Reading: Samuel R. Delany — Dhalgren

I was persuaded to add this to my not inconsequentially pricey stack last week having never heard of it, and black, gay American sci-fi author from the ’70s just appealed to me hugely. Alas. I barely got through three pages. I should have known with William Gibson penning an intro (I did know) that it was already on suspect ground (I’ve read and own pretty much everything Gibson has written, and some of it I love dearly, but in the past decade he’s tripped over into that black hole of near-future USA-ianism, much like Neal Stephenson, and for the vast majority of the rest of the world it’s like watching rich people rifle through their own garbage), but still, worth a whirl, I though.

3-page whirl while doing balancing exercises. Even the description I read about Dhalgren somewhere when I went through a quick “Who the fuck is this Delany?” internet tour made me think perhaps I should abstain because it sounds somewhat close to something I’m writing and I might like it too much. What I did read is very much in that modernist fiction writing genre like Chingiz Aitmatov’s The Day Lasts More Than a Hundred Years, or even yes, Joyce’s Ulysses, and the writing itself is beautiful in that way. But I don’t want to slug through the first pages of hetero fuck-making written by a man in the ’70s with all the blah that goes with it, gay man or not.

This is a serious problem for me with older sci-fi – older being vast amounts written in the 20th century and quite a pile in this – particularly the ‘classics’, which , let’s be plain about are male classics. There’s masses of sci-fi written by women, or ‘non-default author setting’ that is gaspingly easy to find (Tiptree!), so much so I think I need to be much more diligent in my “If it’s not contemporary, then let’s stick to women authors” rule. I finished Fearsome Journeys yesterday and there are at least four authors in there I will buy on the basis of their short stories (this is how I used to find new authors when I was a sci-fi ankle biter), so perhaps I’m being unduly harsh on Delaney, but … oh well.