Samuel "Chip" Delany (1942 - )is one of the most significant and challenging science fiction writers of the 20th century. Delany is indeed big and black and gay, and by all accounts really nice, and many of his works tend to focus on the nature of language, identity and sexuality. Delany was an exemplar of the "New Wave" movement in SF which moved the genre away from space operas, rocketships and ray guns and into closer alliance with modern literary fiction.
In many ways, he could be considered to be one of the first writers to explore and begin to map out the territory which the cyberpunk movemnt later built itself on. He was one of the first writers to realize that the future was going to be something tremendously more complicated and difficult to make sense of then we were used to, and is perhaps still the best at conveying that sense of fractal complication through the written word. Some feel that Delany has taken his work too far in the direction of this literary experimentalism, to the point where his readability suffers; at one point, Philip K. Dick excoriated him as writing "more for academics than actual readers", which is a bit ironic in light of Dick's posthumous status as perhaps the most academically lionized of all science fiction writers.
Delany is an extremely prolific writer, even beyond the field of SF. He is also the author of numerous works of non-fiction, probably most notably his autobiography The Motion of Light on Water, which chronicles his early adulthood in the East Village and his brief and turbulent marriage to the poet Marilyn Hacker.
Delany was born in Manhattan to a prominent family of black undertakers, and went to high school at New York's elite Bronx Science. He then briefly attended City College of New York, (which is now City University of New York) before dropping out to focus on his writing, and finishing his degree there years later. He is currently a professor of English at Temple University in Philadelphia.
Some of his significant works of fiction include: