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Berlyn, Michael

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1949-    ) US author and computer-game designer (see Cyborg) whose first novel, the sf adventure Crystal Phoenix (1980), received some adverse comment for the amount of female Torture it contains. The Integrated Man (1980) projects a Dystopian future for urbanized humanity, with a plot based on the shunting of human consciousness into Computer chips, reminiscent in this of John T Sladek's The Müller-Fokker Effect (1970). Blight (1981) as by Mark Sonders, is an sf/horror novel featuring mutated killer moths. During most of the 1980s, Berlyn restricted himself to the creation of interactive fictions for computers (see Game-Worlds), including "Oo-Topos" (1982), "Cyborg" (1982), "Suspended" (1983), "Infidel" (1984), "Cutthroats" (1984), two titles in collaboration with his wife, Muffy McClung Berlyn – "Tass Times in Tonetown" (1986) and "Dr Dumont's Wild P.A.R.T.I." (1988) – and "Altered Destiny" (1990). He then returned to book sf with The Eternal Enemy (1990), a tale whose Dystopian undercurrents are reminiscent of his second novel. Here an Alien race, almost magically facile in its use of Genetic-Engineering techniques to change its members at will, takes a moribund human and transforms him into a being who can breed with them, and perhaps also carry over humanity's inbred capacities as a killing-machine so that the aliens can defend themselves against an insatiable enemy. As with many serious-minded sf writers, Berlyn has some tendency to hamper his effects through the use of generic plotting not well designed to bear the burden of contemplation; but muscle may be felt in his work, and greater focus hoped for. His computer game expertise, which he has continued to exercise in Adventure games like "Zork: The Undiscovered Underground" (1997) with Marc Blank, remains fluent. [JC]

see also: Eschatology; Reincarnation; Suspended: A Cryogenic Nightmare.

Michael Steven Berlyn

born Brookline, Massachusetts: 1949



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