To call him a queer man's Philip K. Dick is perhaps the highest compliment you can give a gay science-fiction writer, and yet even such high praise falls short of capturing the tremendous depth and breadth of Samuel Delaney's work. By age 26, the Brooklyn-based author had won four Nebula Awards for his sci-fi novels, as well as a Hugo for Babel-17, which established his reputation in that genre. In the 1970s he used the form to explore issues of sexuality in controversial novels like Dhalgren and Triton, and in the '80s his Neveryon series paralleled the AIDS crisis.
More recently, Delaney has shed science fiction and moved on to even more controversial work, such as the explicit Hogg and The Mad Man; he's also penned memoirs on his sexually adventurous days living on the Lower East Side during the late 1950s and written essays on just about everything. Delaney's rich imagination propels his characters through strange yet believable worlds, chock-full of mind-bending ideas and philosophical U-turns that challenge sophisticated readers without talking down to them. He reads from his new novel, Nova, on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Modern Times Bookstore, 888 Valencia (call 282-9246) and Friday at 7 p.m. at the Booksmith, 1644 Haight (call 863-8688). Both readings are free. -- David Hadbawnik
Roots Rock Don't folk with them
"Roots music" is a catchall phrase that actually does its job: It tells you a little bit about a lot of music. Roots reggae, roots rockabilly, country roots, roots Americana -- all of these terms mean that the genre in question is stripped down and played on traditional instruments, like a code for "synthesizers not encouraged." To a lot of people, all of the above goes double for the word "folk."
The American Roots Music Show is an organization bent on supporting purveyors of the good ol' down-home stuff, whether it's bluegrass, Cajun, or western swing. This week, the program is a singer/songwriter showcase called "Folk Off," featuring A.J. Roach, Jon Lawton (of Little Johnny & the Giants), and Toshio Hirano performing Jimmie Rogers tunes. Get your roots off at 3 p.m. at the Music Store, 66 West Portal (at Vicente), S.F. Admission is free; call 664-2044 or visit www.americanrootsmusicshow.com. -- Hiya Swanhuyser
Brave the Elements Dance informed by current events
A dance about the newly proposed Patriot Act II and the war on terrorism sounds a tad dry, even to folks who don't live in a vacuum. But it shouldn't be dull under the careful direction of Element Dance Theater's Kristin Heavey, who tackles those weighty subjects in the company's latest work, Full Scale.
Performed on a set piece created to resemble the scales of justice, Full Scale transforms Heavey's concerns about recent world affairs into physical movement. The series of vignettes is anything but staid: They combine ballet and modern dance with aerial work and military training exercises. Performances start at 8 p.m. at Dance Mission Theater, 3316 24th St., S.F. Admission is $15-20; call 642-1082. -- Lisa Hom
Mixing It Up
Starting out with only some excellent questions -- Where are you from? Where have you been? Where are you going? -- the Hybrid Project asked dancers, beatboxers, musicians, poets, and others to collaborate with audiences to find some good answers. A year later, a full-length multimedia production is the intriguing result. 8 p.m. at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission (at Third Street), S.F. Admission is $10; call 626-2787 or visit www.theintersection.org. -- Hiya Swanhuyser