STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, then DUNE and now, the major novel of love and terror at the end of time: DHALGREN, by Samuel Delany, four-time Nebula award winner (ilx book club #Y8554)

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what better book to start reading on valentine's day. anyway, i look forward to this becoming my samuel delany blog.

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Friday, 14 February 2014 09:02 (five years ago) link

looking forward to reading the blog!

rashly thought i wld be finished w/ proust by the time this rolled round, but find myself still deep in The Captive, so will only be cheering on from the sidelines. harold pinter read the whole of In Seach of Lost Time in three months, which seems good going.

this was pretty much Martin Skidmore's favourite book btw, and was even mentioned at his memorial service. So I'm silently dedicating this thread to him.

Ward Fowler, Friday, 14 February 2014 09:13 (five years ago) link

I got nine hundred pages deep into Proust in a couple of weeks the summer before my second year of university but then my parents started nagging me to get a job.

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Saturday, 15 February 2014 00:13 (five years ago) link

Sometime in my life I want to be able to use the phrase "balls deep in Proust."

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Saturday, 15 February 2014 00:13 (five years ago) link

Which is funny, because the book Dhalgren, see, has a lot about balls, but its concern with the value of memory or recollection is decidedly anti-Proustian--

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Saturday, 15 February 2014 00:14 (five years ago) link

"balls deep in Proust."

that's unhygienic

j., Saturday, 15 February 2014 00:26 (five years ago) link

Which is funny, because the book Dhalgren, see, has a lot about balls, but its concern with the value of memory or recollection is decidedly anti-Proustian--

― ♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Friday, February 14, 2014 6:14 PM (28 minutes ago)

I don't know about anti-Proustian, but Kidd's "search for lost time" is a big part of his character and one of the things that makes the book so unsettling.

WilliamC, Saturday, 15 February 2014 00:47 (five years ago) link

so i read this last five years ago and i'm 60 pages in this time round but, yeah, i agree with that. my assertion about proust, which i am not committed to particularly earnestly, as perhaps mb is indicated by its proximity to the phrase "balls deep in proust", was based in the idea that one could hardly imagine the Kid being prompted into reverie by anything at all; that it seems outside the constraints of this particular fiction

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Saturday, 15 February 2014 01:08 (five years ago) link

anyway, if anyone wants to follow along at home, i plan on finishing the first two sections this weekend; then the 'the house of atreus' section (which, if i remember correctly, is the odd interlude with the nuclear family with the incest drama who Kidd is the handyman for, while the rest of dhalgren keeps on dhalgrening outside their windows) next week. this seems like a good schedule for this reading group.

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Saturday, 15 February 2014 01:10 (five years ago) link

Brill to see this thread.

Was reminded that I never did start it when I saw and picked up Fall of the Towers trilogy 2nd hand.

Looking forward to reading any impressions - might buy this monday if I see it at Waterstones or something. Otherwise try to contribute any crap when I can.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 15 February 2014 10:08 (five years ago) link

Always found Delany's style a bit maddening and thought Nova was kind of dated and overrated, but did indeed enjoy Babel-17 and its twofer companion Empire Star. A diverse group of smart people in various corners have been recommending this one so I am willing to give it a go, heck, it's got to be better than Ada.

In Walked Sho-Bud (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 15 February 2014 15:42 (five years ago) link

Yeah, both those covers are great. I've owned 5-6 copies of the Bantam paperback over the years, now down to 2. One of these days I'll get a copy of the Vintage trade paperback since it incorporates a lot of text corrections.

WilliamC, Saturday, 15 February 2014 15:48 (five years ago) link

I always find it kind of charming that you and Martin Skidmore seemed to like a lot of the same books, William.

In Walked Sho-Bud (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 15 February 2014 15:52 (five years ago) link

The flap of a butterfly wing could have diverted me into a life more resembling Martin's, I think.

WilliamC, Saturday, 15 February 2014 15:55 (five years ago) link

Ha.

In Walked Sho-Bud (James Redd and the Blecchs), Saturday, 15 February 2014 16:00 (five years ago) link

OK, read the first section yesterday and right now in the middle of the second. The vibe is a cross between Hair and The Omega Man. More interesting than I thought it might be, although I don't know if I will make it farther than Harlan Ellison® did . thomp's comments on the other thread about Chip turning his weakness into strengths seems accurate.

In Walked Sho-Bud (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 16 February 2014 16:27 (five years ago) link

ha. which other thread was that, james

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Sunday, 16 February 2014 18:41 (five years ago) link

dhalgren

In Walked Sho-Bud (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 16 February 2014 19:17 (five years ago) link

Can
...you
......remember?

