The great twentieth century poet T. S. Eliot remarked that a poet’s criticism of other writers often reveals as much or more about that poet’s own work as about that of the writers being discussed. This observation certainly holds true for Samuel R. Delany (1942-), perhaps the most vocal and certainly among the most intellectual of science-fiction author-critics. All too often, science fiction has been regarded by mainstream critics as an adolescent subgenre, a form to be lumped with mysteries, Westerns, and gothic romances, barely literate and hardly deserving of serious attention. The genre does have its apologists, whose defense takes many forms. Some treat science fiction thematically and historically, as the latest manifestation of a great tradition of heroic and mock-heroic fantasy and utopian literature, running in a line from the epic of Gilgamesh through Homer’s Odyssey (c. 800 b.c.e.) and Ludovico Ariosto’s Orlando furioso (1516) and including the works of Thomas More, Jonathan Swift, François Rabelais, and Edward Bellamy.
Others take a more pragmatic approach, centered on science fiction as a predictive form, able to explore the implications of new technologies and new social forms, as in the works of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, George Orwell, and Aldous Huxley. Still others point to the literary merits of an elite handful of science-fiction writers from Wells to Ursula K. Le Guin.
What all these approaches have in common is an assumption that science fiction is a form that can and occasionally does live up to the standards of “true” literature. Delany, though, turns the premises of such critics upside down. Rather than seeking the meaning and value of science fiction by detecting the presence of “literary” elements and properties, Delany insists, the reader and critic must employ a set of “reading protocols” as a methodology for tapping the richness and complexity of science fiction. The protocols one applies to reading science fiction of necessity must be different from the protocols one applies to “mundane” literature, if only in how the reader must constitute whole worlds and universes as background for any narrative.
As an example, first noted by Harlan Ellison, Delany frequently cites a sentence from a Robert Heinlein novel: “The door dilated.” Given only these three words, one can make a wealth of suppositions about a culture that needs doors that dilate rather than swing or slide open and shut and that has the technology to manufacture and operate them. The more profound implications of the “protocol of reading” that science fiction necessitates can be seen in another example often mentioned by Delany. In another Heinlein novel, Starship Troopers (1959), it is casually revealed two-thirds of the way through the book that the first-person narrator is Hispanic, not Anglo. Placed so casually in the narrative and read in the context of American society during the 1950’s—when Delany himself read it—such a revelation must have been disruptive, all the more so for a reader such as Delany, who is black. The fact that a society can be imagined in which race is no longer a major factor in determining social position opens to question the social fabric of the society in which the book is read and thereby generates potentials for change. Indeed, it may come as a surprise that requires such a shift in understanding for some of Delany’s readers to realize that virtually none of his major protagonists are white.
Such a protocol of reading has the power to affect the reader’s reaction to the language itself; Delany’s own writing virtually confronts the reader with the need to watch for cues and read carefully for complexity and variety. Mollya, a character in Babel-17, explains her desire to aid the heroine, Rydra Wong, by stating, “I was dead. She made me alive.” In a mainstream novel, such a statement would be merely a clichéd metaphor. In Babel-17, though, Mollya means what she says quite literally: She had been “discorporate” before she was revitalized by Rydra, who needed a new crew member. With this new weight of literal meaning, the cliché is refreshed and itself given new life as a metaphor as well as existing as a factual statement. It is through such potential to refresh the language, Delany suggests, that science fiction is the form of prose that is closest to poetry, even, through its popularity, coming to usurp some of poetry’s traditional social functions.
