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A Sentence About a Sentence I Love: From Joanna Russ’s And Chaos Died

“The Big One was obviously one of those epoxy-and-metal eggs produced by itself—the Platonic Idea of a pebble turned inside out, born of a computer and aspiring towards the condition of Mechanical Opera.”


It’s the description of a starship from Joanna Russ’s second science fiction novel, And Chaos Died, which manages to take in pretty much the range of literary references through allusion and quotation, whether it’s H. P. Lovecraft (“the old one was . . .”), the Bible (“born of the Virgin Mary”), or Walter Pater’s “The School of Giorgione” (“all art aspires to the condition of music”).


  • Samuel R. Delany’s science fiction and fantasy tales are available in Aye and Gomorrah and Other Stories. His collection Atlantis: Three Tales and Phallos are experimental fiction. His novels include science fiction such as the Nebula-Award winning Babel-17 and The Einstein Intersection, as well as Nova and Dhalgren. His four-volume series Return to Nevèrÿon is sword-and-sorcery. Most recently, he has written the SF novel Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders. His 2007 novel Dark Reflections won the Stonewall Book Award. Other novels include Equinox, Hogg, and The Mad Man. Delany was the subject of a 2007 documentary, The Polymath, by Fred Barney Taylor, and he has written a popular creative writing textbook, About Writing. He is the author of the widely taught Times Square Red / Times Square Blue, and his book-length autobiographical essay, The Motion of Light in Water, won a Hugo Award in 1989. All are available as both e-books and in paperback. Delany is the author of several collections of critical essays. His interview in the Paris Review’s 'Art of Fiction' series appeared in spring 2012. In 2015 he was the recipient of the Nicolas Guillén Award for philosophical fiction. His novella The Atheist in the Attic appeared in February 2018. Professor Delany retired from teaching at the end of 2015. He lives in Philadelphia with his partner, Dennis Rickett.

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