Samuel Delany, Marilyn Hacker?

March 20,  2013

He met her on the first day, Bronx High School of Science, September 1956.   They got married five years later (in Detroit — Michigan was one of the two states where interracial marriage was not illegal).   The marriage lasted 12 years, even though he had self-identified as gay from the very first.

The two of them edited Quark: A Quarterly of Speculative Fiction (1970-71) .   Hacker, then as now, was primarily a poet, but her first day job was as an editorial assistant.   In fact, she was the one who his first novel, The Jewels of Aptor, published by Ace, claiming she had found it in the slush pile.  He wrote his Nebula Award-winning Babel-17 and The Einstein Intersection while married to her.  In 1971, Delany completed a draft of Dhalgren, eventually 879 pages long, about a schizoid, amnesiac wanderer in Bellona, a shell of a city in the American Midwest cut off from the rest of the world by an event horizon.  It didn’t get published till 1974, but when Delany, Hacker, and their one-year-old daughter arrived at the Kennedy Airport on Christmas Eve, copies of the book were on all the book racks.

Over the next decade, the novel would sell more than a million copies, “a riddle that was never meant to be solved,” William Gibson said.

He wrote about her in Heavenly Breakfast and Motion of Light in Water, and she about him in her first  volume of poems, Presentation Note (1975).   Even so, a question mark is what I see when I think of them.

About wcd2

Professor of English and American Studies
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