Delany’s critical comments and theoretical observations have three effects. First, they are an incitement to the literary critic to accept science fiction as a serious genre. (His essay “Letter to a Critic” was prompted by his offense at Leslie Fiedler’s expressed hope that science fiction would not lose its “sloppiness” or “vulgarity.”) Second, he has insisted that science-fiction writers give greater care to their art, in the texture of their prose as well as in the precision with which they render their imagined worlds. (His attack on Ursula K. Le Guin’s highly praised novel in “To Read The Dispossessed” takes the author to task precisely for the book’s weaknesses on both counts.) Finally, these observations are above all a comment on the standards that
Delany has set for himself. To read through Delany’s novels is to trace the growth and coming to maturity of a literary artist as well as to see the development and mutation of prevalent themes and images. Up through Dhalgren, his works usually center on a quest for identity undertaken or observed by a young man (Babel-17, with its female hero, is a notable exception). More often than not, the novel’s center of consciousness is an artist, usually a writer or musician. These characters themselves are in varying stages of development, and their quest usually culminates in their reaching a new level of awareness. In The Ballad of Beta-2, the young scholar-protagonist not only discovers behind an apparently trivial piece of space folklore a meaning that will alter humanity’s future and knowledge of the universe but also discovers the dangers of glib preconceptions and the value of dedicated work. In Empire Star, the young Comet Jo advances from “simplex” to “multiplex” levels of thought in a tale that is also a neat twist on the paradoxes of time travel.
A major concern throughout Delany’s career up through Tales of Nevèrÿon has been the function of language and myth. The power of language in shaping awareness is the major thematic concern of Babel-17. Its heroine, the poet and space captain Rydra Wong (fluent in many languages, including those of body movements) is sent to interpret and discover the source of an enemy alien language, Babel-17. In so doing, she discovers a way of thinking that is highly analytical and marvelously efficient and compact but that is also dangerous—having no concept of “I” or “you,” the language can induce psychotic and sociopathic behavior in those who use it.
Myth is employed to varying degrees in Delany’s novels, most heavily in The Einstein Intersection, Nova, and Dhalgren—so much so that the three almost form a trilogy of meditations on the subject. In The Einstein Intersection, aliens have populated a ruined earth deserted by human beings. Before these new inhabitants can create their own culture, though, they must first act through the myths—from those of Orpheus and Jesus to those of Billy the Kid and Jean Harlow—that they have inherited from humanity. In Nova, space captain Lorq von Ray self-consciously sets out on a Graillike quest for Illyrion, an element found at the heart of exploding stars, in order to change the social and economic structure of the entire universe. In Dhalgren, media and rumor elevate characters to legendary status almost overnight. The book effectively examines the disjuncture between myth and experience without denying the reality or validity of either.
Myth reappears in a different form in the Nevèrÿon cycle. Although three of the books—Tales of Nevèrÿon, Flight from Nevèrÿon, and The Bridge of Lost Desire (in addition to Neveryóna)—are collections of “tales,” they have to be read as complete fictions whose individual parts create a greater whole. In fact, the tetralogy can be considered one complete text in itself; however, in keeping with Delany’s insistence on the importance of the provisional, the random, and the contradictory as features to be accepted in life and in literature, the parts do not always cohere and may be read in different orders. Myth is the very subject of these writings, inspired in part by Robert Howard’s Conan the Barbarian books but also playing with numerous utopian concepts. (The name Nevèrÿon itself—“never/there”—is a play on the word utopia— “no place.”) The books themselves are further framed within the context of an ongoing mock-scholarly analysis, “Some Informal Remarks Toward the Modular Calculus” (which actually began as part of Triton), suggesting that Nevèrÿon is an extrapolation of an ancient text, possibly the beginning and source of all writing.
In his mature works, from Babel-17 on, Delany became increasingly “multiplex” as his characterizations took on new levels of depth and complexity. Delany has moved increasingly to the realization that neither the individual nor society is a stable, unitary entity and that meaning is not to be derived from either or both of these forces in themselves but from the relationships and interactions between them. This realization is manifested in two images that recur throughout Delany’s fiction and criticism. The first is the palimpsest—the inscribed sheet that has been imperfectly erased and reinscribed several times, creating a rich and difficult multilayered text whose meanings may be incomplete and can never be reduced to any one reading. The Nevèrÿon cycle, as an extreme instance, is a densely layered text that comments on its own narrative, its generic counterparts and origins, and its own composition.
