers participate in thecreation of the background conditions for fictitious fantasy worldsand the role a reader or viewer plays in completing an artistic workof science fiction. Delany's criticism is well-crafted and never flagsor grows tiresome. ... Read more

10. Aye, and Gomorrah: And Other Stories
by Samuel R. Delany
Paperback: 400 Pages (2003-04-08)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$10.68
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375706712
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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A father must come to terms with his son's death in the war. In Venice an architecture student commits a crime of passion. A white southern airport loader tries to do a favor for a black northern child. The ordinary stuff of ordinary fiction--but with a difference! These tales take place twenty-five, fifty, a hundred-fifty years from now, when men and women have been given gills to labor under the sea. Huge repair stations patrol the cables carrying power to the ends of the earth. Telepathic and precocious children so passionately yearn to visit distant galaxies that they'll kill to go. Brilliantly crafted, beautifully written, these are Samuel Delany's award-winning stories, like no others before or since. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Start Here with Delany
I read this some time ago, so I won't go into great detail, but to say this is classic Delany--pulpy, academic, acid-trip Delany.Its a nice place to start to see if you love Delany.I started with "The Einstein Intersection," but this was the second thing I read.An incredibly under-appreciated author.

5-0 out of 5 stars Delany is a Master
An avid science fiction buff, I fell in love with Delany's short stories many years ago.He is an incredibly cerebral and visceral writer both, with challenging prose of haunting beauty.He upsets notions of social norms in a way that was revelatory to me as a teenager, and continues to underpin my beliefs of what is natural and possible in human beings and their relations.He is also one of the few writers of science fiction (though his work extends well beyond the genre) that counts as true literature in the high-falutin' sense of the word.I can't recommend this book - and any of his other works - highly enough.

5-0 out of 5 stars Delany, but approachable...
Samuel Delany is often cited by other SF authors as an inspriation or a great practitioner of the craft of writing. His novels, such as Dhalgren and Triton, are well-regarded. They are also frequently unapproachable: big, gnarly books with big, gnarly subjects. They certainly are not much like the rafts of semi-literate junk that passes for much of SF these days. But you won't sit down and toss of a Delany novel...

This book, though, is hugely approachable. As a short story collection, it covers a wide span of the author's career and gives us very classic, deep, meaningful, soulful stories. From "Star Pit" as the start to the author's afterword we get a range of great and near-great stories. If you love Delany's longer work, here is a chance to collect a beautiful volume of short fiction. If you want to get into Delany, here's your best opportunity.

Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent fusion of art and emotion
Delany has always been one of SF most thoughtful writers and one of the least likely to simply settle for the genre's conventions.He's an author who deserves to be considered with some of the finest literary minds working today, with the only difference being that he chooses to work within the confines of
SF or fantasy, somehow always tweaking it until it becomes distinctly his, while remaining recognizable as SF.This is a collection of his short stories and contains most of the major ones as far as I know, certainly both Nebula award winning stories and other stuff, most of it published in the sixties and seventies.The titles alone should tell you that this isn't your typical series of SF stories, containing such evocative titles as "Driftglass" or "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones" or my personal favorite, "We, in Some Strange Power's Employ, Move in a Rigorous Line".The stories run the gamut from well told SF tales to more experimental stuff.The best stories are the more famous ones, both "Driftglass" (about a future society where people are given gills to adapt to living under the sea) and "Time Considered . . ." (a future gangster type story) are stunningly evocative of their fictional future times, set apart by the depth of Delany's ideas and his stunning prose, his descriptions more often than not achieve a sort of magical realism and sometimes come closer to the more lyrical nature of poetry than anything else.Generally most of the stories hit their targets in a bulleyes, you have the occassional tale (like the one with "Blob" in the title) that are just a bit too much on the experimental side to have much of an impact.And yet there are others such as "Dog in a Fisherman's Net" that are basically timeless and work as pure story and take you to a place that may or may not have ever existed.Even the stories such as "The Star Pit" that seem to be just pure SF at first eventually reveal themselves to be about something more.Delany is not just interested in talking about spaceships and time travel and he merely uses SF or fantasy as a background to explore aspects of human nature that the tales lend themselves to.Just about anything the man has ever written is worth reading and I think his novels are the best place to discover and fully explore his talents, this collection is a great way to get acquainted with some of his best work (and a few of these stories do rank up with his best) and enjoy SF/fantasy with a more thoughtful bent than usual, something more than just swords and spaceships and aliens and evil gods.The writers of today aren't restricted to the cliches of their genres, even if they choose to stay within those confines.Delany shows us what it's like to have no restrictions at all.

5-0 out of 5 stars A near-perfect fusion of artistry and imagination
"Aye, and Gomorrah and Other Stories," by Samuel R. Delany, brings together 15 tales along with an afterword by the author.The copyright page gives the publication histories of the pieces in this book.The stories in this volume vary greatly in length: 2 fall into the 60-70 page range (and could, I suppose, be considered novellas), 2 fall into the less than 10 page range, and the rest are of various lengths in between;this nicely adds to the overall variety of the collection.

Most of the pieces in this book fall firmly in the science fiction genre, although I consider a couple to be fantasy.Delany's locales range from cities on Earth (Venice, New York) to worlds beyond our solar system.

