Aye, and Gomorrah

"Aye, and Gomorrah..." is a science fiction short story by American writer Samuel R. Delany. It is the first short story Delany sold, and won the 1967 Nebula Award for best short story. Before it appeared in Driftglass and Aye, and Gomorrah, and other stories, it first appeared as the final story in Harlan Ellison's seminal 1967 anthology, Dangerous Visions. It was controversial because of its disturbing sexual subject matter, and has been called "one of the best stories by a gay man published in the 1960s." [1]

Graham Sleight has described it as a "revisionist take" on Cordwainer Smith's story "Scanners Live in Vain".[2]

"Aye, and Gomorrah..."
AuthorSamuel R. Delany
Genre(s)Science fiction
Published inDangerous Visions
Publication typeAnthology
Publication dateDecember 1967


The narrative involves a world where astronauts, known as Spacers, are neutered before puberty to avoid the effects of space radiation on gametes. Aside from making them sterile, the neutering also prevents puberty from occurring and results in androgynous adults whose birth-sex is unclear to others. Spacers are fetishized by a subculture of "frelks", those attracted by the Spacers' unattainability and unarousability ("free-fall-sexual-displacement complex"). The mischief-loving Spacers exploit this for amusement and money — and possibly out of loneliness and a desire to recapture their lost sexuality.

"Frelk" is used as a derogatory term by the Spacers in the story, who nonetheless engage in prostitution by accepting money to give frelks the pseudo-sexual contact they desire.


  1. ^ Nelson, Emmanuel S., ed. (26 January 1993). "Contemporary Gay American Novelists: A Bio-Bibliographical Critical Sourcebook". Greenwood – via Amazon.
  2. ^ Yesterday's Tomorrows: Cordwainer Smith, reviewed by Graham Sleight, in Locus, April 2007; archived online October 18 2007; retrieved December 19, 2017

External links

Aye, and Gomorrah, and other stories

Aye, and Gomorrah, and other stories is a collection of stories by American writer Samuel R. Delany, published by Vintage Books in 2003. It is a thematically arranged collection, in the style of James Joyce’s Dubliners (1914), Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio (1919), and Willa Cather’s Youth and the Bright Medusa (1920). The book is closely based on an earlier collection, Driftglass, which first appeared in 1971. The dedication to the two books is similar: one is simply an updated version of the other, dedicating the book to Delany’s immediate family: his maternal grandmother, mother, sister, and father. Both carry identical epigraphs. The ten tales contained in Driftglass are all contained in Aye, and Gomorrah, along with five other stories ("Omegahelm", "Among the Blobs", "Tapestry", "Prismatica", "Ruins"). The stories consist of ten science fiction tales, in the order the writer wrote them, followed by five fantasies, also in chronological order.

When the first collection was put together, Delany and his editor gave serious thought to calling it Aye, and Gomorrah, instead of Driftglass. The title story had won Delany his third Nebula Award — this one for best short story of 1967, so that using it to entitle his first collection would have seemed a reasonable choice. But New American Library, the initial contractors for the book (who had licensed it to the Science Fiction Book Club for a hardcover edition that would appear four months before their Signet paperback), decided they did not want a title that pushed any of the homosexual implications in the stories. Note, nevertheless, that even Driftglass, with its suggestion of wandering, continues the theme of homelessness that the current title and the epigraph suggest. Thus, it is probably not wrong to read Aye, and Gomorrah, and other stories as an ideal version of the older Driftglass.

The unifying thematic, suggested by the epigraph, is that it is a book in which the science fiction stories are largely about the problems of people who do not live in the city of their birth—who have all come to where they are from somewhere else. The epigraph — on the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, from a speaker who clearly has great feeling for the destroyed cities — suggests that his home city has been devastated. In some of the tales, such as the opening story in both books, “The Star-Pit,” the narrator’s family and children have been destroyed in a horrific war many years before and many light years away: a war of a sort, which, in the future the story depicts, has become so common that it would seem to be a background reality gotten through for better or for worse by pretty much everyone who currently survives. And the fantasies, such as “Prismatica,” “Dog in a Fisherman’s Net,” and “Ruins” all deal with the possibilities or the wages of journeying from one's home.

Only three Delany SF stories are not included in Aye, and Gomorrah. All three are slight enough so that one can understand why Delany might not wish to preserve them: two are collaborations, one with Harlan Ellison (“The Power of the Nail,” contained in Ellison’s collection of collaborations Partners in Wonder); the other is a page-long prose poem, “The Dying Castles,” which appeared in a 1968 issue of the British SF magazine New Worlds (#200), as under the joint authorship of James Sallis, Samuel R. Delany, and Michael Moorcock. (Several times Delany has said that he has no memory of having written any part of it; and he has assumed the use of his name among the authors was a jape.) The third is a piece only slightly longer called “The Desert of Time,” which was commissioned by Omni Magazine to accompany an illustration in the late 1980s. But other than the stories that comprise his four-volume Return to Nevèrÿon series, it is fair to say that Aye and Gomorrah represents the totality of Delany’s SF and fantasy short fiction.

