Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The Return of The Fall of the Towers


My title above sounds frivolous, I admit, like something you might slap on the cover of a Lord of the Rings parody. But it neatly sums up a piece of good news for Samuel R. Delany's many admirers, particularly the well-heeled book collectors among them.

Delany's early science fiction trilogy, The Fall of the Towers, is being reissued by Centipede Press half a century after their original publication. It will be published in three distinct dustjacketed volumes, with all of the original forewords and afterwords, new artwork by David Ho, and an introduction by (cough) me.

Chip Delany was one of my earliest literary heroes and his work has never fallen in my esteem. So this was a pretty big deal for me.

Here's how my introduction begins:

Context is necessary. The nineteen year old who began writing Out of the Dead City, the first volume of The Fall of the Towers, lived in a country very different from the one we now inhabit. Men wore hats and women petticoats. Computers were intimidating behemoths that filled rooms and had laughably little processing power. Clothing, houses, and consumer packaging were all much drabber than what we are now used to. Homosexuality was thought of as a rare mental illness. People of color were treated as second-class citizens.

There was nothing in any of the above to prevent a young, queer Negro (these are the terms he himself would have used) from deciding to write a trilogy of novels – or, rather, a novel in three books – exploring the economic origins of war and the distorting effects it has on society. But at a time when black SF writers did not advertise their race and gay SF writers kept a lower profile than Delany was willing to do, it would require moxie...

By necessity, the set is not exactly cheap. You can preorder one right now for $150. Which is not a bad price for three beautifully-made hardcover volumes issued in an edition of 300 copies each.

So either you need a set or you don't. If you're in the first category, you know who you are. If you're in the second, you can find the original paperbacks easily enough -- and they include Chip's l forewords and afterwords. I think I did a pretty good job with my own intro. But there's no getting around the fact that the single best explicator or Samuel R. Delany's fiction has always been the man himself.

You can find the preorder page here.



jag said...

At least you didn't go all South Park on us with the title. ;-)

Lars said...

Read this a long time ago, when I was a teenager myself, and it stuck with me. While I don't remember it in detail, I have a strong impression that it was rather prescient in some ways, although this didn't strike me until some time in the last decade.

shaun said...

Ordered direct from the Centipede Press site. Thanks for the head's up, Michael.