Delany's stories are both triumphs of science fiction inventiveness and exquisite works of literary art--as well as being compassionate yet unflinching explorations of the human condition.His vision is richly ironic, and often tragic.His prose can be hauntingly beautiful to read--he is a particular master of visual description.

Delany's explorations of emergent subcultures and institutions in many of these tales give the book an intriguing sociological aspect.His topics include crime, punishment, sexuality, loss, suffering, culture clash, space travel, and the fabric of consciousness and reality.

The remarkable title story is a look at the emergence of a new sexual orientation and its related subculture in the context of expanding technology."Driftglass" looks at a class of physiologically altered humans."Omegahelm" is a shocking, fascinating story about motherhood and art.These are just a few examples of Delany's fertile mind.I consider Delany to be a unique and essential voice in the science fiction canon; this collection of his short fiction is a volume to be savored and shared. ... Read more

11. The Mad Man
by Samuel R. Delany
Paperback: 520 Pages (2002-05-07)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$24.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0966599845
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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For his thesis, graduate student John Marr researches the life and work of the brilliant Timothy Hasler--a philosopher whose career was cut tragically short over a decade earlier.Marr encounters numerous obstacles as other researchers turn up evidence of Hasler's personal life that is deemed simply too unpleasant and disillusioning for the rarified air of academe.

On another front, Marr finds himself increasingly drawn toward more shocking, depraved sexual entanglements with the homeless men of his neighborhood, until it begins to seem that Hasler's death might hold some key to his own life as a gay man in the age of AIDS.As John Marr learns more about the enigma that was Timothy Hasler, his own increasing sexual debasement leads him to a point where his and the philosopher's lives collide violently... ... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Beauty and The Beast
Some of the most breathtakingly beautiful prose I have ever read.

Some of the vilest subject matter I have ever encountered.

I have never before read work written by an author with a greater degree of self-loathing, loneliness, obsession, impotence and alienation, all expressed with little conscience, or self-consciousness, and so strangely lacking in sadness or regret. And I mean that to seem ambiguous as I don't know who demonstrates a greater capacity for the above, the characters or the author? Mr. Delany's characters often seem oblivious to anything but their own current needs.

That said, seldom have I read any string of precisely chosen and arranged words which have as much beauty, grace, intelligence and power as revealed by this same work. Many of his passages are truly brilliant and striking in their ability to inspire awe.

And how do I, as a reader, fit into the matrix? I could fling it away as something decayed and disgusting, but I don't. I become a willing, if reluctant, accomplice in the process.

I have to wonder if the author is, partly, just shoving this type of work into the face of his reader as a demonstration of what he is capable of doing with subject matter that most of the reading audience would never touch with a ten foot pole. It's hard to fathom.

Personally, I find myself repulsed and withheld all at once. I'm repulsed by these characters and their actions. I am deeply disturbed by their motives. I can find little common ground upon which I can even relate to them. I understand that these characters are supposed to be human beings and yet they are not human beings that I recognize. And still I cannot abandon a book as undeniably powerful as "The Mad Man". This I can only credit, I suppose, to Mr. Delany's talent. His mastery of the written word simply astounds me. He somehow allows me to participate in his creation against my better judgment, almost against my will. We walk a razor sharp line with this book and I have the scars to prove it. He succeeds here where I think he fails with "Hogg".

I used to wonder why Mr. Delany would use (waste?) his considerable talent on subject matter such as that interlaced within this book and, especially so, in "Hogg". I don't wonder any longer. Honestly, I don't really care. He is the creator of his worlds. It's our choice to explore or not.

What's this book about? It's a murder mystery. Who is murdered? A soul. Why? To be resurrected.

Is this book worth reading? Yes. Whether or not it is readable is a matter for the reader to decide.

This is how I can best describe my experience reading this book: Take a truly brilliantly and beautifully written and constructed book and then splatter it liberally with human excrement. Enjoy your read.

Find some latex gloves and at least make the attempt. Wear a bunny-suit if you must. Perhaps even Mr. Delany would advise that you clean up well after.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Narrative Hall of Mirrors
While many readers have focused on the sex, with which, yes, `The Mad Man' is rife, this is only one element in the novel among many. As a straight reader, I found myself engrossed in what is essentially a high-brow murder-mystery.

Timothy Hasler, a brilliant Korean-American philosopher and linguist, has been knifed to death at the Pit, a seedy gay bar. Years later, John Marr, a Ph.D. candidate whose dissertation is based on Hasler's work, becomes obsessed with uncovering the circumstances surrounding Hasler's death. A gay man himself, Marr is outraged at "the self-righteous drivel" that one academician uses to excuse himself from completing a biography of Hasler---that is, he was horrified by Hasler's sexual tastes. In search of answers, Marr retraces Hasler's footsteps, even taking an apartment in the building where Hasler once lived. More and more, Marr turns up in quarters of the city generally avoided by the bourgeoisie.

"In these doorways, bars, porn-magazine and peep-show shops, the movie theaters where sight itself is so dimmed, in such theatrical darkness true vision is ... largely absent. In one sense, all the encounters ... here take place on some dreary Audenesque plain where a thousand people mill, where no one knows anyone else, and there is nowhere to sit down. [...] Any exchange resembling real conversation takes place quietly and ceases when someone else walks by."

