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Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,738 Ratings  ·  154 Reviews
Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand is a science fiction masterpiece, an essay on the inexplicability of sexual attractiveness, and an examination of interstellar politics among far-flung worlds. First published in 1984, the novel's central issues technology, globalization, gender, sexuality, and multiculturalism have only become more pressing with the passage of time. ...more
Paperback, 20th Anniversary Edition, 356 pages
Published December 15th 2004 by Wesleyan University Press (first published 1984)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Greg
Two Stars? Are you kidding me? This is a book that has been re-issued by a University Press, that deals with complex issues like language, gender, sexuality....

I know, I know. But this book didn't do anything for me, if anything it just made me angry.

Well maybe that is because you are a white heterosexual male and you deserve to be made uncomfortable about the part you have played in the oppression of women and colonial peoples.

Yeah, I guess so. I guess I just don't see what the point of writing
...more
Mike Puma
Jul 05, 2011 Mike Puma rated it it was amazing

Once upon a time (around 1986 or 1987?), I had an opportunity to meet Samuel R. Delany at an ALA or ABA [now BookExpo]. Taking advantage of my position as a buyer for a large book distributor, I monopolized some of his time in the Bantam booth while he waited to do a signing—something that is surely tedious for many authors, some of whom will seek diversion with anyone willing to talk with him or her. In our brief discussion, I remember him most for being surprised at his students’ reluctance to

...more
Richard Derus
Nov 14, 2011 Richard Derus rated it it was ok
This was a favorite read of mine back in my twenties. I used it as proof that SF wasn't a literary wasteland, that innovative stuff was being done in the field and there were voices that the most exacting style-snob couldn't scruple to include in hifalutin' conversations.

Boy, was I wrong.

It's turgid, it's obfuscatory, and it's mutton dressed up as lamb. "Cut through the galaxy's glitter; slice away all night. What thoughts did I dole out to that world (out of the six thousand, which, according t
...more
Christy
This was a hard book to rate. It raises interesting ideas and plays with theoretical concepts that are intriguing and significant within the fields of gender studies, queer theory, postcolonial theory, sf/genre studies, postmodern literary theory, and theories of race and ethnicity. There is a lot to take in. For that, I like the book. However, there is so much going on in this book that it becomes difficult to follow and, worse, it becomes difficult to care about the characters and what happens ...more
Alexander Popov
Nov 07, 2015 Alexander Popov rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Публикувано в онлайн списание Shadowdance.

Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand на Самюъл Дилейни е не само най-силният научнофантастичен роман; тя е най-зрелият научнофантастичен роман, за който научната фантастика още не е узряла.

Естествено е сравнението с Невромантик на Гибсън, с когото излиза през една и съща година. Точно годината на публикуване пък отпраща рефлексивно към голямата дистопия на Оруел, с която са свързани и по по-важни начини.

Невромантик – около и насред мощното естетическо
...more
Ezra
Sep 30, 2010 Ezra rated it it was amazing
if william gibson invented the term "cyberspace" (in "Neuromancer", 1984), then samuel delany (in "Stars In My Pocket...", same year!) is responsible for synthesizing the actual conceptual framework of the internet, and some of the consequences that might arise from an informationally-saturated society. gibson's book is like an impressionist painting, a piece of graphic design, an anime short; it's a style injection, with both ephemeral and lasting effects. "Stars In My Pocket..." is not like th ...more
Ben Babcock
So … I don’t think I’d go as far as The New York Times Book Review does in praising this book. According to the blurb on the back of my edition, “it invites the reader to collaborate in the process of creation, in a way that few novels do”. Umm … yeah. Sure. Someone has been critiquing literature a little too long. But the blurb is right about one thing: Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand is both extraordinary and transcendent.