Dangerous Visions

Dangerous Visions is a science fiction short story anthology edited by American writer Harlan Ellison and illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. It was published in 1967.

A path-breaking collection, Dangerous Visions helped define the New Wave science fiction movement, particularly in its depiction of sex in science fiction. Writer/editor Al Sarrantonio writes how Dangerous Visions "almost single-handedly [...] changed the way readers thought about science fiction."

Contributors to the volume included 20 authors who had won, or would win, a Hugo, Nebula, World Fantasy, or BSFA award, and 16 with multiple such awards. Ellison introduced the anthology both collectively and individually while authors provided afterwords to their own stories.

Dark Matter (prose anthologies)

Dark Matter is an anthology series of science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories and essays produced by people of African descent. The editor of the series is Sheree Thomas. The first book in the series, Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora (2000), won the 2001 World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology. The second book in the Dark Matter series, Dark Matter: Reading the Bones (2004), won the World Fantasy Award for Best Anthology in 2005. A forthcoming third book in the series is tentatively named Dark Matter: Africa Rising.


Driftglass is a 1971 collection of science fiction short stories by American writer Samuel R. Delany. The stories originally appeared in the magazines Worlds of Tomorrow, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, If and New Worlds or the anthologies Quark/3, Dangerous Visions and Alchemy & Academe.


Driftglass/Starshards is a 1993 collection of short stories by Samuel R. Delany. The collection contains the entire contents of Delany's 1971 collection, Driftglass, stories from Distant Stars (1981) and others that had not previously been collected. Many of the stories originally appeared in the magazines Worlds of Tomorrow, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, If and New Worlds or the anthologies Quark/3, Dangerous Visions and Alchemy & Academe.

Every story in this collection was later collected in Aye, and Gomorrah, and other stories, except for "Citre et Trans" and "Erik, Gwen, and D.H. Lawrence’s Esthetic of Unrectified Feeling", which were collected in Atlantis: Three Tales.

LGBT themes in speculative fiction

LGBT themes in speculative fiction refer to the incorporation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) themes into science fiction, fantasy, horror fiction and related genres. Such elements may include an LGBT character as the protagonist or a major character, or explorations of sexuality or gender that deviate from the hetero-normative.

Science fiction and fantasy have traditionally been puritanical genres aimed at a male readership, and can be more restricted than non-genre literature by their conventions of characterisation and the effect that these conventions have on depictions of sexuality and gender. However, speculative fiction also gives authors and readers the freedom to imagine societies that are different from real-life cultures. This freedom makes speculative fiction a useful means of examining sexual bias, by forcing the reader to reconsider his or her heteronormative cultural assumptions. It has also been claimed by critics such as Nicola Griffith that LGBT readers identify strongly with the mutants, aliens, and other outsider characters found in speculative fiction.

Before the 1960s, explicit sexuality of any kind was rare in speculative fiction, as the editors who controlled what was published attempted to protect their perceived key market of adolescent male readers. As the readership broadened, it became possible to include characters who were undisguised homosexuals, though these tended to be villains, and lesbians remained almost entirely unrepresented. In the 1960s, science fiction and fantasy began to reflect the changes prompted by the civil rights movement and the emergence of a counterculture. New wave and feminist science fiction authors realised cultures in which homosexuality, bisexuality and a variety of gender models were the norm, and in which sympathetic depictions of alternative sexuality were commonplace.

From the 1980s onwards, homosexuality gained much wider mainstream acceptance, and was often incorporated into otherwise conventional speculative fiction stories. Works emerged that went beyond simple representation of homosexuality to explorations of specific issues relevant to the LGBT community. This development was helped by the growing number of openly gay or lesbian authors and their early acceptance by speculative fiction fandom. Specialist gay publishing presses and a number of awards recognising LGBT achievements in the genre emerged, and by the twenty-first century blatant homophobia was no longer considered acceptable by most readers of speculative fiction. There was a concurrent increase in representation of homosexuality within non-literary forms of speculative fiction. The inclusion of LGBT themes in comic books, television and film continues to attract media attention and controversy, while the perceived lack of sufficient representation, along with unrealistic depictions, provokes criticism from LGBT sources.