Hyper-educated, for the most part middle class, Marr unexpectedly finds himself involved in a series of intimate encounters with the homeless men in his neighborhood. His sexual exploits gradually drift further and further from the mainstream until a passage in one of Hasler's journal's makes perfect sense both to him and to the reader.
" ...To live within the tethers of desire is-again and again-to be shocked at how far they have come loose from reason ..."

Delany, however, is not merely interested in sexual liberation, in adults pursuing their desires no matter how bizarre (so long as everyone consents and violence is not involved), he meticulously presents an assertion that, like an image in a hall of mirrors, repeat itself, evolving into analogy and gaining in magnitude as it does. Take for example, the so-called "Hasler grammars", described as "the realization that large-scale, messy, informal systems are necessary in order to develop, on top of them, precise, hard-edged, tractable systems ..." In other words, clear and observable order is built upon a foundation rather nebulously composed of what would be considered chaotic. Apply this linguistic construct to recent Manhattan history and it is, in a sense, a message to Rudy Giuliani that without the city's underworld and its denizens, the law and order---the Disneyland---he so wants New York to be, simply could not be; one exists only in relation to the other.

From the rarefied and esoteric to the instinctive and purely carnal, from the grand analogy to the concrete detail minutely observed, `The Mad Man' is a dense weave that rivals Delany's most richly layered narratives. Recently re-released in an exceptionally handsome edition, I recommend it to any reader who wants an author to engage him, or her, in a multi-level game of chess.

5-0 out of 5 stars a love story about waste and academic investigation
The more I read of Delany, including his theoretical, non-fiction and autobiographical work, the more I recognise the incredibly skilful way in which he TRANSFORMS his experiences and desires into fiction. This book isa love story. Those who finish the book may agree with me; those who baulkat the sexual practices vividly (and, to non-enthusiasts, overwhelmingly)described may be baffled by this comment. Yet description of the centralcharacter's excitement in the gradual merging of his two interests(philosophical investigations and sexual investigations) is anextraordinary ride through emotion, thought and language. Times SquareRed/Blue has hints of where some of the ideas came from. Bread and Wineprobably more. This is Anti-Pornography - see The Scorpion Garden inStraits of Messina - a Queer affirmation and celebration. Read it for thesuperb writing as much as for the story, the politics, the sex.

4-0 out of 5 stars amazing trip down paths few will travel
While few will personally identify with the events in The Mad Man, it's a book which is thought-provoking and challenging in a very fundamental way.Delaney explores parts of the human psyche and sexual appetite which seem nearly impossible to understand, yet carries the willing reader to a point of insight and self-identification which seems surprising at the start.At times revolting, titillating, and bizarre, it's an always-fascinating walk down a path which few will travel in real life.At the same time, it's a mental "gedankexperiment" which will broaden the reader's idea of normal, and ultimately will change their worldview. ... Read more

12. Hogg: A Novel
by Samuel R. Delany
Paperback: 219 Pages (2004-05-28)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$11.72
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1573661198
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Acclaimed winner of the William Whitehead Memorial Award for a lifetime's contribution to gay and lesbian literature, Samuel R. Delany wrote Hogg three decades ago. Since then it has been one of America's most famous 'unpublishable' novels. The subject matter of Hogg is our culture of sexual violence and degeneration. Delany explores his disturbing protagonist Hogg on his own turf--rape, pederasty, sexual excess--exposing an area of violence and sexual abuse from the inside. As such, it is a brave book.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (18)

5-0 out of 5 stars Magnum Opus
This is, without a doubt, Delaney's greatest sexual work.It is hard to say whether it surpasses Dhalgren, which is probably going to be remembered as his best and probably is, but Hogg, overall, is the purest expression of his exquisite sadean heart.If you liked The 120 Days of Sodom, then you will love this!!!

1-0 out of 5 stars Unreadable!
The most appalling novel I've encountered.
Absolutely aweful!Endless filth and violence.
Can't say a single good thing about this book.
I'm sorry Mr Delaney chose to write this "work".
I chose not to finish reading it because it was so bad.
Spend your time and money elsewhere.

1-0 out of 5 stars Tries too hard to be shocking but just comes off boring instead
When I was given this book to read, it was with the assurance that this was "the worst book ever written".Now, I won't necessarily disagree with that, but it's definitely not for the reasons that the person intended.

As is my typical procedure, I won't go into the "plot" (such as it is), since that's been done before.I prefer to go straight to my review and opinion on the book.

1st, I've got to say that to call this book a representation of homosexuality on any level is absurd.This isn't about homosexuality, and I'm completely flabbergasted that this author would be recognized by Lambda.If he HAS "changed our concept of gayness in the last century" it was NOT in a positive way!This book highlights each and every stereotypical "perversion" that homophobics have about the gay community, and it's a tragic disservice.

2nd, to compare this to Tom Wolfe is an insult to Tom Wolfe.While Wolfe was shocking and unique for his time, this book is nowhere near Wolfe's quality.

3rd, on that note, the writing just plain isn't particularly good.I've heard others say that despite the content the book is like poetry (if you can believe that!), or that the writing is just wonderful no matter what it's depicting.Well, I've never read another Delany book, so I can't compare the quality with anything else of his, but I can say without hesitation that the writing itself was, at best, average.As an example, the usage of radio broadcasts to demonstrate what took place while the narrator wasn't present was juvenile and innacurate.

