The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

The surface story of this novel is a reliving of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Lobey and Friza fall in love, and after an all-too-brief period of happiness, she is killed. Still grieving for his lost love, Lobey embarks on a quest to confront Frizas murderer and retrieve her from death. Believing they know what killed Friza, the elders of Lobeys village send him to battle a mutation, a gigantic man-bull. He tracks it to its subterranean lair, and, like Theseus, slays the Minotaur in its Labyrinth. Lobey later finds that this creature was not, after all, Frizas killer.

The real culprit is another mutation named Kid Death, a desert-born, white-skinned redhead with gills and a mouth full of sharks teeth who kills whatever frightens him. He has the power to reanimate those he kills. He can control, but he cannot create and cannot make order from chaos.

Like the mythic Orpheus, Lobey is a musician, and as such, he understands order. By killing and then reanimating Friza, Kid Death impels Lobey to interact with him, hoping to gain his grasp of order. Childlike in appearance, his demeanor alternately craftily evil and poi-gnantly naïve, Kid Death is an unusual antagonist. He is powerful yet vulnerable, a merciless killer yet, in the end, a pitiful victim who begs for his life. It may be argued that Kid Death’s “villainy” stems from being different, having needs that are drastically opposed to those of the majority.


(The entire section is 416 words.)

The Einstein Intersection Bibliography

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Barbour, Douglas. “Cultural Invention and Metaphor in the Novels of Samuel R. Delany.” Foundation 7/8 (March, 1975): 105-121.

Broderick, Damien. Reading by Starlight: Postmodern Science Fiction. New York: Routledge, 1995.

Dornemann, Rudi, and Eric Lorberer. “A Silent Interview with Samuel R. Delany.” Rain Taxi Review of Books 5, no. 4 (2000).

Fox, Robert Elliot. Conscientious Sorcerers: The Black Postmodernist Fiction of Leroi Jones, Amiri Baraka, Ishmael Reed, and Samuel R. Delany. New York: Greenwood Press, 1987.

Sallis, James. Ash of Stars: On the Writing of Samuel R. Delany. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 1996.

Tucker, Jeffrey Allen. A Sense of Wonder: Samuel R. Delany, Race, Identity, and Difference. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 2004.

Tucker, Jeffrey Allen. “Studying the Works of Samuel R. Delany.” Ohio University College of Arts and Sciences Forum 15 (Spring, 1998).