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text 2020-03-24 15:47
Captives of the Flame
Captives of the Flame - Samuel R. Delany

by Samuel R. Delany


Typical early 1960s science fiction.


"The Empire of Toromon had finally declared war. The attacks on its planes had been nothing compared to the final insult—the kidnapping of the Crown Prince. The enemy must be dealt with, and when they were, Toromon would be able to get back on its economic feet."


Add to this a radiation barrier that leaves a people isolated and an enemy called the Lord of the Flames and you're set up for epic battles and other fun geeky stuff.


This is considered the first of a trilogy, but quite honestly it didn't impress me enough to continue. None of the characters stood out for me and apart from an interesting contrast between the rich and the poor, the plot was fairly generic. There's also a mock-Arthurian Fantasy element in the young prince being kidnapped to be trained among the forest guardians to be a good king so the elements of a good story are there, but I found my mind wandering as I read. Somehow it just didn't grip me.


Very much a thing of its time.

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review 2019-08-20 00:41
Dhalgren - Samuel R. Delany

I loved Delany's The Mad Man, a favorite of mine for a few years. I was really interested in reading another work of his, especially one that's so highly regarded.

This was a beautiful epic of science fiction/magical realism, with a colorful cast of characters and realistic dialogue. One thing I like about Delany's work is his realism among the unbelieveable. He doesn't shy away from describing the dirty bits of the real world, yet his work is simultaneously otherworldly.

The theme that stood out most to me throughout the story was that of uncertainty, particuluarly the feeling of it and having to live with it. People of Bellona don't know what day or year it is, or even the exact time of day. The main character Kid is only so-called because he doesn't know his own name. There's also different versions of truth/reality presented so you can't even be sure of the story. There's one scene, on pg. 356, when a woman on a ladder is changing the street signs. When Kid asks which one is right, she says neither. The next time Kid sees the signs the names have changed again. They have to live in a city where even the names of the streets can change and one still has to manage to navigate around.

Then there's the mythologization of people in Bellona, which is wrapped up in the state of race relations. There's George, an archetypal black hero, with a moon named after him. Of course he has to be in pursuit of a young white woman who represents purity. Then there's Roger, the white politician and keeper of order, who's never actually seen but is always in some way influencing major events and controls the only newspaper in town.

Then Kid, the in-between, unidentifiable, half-white half-native american Other. Kid literally has a foot in both worlds because he only ever wears one shoe, leaving his left foot bare and calloused while the right is shielded and protected. A bit like a trickster, Kid upsets the social order by bringing his gang of scorpions to a party of rich white people, and moves between worlds more easily than others. He knows how to behave in nice places: "Take what you need then get out." Kid inhabits many in-between states and dualities: he's ambidextrious, bisexual, not young but not old, not black or white, not innocent but not a bad guy. He's seen doing good deeds for nothing, like moving a family into another apartment, but also does random acts of violence, like mugging a guy in the street to see what it feels like. As the story goes on, it's really Kid who becomes the greatest hero of Bellona. So many of his ideosyncracies contribute to his being like a demigod of legend.

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review 2018-09-05 15:30
Pollyanna Principles: "Dhalgren" by Samuel L. Delany
Dhalgren - Samuel R. Delany

“Really? Samuel Delany has written "unreadable garbage"? Would you care to share with us the precise nature of the stories or novels which qualify as such, or have you not, as I strongly suspect, actually read any of his work? I presume this is the same Samuel Delany who has been a professor of English and writing at numerous American universities, who was named a GrandMaster of the field? The author of "Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones", “Babel-17” and “Nova”? That Samuel Delany? Or is it instead the case, as I suspect, that you have allowed yourself to fall foul of the cliché that if it's SF, then by its very nature, some of his work must be bad?”

That’s, more or less, how I answered someone who commented on the novel’s review back then.



If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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text 2017-09-20 19:37
I have no idea what's going on
Dhalgren - Samuel R. Delany

But I'm liking it.


Writing is also incredibly lyrical.

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text 2017-09-02 15:15
September Read: Dhalgren
Dhalgren - Samuel R. Delany

Somehow Samuel R. Delany managed to stay under my radar for most of my life.  Reading about him and his works, I feel like the fact that I have yet to read any thing by him is absurd.

In Bellona, reality has come unglued, and a mad civilization takes root A young half–Native American known as the Kid has hitchhiked from Mexico to the midwestern city Bellona—only something is wrong there . . . In Bellona, the shattered city, a nameless cataclysm has left reality unhinged. Into this desperate metropolis steps the Kid, his fist wrapped in razor-sharp knives, to write, to love, to wound. So begins Dhalgren , Samuel R. Delany’s masterwork, which in 1975 opened a new door for what science fiction could mean. A labyrinth of a novel, it raises questions about race, sexuality, identity, and art, but gives no easy answers, in a city that reshapes itself with each step you take.

This sounds exactly like a book I will love, and hopefully that proves true for the September Virtual Speculation pick.

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/09/september-read-dhalgren.html
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