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Download Ash of Stars: On the Writing of Samuel R. Delany by James Sallis PDF

By James Sallis

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Extra resources for Ash of Stars: On the Writing of Samuel R. Delany

Sample text

And though it floats along alligatorlike throughout, head just above water, a constant presence, Delany's landmark autobiography The Motion of Light in Water doesn't have the separate essay it so distinctly deserves. Perhaps (one hopes) these lacunae will be redeemed in subsequent volumes. Page xviii Recent publication of The Mad Man and Hogg more than anything else has caused me anew to think about just what Delany's been up to all along. I note that reviewers' comments, their befuddlement and obvious confusion, echo those greeting Delany's work at least since the first great apostasy, Dhalgren.

In Ian Watson's The Embedding, one character notes that it is really almost impossible for one person "to imagine the otherness of another person" (TE 7). The most cognitively rewarding SF tries to enact that otherness, to real-ize it so that readers can experience it for themselves. Postmodern writing is acutely aware that all systems of notation offer us models of reality rather than descriptions of it. Fiction, of course, is one such notational system; as Delany says, "fiction makes models of reality" (TJHJ 151).

The plot involves gaining control of the mysterious language and using it to overcome that villain. These transformations signal the fact that Delany Page 6 has taken a marginal formspace operaand tried to bring it to the center by reinventing it. Language is not only the motor that drives the plot of the novel; it also dominates the text's thematics. The problematics of communication are frequently thematized explicitly. The novel opens with a scene in which a general meets with the poet Rydra Wong to discuss the problem of the new language of the enemy, Babel-17.

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