SAMUEL RAY DELANY, JR., was born in New York City on April 1, 1942, the son of Samuel R. Delany, a funeral director, and Margaret Boyd Carey Delany, a library clerk. He sporadically attended City College (now part of the City University of New York) in 1960 and in 1962-63, and in 1961 he married his high school girlfriend Marilyn Hacker, with whom he had a daughter. That same year he wrote The Jewels of Aptor ( 1962), the first of a string of novels that earned him an admiring readership in the science fiction community. In the process, he became the first important black science fiction writer.
After producing the epic but unextraordinary trilogy The Fall of the Towers ( Captives of the Flame, 1963; The Towers of Toron, 1964; City of a Thousand Suns, 1965), Delany progressed to stake out his own literary territory. Books like The Ballad of Beta-2 ( 1965), Empire Star ( 1966), and the Nebula Award— winning novels Babel-17 ( 1966) and The Einstein Intersection ( 1967) incorporated new intellectual concerns into science fiction, such as linguistic theory and structuralist literary analysis. Nova ( 1968) was one of the central works of science fiction's New Wave, infusing the stuff of space opera with new mythopoeic sophistication.
While laboring over his next SF novel, Delaney published the short story collection Driftglass ( 1971) and the pornographic The Tides of Lust ( 1973). In 1970 and 1971 he edited the QUARK anthology series with Hacker, who had become a celebrated poet. Delany and Hacker were separated in 1974; he has since identified himself as gay. The long-awaited Dhalgren appeared in 1975. This immense experimental novel aroused a storm of controversy over its dense style and enigmatic narrative; it became Delany's first mainstream best-seller. Triton ( 1976), the story cycle Tales of Nevèryon ( 1979) and its sequel Neveryóna ( 1983), and Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand ( 1984) confirmed and furthered Delany's literary reputation.
In recent years Delany has turned to the writing of poststructuralist criticism, including The Jewel-Hinged Jaw: Notes on the Language of Science Fiction ( 1977