Sep 08

A Bite of Stars, A Slug of Time, and Thou – Episode 11

FT + Slug of Time Podcast + The Brown Wedge6 comments • 1,356 views

Victoria de Rijke joins Mark Sinker and Elisha Sessions to talk about “Aye, and Gomorrah”, a tale of sexless astronaut prostitutes and the people who worship them. I’m not making that up! It was written by Samuel R. Delany in 1966 and Elisha reads it at the beginning in case you haven’t. Music is “I Blood Brother Be” by the Shock Headed Peters.

Produced by Elisha Sessions


  1. 1
    Jack Fear on 24 Sep 2008 #

    Now, this is where science fiction begins, for me. (Well, this and Heinlein.) DANGEROUS VISIONS was published the year that I was born, and by the time I started reading SF in by the early 80s, the pages of ASIMOV’S and F&SF were alive with provocative ideas, rendered in prose both unflinchingly explicit and self-consciously “literary.” The themes and techniques of the New Wave had been thoroughly absorbed into the mainstream by a next generation of writers.

    While I was reading a steady diet of that stuff, I plowed through the two volumes of DANGEROUS VISIONS and quite liked most of it – but as for “Aye, and Gomorrah,” I distinctly remember struggling through and not understanding a word of it. Says more about 14-year-old me than about Delany, of course.

    Sinker briefly alluded to a Heinlein influence/connection, as well. He’d be an interesting topic for the show; problematic, though, in that the short story wasn’t really his medium, and any discussion of his influence would have to dwell primarily on the novels.

  2. 2

    yes i probably first read A&G in my teens — i’ve had a copy of SRD’s short-story collection “driftglass” since the mid70s — but it left no impact at all beyond the title, which i assume means it just made no sense to me

    sadly i think we will have to leave heinlein for a while — i’d have to do a TON of catch-up reading — even though i think he’d be enormously interesting

    (incidentally, i think the reason that A&G isn’t in my copy of dangerous visions is that i only have vol.1 of vol.1, so to speak)

  3. 3
    Martin Skidmore on 24 Sep 2008 #

    I don’t think we know anything about Gomorrah’s offences – I think the whole narrative (where the main offence is not specifically sodomy, but a group of men wanting to rape an angel) is set in Sodom, and it was a case of wiping out all the cities of the plain (I think there were a couple of others, but I don’t know their names).

    I really enjoyed this episode – one of my favourite writers, as you know. I think he had a real advantage in understanding various kinds of outsider statuses and social distinctions because, as he has said, he was a black man who has at times ‘passed’ as white and, less unusually, a gay or bi man who has lived as straight.

  4. 4
    Martin Skidmore on 24 Sep 2008 #

    The only Heinlein I like is a couple of short stories! By His Bootstraps is one, one of the best time paradox stories, and there’s another that uses a tesseract projected into our 3-D world. I rather hate his big novels with adult content in particular.

    My start with Delany was when my school friend Dave recommended him to me – I’d moved from Asimov, Clarke and the like on to Dick, Sturgeon and others, and he told me how much he loved Dhalgren, though I think I first read one of the smaller ones (Einstein Intersection or Nova, I think). I read Dhalgren soon after, and many times since, and I think it is still my favourite novel.

  5. 5
    Mark G on 24 Sep 2008 #

    So, weep in a way, and rejoice in another…

  6. 6
    Anne Dambrowski on 12 Oct 2008 #

    I read A&G as a teen. I was surprised how well I remember it. Certain turns of phrase and imagery are still as striking as in my first reading. Love the radio version.
    Thank you.

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