Critical Context (Masterplots II: African American Literature)
Long awaited, Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand had been drafted in 1979 and expected for publication in 1981 or 1982. The novel was enthusiastically received by critics when it was first published in December, 1984. The book’s publication signaled a return to science fiction for Delany, who had previously published a series of fantasy novels. Delaney was recognized early as a talented writer, and two of his early novels, Babel-17 (1966) and The Einstein Intersection (1967), won Nebula Awards while Delany was still in his mid-twenties. Delany’s reputation as a serious novelist has continued to grow, not only in the United States and England but also on the European continent, where he has won the praise of critics and fellow artists, among them Umberto Eco.
Delany has repeatedly acknowledged his interest in issues of gay, women’s, and civil rights. Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand reflects these interests and extends them into a fictive future world. Delany’s investigation of institutional slavery and cross-racial barriers to communication reveals his intention to translate many of the issues of the present-day African American experience to a future universe. No doubt the completion of his science-fiction diptych will occasion even greater critical study of his novels.