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...