In Walked Sho-Bud (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 16 February 2014 19:22 (five years ago) link

ah, about triton. i was going to say something about the prose in dhalgren in re weaknesses-into-strengths; i'm glad i wouldn't have been repeating myself.

i notice i said this before:

plus also the odd high fantasy trope: there's something leiberish or conanish about the kid's coming to the city and being granted all these artifacts of power: talisman, weapon, spellbook . . .

― thomp, Tuesday, 23 June 2009 11:43 (4 years ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

having forgotten by the end of the book that the kid notices in the first part that he's been granted 'weapon, armor, title'. it's interesting how delany wants to make over-overt symbols a part of his aesthetic project -- i think it's arguably sort-of democratic, maybe? or ____cratic where '___cracy' denotes the utopic social state he's always doing shards of.

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Sunday, 16 February 2014 19:32 (five years ago) link

i think triton might be more interesting than dhalgren because triton's project is (sort of) 'invent the society i think is ideal, and then empathise with the people it fails to serve'; i'm not sure what dhalgren's project is, to be honest, i was going to try and define it in comparison to triton's but i can't.

partly this is because the metafictional framing in triton stands outside the narrative in a way that allows the reader to take or leave it, which (i guess?) fits with the work its doing ~in the utopic tradition~. -- that the reader can to some extent disentangle her thoughts about the book's social claims and its aesthetic achievements. whereas dhalgren is a lot more "hey! i'm a book! look how my status as an open text prevents resolution!"

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Sunday, 16 February 2014 19:36 (five years ago) link

on the over-determined symbols front -- given that throwing emphasis on descriptions of invented combat paraphernalia is not something that normally falls front and centre in the postwar american realist tradition -- why is kid's weapon what it is? why is his armor what it is?

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Sunday, 16 February 2014 19:38 (five years ago) link

is there also a mythical parallel for the moment when, the morning after their sexual encounter on the rooftop, the kid flees at the sight of tak's eyes?

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Tuesday, 18 February 2014 22:06 (five years ago) link

- plenty more quasi-rhetoric al questions where that came from

- I'd forgotten the notebook they read with a remixed version of the books first paragraph: but not the list of names.

- I'd forgotten and don't remember ever having not forgotten the kids childhood memories at the start of the second part : whereas with the notebook at least i thought : ah, this bit.

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Tuesday, 18 February 2014 22:09 (five years ago) link

Many, how tiny is the type in that Bantam edition?

ornamental cabbage (James Morrison), Wednesday, 19 February 2014 22:03 (five years ago) link

9 pt. (Nova and Triton is 10 pt.)

needs more garlic → (WilliamC), Wednesday, 19 February 2014 22:15 (five years ago) link

Wow. My Gollancz paperback is the size of a brick.

ornamental cabbage (James Morrison), Wednesday, 19 February 2014 22:26 (five years ago) link

when are we gonna go back to mass-market printing books like that

i had an old gravity's rainbow 'pocket' before someone i loaned it to never returned it

there's something correct about being able to read like not just 'popular' writing in that format

j., Thursday, 20 February 2014 01:52 (five years ago) link

move to europe

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Thursday, 20 February 2014 07:43 (five years ago) link

not the english-speaking bit

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Thursday, 20 February 2014 07:43 (five years ago) link

god france really?

j., Thursday, 20 February 2014 14:07 (five years ago) link

Delany writing het sex in the 70s is,hm, less convincing than when he writes queer sex in the 90s and 00s

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Thursday, 20 February 2014 19:44 (five years ago) link

actually i think it was just this description of cunnilingus:

"He mapped the folds that fell, wetly out, with his tongue; and the grisly nut in the folded vortex, and the soft granular trough behind it."

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Friday, 21 February 2014 07:53 (five years ago) link

no thanks, chip.

http://illkeepyouposted.typepad.com/.a/6a00e55127ad3588330154361025c2970c-pi

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Friday, 21 February 2014 07:53 (five years ago) link

i took a bit of a break while i read hilary mantel. i sort of wonder whether i have that much to say about this book, or whether it's a book that invites saying much about (other than the usual comments about how long and how avant-garde it is, to which the answers are fairly straightforwardly "very, but not incredibly" and "not very, really")

it seems like it both does and doesn't hold some kind of potential for a reading in the wake of what's happened to new orleans or what's happened to detroit, but not one that i can make, really

i like that the blurb states it's a "major novel of love and terror at the end of time": because it suggests there might be minor novels of same

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Sunday, 23 February 2014 17:35 (five years ago) link

nah, i mean, it's okay, i liked it a lot when i was in high school, but

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Wednesday, 26 February 2014 11:14 (five years ago) link

one year passes...

