Stars In My Pocket Like Grains Of Sand
Copyright 1984 by
I first read this in 1986 and most recently in July 2001
The thousands of human and alien worlds of the far future are
politically aligned either to the conservative "Family", or to the more
liberal "Sygn", the believers in free and open information. Sometimes
the political differences spill over into more serious conflict and
sometimes war. However both parties, indeed all people, have one common
fear - the awful apprehension of "Cultural Fugue" an unidentified,
unknown, societal sickness that has led to the complete destruction of
an increasing number of worlds.
On the planet Rhyonon, the young Kerga got himself into quite a bit of
trouble, largely due to his (in his culture) perverted sexual
preferences. He's is eventually encouraged to undergo "Radical
Anxiety Termination", a medical procedure banned on most worlds. The
treatment removes anxiety but as a consequence removes self-will.
As a "Rat", Korga has simply become an uncaring slave, to be abused and
cast-away at his owners' whims.
Marq Dyeth is an Industrial Diplomat. Sophisticated, civilised and
of the aristocracy, insofar as such exists on his world. He travels
between the worlds resolving major problems, spends time when he can with his large and loving family
and in general leads a very satisfactory life.
All that changes when he meets the very unusual person that is his
perfect erotic object, the exact embodiment of all his sexual desires.
Incredible - a tour de force of brilliant imagination and scintillating
writing that flips you round with its subversive views of culture and
sexuality. This is up there in my top one hundred books - of
course it still lags behind "Dhalgren" (but just about every book is behind
This is the most tactile novel I've ever read - you believe
the world Delaney has created because he's described how to
touch it, how it feels to your fingers. Delany's writing is so
astonishingly imaginative and powerful. You just start reading and you're
lost in the language. Look at when Korga starts reading the books and can't
stop. You feel the Korga's breathless rush as he absorbs the
information from first one book then another, faster and faster relating
one book's context to the next. Or what about the formal dinner party,
with its dance steps and mobile cooking machinery and where the rudeness
of the Thants causes a paralysed panic among their fellow guests, and
where you really don't want to think too much about what they're eating.
So it's got culture, politics and haute cuisine, powerful emotions,
nail-biting and superb writing, Heck, at least half a dozen other
books must have that. So what else has it got? One thing it certainly
doesn't seem to have is the then-intended sequel: "The Splendor And
Misery Of Bodies, Of Cities". But just to finish off, it does have
a little more: Sex. Lots of it. Gay sex, Alien sex. wild profligate
sex. Yep, there sure is a lot packed tight in this book. but perhaps
it's not a book for prudes. Or homophobes.
Loaded on the 7th July 2001.