The Jewels of Aptor
by Samuel R. Delaney
Delaney’s first book, written when he was a teenager, is a fast-paced, imaginative pulp fantasy. Some solid description lifts it above the run-of-the-mill, and there’s a respectable amount of ideas per square inch. Occasionally the writing has some odd gaps in clarity or specificity — a character loses a hand at one point, and I don’t think it’s ever established which hand it was — and some unrealistic psychology; but it’s unrealistic in the style of fast-paced adventure stories, as it were, complex emotions skipped over to keep the narrative moving. It’s not, in other words, great writing. But it’s a good quick read, with strong rhythms and vocabulary, and some oddly psychedelic touches which help make the style stand out. On the one hand, it’s of interest mainly as Delaney’s first work; on the other, it’s far from the worst fantasy-adventure book I’ve read, and stands nicely alongside the pulpier writing of somebody like Michael Moorcock.