i think what has kept me reading this novel is the sort of effortlessly idiosyncratic perspective he has on physicality. it feels like native soil to him. the more literary elements are not as impressive to me, with the exception of newboy's monologues which so far have wowed me (i'm about 250 pages in). his writing as such can be gripping when he attaches it to a certain focused character / viewpoint. the opening section of stars in my pocket comes to mind. i appreciate his drive to experiment beyond these episodes but i don't always enjoy it.

i think i'm going to have to read hogg at some point.

shakey, do you remember what book were you talking about above?

mattresslessness, Thursday, 16 April 2015 18:41 (four years ago) link

oh it showed up, nm

mattresslessness, Thursday, 16 April 2015 18:42 (four years ago) link

three years pass...

good thread

the late great, Saturday, 1 September 2018 16:41 (eleven months ago) link

Stranger In A Strange Land : C or D?

i'm going to bump this thread rather than the one above because i like this one better

so ... should i bother reading this book? i have never read it before, but our school was throwing away a library bound edition so i snagged it. opened to a random page and got this

"In the Tennessee legislature a bill was introduced to make pi equal to three; it was reported out by the committee on public education and morals, passed without objection by the lower house and died in the upper house. An interchurch fundamentalist group opened offices in Van Buren, Arkansas, to solicit funds to send missionaries to the Martians; Dr. Jubal Harshaw made a donation but sent it in the name (and with the address) of the editor of the New Humanist, rabid atheist and his close friend."

seems ... suitably strange? but i heard it's very sexist.

the late great, Saturday, 1 September 2018 16:46 (eleven months ago) link

also funny to see shakey's post about moorcock above because just yesterday blogger (!) emailed me to tell me that i would no longer be receiving comment notifications for my blog "AN ALIEN HEAT" (which is started and abandoned in 2005)

the late great, Saturday, 1 September 2018 16:49 (eleven months ago) link

It’s Heinlein at his most nakedly didactic. I havent gone back to it since high school, not sure what I would think of it now.

Οὖτις, Saturday, 1 September 2018 17:52 (eleven months ago) link

Also just want to reiterate how shitty Delany’s writing is, Heinlein’s no prose master but he never penned anything as awful as this:

"He mapped the folds that fell, wetly out, with his tongue; and the grisly nut in the folded vortex, and the soft granular trough behind it."

Οὖτις, Saturday, 1 September 2018 18:00 (eleven months ago) link

delany's writing can be rough

the late great, Saturday, 1 September 2018 18:01 (eleven months ago) link

sometimes his writing is really good though

i think dhalgren is overrated and trition and (especially!) stars in my pocket are underrated

i think delany is at his worst when he tries to do transcendent ... he invents an art form called "micro theatre" in triton, and his attempts to describe how mind-blowing it is are ... not great

i find though that when delany writes about prosaic stuff in triton (like going out to dinner, or playing boardgames, or office politics) he's really great and entertaining

that's why i like "stars in my pocket" so much ... it's really a slice-of-life novel, just set in the future

the late great, Saturday, 1 September 2018 18:08 (eleven months ago) link

similar dynamic at work in dhalgren for me, the part where the kid and denny and lanya are jamming out and playing musical poetry or whatever i remember particularly hating

the late great, Saturday, 1 September 2018 18:13 (eleven months ago) link

There are definitely paragraphs that I can't immediately make sense of when they occur in the narrative (they might become clearer later) and which seem to exist mainly for poetic or atmospheric effect - eg this one right at the start of the second section:

Here I am and am no I. This circle in all, this change changing in winterless, a dawn circle with an image of, an autumn change with a change of mist. Mistake two pictures, one and another. No. Only in seasons of short-light, only on dead afternoons. I will not be sick again. I will not. You are here.

Ward Fowler, Thursday, 28 March 2019 14:37 (four months ago) link

That's true but they're not frequent or long enough to be off-putting - that may change. And yes there are those unanswered questions, I suppose at the beginning it's easy to assume that answers will be forthcoming and not worry about it. That too may change.

what if bod was one of us (ledge), Thursday, 28 March 2019 14:49 (four months ago) link

I appreciate this thread, I think I read this at the right time in my life and have been afraid to re-read (in case it doesn't hold up and I tarnish the memory). But I was thinking about it a lot as a favorable comparison when reading that new Marlon James.

change display name (Jordan), Thursday, 28 March 2019 14:58 (four months ago) link

xpost
William Gibson's quote about Dhalgren - "A riddle that was never meant to be solved" - makes me think answers (within the text) might never be forthcoming. And that's OK.

