(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand traces the lives of two characters born on planets light-years apart but drawn together by forces beyond their control. The intersection of their lives and the lives of those with whom they interact forms the central thrust of the novel.

The novel opens on Rhyonon, where Rat Korga, a social and sexual misfit, has undergone Radical Anxiety Termination (RAT) and been placed in institutional slavery. For years, Rat Korga labors in menial jobs, demeaned by employees of the organization that owns him. Sold illegally into personal slavery, Korga is captured and returned to what would have been a life of unremitting manual toil had not Rhyonon been completely destroyed, perhaps by the Xlv, an alien race with whom humankind has yet to establish any communication.

Rat Korga’s rescue by the Web, an intergalactic organization, and his return to higher cognition through the use of the rings of Vondramach Okk seem to fit some larger pattern. The wealth of Dyethshome, the huge ancestral residence of the Dyeth family, is owed in large part to the service of Marq’s ancestor Mother Dyeth to Vondramach Okk, a ruler of many worlds, including Velm. There is a sense of appropriateness, then, when Korga appears wearing these rings at Dyethshome as part of a new group of students who regularly engage in research at that historic landmark. Immediately, Marq Dyeth is drawn to Korga; the Web’s determination of their erotic compatibility is accurate. A willing student ready to be introduced to his new world, Korga carries with him an aura of mystery and reserve. The brief stay on Velm presents Korga and the reader with an introduction to an alien culture.

Velm is home to both humans and evelm, an indigenous race. The evelm, six-legged and multitongued creatures bearing vestigial wings, have established an uneasy relationship with humans. The southern...

(The entire section is 782 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Fiction)

Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand involves travel between various worlds and their diverse cultures, travel of mind and heart as well as body. The novel is structured by means of a prologue with an omniscient third-person narrator, followed by a series of thirteen monologues entitled “Visible and Invisible Persons Distributed in Space.” Each is written in first-person narration and includes occasional memory flashbacks. The novel concludes with an epilogue, also with first-person narration.

The prologue narrates the experiences of Rat Korga as he undergoes the simple, voluntary operation offered by the Radical Anxiety Termination (RAT) Institute. The operation liberates him from his rage while preparing him to be docile and obedient. It resembles nothing so much as a high-tech lobotomy. The stupefied Korga then passes from job to job, his employers believing him incapable of sustained thought or feeling, until he is taken away briefly by a woman who lends him a General Information (GI) headset and allows him to rapid-read a slew of great poems and literary works. Korga now has a headful of ideas that no one knows he has or even could have. On the day of his planet’s destruction, the temperature rises twenty degrees in ten seconds. During the next seventeen hours, all life on the surface of the planet is destroyed.

In the monologues and epilogue, Marq Dyeth of Velm, an Industrial Diplomat of high family, learns from a paid assassin that the planet recently destroyed, Rhyonon, was surrounded by the ships of the Xlv, an alien race, just before its destruction. He also learns that there was one survivor, that GI will refuse to divulge any information on the subject,...

(The entire section is 698 words.)