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The Star Pit (1967)
Dog in a Fisherman's Net (1971)
Corona (1967)
Aye, and Gomorrah (1967)
Driftglass (1967)
We, in Some Strange Power's Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line (1968)
Cage of Brass (1968)
High Weir (1968)
Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones (1968)
Night and the Loves of Joe Dicostanzo (1970)

278 pages, Paperback

First published July 1, 1971

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About the author

Samuel R. Delany

276 books1,844 followers
Samuel Ray Delany, also known as "Chip," is an award-winning American science fiction author. He was born to a prominent black family on April 1, 1942, and raised in Harlem. His mother, Margaret Carey Boyd Delany, was a library clerk in the New York Public Library system. His father, Samuel Ray Delany, Senior, ran a successful Harlem undertaking establishment, Levy & Delany Funeral Home, on 7th Avenue, between 1938 and his death in 1960. The family lived in the top two floors of the three-story private house between five- and six-story Harlem apartment buildings. Delany's aunts were Sadie and Bessie Delany; Delany used some of their adventures as the basis for the adventures of his characters Elsie and Corry in the opening novella Atlantis: Model 1924 in his book of largely autobiographical stories Atlantis: Three Tales.

Delany attended the Dalton School and the Bronx High School of Science, during which he was selected to attend Camp Rising Sun, the Louis August Jonas Foundation's international summer scholarship program. Delany and poet Marilyn Hacker met in high school, and were married in 1961. Their marriage lasted nineteen years. They had a daughter, Iva Hacker-Delany (b. 1974), who spent a decade working in theater in New York City.

Delany was a published science fiction author by the age of 20. He published nine well-regarded science fiction novels between 1962 and 1968, as well as several prize-winning short stories (collected in Driftglass [1971] and more recently in Aye, and Gomorrah, and other stories [2002]). His eleventh and most popular novel, Dhalgren, was published in 1975. His main literary project through the late 1970s and 1980s was the Return to Nevèrÿon series, the overall title of the four volumes and also the title of the fourth and final book.

Delany has published several autobiographical/semi-autobiographical accounts of his life as a black, gay, and highly dyslexic writer, including his Hugo award winning autobiography, The Motion of Light in Water.

Since 1988, Delany has been a professor at several universities. This includes eleven years as a professor of comparative literature at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, a year and a half as an English professor at the University at Buffalo. He then moved to the English Department of Temple University in 2001, where he has been teaching since. He has had several visiting guest professorships before and during these same years. He has also published several books of criticism, interviews, and essays. In one of his non-fiction books, Times Square Red, Times Square Blue (1999), he draws on personal experience to examine the relationship between the effort to redevelop Times Square and the public sex lives of working-class men, gay and straight, in New York City.

In 2007, Delany was the subject of a documentary film, The Polymath, or, The Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman. The film debuted on April 25 at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 54 reviews
Profile Image for Nate D.
1,583 reviews999 followers
March 16, 2014
Well, these are great. Delany didn't write a lot of stories -- preferring, apparently, the longer form -- but when he did, they're unsurprisingly excellent.

The Star Pit (NYC, Oct 1965)
So apparently immediately after writing the exuberantly entertaining interstellar fairytale Empire Star in something like 10 days in order to finance a trip to Europe, before even getting to leave, Delany sat down and wrote this one, another novella of nearly Empire Star length. And it's even better, developing a rather more complicated system of ideas about freedom and superceding constraints of place and world-view. Specifically, it's about that need to get out of your small home town and limited perspective, but stretched from an opening image of an ant-farm to intergalactic-scale problems and beyond. Actually, a similar theme to Empire Star's, but elaborated in a different sort of series of nested layers, kept endlessly readable with various intrigues and plot twists, Delanian unconventional family groups (a kind of pre-echo of the commune he later lived in and wrote about in Heavenly Breakfast), a junkie telepath projecting her withdrawal onto those around her. Like most 60s Delany it's as idea-driven as it is entertaining.