Ward Fowler, Thursday, 28 March 2019 15:02 (four months ago) link

After 6 or 7 readings, I'm most interested in the references to Greco-Roman mythology and theology, despite Delany's caution not to get too hung up on them. I never studied any mythologies in school, so I didn't get any of the references until I found an expansion of the book's Wiki page that provided a partial key. I won't link to it unless asked because SPOILERS. But having that extra textual level available made my most recent reading hella fun.

16 Historic English ILXors You Must Explore Soon (WmC), Thursday, 28 March 2019 17:34 (four months ago) link

It’s easy, he thought, to put sounds with either white (maybe the pure tone of an audio generator; and the other, its opposite, that was called white noise), black (large gongs, larger bells), or the primary colors (the variety of the orchestra). Pale grey is silence.

Classic synaesthesia.

"It does not offer me any protection, this mist; rather a refracting grid through which to view the violent machine, explore the technocracy of the eye itself, spelunk the semi-circular canal. "

Maybe the city is his mind, his damaged psyche, which he is exploring to (re) discover his identity. Echoing an earlier passage when he's describing his mental illness to Tak:

But the real mind is invisible: you’re less aware of it, while you think, than you are of your eye while you see … until something goes wrong with it. Then you become aware of it, with all its dislocated pieces and its rackety functioning, the same way you become aware of your eye when you get a cinder in it. Because it hurts …

He's mentioned discovering the source of the smoke that blankets the city, this could be the trauma that cost his memory.

Delany, of course, is The Kid, grown up. So it's his mind, his memories. The notebook just is the novel, simultaneously complete and a work in progress.

Just a thought.

what if bod was one of us (ledge), Saturday, 30 March 2019 20:08 (four months ago) link

I've been thinking along similar lines, ledge - and also that Delany is not just Kidd, but Bellona too - the author as city, an impossible space of constant, disordered, shifting invention and fancy - architecture of mind and place, etc.

Ward Fowler, Saturday, 30 March 2019 21:06 (four months ago) link

Yes, definitely.

Another minor detail I forgot: so he goes over in fine detail how the orchid was on his hand after leaving Tak's even though he absolutely did not stop to pick it up; later on there's something similar that passes without mention - he is definitely holding the notebook, then a page later Lanya gives it to him.

what if bod was one of us (ledge), Saturday, 30 March 2019 21:38 (four months ago) link

Happy 77th birthday to SRD today.

16 Historic English ILXors You Must Explore Soon (WmC), Monday, 1 April 2019 14:47 (four months ago) link

Newboy is a bit of a bore.

This is fine, not very avant garde as thomp says above. There are puzzles - what's up with The Kid, what's the deal with the chains, the red eyes - but it doesn't seem as purposefully cryptic as e.g. The Book of The New Sun, where it seemed the real themes only became apparent if you solved the puzzles. Here the themes are pretty obvious.

so I didn't get any of the references until I found an expansion of the book's Wiki page that provided a partial key

Will be interested to see this when I'm done though.

what if bod was one of us (ledge), Friday, 5 April 2019 09:46 (four months ago) link

Newboy is a bit of a bore.

Heh, I am in the section with his long monologues just now - can't tell if his boorishness is deliberate, or if he's yet another SRD alter-ego (this time as 'major poet'). The preceding George Harrison monologue about rape and female desire was - surprise - even more problematic, though some of the implicit feminist critique embedded in it feels extremely #metoo relevant, even prescient.

This comment upthread from late great has definitely resonated with me while reading Dhalgren -

i find though that when delany writes about prosaic stuff in triton (like going out to dinner, or playing boardgames, or office politics) he's really great and entertaining

Like, I really enjoyed the long sequence at the Richards' dinner table, where routine domestic chat is undercut by all sorts of familial strife.

Also enjoying the curiously (post-sixties) benign vision of apocalyptic living. Bellona is smouldering, in crisis, but money, employment and status are no longer very important (the Richards clinging to the prestige of a good job and a nice home are clearly delusional/hysterical), and almost everyone that Kid encounters (apart from some of the scorpions, maybe, and even then...) offers to share food, living spaces, bodies, wisdom etc with him. This kind of relaxed communal vibe comes at the expense of fast narrative momentum, but I can live with that - it's a trip, as they say.

Ward Fowler, Friday, 5 April 2019 10:03 (four months ago) link

The preceding George Harrison monologue about rape and female desire was - surprise - even more problematic, though some of the implicit feminist critique embedded in it feels extremely #metoo relevant, even prescient.

I got that vibe, but there's a danger of course of thinking this is the first time in history when our eyes are truly open to the reality of sexual assault. Either way it definitely swings wildly between 'right on' and 'er, nope...'. (Also, curious name to pick for the guy.)

