Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand
Samuel R. Delany
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Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand is a science fiction masterpiece, an essay on the inexplicability of sexual attractiveness, and an examination of interstellar politics among far-flung worlds. First published in 1984, the novel's central issues--technology, globalization, gender, sexuality, and multiculturalism--have only become more pressing with the passage of time.
The novel's topic is information itself: What are the repercussions, once it has been made public, that two individuals have been found to be each other's perfect erotic object out to "point nine-nine-nine and several nines percent more"? What will it do to the individuals involved, to the city they inhabit, to their geosector, to their entire world society, especially when one is an illiterate worker, the sole survivor of a world destroyed by "cultural fugue," and the other is--you!
slope, moved over to Korga, bent her head to flick one of her tongues at his smaller toes (remember those foot troughs in the run), then ambled over to taste the dust on Ollivet’t’s midclaws, then stepped towards Shalleme’s gilded feet but did not actually touch them, then came to me and licked first one of my testicles, then my knee, then walked back to Korga. He watched her but (and I was thankful) did not say anything; and didn’t put down his bow. I began to let Thantish memories leave me.
here at Morgre?’ He seemed so real beside me, gazing. I wondered if he recognized what he looked at, or the change of scale that accompanied it, or indeed if it mattered. ‘I am Rat Korga. As my friend, Marq Dyeth, said.’ The accent that in a day I had almost grown used to, now that I knew thousands heard it, seemed as intrusive as when I’d heard his first words. ‘Thank you. That is all I can say to you. I have no world, now; and its destruction hurt me in many ways. Thank you for letting me
the original underestimation of Aurigae’s size.’ By now the deep red, glimmering field had risen to cover half the bubble. The curvature was visible, but you had to look back and forth to see the expanse of it. ‘The smallest of those mottled dark spots which you can see in the glow are large enough to absorb the planet Jupiter without visible disturbance – indeed, if Jupiter were at the stellar surface, it would take up a space one-one-hundredth as many seconds of an arc as your own little
multiply. The dawn of space travel, for example, appears as a phrase in a number of old Earth texts dating from well before humans even reached their own moon, which makes it a bit problematic deciding just what it was supposed to refer to. Later commentators, of course, used the phrase to refer exclusively to humanity’s interplanetary ventures within its own solar system, so that dawn, in that particular metaphor, is associated with precisely that fount of Solarcentricism my alien acquaintance
corridor. The bell again. And the orange strip-light just behind the handrail I was holding turned blue, which, on the great colonizing vessels that have, finally, taken me on over half of my assignments1, is how they signal for ‘morning’. The change in the light registered clearly enough to make me realize I was still drugged. I reached for the next handhold, unsteady either for the first time or, more likely, free enough of the quickly decomposing drugs to realize I was unsteady – and a