Sci-fi grandmaster Samuel R. Delany wrote his ambitious four-volume sword-and-sorcery Return to Nevèrÿon series beginning in 1978, with the first volume, Tales of Nevèrÿon. Volumes one and two were entirely set within the fantasy world of Nevèrÿon — engineered by Delany for his sword and sorcery narrative to be a place just on the verge of science.

Volume 3, Flight from Nevèrÿon, published in 1985, however, includes stories which deviate from the Nevèrÿon setting.

Volume 3’s story, “The Tale of Plagues and Carnivals” written by Delany in 1984 flips between two diverse settings: the Nevèrÿon port city of Kolhari, a common setting in prior Nevèrÿon volumes, and the modern New York City circa 1983-1984 as it was dealing with the first and second years of the emerging AIDS crisis.

In this regard, information about AIDS at the time Delany wrote his story was largely uninformed.

Flight from Nevèrÿon has been described as “the first novel about AIDS from a major American publisher” for its inclusion of “The Tale of Plagues and Carnivals” story. But has Delany ever identified the purpose of the explicit inclusion of NYC within a Nevèrÿon sword and sorcery book, specifically regarding its in-universe connection and state; for example is Flight from Nevèrÿon’s NYC intended to be a fictionalized version of the city, is the city intended to exist within Nevèrÿon’s sword-and-sorcery universe as perhaps another dimension, or as a fictionalized far future version in a way Tolkien envisioned Middle-earth.

Has Delany ever resolved the connection of Flight from Nevèrÿon’s New York City within the larger Nevèrÿon fantasy sword-and-sorcery setting or universe? (My only additional request in answering this question, is to please try to spell “Nevèrÿon” in its diacritically-correct spelling.)

  • I'm a bit confused. Obviously his New York City was incorporated into a work of fiction, but clearly that's not what you need. What kind of answer would satisfy your question? Nov 2, 2021 at 17:06
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    @InvisibleTrihedron I’m curious of Delaney’s NYC to Nevèrÿon: is it intended to be non-fiction autobiographical for comparative purposes, fictionalized real-world yet separate from Nevèrÿon, is Delaney’s Nevèrÿon intended as a fantasy history for NYC (or conversely Delaney’s NYC of his novel a far-future evolution of the Nevèrÿon world similar to how Middle-Earth will one day become our modern world, or could characters in Nevèrÿon walk through a sorcerer’s gate that transports them between universes into Delaney’s NYC. Does Delaney’s New York City exist within the same setting as Nevèrÿon? Nov 2, 2021 at 17:25
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    Thanks. On the whole, I don't think that Delany would want to have his fiction pinned down in this manner. He goes to some length to keep matters ambiguous. Nov 3, 2021 at 0:18


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