4th, this is NOT erotica, at least not in the sense that it's arousing or erotic.I SUPPOSE that pedophilia, fecophilia, watersports and lack of bathing are a turn on for some, but it does nothing for me.And, quite frankly, if this book IS erotic for someone, I don't really WANT to know.

One of my single biggest complaints, beyond anything else, is that the book is just plain boring!It took me DAYS to read it, not because it was shocking, or horrifying, or gross.Because, honestly, it simply wasn't to me -- I don't get shocked, horrified or grossed out.Rather, it was just soooo slow.Seriously this was as bad as anything else I've ever read in the boring department... with the long, drawn-out descriptions of each and every thing in each and every room, with each and every twitch and movement that each and every person made.OMG, just how many times do I have to hear about someone scratching?WHY would it be necessary to put a PARENTHESIS in DIALOGUE?Even the violence was described in such a bland and disjointed way that it didn't spark interest.

The story, such as it was, is just not all that intriguing.The characters were one-dimensional, stereotypical, and exagerrated.There were no typical people, so to say that the "monsters wear our face" or that they are in possession of "human complexities" is a huge stretch.I mean, truly, I've run into some pretty disgusting, depraved and evil people in my prior line of work (Social Work), but am I REALLY supposed to believe that each and every person that someone encounters, no matter what the context, is going to see a filthy 11 year old boy and become aroused?

The person who gave me the book to read says that I am not viewing it the right way, that it's FICTION, and I'm trying to make it too realistic.I think, really, that I just had higher expectations.I expected to be shocked or at least surprised, and instead I came away from this book wondering why Delany felt that he had to try SO hard.This wasn't a novel, it had no true story to tell, it was just random sex scenes shoved together with some haphazard story in between.If the story was worth reading, if it added anything to the literary lexicon or the reader's noesis, I could probably forgive it.Unfortunately, I feel it did neither.And now valuable space in my brain is taken up with a book that's no better than the trashiest of trashy romance novels that I typically read, and quite frankly was a lot worse.At least romance novels are usually hot.

4-0 out of 5 stars Lewd! Depraved! Fascinating!
Lewd. Lascivious.Vile.Depraved.Graphic rape and violence. This book has it all! The characters are literally filthy, dirty and without one lick of guilty conscience or decent thought in their head! Every act of sexuallity is graphically described in this book except beastiality! Every page has either rape, torture, sodomy or incest. The main character Hogg has not one redeeming feature even going to the point of never changing his clothes even though he deficates and urinates in them. This books is extremely grahpic and [...] to the nth degree!Yet the story moves along smoothy and quickly.Some pages made me gag (eating snot) yet I had to keep on reading!It was fascinating!

4-0 out of 5 stars Sexual Violence as a main character
Murderers. Pedophiles. Rapists for hire. Misogynists and misanthropes. Scatologists. And they're the good guys. Welcome to Samuel R. Delany's "Hogg," a story of characters so vile they barely deserve to be called human. And all these people are described through the voice of an 11 year old boy that the title character, Hogg, enlists as his main source of self-pleasuring deviant activity. Along the way, our little man meets a cast of characters that delight in sex shaded through all colors of perversity. There's nothing this cast of marauding baby-killers won't try if they think it will get them off.

The story takes place in the course of a couple of days, as the little narrator gets sucked into the vortex of Hogg's world. The most disturbing thing about Delany's book is not that Hogg and his insane crew of racist murdering thugs do their deeds with gleeful sadistic abandon, but that the young man sees this as activity that he can just tag along and feel no compulsion to leave. In fact, as the book continues, it becomes obvious that the young narrator not only enjoys it but finds that it isn't fulfilling enough.

To that extent, "Hogg" works like Brett Easton Ellis' "American Psycho," Anne Rice's "Sleeping Beauty" series or Kubrick's "Clockwork Orange" does. You keep wondering how far the depraved indifference will extend before any one of the characters develops any sort of redeeming quality. As is becomes more apparent that regret, remorse or redemption ain't happening, you continue with the reading because you feel desperate to see where the train is going to wreck. (Having one of the main characters die in a car crash seems unironically metaphoric.)

Delany has written about the tendency for violent sex to erupt from the psyche before ("The Madman" in particular), but never has the violence been so much to the fore. If you have a weak stomach or a fragile sensibility, then by all means you should avoid "Hogg." But if you're willing to have your literary limits tested, wade in. ... Read more

13. The Fall of the Towers
by Samuel R. Delany
Paperback: 448 Pages (2004-02-10)
list price: US$15.00 -- used & new: US$8.43
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 140003132X
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Come and enter Samuel Delany’s tomorow, in this trilogy of high adventure, with acrobats and urchins, criminals and courtiers, fishermen and factory-workers, madmen and mind-readers, dwarves and ducheses, giants and geniuses, merchants and mathematicians, soldiers and scholars, pirates and poets, and a gallery of aliens who fly, crawl, burrow, or swim. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (8)

4-0 out of 5 stars Fine early Delany which echoes his more recent, great work
Those unfamiliar with Samuel R. Delany's excellent science fiction might be better served by reading his great 1960s work, most notably, "The Einstein Intersection", "Nova", "Dhalgren" and "Triton" than "The Fall of the Towers". Other early novels which I've enjoyed reading include "The Ballad of Beta-2" and "Babel-17". I've stumbled upon by accident this latest reissue of Delaney's early work, which is a fine post-apocalypse/alien contact saga comprised of the three short novels ("Out of the Dead City", "The Towers of Toron", and "City of a Thousand Suns") assembled in this volume. Thematically, 'The Fall of the Towers" isan intriguing adventure saga devoted to the nature of humanity, which Delany would later return to in the more compelling Neveryon fantasy saga.