Also enjoying the curiously (post-sixties) benign vision of apocalyptic living

Yes, I see it as the revolution realised/explored through the lens of post apocalyptic fiction. The traditional power structures (The Man) have disappeared, The Kids have moved into the gap and it's the squares (the Richards) who now seem out of joint with the times. It's not exactly the dawning of the age of aquarius, it's less optimistic/more realistic than that, but they're doing ok.

what if bod was one of us (ledge), Friday, 5 April 2019 10:37 (four months ago) link

(Also, curious name to pick for the guy.)

In The Einstein Intersection, The Beatles have become the stuff of myth and legend (Ringo especially!) - fab four definitely one of SRD's obsessions.

Ward Fowler, Friday, 5 April 2019 10:47 (four months ago) link

Almost exactly halfway through now, and my main question is - what's a Dhalgren?

Ward Fowler, Tuesday, 9 April 2019 11:29 (four months ago) link

For one thing, the children run by, calling Grendal Grendal Grendal Grendal

dow, Tuesday, 9 April 2019 15:23 (four months ago) link

Thanks dow, don't think I've got to that bit yet - but one thing I'm noticing more and more is how Delany's storytelling mirrors the idea of the shifting city, as experienced by someone with memory loss and a history of mental illness; the book is deliberately repetitive, contradictory, opaque, circular, without event, filled with acres and acres of slangy, discursive, abbreviated, random chatter, so the overall effect is of a 'story' where narrative detail/coherence, the order (never mind meaning) of events constantly slip through yr reading mind - if you can even be sure that 'story' is happening at all. Parts of it are very bad just at the level of the sentence - yes, most ruinously in the many sexual encounters in the book - but the overall effect is - something. It really isn't like any other novel I've read, for good and bad, and as you go on there is this very powerful, cumulative feeling that things are happening deep in the book's subtextual undergrowth - and as of page 430 we haven't even gone underground in Bellona yet. I like what Henry James said about reading Proust - “inconceivable boredom associated with the most extreme ecstasy which it is possible to imagine”.

Ward Fowler, Tuesday, 9 April 2019 18:11 (four months ago) link

I'm going to have to start marking up my copy with sticky tabs or something -- I looked for a crucial scene that addresses Ward's question last night for 20 minutes but the damn thing is so long I couldn't find it. Kid's haywireness with time is forced onto the reader -- the last time I read the book in full, I was especially keen on getting to a particular scene, which I remembered being about halfway through. Turns out it was in the last 60 pages.

ILX Halftime Shows Ranked — Which Was the Best? (WmC), Tuesday, 9 April 2019 21:46 (four months ago) link

Hah this morning I'd reached page 549 and was feeling p good abt myself for doing so, when I moved from left to right page and found that approx the next 50 pages were simply missing from my copy of this UK paperback edition:

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR9-ihoHrdYO6ryjaqkY9sr-Ffp3xF1Mj-cKVmSyUeN3DkGrlEtNQ

At first, without noticing the page numbers, I genuinely thought Delany had just abruptly time-shifted between one segment and another, but no, this was a printing error, an extreme example of the editorial carelessness which seems to attend a lot of these mammoth modernist novels - it's perhaps Dhalgren's strongest link to Ulysses.

For me, reading these huge things is all about momentum - no stopping! - so this evening I bought a replacement copy of the most recent UK edition. It's bigger, and better presented on the page, but I really hate the cover on this one:

https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51-80RbzT9L._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

Ward Fowler, Monday, 15 April 2019 20:29 (four months ago) link

The Right Rev. T-Bone Burnett! Looking resentful, as usual. How the Hell did the artist make this connection?

dow, Monday, 15 April 2019 22:22 (four months ago) link

uggghhhh, every single one of those Gollancz SF Masterworks covers is a crime against their author.

The Carjackers Quickly Dumped ILX Once They Saw What Was Inside (WmC), Monday, 15 April 2019 23:10 (four months ago) link

I'm still surprised at how readable this book is; aside from the odd bad sentence ('bare breasts joggling jingling links' is currently my favourite), and the sex scenes (pretty matter-of-fact but way too long), the prose is very easygoing, and even though it's not exactly narratively compelling there's something pulling me along. And every now and then there'll be something startlingly quotidian and human, even amusing, like the bit i've just read where Lanya visits The Kid's new nest and lightheartedly tells him what a shithole it is, then Bunny turns up and does an amazing camp turn.