In November 1967, Delany turned "The Star Pit" into a two hour radio drama, in which he starred, and which was broadcast annually in New York for a decade. (To track down.) (Along with his apparent film work, see the detailed chronology here.)

Dog in a Fisherman's Net (Mykonos, Jan 1966)
And then Delany writing in Europe on that trip, here in and about the Greek isles, in a surprising realist mode concerning itself with certain tensions between Greek Orthodoxy in town life and the pagan rites and idols of the shepards in the hills. Oh, and some more about provincialism and perspective. While he was out there seeking to broaden his own.

Corona (NYC, Aug 1966)
These each feel uncommonly dense and well-developed for short sci-fi. Perhaps because they're dense not so much with plot as with warm and involving character. (Granted, The Star Pit has a pretty dense plot, too). This one concerns the crippling effects of an ESP that forces a child to receive the strongest mental broadcasts of others -- almost always their most traumatic life events and memories. It's an oddly grim and affecting vision of what ESP could mean. The balancing character opposite this child, having suffered all-too-believably-ordinary damage from an uncaring system, manages to be equally well-drawn. Actually, the child here is so memorable that I already appear to be projecting her over the role of a character in the other book I was reading today, someone who certainly does not have ESP -- but the corrupted sensitivity here is a good model for a certain kind of damag(ed/ing) empathy.

Aye, and Gomorrah (Milford, Sep 1966)
Driftglass (New York, Nov 1966)
Two variants on new lifestyle choices available to the adolescents of the future. The first deals with the new gender identity of young astronauts, and its cultural fallout, spun in an exhilarating swirl of places and vividly half-described incidents. The latter concerns a new and drastic career move, and the life of one barred from it by chance disaster, poetic and quietly tragic.

We, in Some Strange Power's Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line (Rifton, November 1967)
I've been adhering to Delany's habit of giving a date and location of completion for all of his works, and here's where these dates start to get especially interesting. November 1996, of course, falls during Delany's stay in the Heavenly Breakfast commune in the East Village, and it shows. He marks an incident that particularly stuck with him: an encounter with a kind of biker gang squat elsewhere in the Village. This encounter would seem to be the clear antecedent to the outsider gangs featured both here and in much great depth in Dhalgren. Except he would also seem to have only just arrived at Heavenly Breakfast in November '66, posing something of a puzzle. Had his interest in this sort of counter culture already been so piqued before even encountering such? As for what was going on in Rifton, I'm sure I could pinpoint it as well if I go find my copy of Heavenly Breakfast (I recall several trips upstate).

Cage of Brass (New York, December 1967)
Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado transfigured, kinda. It's a quick one, and fun. Conveyed entirely via the disembodied dialogue of characters who can't actually see eachother, in dystopian future-prison, which Venetian digressions.

High Weir (New York, May 1968)
If the last was Poe, this is Ray Bradbury's "And the Moon Be Still as Bright". As such, kinda redundant.

Time as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones (Milford, July 1968)
The hologram motif from the last entry, greatly deepened. I think part of my love for Delany is his recurring focus on outsiders. This is a longer one and it benefits from the greater development.

Night and the Loves of Joe Dicostanzo (New York, October 1968)
And ending in a rapid, scintillation of strange plot points, seemingly on the subject of the uncertainty (uncontrollability?) of the creative process. Maybe the "craziest" selection of the bunch, but still affecting in its odd way. Brilliant first sentence: "She was weeping, banally, in the moonlight."

So for the moment at least this is the finest selection of science fiction stories I've ever had the pleasure of reading. Though like all good sci-fi, it reaches considerably beyond its genre, even as it toys with the tropes.
Profile Image for Bradley.
Author 6 books3,976 followers
May 6, 2018
Only read a single story here out of curiosity, the second one actually named Driftglass.

It wasn't particularly great, just some disfigurement. Alas.

