Tales of Nevèrÿon

by Samuel R. Delany
Reviewed date: 2005 Jan 9
Rating: 2
264 pages
cover art

[Gorgik] poured the palmful [of coins] into the slaver's cupped hands, then took the proffered key and bent to grab up the loosened chain. He wasn't a good-looking boy, Gorgik reflected. His shoulders were burned brown as river mud.

The boy said: "You should have take the woman. You get her work in the day, her body at night."

Gorgik tugged the chain. "You think I'll get any less from you?"

Tales of Nevèrÿon includes six loosely connected short stories, mostly revolving around a character named Gorgik. Gorgik, a slave working in the mines, is bought by a passing noble woman; he serves her in any and all ways, and is eventually given his freedom. Tales of Nevèrÿon is more fantasy than science fiction, but there are no elements of magic beyond the superstitions common to all primitive cultures.

Some writers write to tell a story; others write to create a work of art. Delany is the latter. If one likes that sort of book, one might like Tales of Nevèrÿon. I personally prefer an intelligible story to an unintelligible one, no matter how pretty or artistic. And of course, with Delany, every story is better with a healthy dose of gay sex. And as if that were not enough, Delany has his characters invent and discuss Freud's theory of penis envy. Maybe that interests you, but I really don't care to listen to a bunch of illiterate savages bicker about whether penis envy sufficiently explains gender roles.

And I do not care to know that Gorgik gets his jollies by forcing his young male lover to wear a slave collar.

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