Sunday, April 01, 2012

Happy 70th Birthday Samuel R Delany

Today, April Fool's Day, is the 70th Birthday of Samuel R. Delany, writer, teacher and wise man. Since it was at the age of 20 that his first novel was published, in 1962, The Jewels of Aptor (Ace Books, New York), the occasion also marks a career as an author which spans 50 years. There are very few authors who can claim such length and breadth of output.

He burst onto the scene in the 1960s as a precociously talented, gay, black man who chose to direct his literary efforts into science fiction, chose to get married (to the poet Marylin Hacker), and chose to write serious words not just in but about the genre. He pubished a the million-selling Dhalgren in 1975 which polarised (and polarises even now) opinion between those who think it a masterpiece and those who think it the worst thing to happen to science fiction. Ever. He reinvented the sword and sorcery high-fantasy genre of Conan the Barbarian with his Nevèrÿon series. He has written at least three (depending on your definitions) books of pornography which, between them, have the most serious literary intent and acheivement in the genre since the Marquis de Sade. He has won both the Nebula and the Hugo Awards. He has written one of the best memoirs of gay life in New York in the 1960s in his autobiographical The Motion of Light in Water (but see also Heavenly Breakfast for a memoir of life in a commune during the Summer of Love) He chose to be breathtakingly candid about sex. He was eventually called to academe, where he still resides... A new book, Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders is due out any day now. Eventually the literary world will catch up with him.

The wonderful picture above is from a series called 'Where I Write' by Kyle Cassidy. If you want more of an overview of his biography, don't go to Wikipedia this time, try this biography penned by Delany's alter ego, K. Leslie Steiner

Happy Birthday Chip!

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