(Disclosure: I received an electronic review copy via NetGalley.)
Stories for Chip brings together outstanding authors inspired by a brilliant writer and critic, Science Fiction Writers of America Grandmaster Samuel R. “Chip” Delany. Award-winning SF luminaries such as Michael Swanwick, Nalo Hopkinson, and Eileen Gunn contribute original fiction and creative nonfiction. From surrealistic visions of bucolic road trips to erotic transgressions to mind-expanding analyses of Delany’s influence on the genre—as an out gay man, an African American, and possessor of a startlingly acute intellect—this book conveys the scope of the subject’s sometimes troubling, always rewarding genius. Editors Nisi Shawl and Bill Campbell have given Delany and the world at large, a gorgeous, haunting, illuminating, and deeply satisfying gift of a book.
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As the blurb says, the short works within Stories for Chip cover a wide scope of styles, sub-genres and themes, whilst staying true to the overall vision. You’ll find everything from erotic horror to space drama to chilling dystopias to non-specfic slices of life. The essays range from scholarly to deeply personal.
Standout favourite for me is the first story, Billy Tumult by Nick Harkaway. It’s fun, clever and inventive. I also particularly enjoyed the steampunk-flavoured Jamaica Ginger by Nalo Hopkinson and Nisi Shawl with its resourceful young heroine.
Be warned: This is by no means a lightweight read.As a relatively uneducated reader with little familiarity with Delany’s work, I found some of the stories and essays difficult to appreciate. By all accounts, Delany is an exceptionally intelligent man, and this lofty intellect is reflected in the contents of this anthology. For an example, here is a one sentence excerpt from Hal Duncan’s An Idyll in Erehwyna –
Poesis is the suppositional calculus, notated not in symbol but in stance: epistemic, alethic, deontic, boulomaic.
(Please tell me I’m not the only reader who has no idea what the previous sentence means!)
A second warning: Don’t let this put you off. It does no harm to stretch your brain every now and again.