Maybe I'll come back later.
Profile Image for Rhys.
Author 239 books276 followers
June 24, 2019
Twenty-five years ago I read Driftglass /Starshards, which is an expanded edition of this volume, and I liked it a lot. Delany is, after all, one of my favourite authors. I rarely re-read books but when I saw this in a charity shop I bought it and began reading. I had expected to still like the stories but to find that perhaps they had dated a little (not a big problem for me) and that at best I would only like them as much as I had liked them the first time round.

To my surprise, I actually found I liked them more on a second reading. Stories that I recall as only being fairly good ('The Star Pit', 'Dog in a Fisherman's Net', 'Driftglass') turned out to be brilliant; stories I recall as being brilliant ('Night and the Loves of Joe Diconstanzo') turned out to be nearly perfect; and even the few stories I recall as not liking very much ('High Weir', 'Corona') turned out to be ingenious, entertaining and utterly worthwhile.

These stories are fifty years old but they feel fresh and vigorous and pertinent. Delany was far ahead of his time, not so much with the nuts and bolts engineering aspects but with the social insights, the attitudes to questions of gender, sexuality, culture. And in fact even the engineering aspects hold up well. The manned intergalactic spaceflights come across as allegorical and symbolic more than crusty and redundant, and there are many plenty of examples (a prefiguration of the internet in 'We, in Some Strange Power's Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line') where Delany was more advanced than most of his 'hard SF' contemporaries.

'Night and the Loves of Joe Diconstanzo' requires a second mention. It is like something from Samuel Beckett that has been crossed with Borges. Very disturbing, gothic, fantastical, moody, atmospheric and saturated with the madness of solipsism. One of the best short stories I have ever read in any genre. Delany's style is incredibly poetic and yet has great momentum. I am looking forward to reading his novel Nova next...
Profile Image for Paul Dembina.
411 reviews84 followers
November 7, 2021
Written between October 1965 and October 1968 these stories are presented in chronological order and for me the best 2 are those at the very end.

The others seem rather dated now with their evocation of 1960s counter-culture
Profile Image for Jen .
2,559 reviews27 followers
November 12, 2019
This review is for the short story Driftglass by Samuel “Chip” Delaney, as read by LeVar Burton on his podcast.

Story was ok. The place, time and characters were real and present, the plot made sense and the reading was awesome, as it is with Mr, Burton.

It didn’t add up to much with me, as the story didn’t seem to have a purpose? Just kind of ended “and that was that”, the end.

So 3, middle of the road, stars. Not bad and definitely worth the listen. Sigh, LeVar Burton...
Profile Image for Jamie.
1,160 reviews105 followers
November 17, 2019
Introspective, well written, but just didn't click for me.
Profile Image for Briar Page.
Author 21 books80 followers
April 10, 2022
If you ask me, early Delany holds up twice as well as most new wave sci-fi, partly due to his genius as a prose stylist. It's astounding to me that someone younger than thirty wrote these stories! "Aye, and Gomorrah..." has a dated but historically interesting take on gender & sexuality, and is (on a certain level) a compelling portrait of young trans people dealing with cis chasers. "High Weir" is a Martian exploration story that's really more about a scientist having an extremely realistic and compassionately drawn dissociative breakdown. "Time Considered as a Helix..." is a chaotic, snappy heist story in the future/in space, with a memorable noir-ish narrator. "We, in Some Strange Power's Employ..." and "The Star Pit" are both whimsical and deeply melancholic meditations on freedom, morality, and regret-- I loved both and would probably consider them the two real stand-outs of this collection. But it's all pretty great stuff, and the late 60's-ness of it all is more charming than cringe.
Profile Image for Craig.
4,994 reviews116 followers
June 17, 2021
Delany became known for his success at novel-length fiction much more than for his shorter work, but he did write some very good stories at shorter length, particularly early in his career. The ten stories in Driftglass are from the late 1960's, and first appeared in genre magazines and original anthologies of the time. He struck a good blend of the character-driven New Wave experimental fiction with carefully measured lyrical prose and traditional science fiction concepts. I especially enjoyed The Star Pit, actually a novella rather than a short story, is a good old-fashioned traditional sf tale; Time Considered as a Helix of Semiprecious Stones, which won both the Nebula and Hugo Awards; Aye, and Gomorrah, another Nebula winner from Harlan Ellison's Dangerous Visions; and one that I don't really remember too well, but it has one of my very favorite titles: We, In Some Strange Power's Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line. It's an excellent collection from a very talented young man!
Profile Image for Tentatively, Convenience.
Author 15 books194 followers
October 11, 2016
My bookshelf for this is named "SF" precisely b/c of the ambiguity of having SF possibly stand for "Speculative Fiction". According to WikiPedia, "The term is often attributed to Robert A. Heinlein. In his first known use of the term, in his 1948 essay "On Writing of Speculative Fiction," Heinlein used it specifically as a synonym for "science fiction"; in a later piece, he explicitly stated that his use of the term did not include fantasy. Heinlein may have come up with the term himself, but there is one earlier citation: a piece in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine in 1889, in reference to Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward: 2000–1887." I don't remember where I 1st encountered it, but I embraced it immediately - science fiction seemed too restrictive.

