The Einstein Intersection - Samuel R Delany , Neil Gaiman

Wesleyan University Press

Published by University Press of New England,

Hanover, NH 03755

© 1967 by Samuel R. Delany

All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

5 4 3 2 1

First Published by Ace Books in 1967.

For Don Wolheim

a responsible man in all meanings

to and for what is within,

and Jack Gaughan,

for what is without

The Einstein Intersection

By Samuel R. Delany

It darkles, (tinct, tint) all this our funanimal world.

James Joyce, "Finnegans Wake"

I do not say, however, that every delusion or wandering of the mind should be called madness.

Erasmus of Rotterdam, "In Praise of Folly"

There is a hollow, holey cylinder running from hilt to point in my machete.

When I blow across the mouthpiece in the handle, I make music with my blade.

When all the holes are covered, the sound is sad, as rough as rough can be and be called smooth. When all the holes are open, the sound pipes about, bringing to the eye flakes of sun on water, crushed metal. There are twenty holes. And since I've been playing music I've been called all different kinds of fool-more times than Lobey, which is my name.

What I look like?

Ugly and grinning most of the time. That's a whole lot of big nose and gray eyes and wide mouth crammed on a small brown face proper for a fox. That, all scratched around with spun brass for hair. I hack most of it off every two months or so with my machete. Grows back fast. Which is odd, because I'm twenty-three and no beard yet. I have a figure like a bowling pin, thighs, calves, and feet of a man (gorilla?) twice my size (which is about five-nine) and hips to match. There was a rash of hermaphrodites the year I was bom, which doctors thought I might be. Somehow I doubt it.

Like I say, ugly. My feet have toes almost as long as my fingers and the big ones are semi-opposable. But don't knock it; once I saved Little Jon's life.

We were climbing the Beryl Face, slipping around on all that glassy rock, when Little Jon lost his footing and was dangling by one hand. I was hanging by my hands, but I stuck my foot down, grabbed him by the wrist and pulled him back up where he could step on something.

At this point Lo Hawk folds his arms over his leather shirt, nods sagely so that his beard bobs on his ropy neck, says: "And just what were you two young Lo men doing on Beryl Face in the first place? It's dangerous, and we avoid danger, you know. The birthrate is going down, down all the time. We can't afford to lose our productive youth in foolishness." Of course it isn't going down. That's just Lo Hawk. What he means is that the number of total norms is going down. But there's plenty of births. Lo Hawk is from the generation where the number of non-functionals, idiots, mongoloids, and cretins was well over fifty percent. (We hadn't adjusted to your images yet. Ah, well.) But now there are noticeably more functional than non-functionals; so no great concern.

Anyway, not only do I bite my fingernails disgracefully, I also bite my toenails.

And at this point I recall sitting at the entrance of the source-cave where the stream comes from the darkness and makes a sickle of light into the trees, and a blood spider big as my fist suns himself on the rock beside me, belly pulsing out from the sides of him, leaves flicking each other above. Then La Carol walks by with a sling of fruit over her shoulder and the kid under her arm (we had an argument once whether it was mine or not. One day it had my eyes, my nose, my ears. The next, "Can't you see it's Lo Easy's boy? Look how strong he is!" Then we both fell in love with other people and now we're friends again) and she makes a face and says, "Lo Lobey, what are you doing?"

"Biting my toenails. What does it look like?"

"Oh, really!" and she shakes her head and goes into the woods towards the village.

But right now I prefer to sit on the flat rock, sleep, think, gnaw, or sharpen my machete. It's my privilege, so La Dire tells me.

Until a little while ago, Lo Little Jon, Lo Easy, and Lo me herded goats together (which is what we were doing on the Beryl Face: looking for pasture).

We made quite a trio. Little Jon, though a year older than