This Day in History: 1942-04-01

Samuel Ray “Chip” Delany Jr., an award-winning African American gay writer, editor, professor, and literary critic, is born. He is the first major African American science fiction writer as well as one of the most influential writers of this genre in the United States. He transformed the field in the 1960s and 1970s with daring and visionary novels. He has published over 40 works. Much of his fiction combines mythology, linguistics, deconstructed gender politics, and a frank treatment of sex. Delany’s best known work, Dhalgren (1975), was based on burned out inner cities and explores the life of a black man considered a sexual predator. It sold over a million copies. Since the 1980s, he has focused more on non-fiction. Delany’s memoir, The Motion of Light In Water, was published in 1988. Delany received four Nebula Awards for science fiction: Babel-17, The Einstein Intersection, and two of his short stories. Hugo Awards went to the novella “Time Considered as a Helix of Semi-Precious Stones” and his autobiography. He earned the Stonewall Book Award in 2007 for his novel, Dark Reflections. In 2002, he was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame. Two lifetime achievement awards have been bestowed upon him: the Bill Whitehead Award for Gay Literature in 1993 and the J. Lloyd Eaton Award in 2010. Learn more.