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Samuel R. Delany

Samuel R. Delany weaves a brilliantly-jeweled web of words, capturing your imagination and causing various bubbles of mental presumption to burst deliciously in your brain, leading to little explosions of free-wheeling ecstasy (no drugs involved) and - very often - conversion to extreme libertarian views. Through the array of dazzling stories to his magnum opus "Dhalgren", his body of work can truly be considered as a "helix of semi-precious stones" - to be enjoyed on a visceral, as well as intellectual level.


"Aye, and Gomorrah..."
© Dangerous Visions, 1967
Driftglass, 1971
--short story : 1968 Hugo
--short story : 1968 Nebula W

--/ cool sf story


"Babel-17" (nv)
© 1966, Ace Books
--novel : 1967 Hugo
--novel : 1967 Nebula W (tie)
--all time novel : 1975 Locus /36 (tie)
--Tiptree short list : 1996 Tiptree

--/ cool sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award: linguistic weapons

Quite colorful adventure from Delaney based on a cool idea (it was like enjoying a sweet "pulp story" candy-coating only to discover hard, unyielding filling inside - what's more, the bitter filling of disputed and - last I heard - discredited linguistics theory). The theory in question is Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (read a good article about it here ) postulating that the language we speak determines our whole psychological and mental layout, and certain thoughts just would not be able to occur to us in certain languages.

The novel is centered on a fictional language that denies its speakers independent thought, forcing them to think purely logical thoughts. Such "linguistic weapon" is used in a space war to produce perfect "servants of empire", walking computer programs. Speaking of novel's style, I enjoyed the ground-breaking presentation, but found it a bit emotionally uninvolving, and ultimately (if not for idea) forgettable.
(review by Avi Abrams)


"Cage of Brass"
© IF, Jun 1968
Driftglass, 1971
--/ third place space sf story
--/ idea award
--/ style award
--/ wonder award
--/ adventure award

"City of a Thousand Suns" (nv)
(The Fall of the Towers)
© 1965, Ace Books

© F&SF, Oct 1967
Driftglass, 1971
--/ third place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award
--/ adventure award

"The Desert Of Time"
© OMNI, May 1992
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award

"Dog in a Fisherman's Net"
© Quark # 3, 1971
Driftglass, 1971
--/ cool sf story
--/ wonder award

© IF, Jun 1967
Driftglass, 1971
--short story : 1968 Nebula
--/ third place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award
--/ adventure award

"Driftglass" (coll)
© Ace Books, 1972
--reprint anth/collection : 1972 Locus /3
--all-time collection : 1999 Locus All-Time Poll /9
--collection : 1994 Locus /20

--/ second place sf collection
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award
--/ adventure award


"The Einstein Intersection" (nv)
© 1967, Ace Books
--novel : 1968 Hugo
--novel : 1968 Nebula W
--overseas novel : 1997 Seiun

--/ fourth place sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ style award

As with all truly great science fiction novels, The Einstein Intersection is less about science and more about fiction – in this case, fiction told by one of the greats not just of science fiction but modern literature as well.

Surreal doesn't begin to describe the setting and characters of The Einstein Intersection. Ostensibly about aliens exploring and trying to understand human culture after mankind has either left the planet or died off, the book is much more about some of the more powerful human archetypes. From Lo Lobey himself, a goat herder based on the myth of Orpheus, to the subject of his quest, Billy The Kid (AKA death), the book is a literary stage, allowing Delany to explore the world of our myths, fables, legends and fantasies.

It's unfortunate that people often pick up the book only to be frustrated and confused by Delany's psychedelic style. But for those with imagination and patience, reading The Einstein Intersection can swing open a brand new universe of style, language, and story: it's a wonderful book by a magnificent writer, first, and a great science fiction author, second.
(review by M. Christian)


"High Weir"
© IF, Oct 1968
Driftglass, 1971
--/ third place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ idea award
--/ style award
--/ adventure award

"Lines of Power"
(also as "We, in Some Strange Power's...")
© F&SF, May 1968
Driftglass, 1971
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award
--/ adventure award

"Night and the Loves of Joe Dicostanzo"
© Alchemy & Academe, ed. A. McCaffrey, 1970
Driftglass, 1971
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award


"Nova" (nv)
© 1969, Bantam
--novel : 1969 Hugo
--/ fourth place sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ style award

Review by Sunday Williams
When I was in college, it was to my great surprise that Samuel R. Delany’s “Nova” came up on the syllabus. “Nova”? Shouldn’t that be “Dhalgren”? But you know what they say: there’s no fool like a college student.

Delany is a clever man, having written perhaps the most densely subtextual literature in the genre. “Nova” holds up to a casual read, with Lorq von Ray, our physically scarred and emotionally complex protagonist fighting for the very balance of the universe - but there are layers that sneak up on the reader, a kind of devious introduction to some of the most innovative writing of the Sixties.