It also reminds me of Ishiguro's The Unconsoled. Stylistically they're completely different, but both are about someone with a memory problem entering a strange city with dreamlike shifts in space and time, on some kind of quest or mission that's never defined, where they seem to get pulled along by events out of their control.

what if bod was one of us (ledge), Tuesday, 16 April 2019 07:52 (four months ago) link

The Right Rev. T-Bone Burnett! Looking resentful, as usual. How the Hell did the artist make this connection?

lol

Theory of Every Zing (James Redd and the Blecchs), Tuesday, 16 April 2019 09:17 (four months ago) link

The Gollancz Masterworks covers for Stapledon's Star Maker are really nice. One exception I've found so far.

Robert Adam Gilmour, Friday, 19 April 2019 18:26 (four months ago) link

Finished!

Dude certainly thinks long and hard about (amongst other things) interpersonal relationships and group dynamics, it almost becomes an essay at certain points.

Anyone else get a strong autobiographical vibe? Saw a comment online that the meeting with Newboy was very like an anecdote of his about a time he crashed a book launch party.

I bookmarked some pages towards the end but I might have forgotten why. I was reading an e-book, not sure if the formatting was up to scratch, the only differences in the different sections at the end were in padding and occasional italics. I'll look for a hard copy if I can find one with a decent cover, I think it's a book worth having even if I never read it again.

what if bod was one of us (ledge), Tuesday, 23 April 2019 09:17 (three months ago) link

it's a puzzle without a solution in the same way as a box full of random jigsaw pieces.

what if bod was one of us (ledge), Tuesday, 23 April 2019 10:24 (three months ago) link

I’m 18% done per my Kindle. As with other Delany I’ve read, yes it’s challenging but he is so great with the evocation of moment to moment consciousness that I’m stuck to the page. This is not hugely more difficult than Triton et al - though maybe I haven’t gotten to the really gnarly bits yet lol.

valet doberman (Jon not Jon), Tuesday, 23 April 2019 11:58 (three months ago) link

it can take awhile to get to the grisly nut in the folded vortex, and the soft granular trough behind it. iirc you have to map the folds that fall, wetly out, with your tongue

Οὖτις, Tuesday, 23 April 2019 15:20 (three months ago) link

lol

the late great, Tuesday, 23 April 2019 15:33 (three months ago) link

according to delany:

“I wrote out hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of sentences at the top of notebook pages,” he remembers. “Then I would work my way down the page, revising the sentence, again and again. When I got to the bottom I’d copy the sentence out to see if I wanted it. Then I’d put them back together again. It was a very long, slow process.”

and after all that we get a grisly nut in a folded vortex :/

what if bod was one of us (ledge), Tuesday, 23 April 2019 15:38 (three months ago) link

I get a strong autobiographical vibe from just about everything of his. I loved Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand enormously and couldn't wait for the sequel. Eventually came to learn that much of the autobiographical part of that book was his relationship with Frank Romeo, which broke up I think in the mid 80s. Delany has written enough about Romeo's problems that I'm not surprised and don't blame him for never wanting to go back to Marq and Rat.

The Mod Who Banned Liberty Valance (WmC), Tuesday, 23 April 2019 16:15 (three months ago) link

"stars in my pocket ..." is really his masterpiece, isn't it

i read that he didn't want to go back to it because he'd based many characters on real life acquaintances who later died during the AIDS epidemic

the late great, Tuesday, 23 April 2019 16:39 (three months ago) link

is it OOP?

... and the crowd said DESELECT THEM (||||||||), Tuesday, 23 April 2019 16:52 (three months ago) link

"My life here more and more resembles a book whose opening chapters, whose title even, suggest mysteries to be resolved only at closing. But as one reads along, one becomes more and more suspicious that the author has lost the thread of his argument, that the questions will never be resolved, or more upsetting, that the position of the characters will have so changed by the book's end that the answers to the initial questions will have become trivial." (page 755 of the Burnett edition)

- and finished on this bus this morning.

Making the last section a series of texts that have been recovered long after the fact casts a retrospectively melancholy air over the whole book - a sense of times passed, people long gone, a way of being that can no longer be accessed, or even imagined outside science fiction. I often experience a sense of loss when finishing a very long novel, and this was no exception. The vividness of feeling that Delany has for people and places is clearly autobiographical, which gives the book a lot of its cumulative power, and makes it an affecting memorial for an era that no longer exists, if it ever did.

Ward Fowler, Wednesday, 24 April 2019 09:05 (three months ago) link

Something of an ambivalent memorial though, for the culture if not the people. If Bellona is meant to represent the revolution triumphant, it's certainly no utopia. The squares (the Richards) are terrified; the elites (Calkins et al) are comfortable but isolated and also scared; It's not entirely clear what happens to the commune but it's not good; even the scorpions, free to do what they want to do, apparently want to mostly sit around being bored and having petty fights - and ultimately Bellona chews them up and spits them out.

what if bod was one of us (ledge), Thursday, 25 April 2019 08:40 (three months ago) link

Yes, interesting to compare it to Le Guin's The Dispossessed, published round about the same time and also concerned with an imperfect 'free' society, and what happens after revolution.