Samuel R. Delany is an interesting author for someone like me to
...more
Sath
The prologue of this book is a third person telling of Rat Korga's life. Beginning at age 19 when he arrives as an illiterate delinquent for "Radical Anxiety Treatment", basically a sort of lobotomy that turns him into a docile zombie, with full mental capacity, but only able to do exactly as he's told. Perfect for slave labour. Korga has a temporary escape from servitude when a woman buys him as a sex slave, but gives him technology enabling him to read books. He returns to slavery however and ...more
Wrey Fuentes
Apr 03, 2012 Wrey Fuentes rated it it was amazing
Delany's prose takes some getting used to and I have even read reviews of his work that sang to the tune of, "Does he have to be so high and mighty in his verbiage?"

The answer is, yes! He does. Someone has to.

Get off your lackadaisical bum, you shoddy reader you, and expect something more from yourself and the writer. Stop kowtowing to the school of thought that indicates, "a simple word instead of an esoteric one." What the hell are all the rest of the words in the dictionary for? Why have com
...more
Bill
May 13, 2011 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: thinkers
I am a fairly experienced reader, but I had difficulty reading this book. I found the use of names confusing. If ever I have truly needed a name glossary, it is with this book. I kept getting confused about whether a name referred to a person, a place, a planet or a star. I was uncertain about who was human, who not and the continual shift of pronouns made this even more difficult. In a sense this relates to cultural confusion in our 'real' world. In another sense this book needs to be read when ...more
Meghan Fidler
Apr 12, 2012 Meghan Fidler rated it it was amazing
The downfall of most science fiction is the difficulty of chronicling new bodies, worlds, and cultures for the reader. Many works dissolve into long flailing descriptions of aliens and drawn-out dialogs on cultural meanings. Authors who can surpass this albatross of introducing an 'other,' like Ursala K. Le Guin (training in anthropology helps, apparently! ^.^) and Octavia E. Butler, achieve an undeniable commentary on contemporary social life.
Samuel R. Delany joins this list. The main protag
...more
Geoffrey Fox
Apr 19, 2011 Geoffrey Fox rated it really liked it
I had long wanted to read this famous book — a space fantasy far from my usual choices of fiction reading; it's good to break routine once in a while, as industrial diplomat and star traveler Marq Hyeth (the narrator of most of this book) might say. And it was not at all what I expected. Which is good, I guess. I wanted surprises and got them.

As I did expect, it is fantastical and ironic. But it is not light comedy. It is a story contrived to reflect on complicated, unresolved philosophical ques
...more
John
Jan 10, 2012 John rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
WTH?! I spent two months of lunchtimes on this?!

I have not slogged through a more difficult read since Gene Wolfe's lictor/new sun saga, and I didn't get the payoff from this that I did from them.

If this is the "masterpiece" that the cover blurb claims, I'm afraid it is one that passed right over the top of my li'l pumpkin head. As a character novel, it failed me: I never connected with narrator Marq Dyeth and was never supposed to grasp he cipher Rat Korga. As a plot novel, it failed me: it too
...more
Jeffrey Otto
Apr 09, 2011 Jeffrey Otto rated it liked it
This was a ‘tasty’ piece of writing, post-modernist to the core, but like the universal flows of information that permeate its (and our) W(w)eb, it wasn’t always accessible. Reading about the shapes of bodies and the forms of cities that are so unfamiliar, yet so thoroughly connected to the signs and symbols that define our own bodies and our own cities reminded me of what it is like to try an exotic new delicacy and then eventually grow to enjoy it. Initial apprehension, even revulsion, slowly ...more
Garren
Jan 24, 2015 Garren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A highly unusual book. It's a far-future galaxy-scale science fiction novel, yet it's not centered on a conflict of any kind. This would make it the sort of contemporary realistic novel that I normally find boring, except that it's so removed from the setting typical of the kind of story it is. It was slow going because I wasn't in a rush to resolve suspense, but I didn't want to abandon it either because I was constantly mis-predicting how things would go and enjoying what I found instead.

I cou
...more
Jason Plein
Jan 21, 2014 Jason Plein rated it really liked it
This is a novel with an amazing prologue, a sagging middle, and a brilliant ending. A reader's patience may be tried in places, but she should keep reading.

