04 September 2008

Delany's Jewel-Hinged Jaw: June 2009

You can now pre-order Wesleyan University Press's reissue of Samuel Delany's first collection of essays, The Jewel-Hinged Jaw: Notes on the Language of Science Fiction, from Amazon. My contacts at Wesleyan have confirmed that the book is, indeed, due to be released in June.

Aside from my excitement at having these essays back in print (including "To Read The Dispossessed", which alone is more than worth the price of the book), I'm particularly excited for this edition because I got the opportunity to write the introduction. I owe Justine Larbalestier more than I could ever offer her, because she put Chip in touch with me, and one day I returned home from work to a message on my answering machine: "Hello, Matthew Cheney, this is Samuel Delany..." I almost fell over. Then he asked if I'd do him the tremendous favor of writing the introduction to a book of his. And I think I did fall over.

Since then, I not only wrote the intro to Jewel-Hinged Jaw, but also to the reissue of Starboard Wine that will be coming out from Wesleyan in (fingers crossed) the fall of '09. Much as I admire Jewel-Hinged Jaw, it's the Starboard Wine reissue that will, I hope, set the world on fire. When it was first published, not many copies of SW got released, and getting your hands on one can be a challenge. Jewel-Hinged Jaw shows Delany's growth as a critic, and it shows him discovering all sorts of new influences, which is great fun to watch. But Starboard Wine is more coherent and more consistent, and it is, I think, a book that could have had a tremendous effect on science fiction criticism, because though many of the ideas within it get echoed or reiterated in Delany's more easily accessible (in every sense of the word) books, essays such as "Dichtung und Science Fiction" bring various ideas together that he has seldom brought together anywhere else. I hope the reissue brings it the attention it deserves, and that the ideas are discussed and debated for a long time to come.

In any case, I'll have more to say as the publication date of Jewel-Hinged Jaw approaches, along with some excerpts and out-takes from the intro (it went through an intense and fruitful drafting process).

Meanwhile, if you're in the mood to pre-order something from Wesleyan that will be released this year (and I know you are!), they're bringing out My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer, which should be one of the great publishing events of the year. More on Spicer's connections to Philip K. Dick -- and Samuel Delany -- at another time...


  1. Congratulations. Can't wait to read your intros. So fabulous that both those books are finally going to be back in print.


  2. I've been in awe of Mr Delany since I was a kid. It's good to hear of his texts being reissued. One day I hope to meet him. Is he still teaching?

  3. Oh yes, Chip's still teaching -- he's at Temple University these days. A good way to keep up with events where he'll be present is via the Delany-list Yahoo group. (That's where I first found out that JHJ had made it to Amazon.)

  4. Exciting news indeed. I've had both of these titles on my list of books to seek out for a while -- now all I have to do is wait a year and I can get them new and shiny, with your Intros :-) It's a mumpsimusal world we live in.

  5. Hello,

    Looks like I've found another blog to read!!! Lord, will I ever leave this computer again? Could I maybe go outside at some point today, and enjoy the already fall weather of Wyoming?

    I was looking for the origin of the phrase "alright, already" and found a discussion on your blog about "all right" versus "alright," back in April.

    Do you, or any of your readers, know the origins of that phrase?


    Jan (Who will keep on eye on your blog from now on.)

  6. Holy crap! Do they know who you aren't??

  7. Yet famous!

    I was just reading about Starboard Wine and I really want to read it, but the NYPL doesn't have it, nor do the Brooklyn or Queens libraries. The only copy I could find was a used one on Amazon for $175! So yeah, get this thing back into print post-haste. Here's one guaranteed sale for you.

  8. Will we ever see The American Shore in print again? Did Disch and Delany patch up before he (TMD) passed on?

  9. Alas, I don't think American Shore will be reprinted any time soon. I'm not really comfortable revealing much in public beyond what people can learn of Disch's feelings via the LiveJournal he kept before his death (though I would caution against taking his words as, to use a term he might enjoy, gospel), but it's clear from that that he did not wish for The American Shore to be reprinted, and the last I knew, Chip intended to honor those wishes. It's an unfortunate situation, because the book is a tour de force, but most of the ideas within it about SF, etc., are conveyed in Starboard Wine, and copies of The American Shore are much easier to find via used booksellers and inter-library loan than Starboard Wine, so the need for a reprint is a little bit less urgent.