Ward Fowler, Thursday, 25 April 2019 09:17 (three months ago) link

I do need to read that again, given that Le Guin is in my all time top 5 authors & it's one of her most famous, but it had little impact on me. I suspect it's a grower.

I found an expansion of the book's Wiki page that provided a partial key. I won't link to it unless asked because SPOILERS.

link plz!

what if bod was one of us (ledge), Thursday, 25 April 2019 09:41 (three months ago) link

(ppl looking for other things by delany to read shd also consider his non-fiction!)

mark s, Thursday, 25 April 2019 09:45 (three months ago) link

( yeah, kind of prefer that tbh)

Theory of Every Zing (James Redd and the Blecchs), Thursday, 25 April 2019 09:57 (three months ago) link

Would def like to read that Wiki link that WmC mentions - and also Delany's own critical essay on Dhalgren, written under the pseudonym 'K. Leslie Steiner'.

Ward Fowler, Thursday, 25 April 2019 10:01 (three months ago) link

Some of yall's recent responses go much deeper than my dimly recalled take, from the early 80s---one of the specifics in residue is when the clouds part and the citizens, inhabitants, are like oh wow, two moons---my thoughts were: city has moved to Mars/was always on Mars, but they've forgotten that they are descendants of Earth, have no sense of historical time or place, just a foggy notion, habitual expectation, of things as they are, didja see that, so here's this.

dow, Thursday, 25 April 2019 18:56 (three months ago) link

But the author and the Kid are walking around and around the declivities of the surface, tour guides and not--hey Virgil, Beatrice, sorry bout that let it all hang in.

dow, Thursday, 25 April 2019 18:59 (three months ago) link

Famous long ago

dow, Thursday, 25 April 2019 19:03 (three months ago) link

Well I guess the oh wow two moons would be a jolted stump sense of historical etc but it's in that fog of expectations, one of them little breadcrumb kicks for characters and readers (and author, who said he wrote the book intermittently, over a long period of time: was no surprise to read this comment.)

dow, Thursday, 25 April 2019 19:22 (three months ago) link

Yeah, it has this note at the end of the text:

San Francisco, Abaqil, Toronto, Clarion, Milford, New Orleans, Seattle, Vancouver, Middletown, East Lansing, New York, London
January 1969/September 1973

Of course, that could finally be one of The Kid's poems, or

Ward Fowler, Thursday, 25 April 2019 19:58 (three months ago) link

one month passes...

He mapped the folds that fell, wetly out, with his tongue; and the grisly nut in the folded vortex, and the soft granular trough behind it.

He saw a man lying in his tracks, and a little girl standing in the snow. And he heard a man cry.

He saw one body after another, so many that his imagination did not rest upon his own sight; and he did not hesitate but to place everything on the spot where they lay. A man was still alive, with a terrible wound above the right shoulder of his breast, and a gaping wound on the left of his back; a young girl was lying face downwards to the ground, her body half buried; with her lifeless breast she wore a long black nightgown, torn from a girl's dress, which she was so proud of that she was about to cover her face with it, but which she was already covering.

At last he saw her faint and go on her hands and knees, while a soldier, leaning toward her, stood behind her, his mouth open, his fingers still holding one finger from her left wrist. Then another, with one arm, raised a rifle. With such a sound the girl's face split open. "Oh, it was the one with the gun," said her mother, "the one with the gun that shot her! And

He mapped the folds that fell, wetly out, with his tongue; and the grisly nut in the folded vortex, and the soft granular trough behind it. 'What do you know of it?' the woman asked, frowning suddenly.

'I've been looking at it for years, actually,' he said. 'I've got a map that they use. I've found the whole back ground on it.' He opened the map again in his hand, showing what appeared to be a valley, with a flat plain beside it.

'Oh, they put it in before they got it into place,' the woman said, looking at the hand in front of her, 'a few years ago. They knew it had to be made, I bet.'

As the woman shook her head slightly, Harry saw her eyes narrow a little.

'I bet it was,' he said.