Most of the novel takes place on a world in which humans of both genders and three-gendered aliens (the lizard-like evelmi) have sex with each other in all combinations of species and gender, sometimes as part of long-term relationships, sometimes anonymously in places called runs. This is the backdrop to a love story between two men, and thi
...more
Intery
Jun 20, 2015 Intery rated it liked it
Много исках да се влюбя в тази книга, но не можах.
Оставам с усещането, че в нея има много повече, отколкото мога да видя сега. Може би ще опитам отново след години.
Perry Whitford
Sep 30, 2015 Perry Whitford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is science fiction both deadly serious and seriously kinky, a story of cultural respect and sexual desire set in a future so fundamentally different as to be simply bewildering.

Rat Korga is the sole survivor of the obscure planet Rhyonon, a place where misfits are treated with Radical Anxiety Termination, a 'synapse-jamming' surgery which turns them into docile slaves.
Marq Dyeth is an Industrial Diplomat, one of the few whose job entails travel between the six thousand two hundred colony w
...more
Michael
Apr 14, 2015 Michael rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Sci Fi Fans, Delany fans, anarchists
Recommended to Michael by: Tom Jennings
Most of this book was just in the “good, not great” category for me – at least when compared to Delany’s classics, like “Triton” and “Dhalgren.” It seems to be a return to more standard science fiction, in that it takes place in the context of a vast, Galactic society with faster-than-light travel and alliances with multiple alien species. There’s even an enigmatic “enemy” species, the xlv, about which little is known and much imagined.

All is not as it seems, as one might expect from Delany, ho
...more
Michael Battaglia
Oct 30, 2014 Michael Battaglia rated it it was amazing
I will give Delany credit for throwing me a curveball. When I first read "Dhalgren" years ago I didn't think I would be in for the rather graphic sex scenes that the novel sometimes delved into (though given its length there was plenty of room for all kinds of stuff, my favorite kind of kitchen sink writing). When I read the description for this novel, I was expecting graphic sex scenes based on how the plot was going to go, and perhaps colored by prior experience. And that's not quite what I go ...more
Angela
Feb 14, 2010 Angela rated it really liked it
Shelves: sf
My gut reaction to Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, the first Samuel R. Delaney I've ever read, was pretty much this: it feels like something I might have read for a college course on influential SF authors, rather than something I'd ordinarily have read for fun. I have a very definite respect for the language, but there are a lot of aspects of the plot that just didn't work for me.

The core of this story is essentially a romance between Rat Korga, a man who'd submitted to voluntary slaver
...more
Rhys
Jan 02, 2016 Rhys rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An utterly remarkable novel by an author I never grow tired of. It's the profound, original, enthralling, exciting, inspiring and troubling story of Rat Korga, the only survivor a planet that has been completely destroyed, and Marq Dyeth; and the events that lead up to their astounding, beautiful and ultimately dangerous meeting. Delany's language is exquisite, his imagery superb, his inventiveness immense. It should be unfair to single out any individual scene from this richly packed epic; but ...more
Tomas Herbertson
Apr 27, 2015 Tomas Herbertson rated it really liked it
Picked back up and finished Delany's Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, after only reading the initial prologue some months back before something brighter and shinier occluded my vision.

Well worth the read, to me in my subjective position. Quite interesting to see a "monogendered society defaulting to the she/her pronoun" that predates (say) Ancillary Justice by so many years--and especially from the point of view of a gay male author writing a gay male character.

The "enjoys a well-crafted
...more
Matus
Aug 19, 2014 Matus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Unfortunately, this review only really discusses the first half of the book.