Delany's the archetypal Speculative Fiction writer. Science may play a part in his SF but, more importantly, possibilities of social development are explored. Here are the titles of the stories in this collection:

The Star Pit
Dog In A Fisherman's Net
Aye, And Gomorrah
We, In Some Strange Power's Employ, Move On A Rigorous Line
Cage of Brass
High Weir
Time Considered As A helix of Semi-Precious Stones
Night and the Loves of Joe Dicostanzo

Look closely at the cover image of my copy of this bk & you'll see that even the rats loved it! That wd be the title of some speculative faction by myself.
Profile Image for Williwaw.
430 reviews20 followers
April 29, 2013
So far I've read two stories in this book: "Driftglass," and "Aye, and Gommorah." Driftglass was interesting because of how quickly Delany was able to build a world. In the world of this story, some humans, before adolescence, elect to join an aquatic corps, where they are biologically modified. They are given gills so they can live underwater, and then they engage in various undersea projects like laying electric cable.

"Driftglass" is told from the perspective of a crippled aqua-man who almost died in an undersea accident. He's sustained some gruesome injuries. Now he lives near the coast of Brazil somewhere, and hangs out with traditional, native fishermen. He meets a young girl who's in the aqua corps; he also meets another corps member who is being sent to perform the same deadly job where he sustained his injuries.

I won't spoil the ending, in case you want to read it. It's well-written, but somehow I don't think it will stay with me.

"Aye, and Gomorrah," on the other hand, is a story that's hard to forget. It was originally commissioned for Harlan Ellison's collection, "Dangerous Visions." The story won the Nebula Award (in 1970?). Here, Delany invents a new sexual orientation and shows its awkwardness and its consequences (including a new form of prostitution). Well worth reading.
Profile Image for Maria Chiquinha.
8 reviews1 follower
April 22, 2015
I cannot remember exactly how I came upon this book but I am so glad that I did because it introduced me to my favorite author and a world of science fiction that wasn't just good in theory but legitimate reality as well. As someone who loves science fiction when its good, but acknowledges that so much of it isn't, an author like Delaney is a serious breath of good clean fresh air. His concepts are original and his writing style is artful, engaging and thought provoking. I enjoyed all of the stories but a few that really stood out for me were:
The Star Pit, High Weir and Dog Caught in a Fisherman's net. For someone who might be looking to check out Delaney's Sci-Fi work but might not want to slosh through something big like Dhalgren or harder to understand like Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, Driftglass is a great place to start.
Profile Image for Nate.
5 reviews12 followers
June 27, 2019
What can I say? Sumptuous, poetic prose, frequently defaced by a jarring lack of story. Wild alternation between zero exposition and dense, clumsy exposition burdened with heavy-handed social commentary that probably would have seemed stunningly insightful and deliciously transgressive if it had been read in 1972 and the reader was a little bit high. Climax and resolution all-too-often replaced with a simple (or ambiguous) punchline and sudden drop of the curtain, leaving the reader wondering what exactly was supposed to have happened, or if, indeed, anything was meant to have happened at all to close the tale.

