Samuel Delany launched his science fiction career surrounded with mutants and mind-freaks, in the Greenwich Village of the 1960s. So he seemed like the perfect person to talk to when I was writing an epic blog post about aliens, mutants and telepathic acid in the Village a while back. I got in touch with him with some Village questions, and he finally just got back to me. Here are his recollections.
When did you live in the Village? And was it really such a hotbed of science fiction?
I was in the East Village from about 61, i suppose, until 1973. Thomas Disch I believe was in the area. Other people passed through. James Sallis, when he was in New York he tended to stay in the Village or the East Village. I believe Robert Sheckley from time to time lived in the village. My sense is that the Village of the 50s, before i got there, was even more a sort of science fiction center, even for New York. Judith Merrill and a lot of the people who lived in Milford, Pennsylvania, would stay in the Village when they came to New York.
Milford, PA? What was going on there?
Milford was the center of science fiction from the 30s to the 50s, and much of the 60s. The Millford science fiction writers conference was held there every September, usually the week after Worldcon, or the week before Worldcon. It was a pretty lively place. At various times Theodore Sturgeon lied there, Harry Harrison, Lester Del Rey, they lived there upwards of a year or two. it was rather like Eugene or Portland, OR, where so many science fiction people lived a few years ago.
You wrote a lot of your early SF when you lived in the Village, right? Did you ever set any stories there?
Most of my sscience fiction was written while I lived there, starting from Jewels of Aptor up through Dhalgren. My first two novels were probably written in the East Village area. We couldn't afford living in the Village Village, it had sort of priced itself out of what I was capable of paying.
Did the Village provide any good material for SF stories? Was it an inspiring place for SF writers because it was so weird?
It inspired anybody who was interested in writing or the arts or music. I think anybody who liked those things or was involved in those things got a certain charge out of the neighborhood.
Did you ever write any science fiction that took place there?
I don't remember ever setting any stories in the Village. At one point, I wrote a couple of issues of Wonder Woman, one of which had [then-depowered] Diana Prince living in the East Village.