This essay starts with two questions: how does one define science fiction, and what difference does race makes to science fiction? Posing these questions together suggests that they are related and provides an opportunity to consider Stars in My Pocket like Grains of Sand (1984) and its author, Samuel R. Delany, who writes from a variety of subject positions: African American, gay, feminist, and more. Delany's work demonstrates how science fiction is a necessity for contemporary African American intellectual inquiry. Stars in My Pocket guides readers through a variety of webs—epistemological, electronic, and semiotic—and it has been celebrated as a science fiction novel engaged in a productive dialogue with critical theory; this essay considers the significance of Delany's racial identity to such claims. Stars in My Pocket participates in the tradition of African American literature and demonstrates the difference that race—that is, both Delany's own identity and the social phenomenon that has structured so much of the American experience—makes to the author's conception of science fiction and its potential as a tool for critical analysis.

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