Am I glad I read this collection of short stories? I suppose so. I don't feel like the time was actually wasted. On the other hand, I will never pick up another work by Delany.
Profile Image for Dalibor Dado Ivanovic.
355 reviews22 followers
November 17, 2019
Auuu, koje price...
Delany je na zalost kod nas jako malo prevodjen, nekoliko prica i tri romana, od cega ja nisam nista lose procitao. Dakle u ovoj zbirci su sve price odlicne, ali eto vec danima mi u glavi zvoni i mislim da cu ju ponovno procitat, prica Corona.
Profile Image for Raharue.
29 reviews1 follower
November 9, 2022
oh, to have my bones burned to driftglass by a submarine volcano.
Profile Image for Chris.
388 reviews
May 25, 2016
Dense, difficult, tightly wound and bursting with ideas, this collection of some of Samuel Delaney's short fiction was rough going at times, but mostly rewarded the effort. Like Phillip Dick, this is sci-fi concerned with ideas and implications more than characters or even plots. Some pieces were chock full of giant spaceships and galactic spaceports, while others could have been a tale of fishing out of an obscure Hemingway collection. As one other reviewer wrote here, one gets the sense that Delaney might be working out large ideas that he'd explore further in larger novels. (The circular, hallucinogenic narrative of "Night and the Loves of Joe DiCostanzo" suggests a trial run for "Dhalgren.")

The best story in the book is the novella-length opener, "The Star Pit." Here, Delaney coaxes out more ideas about space travel and the nature of the connected universe than some authors do over an entire career. For most writers, getting to the far reaches of space is a problem solved with the invention of warp drives. For Delaney, it's more subtle and difficult: once a person travels more than 20 light years from their home planet, the arrangement of the stars in the sky, the forces that keep a body in check, become so out of order, it renders a person insane. The only people that can travel to the outer reaches of space are the enigmatically-named golden ("sans noun"). Golden (the term is used for singular and plural) are people who have been so psychologically damaged from abuse or neglect, combined with a natural chemical imbalance, that they feel out of place on their own planet. The ultimate loners, often subjected to further trauma by the government to make sure they are space-ready. Thus, the only people that can see the wildest extremes of the universe are stupid, savage, or both. Delaney is great at pitting character archetypes at one another -- lawbreakers and honest citizens, asexual beings and fetishists, those representing progress and those clinging to old ways -- flashing them to our own times while extrapolating our next fifty years.

"Corona" shows us a world in which pop singers create something closer to Stockhausen than Justin Bieber, and a telepath with no 'off' switch keeps entering people at the most traumatic moments of their lives; "Aye, and Gomorrah" capitalizes on the needs of those working in outer space (radiation will contaminate one's reproductive organs) by creating a class of sexless, romantically stunted subhumans (or perfect humans) who make money as would-be tricks for the most sexually haunted people, people who want them because they cannot give back; "We, In Some Strange Power's Employ, Move On a Rigorous Line" plays out the Rural Electrification Program in the future, where a last bastion of Hell's Angels (now riding hoverbikes) resist a group of techs trying to provide them with mandated electricity. It feels eerily precient as we look at a whole group of people in this country actively resist affordable healthcare because I don't know...they're afraid someone even less deserving will get it, too. "Cage of Brass" and "High Weir" are short character studies, the former resembling Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," the latter concerning a linguist on Mars who is obsessed with the artifacts of a former civilization.

