Erlich, Richard D

Tagged: Author | Critic

(1943-    ) US academic and critic who took his PhD in English Language and Literature at the University of Illinois (Urbana-Champaign) and worked for 35 years at Miami University (Oxford, Ohio) from 1971. His first essay of sf interest was "Strange Odyssey: From Dart to Ardrey to Kubrick and Clarke" (May 1976 Extrapolation 17.2), which centred on the use in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and its novelization use of Raymond Dart's theory, modified and popularized by Robert Ardrey, of "The Predatory Transition from Ape to Man", as imaged in Stanley Kubrick's well-known match-cut depicting a thrown bone rising to become a space satellite (especially if that satellite in an unreleased pre-final cut was identified as a nuclear weapon).

Erlich is best known for his Ursula K Le Guin scholarship, initially in collaboration with John H Crow and later on his own. This work culminated in Coyote's Song: The Teaching Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin (1997 ebook), the first digital publication of the Science Fiction Research Association, also issued in paperback in 2010 by Borgo Press as volume 72 in The Milford Series: Popular Writers of Today. Running to 658 pages, Coyote offers close readings of most of Le Guin's works from her first published story through 1995. Erlich rounded off his study of this author with "Le Guin and God: Quarreling with the One, Critiquing Pure Reason" (Winter 2006 Extrapolation 47.3) and "Always Coming Home: Ethnography, unBible, and Utopian Satire" (2008 Paradoxa #21).

In addition to John Crow on Le Guin and A Boy and His Dog (as film and novel), Erlich collaborated with the late Peter C Hall on Dystopian film, with his student Diana Perkins on Le Guin's The Eye of the Heron (in Millennial Women, anth 1978, ed Virginia Kidd; 1982), and with Alan Kalish et al on the student-executed project "'For Our Balls Were Sheathed in Inertron': Textual Variations in 'The Seminal Buck Rogers Story'" (Winter 1988 Extrapolation 29.4). Erlich later used a study of textual variations for literary and social commentary on Joe Haldeman's works in "The Forever War (1972-75, 1975/76, 1997) and Forever Peace (1997): Haldeman's Variations on a Theme by Haldeman" (in Flashes of the Fantastic, anth 2004, ed David Ketterer).

Erlich collaborated with Thomas P Dunn to edit/compile the Clockworks volumes from Greenwood Press. The Mechanical God (anth 1982) was volume 1 in Marshall Tymn's series Contributions to the Study of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Clockwork Worlds (anth 1983) is volume 7 in the same series. The Mechanical God anthologizes essays by a number of scholars on Robots and relatively small Machines; Clockwork Worlds anthologizes essays on large machines and world systems. The third volume is no. 37 in the Greenwood series Bibliographies and Indexes in World Literature, Clockworks: A Multimedia Bibliography of Works Useful for the Study of the Human/Machine Interface in SF (1993), a project Erlich continues with the on-line Wiki, Clockworks 2.

Erlich retired from teaching and most scholarship in 2006 and lives in California, where he serves as webmaster for Frederik Pohl's Writers' Guild website and does occasional informal editing work. [CPa]

see also: Cinema.

Richard Dee Erlich

born Terre Haute, Indiana: 1943


works (selected)


works as editor


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