Samuel R. Delany

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What I look for in a friend is someone who's different from me. The more different the person is, the more I'll learn from him. The more he'll come up with surprising takes on ideas and things and situations.

Samuel R. Delany (born 1 April 1942) is an award-winning science fiction author. He has written works that have garnered substantial critical acclaim, including the novels Nova, The Einstein Intersection, Hogg, and Dhalgren. He is a professor of Comparative Literature and Creative Writing at Temple University, and is also known in the academic world as a literary critic.


  • To speak the unspeakable without the proper rhetorical flourish or introduction; to muff that flourish, either by accident, misjudgment, or simple ignorance; to choose the wrong flourish or not choose any (i.e., to choose the flourish called "the literal") is to perform the unspeakable.
    • On the Unspeakable, Avant-Pop, p. 150
  • I read the NAMBLA (Bulletin) fairly regularly and I think it is one of the most intelligent discussions of sexuality I've ever found. I think before you start judging what NAMBLA is about, expose yourself to it and see what it is really about. What the issues they are really talking about, and deal with what's really there rather than this demonized notion of guys running about trying to screw little boys. I would have been so much happier as an adolescent if NAMBLA had been around when I was 9, 10, 11, 12, 13.
    • Queer Desires Forum
  • At a certain point I came to the conclusion that one of the murderous aspects of the AIDS crisis was that people were used to not talking about sexual experiences in detail. Gay sex for instance does not cause AIDS. There are certain acts that transmit a virus and there are certain other acts that don’t transmit a virus. If you don’t talk about what goes on in sexuality, so that you know what particular acts you’re dealing with, then I think you're, possibly in an indirect way but never-the-less in a very real way, contributing to an atmosphere of ignorance which the result is people die.
    • Spoken Arts interview on WBFO 88.7, 20th April 2000.
  • One would almost think that they [straight white males] felt empowered to take anything the society produced, no matter how marginal, and utilize it for their own ends -- dare we say "exploit it"? -- certainly to take advantage of it as long as it's around. And could this possibly be an effect of discourse? Perhaps it might even be one we on the margins might reasonably appropriate to our profit... or perhaps some of us already have.
    • The Rhetoric of Sex, The Discourse of Desire

Equinox (1973)

Originally published as The Tides of Lust
  • It is a magic book. Words mean things. When you put them together they speak. Yes, sometimes they flatten out and nothing they say is real, and that is one kind of magic. But sometimes a vision will rip up from them and shriek and clank wings clear as the sweat smudge on the paper under your thumb. And that is another kind. (p. 163)
  • We have done a tiny bit to free the darkies in this country. But the devil is still very much our slave. (p. 60)
  • Always remember the objects you are working with. When you make a bridge, remember you are putting steel on stone and dirt. ... Some day you will write poems to a little girl: marks with ink on paper. ... When you are making love, you are moving flesh against flesh. That is the basis of all magic. (p. 30)
  • Yeah, nigger, you better grin. Niggers can't smile in this book. (p. 87)

The Mad Man (1994)

  • What I look for in a friend is someone who's different from me. The more different the person is, the more I'll learn from him. The more he'll come up with surprising takes on ideas and things and situations. (p. 239)
  • But it's always intriguing to discover the ways in which desire fuels the systems of the world. (p. 257)
  • Honesty is the best policy; a policy is, after all, a strategy for living in the polis — in the city ... (p. 78) [ellipses in original]

Hogg (1995)

  • Men hate bitches the way white men hate niggers. ... Long as they do like we say they're suppose to do, everything always looks fine. But let one of them get even a little, teeny, weeny bit out of line, then you watch what happens — we wanna kill. We may not kill, but we wanna kill. Well, if I was a bitch and knew what I know 'cause I ain't one, I'd get out there and start killin' first. (p. 82)
  • "I think I ain't never met a normal, I mean normal, man who wasn't crazy! Loon crazy, take 'em off and put 'em away crazy, which is what they would do if there wasn't so many of them. Every normal man — I mean sexually normal, now — man I ever met figures the whole thing runs between two points: What he wants, and what he thinks should be. Every thought in his head is directed to fixing a rule-straight line between them, and he calls that line: What Is. ... On the other hand, every faggot or panty-sucker, or whip jockey, or SM freak, or baby-fucker, or even a motherfucker like me, we know —" and his hands came down like he was pushing something away: "We know, man, that there is what we want, there is what should be, and there is what is: and don't none of them got anything to do with each other unless —" The bartender was shaking his head." — unless we make it," Hogg went on anyway. (p. 121)

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