Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Friday, January 30, 2015

My Story for Chip

I'm well chuffed to say that my story "An Idyll in Erehwyna" has been accepted for the STORIES FOR CHIP anthology edited by Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell. Part of a... collection? assembly? mosaic? call it collage novella, "Susurrus on Mars," that should be coming out later in the year (more news as it comes,) "An Idyll in Erehwyna" is simultaneously the hardest SF I've ever written and the most bonkers. Set on a terraformed Mars, it has the Martian godling of the wind, Susurrus, son of Zephyros and Ares, as one PoV, along with sundry plants (exhaustively detailed in terms of Greek myth and Linnaean botany.) This story is largely about painting a room. I'd say it's about the semiotics thereof, but that would gloss over the extrapolated future in which the primitive superstitious notion of the sign has long since been superseded by that of the stance. Semiotics? No, pataphysics, mate! So, yeah. A bit nuts.

Anyhoo, aside from the thrill of being in a tribute anthology to a writer who ultimately might even outrank James Joyce for me in terms of "OMG, that is--how the--lookit how the words--I WANT TO DO THAT WHEN I GROW UP!!!" just check out the Table of Contents below, the company I'll be keeping. Yeah, I can't wait till this comes through the door:

  • Christopher Brown – “Festival”
  • Chesya Burke – “For Sale: Fantasy Coffin”
  • Roz Clarke – “Haunt-type Experience”
  • Kathryn Cramer – “Characters in the Margins of a Lost Notebook”
  • Vincent Czyz – “Hamlet’s Ghost Sighted in Frontenac, KS”
  • Junot Díaz – “Nilda”
  • Geetanjali Dighe – “The Last Dying Man”
  • Timmel Duchamp – “Real Mothers, a Faggot Uncle, and the Name of the Father: Samuel R. Delany’s Feminist Revisions of the Story of SF”
  • Hal Duncan – “An Idyll in Erewhyna”
  • Fabio Fernandes – “Eleven Stations”
  • Jewelle Gomez – “Be Three”
  • Eileen Gunn, Michael Swanwick and Samuel R. Delany at the Joyce Kilmer Service Area, March 2005
  • Nick Harkaway – “Billy Tumult”
  • Ernest Hogan – “Guerilla Mural of a Siren’s Song”
  • Nalo Hopkinson & Nisi Shawl – “Jamaica Ginger”
  • Walidah Imarisha – “Walking Science Fiction: Samuel Delany and Visionary Fiction”
  • Alex Jennings – “Heart of Brass”
  • Tenea D. Johnson – “Each Star a Sun to Invisible Planets”
  • Ellen Kushner – “Delany Story”
  • Claude Lalumiere – “Empathy Evolving as a Quantum of Eight-Dimensional Perception”
  • Isiah Lavender – “Delany Encounters”
  • devorah major – “Voice Prints”
  • Haralambi Markov – “Holding Hands with Monsters”
  • Anil Menon – “Clarity”
  • Carmelo Rafala – “Song for the Asking”
  • Kit Reed – “Kickenders”
  • Kim Stanley Robinson – “Introduction”
  • Benjamin Rosenbaum – “The First Gate of Logic”
  • Geoff Ryman – “Capitalism in the 22nd Century”
  • Alex Smith – “Clones”
  • Michael Swanwick – “On My First Reading of The Einstein Intersection”
  • Sheree Renee Thomas – “River Clap Your Hands”
  • Kai Ashante Wilson – “Legendaire”


Blogger Aditya Dave said...

Hello Hal,

been following your blog and reading your work (or as much of it as I an get my hands on in India) for a year now. Really good work!

So for Samuel Delany, which books are his best works? Which are the best to start with? I'd really appreciate your comments.

Thank you so much, once again,


4:14 pm  
Blogger Hal Duncan said...

Hi Aditya,

I came to Delany as a kid, reading NOVA and BABEL-17 in their 1980's Gollancz Classic SF editions, and I still rate them both, particularly NOVA, as utterly beloved, brilliant works of Space Opera, instantly accessible but gorgeously written--head and shoulders above most of their peers, IMO. For anyone coming to Delany as a general reader of SF/F, NOVA is the one to start with, I'd say.

When I came to DHALGREN though, that blew my mind. It's a 20th century classic, as far as I'm concerned, on par with CATCH-22, ULYSSES, THE NAKED LUNCH, things like that. No exaggeration. It belongs in any canon of major 20th century fiction. It's a seriously ambitious & experimental work though, no question, so whether I'd recommend it as a startpoint... I dunno. Some readers bounce off it, the same as some bounce off VELLUM. We're not talking FINNEGANS WAKE level of experimentalism here, but it's kinda seen as a watershed in Delany's writing. A lot of SF/F readers with more traditional tastes see the awesomeness of everything up to that point, but find his work from then on inaccessible. Me, the gnarlier it gets, the more I love it.

Similarly then, I think THROUGH THE VALLEY OF THE NEST OF SPIDERS is possibly the first truly great novel of the 21st century. But as with much of his more recent work, it's sexually graphic in ways that have a high ick factor. That's not to say it's all dark, twisted & sordid. Quite the opposite. It's beautiful, heart-crushingly so in places, and it's post-transgressive, as I'd put it, rather than transgressive. Like, the novel just refuses to recognise the moralistic taboos that define its subject matter as transgressive. It's fiercely humanist and empathic about characters. So, yeah, again I think it's a hugely important book. But it's not gonna be to everyone's tastes.

The Neveryon books also get an honourable mention here, and they're maybe another good marker of whether you'll get on with his later stuff. DALGHREN has lots of pre-cyberpunk eyeball kicks. The Neveryon stuff is where he starts to spread out, take a more sedate pace, get deeper into an interest in semiotics that comes to the fore in his most highbrow shenanigans.

Anyhoo, aye... all of those come with my highest recommendation. For pure accessibility, just to get a flavour, I'd point most readers at NOVA first, but check out the opening of DHALGREN on Amazon's Look Inside function or something, or maybe do a bit of Googling to get a sense of what it's like. If it sounds like you're kind of thing, have at it.

Hal :)

5:27 pm  
Blogger Aditya Dave said...

I'll go through them, thanks! And do keep the blog posts coming :)


3:56 pm  

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