List of LGBT-themed speculative fiction

Many science fiction and fantasy stories involve queer characters, or otherwise represent themes that are relevant to LGBT issues and the LGBT community. This is a list of notable stories, and/or stories from notable series or anthologies, and/or by notable authors; it is not intended to be all-inclusive.

Nebula Award Stories 3

Nebula Award Stories 3 is an anthology of award-winning science fiction short works edited by Roger Zelazny. It was first published in the United Kingdom in hardcover by Gollancz in November 1968. The first American edition was published by Doubleday in December of the same year. Paperback editions followed from Pocket Books in the U.S. in February 1970, and Panther in the U.K. in November 1970. The American editions bore the variant title Nebula Award Stories Three. The book was more recently reissued by Stealth Press in hardcover in June 2001. It has also been published in German.

Nebula Award for Best Short Story

The Nebula Award for Best Short Story is a literary award assigned each year by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) for science fiction or fantasy short stories. A work of fiction is defined by the organization as a short story if it is less than 7,500 words; awards are also given out for longer works in the categories of novel, novella, and novelette. To be eligible for Nebula Award consideration a short story must be published in English in the United States. Works published in English elsewhere in the world are also eligible provided they are released on either a website or in an electronic edition. The Nebula Award for Best Short Story has been awarded annually since 1966. The award has been described as one of "the most important of the American science fiction awards" and "the science-fiction and fantasy equivalent" of the Emmy Awards.Nebula Award nominees and winners are chosen by members of the SFWA, though the authors of the nominees do not need to be a member. Works are nominated each year between November 15 and February 15 by published authors who are members of the organization, and the six works that receive the most nominations then form the final ballot, with additional nominees possible in the case of ties. Members may then vote on the ballot throughout March, and the final results are presented at the Nebula Awards ceremony in May. Authors are not permitted to nominate their own works, and ties in the final vote are broken, if possible, by the number of nominations the works received. Beginning with the 2009 awards, the rules were changed to the current format. Prior to then, the eligibility period for nominations was defined as one year after the publication date of the work, which allowed the possibility for works to be nominated in the calendar year after their publication and then reach the final ballot in the calendar year after that. Works were added to a preliminary ballot for the year if they had ten or more nominations, which were then voted on to create a final ballot, to which the SFWA organizing panel was also allowed to add an additional work.During the 53 nomination years, 215 authors have had works nominated; 40 of these have won, including co-authors. One of these authors, Lisa Tuttle, refused her award, and in 1971 no winner was chosen as "no award" received the highest number of votes. Harlan Ellison won three times out of eight nominations, both the highest number of wins and the highest number of nominations of any author. Ten authors have won twice, with Karen Joy Fowler at seven and Gardner Dozois at six having the next highest nomination count after Ellison. Michael Swanwick has the most nominations for short story without winning at six, and Howard Waldrop and Gene Wolfe are next with five each. No other author has been nominated more than four times.

New Wave science fiction

The New Wave is a movement in science fiction produced in the 1960s and 1970s and characterized by a high degree of experimentation, both in form and in content, a "literary" or artistic sensibility, and a focus on "soft" as opposed to hard science. New Wave writers often saw themselves as part of the modernist tradition and sometimes mocked the traditions of pulp science fiction, which some of them regarded as stodgy, adolescent and poorly written.

Samuel R. Delany

Samuel Ray Delany Jr. (; born April 1, 1942), Chip Delany to his friends, is an American author, professor and literary critic. His work includes fiction (especially science fiction), memoir, criticism and essays on sexuality and society.

His most recent science fiction novel is Through the Valley of the Nest of Spiders. Others include Babel-17, The Einstein Intersection (winners of the Nebula Award for 1966 and 1967 respectively), Nova, Dhalgren, and the Return to Nevèrÿon series. After winning four Nebula awards and two Hugo Awards over the course of his career, Delany was inducted by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 2002. From January 2001 until his retirement in May 2015, he was a professor of English and Creative Writing at Temple University in Philadelphia. In 2010 he won the third J. Lloyd Eaton Lifetime Achievement Award in Science Fiction from the academic Eaton Science Fiction Conference at UCR Libraries. The Science Fiction Writers of America named him its 30th SFWA Grand Master in 2013.

Sci Fiction

Sci Fiction was an online magazine which ran from 2000 to 2005. At one time, it was the leading online science fiction magazine. Published by Syfy and edited by Ellen Datlow, the work won multiple awards before it was discontinued.

Sex and sexuality in speculative fiction

Sexual themes are frequently used in science fiction or related genres. Such elements may include depictions of realistic sexual interactions in a science fictional setting, a protagonist with an alternative sexuality, or exploration of the varieties of sexual experience that deviate from the conventional.