Then you get relatively straightforward stories like "Dog in a Fishing Net" and the title story, which contain almost no science, no weird tech, and read like short stories from 50 years before. That's not necessarily a compliment. In both cases, I reached the end without having much of a sense of what there was to be taken from it. "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones" is full of neat ideas and a good sense of how to tell a crime/espionage story, but it never really resolves into much. And as inventive as "Night and the Loves of Joe DiCostanzo" was, it was infuriatingly opaque, like someone trying to tell you about a very personal dream they had. You can get enough to know that it meant a lot to the person who had it, and if they could tell it more clearly, you might enjoy it as well.

That sense of opacity of writing comes up a lot in the book. At first, I assumed that Delaney is a lot smarter than me, and I just wasn't used to reading this deeply. But I don't know. A really smart writer can make some very complex concepts very approachable. This isn't me casting aspersions; I think Delaney writes like this on purpose, and probably could make things more clear if he really wanted to. Sometimes, I just wish he wanted to.
55 reviews1 follower
August 9, 2021
Didn't really click with this. I don't generally read science fiction, but wanted to give this book a go as Delany seems to often be mentioned (like Ursula Le Guin, Margaret Atwood or Octavia Butler) as one of the best writers in the genre, and one who can be enjoyed by people who aren't typically fans of sci-fi.

The stories here are mostly futuristic, and feature the recurring tropes of a wary blue-collar protagonist and a disturbed, gifted child figure. The premise of some of the plots are inventive and arresting, but narratively none of them grabbed me very much. One of the stories here is more or less straight realist fiction and I also found it to be pedestrian, so I think its the writing style itself rather than the genre trappings that was putting me of.

By chance when I finished the last story in the book, I read a brief autobiographical essay that Delany wrote many years later describing the inspiration behind it, and found that much more engaging and interesting than any of the fiction collected here. The stories are from very early in Delany's career, and were all written before he turned 30; he's had a few decades of subsequent development since, so I might try some of his later work at some point, to see if it's as engaging as the personal essay.
Profile Image for Finn.
27 reviews
December 29, 2021
Several of the stories in this collection are some of the best that SF has to offer. Delany is a masterful prose stylist, and it shows throughout.

A particularly potent metaphor that's used throughout is Delany's photographic/holographic ontology. Whereas each point in a photograph references a point of light that's recorded, each point in a hologram references *all* points of light that are recorded. If you cut a hologram in half, the two new holograms depict the same image that was originally depicted, instead of an overall image that's been cut in half. Delany uses this metaphor to talk about the interrelatedness between the individual and the whole -- that all things exist in reference to all other things, instead of simply themselves. This theme runs throughout much of the collection. It's a beautiful metaphor, and implies whole new worlds of acting and seeing the world. For this alone I think it's worth picking up the collection.

Unfortunately, there are a couple stories that fall a bit flat and feel a bit dated. The last one in particular feels dull and confusing, and is probably worth skipping.
Profile Image for Austin.
270 reviews19 followers
May 11, 2015
The great thing about Delany short stories is that the weird factor is a lot more manageable. In some of his longer works, I sometimes feel like I'm lost and that I don't know exactly what he's doing in the overall narrative or why a particular piece of the story is so important. In bite-sized chunks, there are fewer moving parts and it's easier to see what's happening. That came in handy because acclimating to every story is a two or three page process for me, so I always ended up having to double back to make sure I knew everything that was happening before I continued on.

