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Samuel Delany: A giant of science fiction

"I consider Delany not only one of the most important SF writers of the present generation, but a fascinating writer in general who has invented a new style." —Umberto Eco

Samuel Delany
Samuel Delany. Photographed by James Hamilton.

Thursday, February 21, 2019
7:30 p.m., presentation at Page Hall, 135 Western Avenue, 135 Western Avenue, University at Albany Downtown Campus, Albany, NY 12203.

Earlier that same day, Delany will hold a craft talk about writing science fiction at 4:15p.m. at the Opalka Gallery, 140 New Scotland Ave, Albany, NY 12208.

Free and open to the public.

A one-of-a-kind giant of American literature, Samuel Delany is a disruptive practitioner of “outsider art,” an explorer of African-American and Gay identities, and one of the most influential and innovative science fiction writers of the last half century.

In The Daily Beast, Mark Dery called Delany “the Grand Old Man of polymorphously perverse science fiction.” Winner of four Nebulas and two Hugos, Delany is a “Grand Master” of the Science Fiction Writers of America. Since 1962, he has written dozens of books, including the sci-fi classics, Babel-17 (1966), Nova (1968), Dhalgren (1975), and the Return to Nevèrÿon series (1979-1987).

Fellow writer Michael Cunningham has called Delany “one of the most profound and courageous writers at work today” for his Stonewall Book Award-winning novel, Dark Reflections (2016).

In a 2017 interview published on LitHub, Delany discussed his method of novel writing: of the things I do remember is at age 17 reading Moby Dick in the car on my way to Oak Bluffs with my parents, and in the introduction to the paperback edition, it said that novels were great because of their form. The introduction even said that works of art are great because of their form—and I thought yeah, that’s true. And from then on I did become something of a superstructuralist. So that’s where that may have even come from. You did have to take care of the form."

For more than 50 years, Delany has published novels and short stories in the science fiction genre. Recent books include Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders (2012) and The Atheist in the Attic (2018), which Publishers Weekly called a “remarkable mélange [that] will be enlightening for readers to follow along with him.”

Delany served as Writer-in-Residence at the University at Albany in 1978.

The event, free and open to the public, is cosponsored by the Opalka Gallery at Sage College of Albany in conjunction with their exhibition, “In Place of Now,” showcasing artists who offer new speculations regarding contemporary black identity. The exhibit runs through April 14, 2019. See