'They had to have, I think they got rid of the others. But don't think they put it together on purpose, because there are some things where the surface of the earth isn't in line. The lines don't exactly line up. I just can't figure out how they got it done. I've found it's got traces. It's a very old thing - ' He paused. 'All of it - ' He shook

He mapped the folds that fell, wetly out, with his tongue; and the grisly nut in the folded vortex, and the soft granular trough behind it. For it was all to him, and he knew, he knew what he could do by it, he could do everything, he could see it coming all night by the faint shadows on the rocks, with everything else that was there before him in the dark—there and behind and across him by the darkness, so much, so much, was there already, waiting for him in that tiny spot, as if there had been another person there with them, one who should get it all, who should get it, who would feel it, and make a thing out of it all. And yet he knew it would come. He knew in the dark he had something to hold him back; in the glow, just as he wanted it, with this dimly perceptible light, if he could hold it. He had made no head way when that thing crawled to his knee. He knew it was coming, as he said. So did every man who had ever seen those things. They came, they crawled. And it would not come. He had found that the dark had to come again from some other time, but it would not come at night, as in the daytime, for it was far more than that.

He mapped the folds that fell, wetly out, with his tongue; and the grisly nut in the folded vortex, and the soft granular trough behind it. He could see from the distance the hollow of a hole, in the middle; and the dark-green surface, that fell, as far in front of him as the hollow it encompassed. A dark-brown cloud rose into the sky behind him, and it touched his eyes. He took out one of the pailfuls that held his food. It was an old tin can, with a flat top, and another in the hollow in the middle. He put a teaspoon into the can in the socket, and dropped the can upon the floor, just as he had done it on the second occasion. When the food floated, he placed the can in the hole behind to take it with him. He was not entirely sure that it did not come away with the can; in part, it drifted down to the surface above. His companion, the one who had been waiting for him, looked at him with wonder. And the cat, after the first time, seemed to have forgotten all about him in all his years of living. All things went back to their old state. No one had changed. It was the old animal that was suddenly changed; and the cat that had been waiting for the can must have

He mapped the folds that fell, wetly out, with his tongue; and the grisly nut in the folded vortex, and the soft granular trough behind it. He was sure it lay inside a body, that the brain was still there at the bottom of an ocean, and perhaps some of that ocean had been sunk by the sea and by the river and the riverbank and that the brain was there, as the man had said.

He wondered at the way it had been shaped. It had been built to a strange shape, and then it had broken at least three times. The cracks had been deep enough to hide anything. One morning, when he went to use the elevator and found his way shut off inside the structure, the structure did not shut off again. In fact, it kept on shutting down with one of the crackings. After a while, if the machinery stopped there as it must be because it had begun to work in an altered state, the structure would take again, and it would take again until it fell apart, until some strange little worm-like creature moved inside it. The worms, in turn, would eat off the brain and, eventually, all the brain. And then, suddenly, the whole thing would collapse, collapse in an incredible heap about three thousand feet tall. He saw it again and again—and each time, like a

He mapped the folds that fell, wetly out, with his tongue; and the grisly nut in the folded vortex, and the soft granular trough behind it. The dark greyish fluid filled the small hole in the wall of the basement with the dark greyish fluid.

"You must not enter, but you must not exit. You are now under curfew. You have done wrong. Now come back to the kitchen by eleven at lunchtime unless you wish to remain there tonight, in which case you will have to do so immediately." The words were still on the air from the speaker. He waited and watched to see if he heard any change, but nothing.

"And you are to continue to talk to those in charge while I take a moment to examine the machine and the apparatus that holds the people down in here," said the voice. He listened quietly and waited. He knew what it meant, but did not know whether to react. In fact there was nothing for it. No idea, then, what to do. He waited.

"Well," said the voice, on cue, "you are a boy." The words were still on the air, and he heard his own voice behind him saying, "You are a boy, sir."

The man's voice stopped again. He was sitting up in bed, watching with a slight

He mapped the folds that fell, wetly out, with his tongue; and the grisly nut in the folded vortex, and the soft granular trough behind it. The wind was up and he had the wind. And then, on to the rest. He traced it, in the dark, as if to feel.

They grew, he counted, to three thousand. A thousand and seven years and two hundred and sixty-six seconds. He felt his fingers twitching in their sockets. It had come to an end.

"What do you think?" someone asked him.

"The cat's dead," he said. "No more. And the dragon has vanished, too."

"That was good."

"Not yet," another said. "And the cat and the dragon both die."

And he felt things rise again--the air was cold, even.

And then he felt the sun rising again. And then it set.

"You're right," he said. "Now the dragon's here to pick up what you left here. And the cat has gone as far as it can go. It'll be nice to get back to this."

He got out of his seat and walked to the desk. He felt his shoes slide. He opened his hand to the book, sat with his feet

The Pingularity (ledge), Monday, 3 June 2019 09:33 (two months ago) link

a collection of terribly composed sentences

Οὖτις, Monday, 3 June 2019 15:06 (two months ago) link

what do we need Delany for when we have ridiculous AIs

Οὖτις, Monday, 3 June 2019 15:07 (two months ago) link


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