Mar. 18th, 2009

starlady: Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity. (kill some cats)
Tonight I went to the Free Library of Philadelphia to hear Samuel R. Delany talk. I write "talk," but actually we were shown part of the 2007 documentary about him entitled "The Polymath, or The Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman," and then he read from his newest novel Dark Reflections, did a Q&A, and closed with a pair of readings from his autobiography The Motion of Light in Water. He noted in passing that his career divides into two halves--the first science fiction, the second more literary/non-fiction--and that people who are familiar with one half tend not to be familiar with the other. I have to admit, I've not read any of his non-science fiction/fantasy (the Nèverÿon sequence is probably my favorite of his works), but the readings from The Motion of Light in Water certainly make me want to switch to the other side, as well as finally pick up the last bits of his science fiction I haven't read--principally Trouble on Triton and Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand. They were selling Dhalgren and Dark Reflections afterward, but I had him sign my copy of Neveryóna instead, since I own Dhalgren and didn't have enough cash for the other book. It was too short a program, really, to get very far in to any of the fascinating aspects of Delany's work, but one of the scenes from the documentary was actually an interview with Jonathan Lethem, who said that Delany "never saw the boundaries" between comic books and literature, between science fiction and literary fiction--and Delany himself later remarked that "the result is that I often trip and fall flat on my face and get a black eye and a bloody nose, which often goes along with not seeing boundaries." I suspect we could all do with a few more bloody noses and black eyes.

P.S. Apparently in the 70s he wrote two issues of Wonder Woman comics in which Wonder Woman gives up her superpowers and becomes a feminist secret agent.



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