Samuel R. Delany

1942 -

American writer and critic

One of science fiction's most influential authors and critics, Samuel R. Delany was born and raised in Harlem, New York and educated at the prestigious Bronx High School of Science. He became famous as a youthful prodigy when he published his first novel, The Jewels of Aptor (1962), at the age of twenty. This was quickly followed by the The Fall of the Towers trilogy (1963-65), and two more novels, each published in 1966: Empire Star, and the Nebula award-winning Babel-17.

In 1967, Delany helped ring in the "New Wave of Science Fiction" with short stories emphasizing cultural speculation, the soft sciences, and mythology, as opposed to technology and the hard sciences. Written in this vein, the short story "Aye, and Gomorrah..." (1967) won a Nebula award, and the novelette "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones" (1969) won a Hugo award and a Nebula.

In Delany's next novel, The Einstein Intersection (1967), the human race has been replaced by a race of aliens who take on human traditions in an attempt to make coherent sense of the human artifacts among which they live; Delany's own diaries provide part of the text. Nova, published in 1968, combines a Prometheus story and the Grail story into an ebulliently inventive space opera.

Still publishing an occasional work of fiction, including the best seller Dhalgren (1975) and the Neveryon series (begun in 1979), Delany increasingly returned to critical writing in subsequent years, which eventually led him into academia. In 1985, he received the Pilgrim Award for excellence in science fiction criticism, and he is presently a professor of English and creative writing at Temple University in Philadelphia.

Selected Bibliography:
The Jewels of Aptor (1962)
Empire Star (1966)
Babel-17 (1966)
The Einstein Intersection (1967)
Nova (1968)
Dhalgren (1975)
Tales of Neveryon (1979)

Courtesy of the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Copyright © John Clute and Peter Nicholls 1993, 1999, published by Orbit, an imprint of the Time Warner Book Group UK.