In these images of palimpsest and web, Delany echoes modern thought in many
disciplines. Some psychiatrists assert that the individual ego is illusory, a construct to
give the semblance of unity The second image is that of the web, which is multidirectional rather than linear and in which the individual points are no more important than the connections between them. To recognize the web is to understand its structure and learn how to use it or at least work within it, possibly even to break or reshape it. On the literal level, such understanding allows Rydra Wong to break free of a web that straps her down; on the figurative level, recognition of the web allows one to understand and function within a culture. Katin, the protonovelist of Nova, comes to realize that his society, far from being impoverished and lacking a necessary center of tradition (a common complaint of modern artists), is actually rich and overdetermined, multilayered, when one looks at the interrelationships of points within the culture rather than at any single point. The fatal mistake of Bron Helstrom, the protagonist of Triton, is his inability to recognize the web, his attempt to seek a sense of unitary being that is increasingly elusive instead of accepting the flux and flow that characterize Triton’s society. In Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, the Web is the name of the information and communication network that spans the universe, affecting its operations in mysterious ways.
In these images of palimpsest and web, Delany echoes modern thought in many disciplines. Some psychiatrists assert that the individual ego is illusory, a construct to give the semblance of unity to the multiple and conflicting layers of desire and repression which constitute the subject. Anthropologists and sociologists define society by the interactions within its patterns and structures rather than as a unitary and seamless “culture” or even a collection of such cultures. Linguists stipulate that the meanings of individual utterances cannot be determined by isolating individual parts of speech, that in fact the concepts “noun” and “verb” have no individual meaning except in relation to whole statements and the context within which they occur. Finally, post-Einsteinian physics has demonstrated that matter itself is not composed of stable, unitary particles but that atoms and their components are actually “energy packets” whose characteristics and behavior depend upon the expectations of observers and the contexts in which they are observed. Delany is aware of all these intellectual currents and is in fact a part of this “web” of thought himself; within this pattern of relationships he has set a standard for all writers, whether fantastic or mainstream. Two of the novels that explore the implications of these assumptions are Dhalgren and Triton.
Dhalgren begins with an archetypal scenario: A young man, wearing only one sandal and unable to remember his name, wanders into Bellona, a Midwestern city that has suffered some nameless catastrophe. In the course of the novel’s 880 pages, he encounters the city’s remaining residents; goes through mental, physical, and sexual adventures; becomes a local legend; and leaves. In its complexity and its ambitious scope, Dhalgren invites comparison with a handful of contemporary novels, including Vladimir Nabokov’s Ada or Ardor (1969) and Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow (1973), which make Joycean demands of the reader. Unlike many other science-fiction novels set in a post-holocaust society, Dhalgren is not concerned with the causes of the breakdown, nor does it tell of an attempt to create a new society out of the ashes of the old. There is no need for such a reconstruction. Bellona’s catastrophe was unique; the rest of the country and the world are unaffected. Separated from outside electronic communication and simply abandoned by the larger society, Bellona has become a center of attraction for outcasts and drifters of all descriptions as well as remaining a home to its own disenfranchised, notably the city’s black population. The city has become a place of absolute freedom, where all can do and be whatever they choose, yet it is not in a state of anarchy. There are rules and laws that govern the city, but they are not recorded or codified.
To the newcomer (and to a first reader of the book), these “rules” seem random and unpredictable. Clouds obscure the sky, so that time of day has little meaning, and the days themselves are named arbitrarily. Direction in this city seems constantly to shift, in part because people change the street signs at whim. Fires burn throughout the city, but listlessly and without pattern. When the clouds do part, they might reveal two moons in the night sky or a sun that covers half the sky. The protagonist (who comes to be known simply as The Kid) must define his identity in terms of these shifting relationships, coping with the ever-fluid patterns Bellona offers.
