Aye, and Gomorrah • 1967 • SF short story by Samuel R. Delany


Synopsis: Astronauts are neutered and androgynized after their training. When they visit Earth, some of them prostitute themselves to „frelks“, people who fetishize sex with the astronauts.
The story follows the first person narrator with his fellow astronauts searching Paris and mostly Istanbul for frelks. He follows such a woman in Istanbul to her home. But he doesn’t want to be paid with money.

Review: This story was published first in Harlan Ellison‘s famous anthology „Dangerous Visions“ which picked up the New Wave voices of SF. It has been anthologized very often since then.
The story‘s topic is sexuality in different forms, written by one of the most prominent gay authors of SF. Transgender, asexuality, gay, prostitution – you‘ll find everything here (though not as explicit as in his later works) and it’s been heavily discussed because of it. In the 1960s it might have felt revolutionary but nowadays it still stays relevant and feels fresh.

Delany‘s narrative voice is sometimes charming, other times mysterious, as he doesn’t spoon feed the reader. The story is worth being read twice, as it slowly gives away its secrets. It isn’t as puzzling as a Gene Wolfe story but quite clear in its messages, asking for sexual and gender tolerance.

I found the story‘s beauty remarkable, and can only recommend reading it, as it is a masterpiece of the New Wave of SF.

Delany never lets me down with his different topics – for a linguistic novel, check out my review of Babel-17.

Meta: isfdb It won the Nebula Award.

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2 Responses to Aye, and Gomorrah • 1967 • SF short story by Samuel R. Delany

  1. Ola G says:

    I’ll hunt this one down – thanks! Great review, Andreas! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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