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Dhalgren (S.F. MASTERWORKS) Paperback – 22 Jul 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 832 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (22 July 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575090995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575090996
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 4.5 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,573 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Book Description

A counter-culture classic and a classic of SF - a young man arrives in a near future US and writes a book that may be DHALGREN.

About the Author

Samuel R. Delany (1942 - ) Samuel Ray 'Chip' Delany, Jr was born in Harlem in 1942, and published his first novel at the age of just 20. As author, critic and academic, his influence on the modern genre has been profound and he remains one of science fiction's most important and discussed writers. He has won the Hugo Award twice and the Nebula Award four times, including consecutive wins for Babel-17 and The Einstein Intersection. Since January 2001 he has been a professor of English and Creative Writing at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he is Director of the Graduate Creative Writing Program. For more information see www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/delany_samuel_r

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Customer Reviews

3.4 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Nerd58 on 27 Sep 2007
Format: Paperback
I agree with Jason's review and would add that this is very much the product of its time, very soul-searching, "find yourself", self-indulgent 70s. It's nostagia for some of us!

The literary style is one of experimentation, breaking into themes and patterns of prose that repeat, excerpts, poetic musings. Diverse methods are used disjoint the text and the reading of it. This gives it an expressive freedom, matching the libertarian concerns of the work and the time and place in which it was written. It could be a bit off-putting to those that have specific preferences as to how SF should be written. Space Opera it ain't. That's why I liked it so much! Good writing is not a matter of fashion or a restrictive genre style.

I think it's beautiful, but don't bother if you like a tight, explicable, neat tale with fast pacing and a big bang at the end. You won't find that here.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Patrick Shepherd on 3 Sep 2009
Format: Paperback
I first tried to read this book when it was first published, thrilled to have a new Delany in my hands, as he is one of my favorite authors. But I couldn't finish it then, it just became too obscure and without point. Recently reminded of this book , I realized I was still irritated by this failure (surely it had to be a fault with me, not such a great writer), so I finally sat down and read it, cover to cover. Net result:

a. The book is not SF. It may not even be fantasy. Perhaps it belongs with certain works by Kafka. Its nominal story line is of a poet (never named, if referred to at all it's as 'the Kid') wandering around a dreamscape city isolated from the 'real' world, subject to odd lapses of memory and having various encounters (many of a sexual variety) with the inhabitants and musing about himself.

b. There are important themes that Delany addresses in this book, such as the mutability and slipperiness of time, how each individual experiences time differently; some long polemics on the art and purpose of writing; some decent commentary on 'proper' social mores and how they come into being; how gods and legends are made.

c. Unfortunately, items in (b) are buried inside an almost impenetrable fortress of non-plot, asides, deliberately mixed up time order of events, a confusing cast of characters (some of whom you don't learn who they are till after they have already performed important actions), double side by side stories (on the same page), and a whole raft of symbols and metaphors that he deliberately leaves few clues about what they are supposed to represent, non-closure of what is the apparent main story, occasional use of stream-of-consciousness (with no warning about transition from normal prose), etc, etc, etc.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 21 Feb 1999
Format: Paperback
Though not to everyone's taste, and hard-going in parts, Delany's sprawling tale of a man's, and a city's, and a society's dance with madness is a unique and dizzying experience. As erotic as it is disturbing, it charts the progress of the Kid as he enters the city of Bellona, somehow isolated from the rest of America, with a dwindling population and slowly decaying social structure. Neither he nor the reader can ever be sure of what is real and of what matters, and the attempt to retain sanity in the absence of rules - or the attempt to create and maintain new ones - becomes increasingly desperate. If you like a challenging read and have an open mind, you may find this one of the most memorable reads of your life!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alex on 14 May 2012
Format: Paperback
What has not been pointed out enough in the many reviews for this book is that, no matter how firmly or viciously you search, you will never find another like it. That alone should warrant it particular consideration.
Fortunately, it also happens to be a wonderfully told and passionate tale of...well, of Dhalgren. Who or what is Dhalgren? A pointed question, one that The Kid - a young drifter suffering from partial amnesia - is confronted with on several occasions as he blunders into and attempts to survive the city of Bellona. That Bellona is meant to occupy the exact physical centre of America should give a clue that Delaney is at least dipping his toes into parable, though this novel is far more than symbolist claptrap (though it's that too). It's a record of a tentative and experimental romance, a claustrophobic horror-show, a mad dance with a gang of high-tech street youth, a surreal confrontation with the heart of artistic creation, a grotesque interpretation of race and gender relations, a pornographic diary and, more than anything else, it is a description of a place. That place is Bellona, a city of empty streets and lost souls, where the broken and the perverse have come to play; it may also be where a small community of people find a quiet kind of wonder, and a subtle sort of freedom, and a strange day of doom.
Yes, Dhalgren is unique, exquisitely written and a whale of a book - one that will make you a Jonah, to emerge from it forever changed.
Who or what is Dhalgren? Well, therein lies the tale...
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Format: Paperback
This is a brilliant, beautifully written book, I read it in 2014. It is not dated (yet), nor nostalgic. It's still a profound vision of humanity, relationships, class, sexuality etc . . .

From the wildly differing reviews, it's obvious Dhalgren isn't for everybody. Although it is by a classic SF writer, this book marks the time when Delany ceases to confine himself to classic SF and uses his skill to explore other themes he is interested in, themes I'd guess are very personal to him - he does so with a vengeance. It's great an SF writer can branch out like this, to produce staggering pieces of fiction on a par or better than those in the literary sector. It makes the field of SF so strong in its diversity, though perhaps unpredictable for the reader. It's fun to have authors like PK Dick, AC Clarke, Olaf Stapledon at the core, but then you get other SF writers stretching that core like Heinlein, Doris Lessing, + individual books such as Stand on Zanzibar etc.

Once I start a book, I have to finish. I was put off by the reviews of Dhalgren. I didn't read it for years, ignored its call for decades; I was lead to believe the book would be a difficult tome and I'd feel chained to it. It got more daunting as I continually failed to pick it up. I can honestly say this is one of the easiest and most enjoyable books I have read. There is a poetic beginning to the book which lasts about ten pages; it's a bit like walking through a dark swamp. I think Delany does this because he wants you to emerge into the other world of Bellona as from a dream (and it works well - though I'm glad it wasn't longer than those few pages). Once you've got out of the dream swamp Delany is very explicit, you are in Bellona, the detail is incredible and there isn't a wasted word.
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