The first half has Delany in full flight, and the book is dazzling in the depth and quality of characters and scenes. I think it's the best world-building I've encountered with Delany (Triton #2?), with whole alien conspiracies (what do we know about the Xlv?), cultural extremes (what is "cultural fugue"), and just a constant rush of details. (Oh, and I can't miss one of the neatest things whose constant presence makes i
...more
Jim Mann
Mar 15, 2014 Jim Mann rated it really liked it
I've often had talks with folks about books we really like which we know really aren't that good, but are still fun. In fact, it's a topic of panels at SF conventions from time to time. But sometimes it's worth talking about the opposite: books that we admire but don't love. Late Delany often falls into that category for me. Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand is a case in point. It's a beautifully written book. The prose sparkles. The situations and worlds are well done. The examination of h ...more
Einar Nielsen
Sep 17, 2015 Einar Nielsen rated it liked it
I was lucky to get to read this for a Sci-Fi literature class. Although I didn't like it a lot it had some great moments. But the great thing was to get explanations from our professor (and I'll get to hear more tomorrow).

It started out really great with the story of Rat, but the second part got more confusing and had long scenes that seem to go nowhere. I use the word seem as there appears to be reason behind everything in this book, but that doesn't mean it is a great read. In fact some of it
...more
Erik Graff
Feb 04, 2011 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Delany fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: sf
This is a complex, highly imaginative, stylistically dense and beautiful piece of work. Samuel Delany is one of the best science fiction writers around, one of the few whose writing is so good that he is to be considered more as a literary than as a mere genre figure. This novel is a serious one in that its themes are serious. It is not a quick read.
Gary
Feb 17, 2015 Gary rated it really liked it
This is a book that will stay with me for long time. It does take an effort to get through but it is ultimately very satisfying and moving. Those seeking an action novel should look elsewhere! He is a visionary like Arthur C. Clark but fleshes out his tale with much more detail.

Some may find that the great level of detail is too tedious as many pages have long descriptions of customs( food and meals included), architecture, and formalities in this far future tale. I found it incredibly inventive
...more
Tamahome
May 04, 2012 Tamahome marked it as lemmed
Goodreads lost my old review, when I stalled on the book. I thought the first part with chilling with the slave. Then I found the 2nd part with the diplomat to be unreadable. I just tried it again and I can't get into it.
Caitlin
Reviewers of Stars in My Pocket (SMP henceforth), seem to fall largely into two camps; those for whom it is a triumph of high concept intellectual science fiction, and those for whom it is a masturbatory, deliberately opaque conceptual clusterfuck. I'm going to go ahead and say it's both. Where SMP succeeds is in its ahead-of-its time examinations of cultural phenomena; the post-gender, post-puritanical velmian society, the prescient notion of the galaxy-literally-at-your-fingertips GI. It also ...more
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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 7t ...more
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“You've blotted the rich form of desire from my life and left me only some vaguely eccentric behaviors that have grown up to integrate so much pleasure into the mundane world around me. What text could I write now? It's as though I cannot even remember what I once desired. All I can look for now, when I have the energy, is lost desire itself-- and I look for it by clearly inadequate means. At best such an account as I might write would read like the life of anyone else, with, now and again, a bizarre and interruptive incident, largely mysterious and completely demystified-- at least that's what it has become without the day-to-day, moment-to-moment web of wanting that you have unstrung from about my universe. Without it, all falls apart. In a single gesture you've turned me into the most ordinary of human creatures and at once left me an obsessive, pleasureless eccentric, trapped in a set of habits which no longer have reason because they no longer lead to reward. And if I had enough self-confidence, in the midst of this bland continual chaos into which you've shunted me, for hate, I should hate you. But I don't have it.” 11 likes
“We're plotting to steal time itself from you.... We're going to spike it to the floor as it slips by. And just as you come over to see why it's so still, we'll pull it out from under you--and send you spinning off around the galaxy's edge. We're planning to pluck all the best stars out of the sky and stuff them in our pockets... so that when we meet you once again and thrust our hands deep inside to hide our embarrassment, our fingertips will smart on them, as if they were desert grains, caught down in the seams, and we'll smile at you on your way to a glory that, for all our stellar thefts, we shall never be able to duplicate.” 7 likes
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