Friday, March 18, 2011

Samuel Delany - Quark - Russell FitzGerald - New Wave SF

This is Quark/#1. my rather tatty copy, published in 1970 and edited by Samuel R Delany and his then wife Marilyn Hacker. I've been looking through a lot of the books in my Delany collection thinking, ruefully, that it might be time to move on and dispose of the collection. Then I find something like this tatty little paperback and my resolve falters.
In the late 1960s SRD was one of a number of young SF writers who were tagged with the label 'New Wave' and there was a great deal of posturing around this label which, very loosely, seemed to stand for attempts at experimental fiction, a higher doctrine of language, a attempt to raise the literary quality of SF and generally a more modern(ist) take on the genre. That being said, most commentators agree that by 1970 the debate was over and the New Wave had crashed against the shore and retreated. It probably is true that the writers most associated with the New Wave were iconoclasts regardless of 'movements', many went on to have successful careers in SF but often ploughing a very individual furrow - a little like SRD.
So it's delightful to find in Quark/#1 an anthology full of the most New Wave of New Wave material. There's still something very vibrant and exciting about the combination of authors and techniques represented in Quark. The series of quarterlies lasted a year - four issues obviously - but they really ought to be on the shelf of anyone with a serious collection of counter-culture books from the 60s and 70s. Only ever published as paperbacks, very good condition copies are becoming increasingly hard to find.
The cover of this edition was painted by Russell Fitzgerald and, inside the same artist has a series of drawings reproduced under the title 'Twelve Ancillary Animations for the QUARK/ Cover Called Appomattox' I have absolutely no idea what that means, but I like the illustrations, a few of which I have reproduced above. One can't help wondering if the somewhat African-American looking figure was based on Delany himself who, at this time, was a devillishly handsome 28-yr old. Apart from some more work in later issues of Quark, I can find nothing else by Fitzgerald: it would be nice to do so.
UPDATE: I finally discovered the contributors' bios at the back of the book. Doesn't tell us much about FitzGerald, " a painter, designer and writer. He lives in New York with his wife and twin daughters" Also, we now know he was responsible for a couple of memorable covers for The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy, as well as the paperback editions of some of Delany's books.

1 comment:

hyperpoesia said...

You can learn more about Russell FitzGerald from a biography of the San Francisco poet Jack Spicer, Poet, Be Like God, by Kevin Killian and Lew Ellingham (Wesleyan University Press). He was a lover of Spicer's but had a mad crush on African American beat poet Bob Kaufman. He ended up in Vancouver. Canadian art historian Scott Watson knows quite a bit about him, as does Kevin Killian. There is a journal RF kept during his San Francisco days that is, I believe, in the SUNY-Buffalo Special Collections. It makes for fascinating reading.

Who links to my website?