There is something incredibly atmospheric about this story. You can feel sea salt on you while you read. You can often tell in Samuel R. Delaney’s SF writing that he is a well-travelled man but I’d say this collection brings us closest to some of his memories of places he has felt fond for. Especially when comparing the language in this to his journals.
Collected in Aye and Gomorrah: And other short stories, Vintage, 2003
The fifth spot on this list would go to Samuel Delany, but Delany doesn’t do short form. He does empire and capital, bondage and freedom, sex, death, rubber balls transported on ships, the fall of governments, generations of lives—all these things and more—but he does them in longform, almost always extreme longform. I think he should the Nobel Prize in literature because he has absolutely destroyed the boundaries of genre for science fiction in ways no one could have expected. If someone reading this has the demi-god-like power of helping with the Nobel nominations, give that man a Nobel already. And if you haven’t read Delany at all, or his magnum opus Dhalgren, do it. We have one more lockdown summer.