Overall, the stories were enjoyable, with only one or two that left me scratching my head or flipping ahead. I would definitely give this or Babel-17 to someone as their first introduction to Delany, since they're both more digestible than Triton or, god forbid, Dhalgren.
Profile Image for Timothy.
518 reviews26 followers
December 7, 2022
Delany's first story collection, published in 1971 but the stories all written 1965-68 ... one of the finest single author collections of sf shorter stories of any time but especially remarkable considering Delany was writing these between the ages of 22 and 26 ... not a bad story in the bunch, though I personally rank this just under 60s-70s era collections by Le Guin and Tiptree ...

my ordered preferences:

**** The Star Pit
**** We, in Some Strange Power's Employ, Move on a Rigorous Line
**** Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-precious Stones
**** Aye, and Gomorrah
**** Driftglass
**** Corona
**** Night and the Loves of Joe Dicostanzo
**** Dog in a Fisherman's Net
*** High Weir
*** Cage of Brass
72 reviews
October 14, 2013

And what was up with the predicitons of worldwide computer networks in a story from 1968 ("We, in some strange power's employ, move on a rigorous line"), and light-based computer memory and hopfield net reconstructions ("High Weir" (1968) and "Time considered as a helix of semi-precious stones" (1969)).

ALSO NOTE THE SWEET bob pepper COVER ART omgomgomgomgomg

[Personal note: read this to relax right after thesis defense.]
Profile Image for Sean Leas.
341 reviews11 followers
November 16, 2014
An outing of mediocre short stories, with a few standouts. I loved both Corona and Driftglass as well as Star Pitt. The rest I really couldn’t get into but were entertaining none the less. Many of the stories felt like there was a rush to conclusion or we started midway through without any backfill.
Profile Image for Chrysten Lofton.
362 reviews32 followers
February 14, 2019
4.0⭐ "You chase a fish with one spear among you. And that spear would be Tork’s tonight.”

If you’re following my reviews, thanks for rolling with me. ♡

We’re on the Season 3 LIVE episodes of Stitcher’s LeVar Burton Reads, and we’re gifted with "Driftglass” by Samuel R. Delany.

I usually get these out a little faster (lying, me lying to you) but I wanted to hunt down the uncut version before I heard this one. Unfortunately, Driftglass isn’t available in the Kindle store. There are other works by Delany available, just not this one. I didn’t want to wait two weeks for a physical copy, so I reached out to the LBR fan community on Facebook and got a pdf (Thank you, Julia ♡)—here I am at last, with my take on this episode.

As far as I’m aware, this is the first abridged piece they’ve ever done on the show. I flinched until learning that the author made the necessary cuts himself and I appreciate the press for time. The enigmatic nature of short stories blows my mind—I write, and every short story I attempt ends up a novella at best. Maybe there were shorter Delany works out there, but I’m glad they adjusted things to make this one happen on the show. It’s special and definitely fits the theme of writing showcased on the podcast.

Having experienced both versions, I don’t think the cuts were too devastating. The bits removed were short clips of conversation and a touch of back story. The purpose and poetry of the work remains intact.

I loved it. Heartbreaking as it was, I loved it. The amphimen were great. I have an affinity for humanoid fish in science fiction—Abe Sapien to blame.

The amphimen differ from the typical mermaid/Gill-man imaginings because they're more human than fish. They're also not born with some kind of mutation, nor did they swim near some kind of radioactive sludge.

Becoming an amphiman is something you sign up for.

This story has a very heavy hand in criticizing harmful environmental development, but I personally saw a parallel to military. Like militia, amphimen sign up for the work, the work must be done, and it’s considered honorable. They have to apply to the International Aquatic Corp, not everyone makes it, and there are a lot of perks. Education, travel, experience, and slower aging. It also seems to be a common path for poor people, see “Two motherless children had not been easy on Juao or his sisters.”

There’s a specific target to youth, those accepted will leave for training and could be stationed at any ocean in the world. The work is dangerous. They physically alter subjects for the job with rigorous body modification. Pretty familiar, no?

Cal is a walking billboard for why people should consider the cost of this work.

I thought to myself, how could Tork still willfully, eagerly volunteer to lay down cable in the Slash after the famous accident? Then I started to look at how Tork is sooo young, just barely at the cusp of adulthood. Still a lot of childish bravado and willingness to prove himself. The air of invincibility. He had no idea what he was getting into, he had to ask Cal point blank what happened because no one even told him.