I agree with a previous reviewer that although "The Fall of the Towers" isn't Delany's best work, it was certainly much better written and far more interesting than much of the mediocre science fiction published back in the early 1960s or frankly, even today. For this reason alone, this early Delany saga deserves ample attention from fans of science fiction literature. I am amazed that at such a relatively young age, Delany was capable of creating a spellbinding literary post-apocalypse fantasy, set sometime in the distant future after a devestating nuclear war on Earth (Most readers may not know that he started writing and publishing science fiction while attending the Bronx High School of Science here in New York City, and decided to pursue a professional writing career without attending college.). Fans familiar with Delany's writing for gay/lesbian audiences may find "The Fall of the Towers" memorable alone for its intriguing cast of characters. For these reasons I can highly recommend reading "The Fall of the Towers", but I strongly urge those unfamiliar with Delany's work to read any of the books I have cited above.

5-0 out of 5 stars great read
This is very different from Delany's later work (of which Triton is my favorite) being more accessible and lighter on hardcore philosophical theories.At the same time, the writing never falls short of brilliant, the storyline will keep you at the edge of your seat till the end, and the author's ideas about the social dynamics of race and sex in the future world are so far ahead if his time that it is hard to believe that the trilogy was finished in 1964.

But more than anything, it's a great story. Read it, and see for yourself.

1-0 out of 5 stars Aberrantly poor
Terribly dated first attempt at speculative fiction by a soon-to-be-great writer... it bears his name but not the quality of Delany's later work. One can only wonder why it is again in print. I can't supply any answers to that but I can say that the absurd writing here borders on absurdism without quite breaking through, even though the extreme hokey-ness of the prose wedded to the writer's modernist aspirations achieves a veritable surrealism that will literally force you again and again to wonder "did I just read that?"

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing. Proves Oscar Wilde Wrong.
Those who come to a Delany novel with preconceived notions inevitably will be disappointed, turning away in disgust and incomprehension, but those who approach his books with an open mind will invariably rewarded. In this brilliant early novel, composed in three parts, Delany examines a society on the verge of change and revolution through the eyes of a collection of laser-etched characters whose lives intersect in complicated and subtle ways. Delany's intelligence at 21 was fierce, and one of the beauties of this novel is the way it intertwines the intellectual and the everyday, how it is beautifully written and fiercely opinionated.

Though the action nominally concerns two gestalt beings from another universe, and their interactions with the empire of Toromon on Earth, Delany's true concern is human society in general, ours in particular, its cyclical fate and all-renewing possibility. It's not your typical science fiction. It's a thousand times better, science fiction idealized, then actualized.

I stayed up late to get to the end of the third volume, "City of a Thousand Suns," and closed the book with one word: "Amazing." Even more amazing, I truly meant it. Oscar Wilde famously said that anyone who seeks to write a novel in three parts knows nothing of Art and Life. Here, Delany gloriously proves him wrong.

4-0 out of 5 stars Drastically underrated by those who bring pre-conceptions
If you want an intro to Delany, get "Babel-17". If you have read several of his works and enjoyed them, consider this one. If you don't care about reading Delany per se, but just want a darn good read, give it a try.

This book was my introduction to Delany. I read it first at the tender age of 14 in the Fall of 1974. Not his best work, but ten times better than most of the drivel masquerading as SF on the shelves today. It sparked my interest, and led me to read any and all books by Mr Delany.

This is a guy who generally evokes two kinds of response. One venerable reviewer stated, and I quote, that his books were well beloved by academics ever in search of "grist for the mills of exegesis." Interpretation: I don't think he likes him. Others are excited by his ideas about language, science, human sexuality, and how these are/were interweaving to create original novels that expand the human consciousness.

Me, I just thought he told a darn good story.

Why does all this stick in my mind?

My first college degree was in English Lit. To graduate I had to write a thesis paper on a contemporary writer. At the time, my favorite was Delany. [the title was "Science Fiction: the New Mythology". Hey, 25 years ago this was original stuff, okay?]

So, why read THIS book? Quite simply, it really IS is a darn good read. It has good guys, bad guys, interesting characters who undergo heroic trials, simpletons, Ubermensch, street performers, new looks at how technology changes human lives, insightful observations in to individual behaviors, and, long before "The Matrix" and "Neuromancer" were even dreamt of, a foggy Virtual Reality world in which a war is fought. [!??!]

