In Dhalgren, perhaps one of the most profound and best-selling science fiction novels of all time, Samuel R. Delany has produced a novel that rivals the best American fiction of the 1970s.
Bellona is a city at the dead center of the United States. Something has happened there...the population has fled. Madmen and criminals wander the streets. Strange portents appear in the cloud-covered sky. And into this disaster zone comes a young man - a poet, a lover, and an adventurer - known only as the Kid.
Tackling questions of race, gender, and sexuality, Dhalgren is a literary marvel and a groundbreaking work of American magical realism.
©1975 Samuel R. Delany (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
2 out of 5 stars
By sarahmoose2000 on 01-03-16


I bought this based on the narrator as I love his work. I shouldn't really have, as it is Sci-Fi, and I just don't get that genre.

A young man named Kid appears in a new city which has been hit by an appocolypse or something. He gradually makes his way to leader of the Scorpions, a wreckless young gang not unlike Bill Sykes' in Oliver Twist.

It felt as if you were dropped into a trilogy and had missed the important introductions and necessary information. For example an orchid was some sort of weapon and there was some significance to having beads around your neck - it was never really explained, or maybe I just didn't get it, that's quite possible.

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4 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

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5 out of 5 stars
By kwdayboise (Kim Day) on 08-04-17

A classic I return to every few years

I am required to go back to this book every few years. The first book by Delany I ever read was Babel-17 when I was in high school. I enjoyed it. I and several high school friends also read Einstein Intersection and were blown away. One step closer to fanboy. Shortly after high school it seemed like every time I went to the drug store or supermarket the book rack had a copy of Dhalgren. This gigantic book with a strange cover. I finally broke down and bought it and was immediately hooked.

It’s interesting coming back to the book after several years. The book is overtly sexual. And not just sexual but polyamorous with what ends up being a threesome among the main character Kidd, a woman named Lanya, and a gang member named Denny. I think that was a partial draw, but the book in general with its setting in a mysterious city of Bellona and the odd interaction in the entire city kept me sailing through what, at that time, was the longest book I’d ever read.

It’s important to state that the book makes no real sense. It’s as psychedelic a book as you might get from the era (it was first published in 1975). I worried that I might be missing something or was too dense to understand some subtext. I was relieved, then, that the latest edition I read included an introduction by William Gibson, no illiterate regarding science fiction, in which he said that as much as he loved the book he didn’t understand it. The book is an enigma, It has a plot, carries along that plot. But what happened in Bellona? No one knows. It’s a city with its own individual apocalypse that doesn’t seemed to have gone beyond the city’s borders. The inhabitants are drawn from different places as if the city demanded their presence. They also seem to have difficulty leaving, or at least of finding their way out. Within the city limits there are codes but no laws. People scrounge for food but no one goes hungry. It’s a dangerous place and yet there’s a newspaper, a higher society, and some semblance of being a city but with no true government. Sexuality is casual and random, but Kidd’s threesome has familial affection for each other.

Kidd is a mystery throughout the book. Arriving in the city with amnesia after an apparent stay in a mental hospital. He finds a partially filled notebook and begins writing poetry on the blank pages. Almost as suddenly he stops writing but a book of his poems manages to get published. He takes work with a family in which the wife, at least, seems to be in denial about what’s happening around her, trying to live a normal life despite the strange noises outside her apartment. Even the name of the book is a mystery, with one fleeting reference to a man with the surname Dhalgren on a list of names.

After finishing the book I became a Delany addict, tearing through all the books I could find. (I’ve seen similar obsessions with Frank Herbert fans.) But I don’t think until I read Aye, and Gomorrah: And Other Stories that I got a grip about what I loved in Delany and sought out in other science fiction or fiction in general: a sense of freedom and a traveler’s eye. I don’t think one really understands their surroundings until they leave them for awhile. And while travelling or experiencing another country (or another world) one gets perspective on what has been so entwined with you that it becomes invisible. The new world, too, seems brighter. Every small detail has meaning and consequence that have been lost in the things you leave behind. This is wonder. This is magic. Delany’s writings have that sense of wonder and magic while still managing to have taken on some of the deeper themes in literature.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Michael W on 11-02-16

Yeasayers say yes. Naysayers say no.

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes. It is experimental literature that has worn the test of time. If we shall fall for the fallacy of credentialism, Umberto Eco, Theodore Sturgeon, David Bowie, endorse this delicate fragile, imperfect yet bold unabashed and honest work.If it ain't for you then you don't have a place in Bellona.Go somewhere else.As for the rest of us, you are welcome here.Look, you'll know right away if this is not for you. Don't expect anything from Dhalgren. It is more suggestive than expressive. If you expect anything, be prepared for disappointment.However, if you take it as it comes, if you say yes, you are in for a treat. This is something unlike anything that came before it.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Dhalgren?

Sex with trees, the banality of prose. The beauty of it.

What about Stefan Rudnicki’s performance did you like?

His deep cadence plays well with the essence of this peculiar and noteworth work..

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

What you see is incomparable to what you think.

Any additional comments?

This is a landmark work that while imperfect, its contrivances suggests so much it must not be overlooked.All you have to do it let it.

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19 of 24 people found this review helpful

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