The price of failing to work within the web and to accommodate reality—even an unreal reality—is exemplified by the Richards family, white middle-class citizens who try to maintain a semblance of the life they had known and are going mad as a result. The Kid begins his stay in Bellona by working for the Richards, helping them to move upstairs in their apartment complex, away from a “nest” of “Scorpions,” the mostly black street gangs who wander through the city. (The Scorpions themselves are almost as annoyed and bothered by the Richardses.) The move is futile—the Richardses are no happier or saner in their new apartment, and their son accidentally dies during the move; The Kid is not paid his promised wages (in any case, money is useless in Bellona). Nevertheless, the job has helped The Kid to adjust to Bellona’s society, and he has begun to write poetry in a notebook he has found. As he nears the end of his job, he finds himself becoming, almost by accident, a Scorpion and eventually the leader of a “nest.” His poetry is published, and he becomes, within the city, famous.
The characters and events of Dhalgren are rich and detailed enough in themselves to make the book notable. It is Delany’s attention to form, though, that makes the book so complex and the act of reading it so disruptive. Not only are the city and its events seemingly random, but the plot and characterization are likewise unpredictable. Questions remain unanswered, few elements are fully resolved, and the answers and resolutions that are given are tentative and possibly misleading. Near the end of the novel, The Kid believes that he has discovered his name, but this is never confirmed. He leaves Bellona at the end of the book, but his fate is left obscure. The Kid is, moreover, an unreliable center of consciousness. He was once in a mental institution, so the reader must doubt his perceptions (he unaccountably loses stretches of time; after his first sexual encounter early in the book, he sees the woman he was with turn into a tree). He is also ambidextrous and possibly dyslexic, so that the random ways in which Bellona seems to rearrange itself may be the result of The Kid’s own confusion. At the same time, though, Delany gives the reader reason to believe The Kid’s perception; others, for example, also witness the impossible double moons and giant sun.
Dhalgren is not a book that will explain itself. A palimpsest, it offers new explanations on each reading. The Kid’s notebook contains observations by an unknown author that tempt the reader to think that they are notes for the novel Dhalgren; there are minor but significant differences, however, between notes and text. The last phrase of the novel, “. . . I have come to,” runs into the first, “to wound the autumnal city,” recalling the circular construction of Finnegans Wake (1939). Unlike the riverrun of James Joyce’s dream book, though, Dhalgren does not offer the solace of such a unitary construction. The two phrases do not, after all, cohere, but overlap on the word “to.” If anything, the construction of the book echoes the “optical chain” made of mirrors, prisms, and lenses that The Kid and other characters wear. Events and phrases within the book do not exactly repeat, but imprecisely mirror, one another. Certain events and phenomena, such as the giant sun, are magnified as if by a lens; others are fragmented and dispersed, as a prism fragments light into the visible spectrum.
Ultimately, Delany’s Bellona is a paradigm of contemporary society. Within this seeming wasteland, though, the author finds not solace and refuge in art and love, as so many modern authors have, but the very source and taproot of art and love. Delany’s epigraph reads, “You have confused the true and the real.” Whatever the “reality” of the city, the book’s events, or The Kid’s ultimate fate, “truth” has been discovered. The Kid no longer needs the city, and his place is taken by a young woman entering Bellona in a scene that mirrors The Kid’s own entrance. Even the “reality” of this scene is not assured, as The Kid’s speech fragments into the unfinished sentences of the notebook. “Truth,” finally, is provisional, whatever is sufficient for one’s needs, and requires to be actively sought and separated from the “real.”
Delany’s next novel, Triton, has some similarities to Dhalgren but turns the premises of the earlier novel inside out. Once again, a protagonist is introduced into a society of near-total freedom. This time, however, the setting is an established, deliberately and elaborately planned society on Neptune’s moon Triton in the year 2112, and the protagonist, Bron Helstrom, is a worker in “metalogics” for a company (termed a “hegemony”) on that moon. Triton is at least as free a society as Bellona— indeed, more so, since people are not only free to behave and live in almost any social, sexual, or religious pattern but also may change their residences, their physical sex, and their psychological sexual orientation almost at will.