So, get on board, give it a try, help yourself to some lemonade. ... Read more

14. City Of A Thousand Suns
by Samuel R. Delany
 Paperback: Pages (1967-01-01)

Asin: B003S9KDZM
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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Customer Reviews (1)

3-0 out of 5 stars Intellectually stimulating, but viscerally unsatisfying
This final novel of Samuel R. Delany's trilogy about mankind facing a potential enemy from another galaxy is better than the previous two novels.Delany grew enormously as a writer over the course of this series, producing prose that is frequently poetic.The Lord of the Flames is a truly fascinating alien being.His book, however, becomes unfocused and loses dramatic tension as he becomes more interested in concluding his big statements on the nature of Man without attending adequately to the nuts and bolts of anchoring them in a compelling narrative with a satisfying climax. ... Read more

15. The Jewels of Aptor
by Samuel R. Delany
Paperback: 224 Pages (2000)
list price: US$14.95 -- used & new: US$1.28
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0575071001
Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
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One of the most universally acclaimed first novels in science fiction--by the man who become one of the most stellar writers in the genre's history. On the orders of Argo, the White Goddess, an itinerant poet and his three companions journey to the island of Aptor. Their mission: to seize a jewel from the dark god Hama and bring it back home. With this precious stone Argo may defeat the malign forces gathered against her and the land of Leptor. But, as the group presses deep into the enigmatic heart of Aptor, easy distinctions between good and evil blur, and somehow the task seems less straightforward. For Argo already owns two of the jewels, and possession of the third would give her unqualified power.
And, as the four friends already know, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

3-0 out of 5 stars Somewhat Cloudy Jewels
This is one of Delany's very early works. While the copyright reads 1967, his signature at the end of this work indicates it was actually written in 1962, when he was just 19 years old. And like most works written by such youthful writers, it has some flaws, and is certainly not as good as most of his later material.

But it does have some points that are quite striking. Delany would later become known for having not only finely delineated characters, but characters that are very different from the average run-of-mill people. His characters for this work follow that mold of different, from the mute four-armed Snake to the bear of a man Orson, though perhaps their characterization is not as full-bodied as a later Delany would show them. Delany's other prime characteristic, prose so sharp it can cut, poetry in prose, is quite muted here, though there are flashes of it, and here and there the sense of being in a very different time and place becomes quite forceful.

The plot is somewhat standard, a post-holocaust world with bits and pieces of the former high-technology hanging around, and a quest to steal one of the few pieces of new technology (the "Jewels") before they can be used to destroy the viewpoint civilization. But here is where the most obvious flaws are, as the plot becomes quite confusing, as various beings are dragged across the reader's view as being the enemy or spies for the enemy, but are later revealed to be perhaps not what they first seem. Trying to keep track of who are really the good guys and who are the bad is difficult, though he does tie in this confusion quite nicely with his theme of there being dual natures to every action.

Some of the creatures of this world seem like they were designed for a Hollywood `B' movie, from giant amoebas to blind harpies. And in fact, this book probably could be made into such a movie, and might actually be half-way decent, given a director who wouldn't try to add extraneous material to it. As it is, this book is a reasonable adventure, with some food for thought buried in it, and is an interesting look at the early Delany's capabilities.

---Reviewed by Patrick Shepherd (hypepat)

3-0 out of 5 stars The Jewels of Aptor
"The Jewels of Aptor" is probably the silliest entry in the post-apocalyptic genre that I've ever read.That's ok, I understand that not every science fiction author strives to create literary masterpieces as well.I can forgive the undeveloped characters and cliched dialogue (sample lines: "Boy am I glad to see you.", "Let's get out of here.")What I can't forgive is the fact that much of the novel doesn't really make sense.Especially at the end, it was hard to keep track of what was going on, and the sudden revelations about who's actually working for the side of good, who's a double-agent, etc..., fail to really explain all of the characters' behavior earlier in the book.Even so, "The Jewels of Aptor" does have enough fast-paced actions scenes to earn a three-star rating.

3-0 out of 5 stars Good, but an early work
Rarely does an author's early work match the brilliance of his more mature efforts, and Delany's novel _The Jewels of Aptor_ is no exception. The novel is enjoyable and provocative, but it shows signs of immaturity, signsthat are common in science fiction.

As usual, Delany does more thanjust tell a story.He wants to convey a truth about humanity, and thistime it's about the "double impulse" in all of life.It is aninteresting theory, and one that deserves consideration.However, he,asnarrator, is too "present" in the novel.Some of the characters'interactions are too preachy, too much of an explanation of this theory. The preaching is _almost_ in character, but not quite.Delany matures andpresents his theories in the actions and stories of his characters muchbetter (the characters do so in a way that is part of their character) inlater novels and anthologies (such as the Neveryon series).

Astronger criticism is one that could be made about too many science fictionauthors, and again it is the "presence" of the author in thenarration.A few times it seems that Delany wants us to know how much heknows about science, history, or some other field.There's too much of anexplanation by a character that just doesn't fit.This is a problem I have_not_ noticed in his later works. The story is a good one, and Irecommend the book.However, it is not Delany's finest work.But no oneshould expect that; it is an early work. ... Read more

16. The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science Fiction Writing in the East Village
by Samuel R. Delany
Paperback: 440 Pages (2004-04)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$12.76
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Asin: 0816645248
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
"A very moving, intensely fascinating literary biography from an extraordinary writer. Thoroughly admirable candor and luminous stylistic precision; the artist as a young man and a memorable picture of an age." —William Gibson

"Absolutely central to any consideration of black manhood. . . . Delany’s vision of the necessity for total social and political transformation is revolutionary." —Hazel Carby

"The prose of The Motion of Light in Water often has the shimmering beauty of the title itself. . . . This book is invaluable gay history." —Inches Magazine

Born in New York City’s black ghetto Harlem at the start of World War II, Samuel R. Delany married white poet Marilyn Hacker right out of high school. The interracial couple moved into the city’s new bohemian quarter, the Lower East Side, in summer 1961. Through the decade’s opening years, new art, new sexual practices, new music, and new political awareness burgeoned among the crowded streets and cheap railroad apartments. Beautifully, vividly, insightfully, Delany calls up this era of exploration and adventure as he details his development as a black gay writer in an open marriage, with tertiary walk-ons by Bob Dylan, Stokely Carmichael, W. H. Auden, and James Baldwin, and a panoply of brilliantly drawn secondary characters.

