THE LARGER-THAN-LIFE SAMUEL R. DELANY, best known as the author of Dhalgren and Babel-17, is considered a grandmaster of the sci-fi genre and an icon of the LGBTQ, literary, and African-American communities.

Born and raised in Harlem, Delany began writing in the early 1960s and became famous for his provocative futuristic explorations of sexual identity. He was a rebellious pioneer who opened up the white male universe of science fiction to issues of race and gender. The grandson of a slave, he has written frankly about his life and sexual adventures as a gay African-American.

THE POLYMATH juxtaposes Delany’s flow of memories, readings and archival footage with visually stunning images of the city to craft a mesmerizing portrait of this complex eclectic intellectual, one of the most important writers of our time.

The first of Maestromedia’s two-disc DVD set is the award-winning 80-minute feature, The Polymath or, the Life and Opinions of Samuel R. Delany, Gentleman, written and directed by Fred Barney Taylor.

The Polymath fluidly fuses meditative and experimental imagery, autobiographical anecdotes, family home movies, and literary excerpts to produce a stylized and highly unusual documentary. The film’s nonlinear structure follows Delany’s own use of autobiography, science-fiction, social criticism, pornography, and semiotics. The film also features an appearance by novelist Jonathan Lethem.

The bonus disc, designed for university libraries and literary collections, contains 2 and 1/2 hours of never before seen Delany interviews and includes the only extant color-corrected complete 37-minute version of his cult early 70’s film, The Orchid.

From the Museum Insiders of the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures

Afrofuturistic documentaries are rare, but director Fred Barney Taylor’s frank and off-kilter film contains entire worlds. For more than 50 years, Samuel R. Delany has been among America’s most essential-and most challenging-authors and literary critics. Black and gay, Delany pens genre-bending fiction that flows from his unique lived experiences of sex, desire, epidemic and race. The film’s subject may insist that he’s “ordinary and dull,” but, like him, The Polymath is an object lesson in the rewards of long and extraordinary commitment.

– Gary Dauphin

PURCHASE THE DVDs

For institutions: $325
For individuals: $40