In the novel’s course, Triton joins with the other Outer Satellites of the worlds beyond Jupiter in a war against Mars and Earth, but Delany subverts one’s expectations in his treatment of this conflict. The war involves no soldiers, causes the deaths of millions, and is over quickly; it is also peripheral to the book’s main focus, a psychological study of Bron Helstrom. Helstrom, a seemingly normal individual and a recent emigrant from Mars, is out of place on this moon which has a place for everybody. He meets a roaming actor and theatrical producer called The Spike and becomes romantically obsessed with her, but she ultimately rejects him. This rejection, caused by and coupled with Helstrom’s narcissism and obsession with correct responses to codes, conventions, and patterns of behavior, drives him deeper into himself. Unable, as he thinks, to find a woman who will suit his ideal, he has a sex-change operation to become that ideal himself, one who will then be available for a man like himself. His (or now her) rules of conduct, though, require complete passivity. Helstrom must wait for the right man and can make no sign to him, so she must wait forever, all the more so because she has falsely idealized a code of “correct” male and female behavior. The end reveals a total solipsism: The one man who could meet Bron Helstrom’s standards is himself, just as she is the one woman who could meet his.
Triton is, in its way, an illustration of Gödel’s theorem: No logical system is sufficient to explain itself, and thus every system is incomplete and open to paradox. Triton’s social system, designed to accommodate everyone (one of its rules even requires a place where no rules apply) still cannot accommodate someone such as Helstrom who, coming from Mars, does not share the presuppositions on which that system is founded. Helstrom’s logic of male-female relationships, on the other hand, stems from his failure to operate on Triton’s terms and is paradoxical and incomplete within itself too.
Triton, subtitled An Ambiguous Heterotopia, is in some ways a reply to Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Dispossessed (1974, subtitled An Ambiguous Utopia). Although Triton’s society is in certain aspects utopian, offering a nearly ideal model of a future society, that model—like all utopias, including Le Guin’s—is insufficient. Thus Delany alludes to the notion of the “heterotopia” advanced by the French philosopher Michel Foucault. In contrast to utopias, which provide consolation, heterotopias disturb and disrupt, refusing to allow things to hold together. Triton can not “hold together” metaphorically or literally. It cannot anticipate a Helstrom; it also may lose its artificial gravity by a random coherence of the subatomic particles in its energy field. The contradictions of modern American society—tending toward libertarianism on one hand and repression on the other—are extrapolated into the future interplanetary society of Triton. Triton itself is an idealized extension of aspects of Delany’s experiences in New York’s East Village, San Francisco, and elsewhere during the 1960’s and early 1970’s. Earth, however, remains mired in its dominant hierarchical, patriarchal culture. Helstrom, from Mars, is sufficiently distant from Earth’s culture to be shocked at its brutality and bemused by its adherence to money. Helstrom, though, patterns his own models of sex role behavior on sexist and patriarchal assumptions about the supposedly innate natures of men and women, behaviour that is rendered ridiculous by a society in which “male” and “female” are simply categories of choice. It should be noted that in its depictions of Helstrom’s behavior, Triton is often richly comic.
Delany’s probing goes even further. He reminds the reader that he is presenting models too. The novel includes two appendices, one a collection of notes and omitted segments from the novel and the other a segment of lectures by a Martian scholar, Ashima Slade, titled “Some Informal Remarks Toward the Modular Calculus, Part Two.” These additions are integral to the novel. They serve to remind the reader that the book is a made object, subject to work and revision, and they also comment on the method of the models provided in the “novel” itself. They also give hints of possible answers to some of the questions raised by the text while raising new ones in turn.
Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand
As noted above, the Nevèrÿon series continues Delany’s radical examination of narrative formats, in this case the sword-andsorcery fantasy narrative, through the various tales and plot lines within the four books of the series and through a continuation of the “Informal Remarks Toward the Modular Calculus.” In the category of science fiction itself, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand continually tests readers’ assumptions. The two major protagonists, Rat Korga and Marq Dyeth—the former an illiterate slave who has become filled with knowledge thanks to technological information devices and the latter a descendant of an ancient family and “industrial diplomat”—become lovers. The reader is uncertain, though, of their genders until well into the novel; both are male, but in this future universe people are usually classed as “women” and referred to as “she” regardless of actual sex, as in English (until the late twentieth century) “man” has been assumed to refer to humanity in general and “he” could refer generically to men or women. One paradox the book presents is that travel and communication can cut across vast distances between planets and galaxies, thus making the universe a smaller place, while the social complexities and contradictions among differing groups on one planet can make a world a very large place. Marq Dyeth travels to and communicates with different interstellar planets with relative ease; it is much harder, though, for social and practical reasons to travel on his own home planet. Marq’s family grouping (and the word “family” is a richly complex term) includes Evelmi, the planet’s aboriginal insectoid beings, who are enslaved on the same planet’s other hemisphere.
The love between Marq and Rat is complicated by the social and political structures within which they exist. Throughout the inhabited worlds there is a power struggle between two factions, the Family and the Sygn. The Family seeks dominance to impose what a contemporary person might call “traditional moral values”—a restrictive, authoritarian system of beliefs and behaviors. The Sygn is a looser, almost ideally anarchic force; if it gains power, it will avoid the use of power in any social sense. Complicating this contention of forces are the roles of the Web, the information link that connects the planets, and the Xlv, a nonhuman species that is capable of space travel and may have destroyed Rat’s home planet. At the novel’s end, little is resolved; Marq and Rat have been forcibly separated, the Xlv threaten Marq’s planet, and the social issues have yet to reach a peak. Thus, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand leaves room for many explorations of the rich and dazzling cultures that Delany presents or hints at in addition to the novel’s complex narrative threads.
They Fly at Çiron
With They Fly at Çiron, Delany returns to some of the themes and motifs he explored in the Nevèrÿon series. He also returns to his creative origins, for They Fly at Çiron is an expanded version of a short story Delany wrote in 1962, just after completing his first novel, The Jewels of Aptor. Therefore, in a sense, the novel is a collaboration between the young Delany and Delany at midlife.
The novel takes place, like Tales of Nevèrÿon, in a fantasy realm where the basic inventions of civilization are just dawning. Çiron is a peaceful, pastoral realm where the people spend their time growing food, playing games, and singing songs. They do not even know what a weapon is. However, there is tension in this utopia—the Çironians distrust the Winged Ones, flying humans who inhabit the nearby mountains of Hi-Vator.
The Çironian peace comes to a shocking end when soldiers from the empire of Myetra, led by Prince Nactor, slam into Çiron, ending its innocence by introducing brutality, weaponry, and slavery. Under the pressures of the invasion, the Çironians join with the Winged Ones in resistance to the Myetra invasion, as personified by the friendship between Rahm, a Çironian, and Vortcir, a Winged One.
The turning point comes with Kire, a Myetra officer who has become disturbed by Prince Nactor’s cruelty. When Nactor sentences Kire to death for refusing to rape and kill a Çironian girl, Kire abandons the Myetra Empire and joins Rahm and Vortcir in defending Çiron and Hi-Vator. Ultimately the Çironians and the Winged Ones are victorious, but they lose their innocence forever. Like William S. Burroughs’s concept of the virus of language infecting humankind, the virus of civilization has infected the Çironians and the Winged Ones, who, at the novel’s close, are committing acts of revenge against the soldiers of Myetra that echo Prince Nactor’s earlier atrocities.
Delany has been referred to in jest by some as the “ultimate marginal writer”—a black, gay, poststructuralist writing in a marginal literary form—but those very margins serve to offer a critique of what is missing in the center and a vision of what could be found there instead. Increasingly, Delany’s work has come to stand for openness, diversity, randomness, and the provisional; it opposes closedness and stagnation, hierarchies and fixities. Delany’s fiction is a continuing challenge to assumptions about sex, race, and social roles as well as to assumptions about what fiction is and how it should be read.
