Samuel R. Delany ("Chip" to his friends) is an American Science Fiction
writer, critic, and academic. Generally associated with the New Wave Science Fiction
movement of the 1960's, he is often considered a prodigy, since his well-received first novel, The Jewels of Aptor
, was written when he was only nineteen, and only a few years later, he was winning Nebula Awards
He was one of the first openly gay SF writers, one of the first really successful African-American SF writers, and almost certainly the first to be both—though the former has had more of an impact on his writing. His interest in the literary ideals of the New Wave movement led him to academia, and made him one of the first writers to really cross the bridge between SF and Lit Fic
. Today, he is a professor of English and Creative Writing at Temple University in Philadelphia.
His best known novels include Babel-17
and The Einstein Intersection
(both Nebula winners), Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand
, and Dhalgren
Works with a page on this wiki:
Tropes in his other works:
- Anachronic Order: The short novel Empire Star (1966) uses/abuses this trope to an amazing degree. The story involves several different time travellers, and, while it follows one character, at the end, you realize that there is no "proper" order for the whole story. Any ordering would have been arbitrary, and you have to put the events together for yourself.
- Artificial Meat: Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand has vat grown meat cultures from humans.
- Attack Pattern Alpha: Babel-17, quite apart from the languages, incorporeal navigation and biological modification going on, features a captain directing a fleet via clinical psychiatry terms. When the heroine grabs the mike off the captain and turns the tide of a battle by speaking to the ships in the same kind of language, she explains that it all made sense in the Babel-17 language she's been deciphering, indicating that there may be more to Babel-17 than just words.
- Dilating Door: Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand had "the door deliquesced".
- Language Equals Thought: Babel-17 is built wholly around this trope. The smallest (and least spoilish) example is a race of aliens whose language is based almost entirely around temperature gradients but have no word for "house" - because of this, they build incomprehensible starships that look like a mass of strung-together boiled eggs. And of course, the titular language enables extremely fast thinking and enhanced spatial awareness.
- Long Title:
- The Hugo- and Nebula-winning novella "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones". (For the curious, those semi-precious stones are used by the underworld as a sort of universal codeword. The stone is changed periodically - hence the name.)
- The novel Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand.
- And the truly impressive story, "We, in Some Strange Power's Employ, Move in a Rigorous Line". (Yes, that's the title, not a quote from the story.)
- The Milky Way Is the Only Way: In the story "The Star Pit", only people with a specific set of psychological issues can handle going outside the galaxy, even though interstellar travel is ridiculously convenient.
- Themed Aliases: In "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones", the protagonist was an orphan, saddled with the name Harold Clancy Everet. Turning to a life of crime, he never used that name again. His aliases, however all have the initials HCE. Indeed, he is identified by that to the reader, i.e. we are introduced to each alias and know it is him by those initials. All the aliases used by the narrator have the initials H.C.E., a reference to Finnegans Wake by James Joyce.
- Veganopia: In Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, the enlightened human narrator is shocked at the idea of eating meat from what had been a living animal... being much more comfortable eating vat-grown human flesh.