D is for Samuel R. Delany

The fourth in the series of Alphabet of Authors, Delany is a youngster being only 72 this year. I found him in Webster’s Dictionary of American Authors from on my bookshelf. It’s a great book and you’ll hear read more about it at a later date. Today I’m looking at an entry on page 101, that of Samuel R. Delany.

Webster's Dictionary of American Authors
Webster’s Dictionary of American Authors

Besides being young, Delany writes about topics that could be seen as controversial but could also help some people. Some years ago I was given a list of books and asked to provide as many as possible, it was an interesting list mostly science fiction but with some fantasy and the theme was about gender change or sex with aliens. The reason behind the list was someone looking at gender change, someone looking to change their gender and hoping to find out as much as possible in a world that hadn’t explored it much until then. These books were the only books possible for research, there have been many books written about the topic since then as many people have changed genders and written about it but then it was a scarce subject.

Where’s the link between gender change and Delany? It’s a topic he’s written about, published in 1976 Trouble on Triton which you can buy (or just look at) on Booktopia. The main character undergoes a sex-change operation. Or Dhalgren published in 1975 about a young bisexual man searching for identity or even The Einstein Intersection published even earlier in 1967 which addresses issues of cultural development and sexual identity.

Delany was very much ahead of his time as these issues didn’t really become something to think about until after these books were published. I understand the 1960s and ’70s were a time of free sex and flower power and all that but he was still publishing these things with regular publishers before they became well known.

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