Atlantis: Three Tales
Semiautobiographical in nature, this collection of three novellas begins with Atlantis: Model 1924, in which a young man, Sam, travels from North Carolina to New York in order to find his family. In the six months after his arrival, he has an encounter with a poetic stranger, in a complex and allusive narrative, as well as encountering historical figures such as Paul Robeson, Hart Crane, and Jean Toomer, and finally rejoins his older siblings.
In Erik, Gwen, and D. H. Lawrence’s Esthetic of Unrectified Feeling, a second Sam, an artistic young boy in the 1950’s, is taught both by his formalist art teacher and by a farmhand and gradually is awakened to his feelings about art as well as his own burgeoning sexuality. Sam muses on what art really is, how its definition has changed over the history, and its importance to both himself and the world.
In the final Citre et Trans, the third of the Sams, a twenty-something bisexual American writer in Greece in the 1960’s, confronts the impact of rape after his roommate brings home a pair of Greek sailors. The darkest of the three stories, including both a homosexual rape and a dog’s owner being forced to kill it, the story is still told with the finesse Delany brings to the entirety of his work.
All three of the novellas contained in Atlantis: Three Tales focus less on external action than on changes in the main character’s consciousness. The work itself is highly experimental, playing with typography, splitting the work into columns to convey concurrent narration, marginal notes, surrealism, and stream of consciousness, in order to juxtapose time, memory, and fact. While they trace the interdepency of memory, experience, and the self, the book met with mixed reviews, many critics feeling that the experimental nature of the text made it overly difficult to extract the story.
Long fiction • The Jewels of Aptor, 1962; Captives of the Flame, 1963 (revised, 1968, as Out of the Dead City); The Towers of Toron, 1964; City of a Thousand Suns, 1965; The Ballad of Beta-2, 1965; Babel-17, 1966; Empire Star, 1966; The Einstein Intersection, 1967; Nova, 1968; The Fall of the Towers, 1970 (includes revised versions of Out of the Dead City, The Towers of Toron, and City of a Thousand Suns); The Tides of Lust, 1973 (also known as Equinox); Dhalgren, 1975; Triton, 1976 (also known as Trouble on Triton); Empire, 1978; Tales of Nevèrÿon, 1979; Nevèrÿona: Or, The Tale of Signs and Cities, 1983; Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, 1984; Flight from Nevèrÿon, 1985; The Bridge of Lost Desire, 1987 (also known as Return to Nevèrÿon); Hogg, 1993; They Fly at Çiron, 1993; The Mad Man, 1994.
Short fiction: Driftglass: Ten Tales of Speculative Fiction, 1971 (revised and expanded, 2003, as Aye and Gomorrah); Distant Stars, 1981; Atlantis: Three Tales, 1995.
Nonfiction: The Jewel-Hinged Jaw: Notes on the Language of Science Fiction, 1977; The American Shore: Meditations on a Tale of Science Fiction by Thomas M. Disch, 1978; Heavenly Breakfast: An Essay on the Winter of Love, 1979; Starboard Wine: More Notes on the Language of Science Fiction, 1984; The Straits of Messina, 1987; The Motion of Light in Water: Sex and Science-Fiction Writing in the East Village, 1957-1965, 1988 (memoir); Silent Interviews, 1994; Longer Views, 1996; Bread and Wine: An Erotic Tale of New York City, an Autobiographical Account, 1998; Shorter Views: Queer Thoughts and the Politics of the Paraliterary, 1999; Times Square Red, Times Square Blue, 1999; Nineteen Eighty-Four: Selected Letters, 2000; About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, and Five Interviews, 2005.
Source: Notable American Novelists Revised Edition Volume 1 James Agee — Ernest J. Gaines Edited by Carl Rollyson Salem Press, Inc 2008.