Don’t Romanticize Science Fiction: An Interview with Samuel Delany

By Adam Fitzgerald

Encountering Samuel R. Delany’s work, for me at least, can be described in two phases (more like paroxysms): the first is being so overcome by the true presence of a genius or polymath writer, the endless fertility and ease through which he has made each genre indelibly his own (science fiction, literary criticism, the short personal essay, the queer memoir, the travelogue, journal writing)—in short, Nobel be damned, we are living in the age of Delany’s life-changing, out-of-this-world work and the kind of reader/critic his writing calls into being, well, she may not exist quite yet. The second phase, no less intense than the first, is to refuse trying to categorize his black queer art because what he has done is, in fact, so much more interesting, diffuse and multifaceted than the rhetoric of genius, the confines of genre. Delany isn’t simply, or at all, a master of this or that form so much as he refuses everything straight white literary culture has been trying to niche and market all along.

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