Winner of the 1989 Hugo Award for Non-fiction ... Read more

Customer Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating New York
I am amazed that I'm the first person to write a review of this terrific book.It's a fascinating autobiographical portrait of 1960'sbohemian - literary New York .Delany was in an almost unique position as a native New Yorker who grew up within the Harlem middle class.His family has become rather famous in recent years due to a play about his aunts.When you think of New York "Bohemians" , you think White,if from New York probably Jewish. As a black gay man with an observant eye and real talent as a writer hebrings something different and actually refreshing to our view of this particular milieu.His portrait of the development of New Yorks' gay scene is also very interesting.You can profitably read Dealany as a social historian.One thing you won't doubt after reading this book is that something was happening in early '60s New York which almost no one grasped.Bob Dylans BALLAD OF A THINMAN is good companion piece to this work.By the way I find the tag suggestions forreviewsof this book rather off.It deals at length with gayness but why consign a book this acute to a literary ghetto.It also deals with heterosexuality ,blackness,art, culture and social change.This book functions on a number of different levels.It doesn't need to be pidgeonholed and people shouldn't pidgeonhole their reading . ... Read more

17. Distant Stars
by Samuel R. Delany
Paperback: 352 Pages (2008-01-25)
list price: US$14.00
Isbn: 1596870230
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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A collection of classic fiction, a short novel, and a fascinating essay, with over sixty pages of illustrations. Includes: Omegahelm-On a lonely planet, the dictator of half a universe reveals her dark secret. Set in the universe of Delany's novel Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand; Empire Star-The adventures of Comet Jo as he travels through time and space with his cybernetic companion Lump; Prismatica-An enchanting fantasy about a prince, a grey man and his black trunk, and a beautiful lady from a rainbow world; plus the Nebula and Hugo Award-winning novella Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones, and more. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars Not Free SF Reader
An Ibooks reprint of an earlier collection.having never seen the earlier one, not sure if it was illustrated the same way, but there is a lot of drawing in here, and even one page montages throughout showing several of the illustrations in one circle.

Empire Star here it would seem was actually published as a book quite a long time ago when people still published very short books.

A combination of science fiction and fantasy here.

Distant Stars : Prismatica - Samuel R. Delany
Distant Stars : Corona - Samuel R. Delany
Distant Stars : Empire Star - Samuel R. Delany
Distant Stars : Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones - Samuel R. Delany
Distant Stars : Omegahelm - Samuel R. Delany
Distant Stars : Ruins - Samuel R. Delany
Distant Stars : We in Some Strange Power's Employ Move on a Rigorous Line [Lines of Power] - Samuel R. Delany

A bit of colour about the joint would be good.

3 out of 5

Telepaths can use a good band.

3.5 out of 5

Time to teach ourselves.

3.5 out of 5

Singing shiny password.

4 out of 5

Power symbols.

3.5 out of 5

Ordinary thief problem.

2.5 out of 5

Devil and demon energy overcomes angels.

4 out of 5

4-0 out of 5 stars Important voice in sf
DISTANT STARS is a curious re-collection of Delany short stories. It's perhaps notable most for including the story "Omegahelm", which is unavailable elsewhere but interesting in that it is uses the samenarrative setting as Delany's well-known novel STARS IN MY POCKET LIKEGRAINS OF SAND. Most of Delany's best-known and award-winning stories arehere, alongside several previously-uncollected lesser efforts. The volumealso includes some ambitious, if not always entirely successful,illustrations to accompany the tales. In any case, probably a must forDelany devotees, and it's a shame the collection is out of print. ... Read more

18. The Tides of Lust
by Samuel R Delany
Paperback: 173 Pages (1980-12-31)
-- used & new: US$54.95
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Asin: 0861300165
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19. Shorter Views: Queer Thoughts & the Politics of the Paraliterary
by Samuel R. Delany
Paperback: 476 Pages (2000-08-04)
list price: US$27.95 -- used & new: US$19.97
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0819563692
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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A brilliant theorist and cultural critic on race, sexuality, science fiction, and the art of writing. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Blew the top of my head off. Repeatedly
Over and over, Shorter Views violently expanded the way I think about sex, about language, about literature, about science fiction, and even about thinking. Reading it was bracing, challenging, frustrating, and thrilling. Parts of it are thick with critical jargon, parts of it are shockingly obscene, and a few bits manage to be both. The powerful, lucid intelligence that shines through makes all the difficulties worthwhile.

4-0 out of 5 stars Structure and Politics
Over the life of his career, Delany has astounded, shocked, awed, and confounded a large and very varied audience. From his early fantasies and science fiction works, to his pornographic novels Equinox and Hogg, to his critical papers that have helped place science fiction on the radar screen of academia, to his extraordinarily structured Dhalgren, each piece of his writing displays his broad erudition, his impeccable sense of language, and a finely honed mind that is not afraid to challenge the accepted and the norm. This collection of essays, reviews, and interviews mirrors this broad range. Like most collections, the quality and style varies considerably, and the average reader may find only a few of these pieces interesting and informative, depending on the reader's own interests.

