In his four-volume series Return to Nevèrÿon, Hugo and Nebula award-winner Samuel R. Delany appropriated the conceits of sword-and-sorcery fantasy to explore his characteristic themes of language, power, gender, and the nature of civilization. Wesleyan University Press has reissued the long-unavailable Nevèrÿonvolumes in trade paperback.
The eleven stories, novellas, and novels in Return to Nevèrÿon's four volumes chronicle a long-ago land on civilization's brink, perhaps in Asia or Africa, or even on the Mediterranean. Taken slave in childhood, Gorgik gains his freedom, leads a slave revolt, and becomes a minister of state, finally abolishing slavery. Ironically, however, he is sexually aroused by the iron slave collars of servitude. Does this contaminate his mission or intensify it? Presumably elaborated from an ancient text of unknown geographical origin, the stories are sunk in translators' and commentators' introductions and appendices, forming a richly comic frame.
About the Author
Samuel R. Delany's many prizes include the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the William Whitehead Memorial Award for a lifetime's contribution to gay and lesbian literature. Wesleyan has published both his fiction and nonfiction, including Atlantis: three tales (1995), Silent Interviews: On Language, Race, Sex, Science Fiction, and Some Comics (1994), Longer Views: Extended Essays (1996), and Shorter Views: Queer Thoughts & the Politics of the Paraliterary. The press has also reissued his classic science fiction novels Dhalgren (1996), Trouble on Triton (1996, originally published as Triton), and The Einstein Intersection (1998).
What People are Saying About This
“Delany's work exists on a kind of borderline between theory and literary practice, between canonical and popular culture, between academic and nonacademic culture a borderline familiar to feminist theory and cultural critique. The Nevèrÿon series is one of the most sustained meditations we have on the complex intersections of sexuality, race, and subjectivity in contemporary cultures.”
“The Nevèrÿon series is a major and unclassifiable achievement in contemporary American literature.”
"I consider Delany not only one of the most important SF writers of the present generation, but a fascinating writer in general who has invented a new style."Umberto Eco
"The Nevèrÿon series is a major and unclassifiable achievement in contemporary American literature."Fredric R. Jameson
"Delany's work exists on a kind of borderline between theory and literary practice, between canonical and popular culture, between academic and nonacademic culture a borderline familiar to feminist theory and cultural critique. The Nevèrÿon series is one of the most sustained meditations we have on the complex intersections of sexuality, race, and subjectivity in contemporary cultures."Constance Penley
“I consider Delany not only one of the most important SF writers of the present generation, but a fascinating writer in general who has invented a new style.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A collection of interrelated stories set in a mythical empire beyond time. Gorgik, a slave becomes a leader of armies; Small Sarg, a barbarian prince becomes a slave to set others free; swordmistress Raven lives in a land where the women rule; and Norema, daughter of fisherwoman attains freedom.These are fascinating stories, very well written, in fact beautifully written. The various characters weave in and out of the different stories. Gorgik and Small Sarg are particularly interesting, as their relationship develops from Master and Slave, through physical intimacy to a voluntary master/slave relationship necessary for the intimacy to function.However while very pleasurable to read, I found it difficult to engage with the characters, the narrative seemed to put them at a distance, leading me not to care too much about their destinies; and for me that is an essential part of the reading experience. So this is really a book which I can happily pick up and read a few pages, but not one which compels me to keep reading.
Delany is one of the few authors about whom I can say that I always feel like he¿s way smarter than I am, like he¿s got something really important to say, some Platonic truth of which he¿s offering his readers imperfect glimpses. He seems to channel some profound understanding of the collective unconscious (if there is such a thing), of people¿s irrational wants and fears, of what drives us to do what we do. Even his early works demonstrate a masterful use of language. Much more than most science fiction authors, Delany clearly thinks about language, and understands what language is, and understands how language works. Indeed his stories often seem (sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly) to be about language as a tool and as symbolism. Tales of Neveryon in some ways feels like an anti-fantasy; it takes many of the familiar tropes from the Tolkienesque quest story in ways very different from the reader¿s expectations. At one point (near the end of ¿The Tale of Old Venn¿), Delany even breaks into a direct conversation with the reader in which he says something like ¿this is where you expect A to do B to save C, but that¿s not how it¿s going to work in my story.¿ I read this book shortly after having read Joanna Russ¿s very effective skewering of science fiction tropes We Who Are About To... (1977), and it¿s hard to avoid viewing Tales of Neveryon (1979) as an effort to bring a similar lens to some of the underlying assumptions of mainstream fantasy (Russ is one of the three dedicatees of Neveryon; Delany would contribute an introduction to a later reprint of Russ¿s novel).This is one of those books that should probably be classified as a ¿mosaic novel.¿ It¿s a series of linked short stories, only one of which (as far as I can tell) was ever published outside of this book. The first two stories stand up pretty well on their own, but the last three wouldn¿t really work outside of the context of the collective work.I thought the first two stories, which establish Delany¿s very young world, were very strong. I particularly liked ¿The Tale of Old Venn,¿ which tackles in a very thought-provoking way the concept of money as symbolism, of how the existence of money changes values, societies, and people. I have no idea if compelling sociologic research would back Delany up, but he certainly rings true to me. The third installment, an introduction of the character Small Sarg, is considerably less ambitious. The fourth and fifth tales begin the narrative of what actually happens to the characters established in the first three (but doesn¿t really take this narrative very far).There is absolutely no sense of closure in this book. It reads like the opening chapter of a longer tale. So it¿s more thought provoking that satisfying as a stand alone read.