And I made that connection—soldiers do it every day. No matter what cautionary example, it goes on and on.

A great novel, The Book Thief, is narrated by Death. Death speaks a line I could never shake, most can’t ever shake once they read it: “A small but noteworthy note. I've seen so many young men over the years who think they're running at other young men. They are not. They are running at me.”

Tork ran at Death too.

Thanks for reading, and If you wanna chat about the latest LBR episodes, hit me up in the comments and come meet up with us at LeVar Burton Reads: The Community on Facebook.
- 📚☕♥
Profile Image for Max.
23 reviews
May 25, 2023
There is nothing Delany can't do. Cage of Brass is strangely beautiful and terrifying, The Star Pit turns pulp space mechanics to meditations on fatherhood, High Weir is an empathetic take on the horrors of space archaeology a la 2001's obelisk, and Time Considered As a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones is maybe my favourite crime story.

He covers all these semi-connected stories with genuinely beautiful writing and the collection ends with a real mindmelter in the vein of Fritz Lieber. Every single story explores far more than the sum of its parts with humour and the occasional gut punch which he seems to have done just to remind you that he can.

This guy's good, shoutout Times Square Red, Times Square Blue.
Profile Image for Shelly.
310 reviews5 followers
January 4, 2020
Review of Driftglass by Samuel R. Delany only

4 stars

I was immediately drawn into the story, it was so effortless and easy, and the worldbuilding was delicate and comfortable, which is a superb skill. I was interested in every character and wanted more. My only qualm is I'm not certain what I was supposed to take away from the story, if anything, but it was highly enjoyable. I listened to this on the LeVar Burton Reads podcast during my daily walk, and usually during my walk my mind can drift. I was more than halfway thru my walk when I realized I had been paying attention the whole time, and for that alone, I am appreciative.
Profile Image for Divya Pal Singh.
502 reviews52 followers
April 9, 2022
Not the heroic type of SF with space ships buzzing about, but about the deadbeats, the damaged – emotionally scarred, physically malformed, psychically bruised humans. There are mutants, bio-engineered freaks, petty criminals, crooks and murderers.
Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-precious Stones
Lay ordinate and abscissa on the century. Now cut me a quadrant. Third quadrant if you please. I was born in ’fifty. Here it’s ‘seventy-five.
This is the beginning of a space-age cops-and-robbers yarn.
Many of the tales are tinged with shades of racism.
Profile Image for Cary Kostka.
118 reviews12 followers
February 14, 2019
This look into the depths of the ocean and the trials of the main character after an unfortunate event is very well written and thought out. This is definitely worth taking the time to read. IF you are unsure, Levar Burton does a short reading and interview with the author on his podcast, "Levar Reads". It was this podcast that provoked my interest in reading this piece in its entirety.
Profile Image for Melissa Henderson.
4 reviews1 follower
February 27, 2019
I read the one short story called Driftglass about a world where some humans can choose to be changed into Ampha-men (not sure if I’m spelling that right) to lay power lines in the ocean and fish. Kind of a weird story but mostly about the trauma of one of these men and his struggle with it and then the realization that life and trauma goes on and continues.
362 reviews2 followers
October 18, 2019
There is a haunting tinge to Delany's stories. Delany is an SF writer of the later waves. He's not interested in whizbang technology. He wants to tell stories about people and they are often hauntingly sad. Delany communicates feeling through his writing amazingly well and I'll be buying more of his work.
Profile Image for Tom G.
126 reviews6 followers
October 21, 2020
I struggled with the rating on this one. There are some really, really bad stories in this collection, basically the entire middle of the book is a slog. But the first two and the last two, especially 'Night and the Loves of Joe Dicostanzo', are pretty damn good. You can feel Delany groping toward the surreal, dreamlike brilliance of "Dhalgren" in the best stories collected here.
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