Science fiction and fantasy have sometimes been more constrained than non-genre narrative forms in their depictions of sexuality and gender. However, speculative fiction also offers the freedom to imagine societies different from real-life cultures, making it an incisive tool to examine sexual bias and forcing the reader to reconsider his or her cultural assumptions.

Prior to the 1960s, explicit sexuality of any kind was not characteristic of genre speculative fiction due to the relatively high number of minors in the target audience. In the 1960s, science fiction and fantasy began to reflect the changes prompted by the civil rights movement and the emergence of a counterculture. New Wave and feminist science fiction authors imagined cultures in which a variety of gender models and atypical sexual relationships are the norm, and depictions of sex acts and alternative sexualities became commonplace.

There also exists science fiction erotica, which explores sexuality and the presentation of themes aimed at inducing arousal.

Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand

Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (1984) is a science fiction novel by Samuel R. Delany. It was part of a planned duology ("diptych", in Delany's description) whose second half, The Splendor and Misery of Bodies, of Cities, remains unfinished.

The Complete Nebula Award-Winning Fiction

The Complete Nebula Award-Winning Fiction is a 1986 collection of short stories and novellas by American writer Samuel R. Delany. The collection includes those works by Delany that have won the Nebula Award.

The Hunt of the Unicorn

The Hunt of the Unicorn, or the Unicorn Tapestries, is one of the most famous and spectacular but enigmatic survivors of the late Middle Ages. This series of seven tapestries now in The Cloisters in New York was possibly made – or at least designed – in Paris at the turn of the sixteenth century. They are one of the canonical works of late medieval/early Renaissance art and show a group of noblemen and hunters in pursuit of a unicorn through an idealised French landscape. The tapestries were woven in wool, metallic threads, and silk. The vibrant colours, still evident today, were produced from dye plants: weld (yellow), madder (red), and woad (blue).First recorded in 1680 in the Paris home of the de la Rochefoucauld family, the tapestries were looted at the French Revolution. Rediscovered in a barn in the 1850s, they were hung at the family's Château de Verteuil. Since then they have been the subject of intense scholarly debate about the meaning of their iconography, the identity of the artists who designed them, and the sequence in which they were meant to be hung. Although various theories have been put forward, as yet nothing is known of their early history or provenance, and their dramatic but conflicting narratives have inspired multiple readings, from chivalric to Christological. Variations in size, style, and composition suggest they come from more than one set, linked by their subject matter, provenance, and the mysterious AE monogram which appears in each. One of the panels, The Mystic Capture of the Unicorn, only survives in two fragments.

James J. Rorimer speculated in 1942 that the tapestries were commissioned by Anne of Brittany, to celebrate her marriage to Louis XII, King of France on 6 December 1491. Rorimer interpreted the A and E monogram that appears in each tapestry as the first and the last letters of Anne's name. Margaret B. Freeman, however, rejected this interpretation in her 1976 monograph, a conclusion repeated by Adolph S. Cavallo in his 1998 work. Tom Campbell, former Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, recently acknowledged that experts "still do not know for whom or where [the tapestries] were made." So far, scholarly efforts to explain the AE and other inscriptions, to identify the few heraldic symbols, and to coherently account for the puzzling narratives have met with limited success.

The Road to Science Fiction

The Road to Science Fiction is a series of science fiction anthologies edited by American science fiction author, scholar and editor James Gunn. Composed as a textbook set to teach the evolution of science fiction literature, the series is now available as mass market publications.

The six-volume set collects many of the most influential works of the genre. It was published originally by Signet and then by White Wolf Games Studio. Volumes 1 through 4 are currently being reprinted in paperback format by the company Scarecrow Press.

The World Treasury of Science Fiction

The World Treasury of Science Fiction (ISBN 0-316-34941-0) is a science fiction anthology edited by David G. Hartwell, published by Little, Brown and Company in 1989.

Triton (novel)

Trouble on Triton: An Ambiguous Heterotopia (1976) is a science fiction novel by American writer Samuel R. Delany. It was nominated for the 1976 Nebula Award for Best Novel, and was shortlisted for a retrospective James Tiptree, Jr. Award in 1995. It was originally published under the shorter title Triton.

Delany has said that Trouble on Triton was written partly in dialogue with Ursula K. Le Guin's anarchist science fiction novel The Dispossessed, whose subtitle was An Ambiguous Utopia. It is also loosely linked to other books by him (particularly Neveryóna) in its references to "the modular calculus", a vaguely described future mathematics that would analyze analogies, fictional constructs, and possibly human personalities. The most recent US edition from Wesleyan University Press (1996) has a foreword by the postmodern novelist Kathy Acker, focusing on Trouble on Triton as Orphic fiction.

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