For myself, I found the second section of the book, "The Politics of the Paraliterary" to be the most interesting, with an incisive look at literary criticism as applied to science fiction, and excellent overview of the writings of Zelazny, Varley, and Gibson and what distinguishes their work as 'quality', and some revealing insights about his own works: Hogg, Trouble on Triton,Mad Man, and the Neveryon series. At places the language used is very abstract, and it helps if the reader is least somewhat familiar with the history and terms of formal literary criticism. At other places, especially in the 'Appendix' to this work, Delany, by providing some very concrete examples and clear explanations, gives the reader a great look at just what it is that 'great' writing is and how it is done.

The other two major sections of this work, "Some Queer Thoughts" and "Some Writing/Some Writers" did not interest me as much, at least partially due to the feeling that, in several of the essays within these sections, Delany was writing with an axe to grind (or a compliment to pay to a fellow writer).

Those who are interested in understanding both Delany and the world of literary criticism should read this work. Everyone who does read it will come away with a larger understanding of not just writing but politics, life, love, and the world around them.

1-0 out of 5 stars long and boring book about nothing
Delany is a brilliant man and his work speaks to a number of audiences.Here's a black gay man who has a large science fiction following.I have read his autobiography and it is a really challenging book on race and sexuality in the 1950s and 1960s.Academics love Delany too.But this book was a sleeper.It's hundreds of pages of nothing.It drones and doesn't say much.Only his most hardcore fans could enjoy this rambling book.I don't even know where my copy is and don't care either. ... Read more

20. Flight from Neveryon
by Samuel R. Delany
Paperback: 376 Pages (1994-02-15)
list price: US$16.95 -- used & new: US$7.29
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Asin: 0819562777
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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A novel of myth and literacy about a long-ago land on the brink of civilization. Vol 3 ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

4-0 out of 5 stars Historic
Delany's "Tale of Plagues and Carnivals" (a tale in "Flight from Nevèrÿon"), is a milestone in American literary history insofar as it was one of the first works of fiction, perhaps the first, at least among those we know of because they were subsequently published, to be informed by the beginning of the modern AIDS pandemic, the inauguration of the manuscript having been inspired by AIDS before the disease even had name.

It is interesting to me that so much fantasy is obviously more inspired by the medieval era than any other, in which disease and plague were significant factors in the lives of everyone and shaped the imagination of the people of that day, and yet disease and plague go virtually unmentioned, certainly rarely detailed, in most published fantasy writing.

This is not to suggest that disease or plague is a major factor throughout the four-book Nevèrÿon series. But in focusing one of the Nevèrÿon tales, and a particularly haunting one, specifically on disease--including its social context in a pre-modern, urban, fantasy setting--and in managing to make that tale so compelling, Delany becomes all the more noteworthy as a fantasy writer.

5-0 out of 5 stars A leap forward for fantasy
This volume is by far the best one so far.The first book ("Tales of Neveryon") was a bunch of neat stories with ulterior meanings that were sometimes obvious and sometimes no so obvious, and the second novel was good but meandered a bit more than it needed to.Here, however, it all comes together.Delany seems far more focused here than in the other volumes.In the earlier stories Delany seemed more experimental than anything else, cloaking a variety of topics in the sword and sorcery genre just to see if he could, in this volume he's decided to explore subjects that mean a lot more personally to him, and this causes an incredible jump in quality (which was high to begin with).The three stories are uniformly excellent here, and all are vastly different.Delany seems to be trying to look into the nature of reality and myth here, trying to figure out the difference between what is "real" and what people perceive and how it might get like that.This is more intellectual stuff than fantasy is normally used to, and far from the typical "good vs evil" simplicities that usually inhabit the fantasy genre.The reason Delany can pull this off is because the fantasy here feels "real" when he focuses on minor events and characters who are really just regular people it gives the story added weight.His Neveryon comes across as a real place with an active and complex culture, from the admirable to the hedonistic.He's probably also the first to inject homosexuality into fantasy, in all its forms, which is something that has always been noticably absent from fantasy over the years (not that it needs to be there, but it's about the only major genre to not even acknowledge it . . . except for the usual fey, pale, lisping princes and the like . . .) and is very prominent in this volume, moreso than the others, which it was acknowledged but not really addressed.The last story especially "The Tale of Plagues and Carnivals" is really an amazing story, nominally about the emergence of an AIDS like illness into Neveryon while also an account of Delany's experiences in NY in the early eighties when AIDS was first becoming more prevalent.He captures both times well and the story jumps back and forth from his recollections to Neveryon to his thoughts on writing the book and eventually does a lot to blur the line between our world and Neveryon.It alone is worth the purchase of the volume.Overall these stories are some of his best post-"Dhalgren" work and for anyone who thinks that fantasy can be more relevant than beating up trolls, they owe it to themselves to track down this series.

5-0 out of 5 stars Sublime
I read this for my college English course. At first it was a bit daunting, but since I had to stick with it for the class I pressed on. Suddenly all the words just started to flow and it quickly became an involving tale. Ilove the book so much that I've given it as a gift to more than a few of myfriends. ... Read more

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