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Creator / Samuel R. Delany

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"The general public is a statistical fiction created by a few exceptional men to make the loneliness of being exceptional a little easier to bear."

"The only important elements in any society are the artistic and the criminal, because they alone, by questioning the society’s values, can force it to change."

Samuel Ray Delany Jr. (born April 1, 1942), "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, Nova, and Dhalgren.

Works by Samuel R Delany:

Tropes in his works:

  • After the End: In The Fall of the Towers trilogy, hundreds of years have passed since the legendary "Great Fire", which left most of the world an uninhabitable radioactive wasteland. Most of what survived are islands. The kingdom of Toromon started on an island, and now controls many islands as well as a rare habitable chunk of the mainland.
  • Artificial Meat: Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand has vat grown meat cultures from humans.
  • Ballad of X: The Ballad of Beta-2.
  • Dilating Door: Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand had "the door deliquesced".
  • Everyone Is Bi: In Triton, not everyone is bi but most people are.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: In Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, people can actually volunteer for this, and be guaranteed happiness for the rest of their lives. The downside is that they must volunteer for slavery as payment. But they'll be happy slaves. The procedure is called "Radical Anxiety Termination", and the resulting slaves are therefore referred to as "rats".
  • Grossout Show: Hogg, an intentionally-offensive novel full of Gratuituous Rape, Gorn and overall depravity.
  • Human Outside, Alien Inside: In City of a Thousand Suns, an alien is described as looking exactly like a human woman, but "[i]nternal examination and genetic analysis would prove her a bisexual species of moss."
  • Instrumental Weapon: In The Einstein Intersection, Lo Lobey has a machete which has been modified to work as a flute.
  • Lightspeed Leapfrog: The Ballad of Beta-2 has an anthropology student sent to investigate the culture of a fleet of Generation Ships which had arrived at their destination long after it had already been colonized by FTL. By that time, the descendants of the original crews had no interest in living off their ships or interacting with anyone else so the fleet was set aside as a reservation for their odd culture.
  • 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: "Time Considered As A Helix Of Semi Precious Stones": The protagonist/narrator 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. The initials H.C.E. are also 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.

Alternative Title(s): Samuel Delany