One of the themes most poignant is Delany’s experimentation with the long-term consequences of a technological society. It has the trappings of familiar scifi, but as a criticism of contemporary life the question still holds. We each augment ourselves significantly: high heels, iPods, medications – some are harmless, some maybe less so. But how do these “cybogisms” affect us on an intellectual level? And even deeper, how do we each relate to the machines that now make up our daily routine? Much of the novel is about class differences (or mega-gulfs, rather) and part of it is the segregation of those who have refused to be “cyborged.” Called “Gypsies,” those that don’t want any mechanical upgrades are considered throw-backs, retards, and are systematically exterminated.

Delaney is more than capable of writing a rousting space opera, but it seems with “Nova” he was as interested in the existential. On the surface it is a novel about an underdog fighting to balance a universe gone slanted, the kind of place where the hyper-rich never experience any bummers other than their own inexplicable boredom, and major decisions often involve using Tarot cards. Or you know, the kind of place where folks with robot-hands claw other people in the face. But the questions that percolate up are just as interesting; what are artists to a civilization, and to what degree are we each capable of making art? In what ways are we complimented by technology, and in which ways are we being destroyed by it?


"The Star Pit"
© Worlds of Tomorrow, Feb 1967
Driftglass, 1971
--novella : 1968 Hugo
--/ second place space sf novella
--/ wonder award
--/ style award
--/ adventure award
--/ romance award

"They Fly at Ciron"
(with James Sallis)
© 1962, 1969, F&SF
book: Tor books 1996

"Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones"
© New Worlds, Dec 1968
Driftglass, 1971
Distant Stars, 1981
--short story : 1970 Hugo W
--novelette : 1970 Nebula W
--novelette : 1999 Locus All-Time Poll /16

--/ third place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award
--/ adventure award

"Triton" (nv)
© 1976, Bantam Books
--novel : 1977 Nebula
--novel : 1977 Locus /14
--Tiptree short list : 1996 Tiptree

--/ second place sf novel
--/ wonder award
--/ style award
--/ shock value

"We, in Some Strange Power's Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line"
(also as "Lines of Power")
© F&SF, May 1968
Driftglass, 1971
--/ fourth place sf story
--/ wonder award
--/ style award
--/ adventure award


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Jack Williamson's "Legion of Space" Series

Classic Space Opera
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Astounding Stories, August 1934

Jack Williamson, Nat Schachner, "Doc" Smith
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Leigh Brackett, Fritz Leiber, Vic Phillips
Rediscovered gems of wonder & adventure

William Gibson's Novels

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A Fractured Delight...

Alfred Bester "The Computer Connection"

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incredible line-up of writers

Hidden Gems of Pulp SF, Part 1

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incl. the mad rally story "The Racer"

Astounding Stories, June 1935

Full Issue Review
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Astounding Stories, May 1941

Full Issue Review
incl. Heinlein, Asimov, Eric Frank Russell

Horace Gold; P. Schuyler Miller

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More "Galactic North" Stories
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Alastair Reynolds Review

"Galactic North"
staring down infinity...

Most Shocking Article

"Holey Fools" by M. Christian
Warning: Gross Subject Matter

Alfred Bester Review

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"...nail it to the Retro Hugo voting board..."

Larry Niven Review

"Neutron Star"
"better get GP alien ship hull"

Poul Anderson Review

"Ensign Flandry"
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Thomas M. Disch Review

"The Squirrel Cage"
"...seriously mind-bending stuff..."

Henry Kuttner Review

"Mimsy Were the Borogoves" (The Last Mimzy)
"...great storyline for a pretty average movie..."

Robert A. Heinlein Review

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Frank Herbert Review

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Harlan Ellison Review

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"...editors slapped the most outrageous titles on his stories..."

James White Review

"All Judgement Fled"
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Grand Adventure Strikes Again

Space Opera Article, by Avi Abrams
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William Gibson Review

"Burning Chrome"
"...sheer pyrotechnics and exuberance of style..."

Ace Double: Murray Leinster

"The Pirates of Ersatz /The Mutant Weapon"
"...the characters might as well be cats or hamsters..."

Astounding Stories, May 1935

Pulp SF Magazine Review
with many original illustrations

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"SF&F Reading Experience" is part of "Dark Roasted Blend / Thrilling Wonder" family of sites. We try to highlight the most entertaining and rewarding science fiction and fantasy, with emphasis on memorable reader experience, not necessarily general acceptance by the critics. Have fun, and delve into our extensive ratings and reviews!

Most reviews are written by Avi Abrams, unless otherwise noted. Reviews also appear on our unique historical retrospective page Wonder Timeline of Science Fiction. Feel free to submit your own review, if a particular story is not listed here.

All major OFFICIAL AWARDS are highlighted in BLUE
("winner" has a letter "W" by it, otherwise it is a runner-up only)

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--/ first place :
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--/ cool : (equal to fifth place)

These awards are given in the following categories:
- novel :
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Also, there are our personal STYLE / GENRE SPECIFIC AWARDS. These reflect the story's content and the lasting impression on the reader:

--/ wonder award
sense-of-wonder, "visual intensity" and inventiveness

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