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Chabon, Michael

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1963-    ) US author whose stories and novels frequently invoke and inhabit the fantastic, though most often the sophisticated and fluent Equipoise of his telling of these varied tales prohibits any pigeonholing definition of most of the stories assembled in A Model World and Other Stories (coll 1991) or Werewolves in Their Youth (coll 1999) as Fantasy or supernatural Horror or sf, or aspiring to the aesthetic jostle of Fantastika at the hands of a Mainstream Writer of SF: a label that became decreasingly appropriate in his case. The original Golem of Prague literally appears in his most famous novel, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2000; exp 2012), though not in animate form; and the highly foregrounding "story-likeness" of the New York life-stories he tells here – both Kavalier and Clay are professionally involved in Comics, and their stories clearly echo the Myth of Origin [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below] structure of comics biographies – is clearly non-mimetic: but Equipoise holds, especially in passages conveying Chabon's complex sense of the deep horrors of World War Two. Kavalier and Clay's comics, as here described, became the basis for a Dark Horse comic book, The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist (2004-2005), an initial gathering of this material being Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, Volume 1 (graph 2004). A near-definitive coverage of this canon has been assembled as Michael Chabon's The Escapist: Amazing Adventures (graph 2018) with Freddye Miller and Michael Chabon's The Escapist: Pulse-Pounding Thrills (graph 2018) with Freddye Miller, which include many episodes (plus new material). Brian K Vaughan's Michael Chabon's The Escapists (graph 2007) incorporates into individual episodes spoof biographical information about Kavalier and Clay themselves.

Less forgivingly, in The Final Solution: A Story of Detection (2004), a steely reticence – as in many of the finer Horror novels of recent years – masks any direct confrontation with the malice of the world, in this case Auschwitz, which hovers, unspoken but uncanny with dread (see Holocaust Fiction), in the margins of a text whose protagonist, a barely disguised Sherlock Holmes, is inherently unable to penetrate through ratiocination the underlying terror of the vastation at the heart of the tale. Summerland (2002), on the other hand, is an unambiguously-couched Baseball fantasy for Young Adult readers; but The Yiddish Policemen's Union (2007) – an Alternate History sf novel where a temporary Jewish homeland in Alaska has been necessitated by somewhat different World War Two in which Berlin is A-bombed in 1946 and the Arabs drive the Jews out of Palestine two years later – returns to his home territory, the fertile interzone between the world we measure and the worlds we understand with the necessary tools of Fantastika. This novel won the Hugo, the Locus Award, the Nebula and the Sidewise Award.

Various genres are on display in Chabon's three original anthologies McSweeney's Mammoth Treasury of Thrilling Tales (anth 2003), McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories (anth 2004) and Michael Chabon Presents: The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist, Volume 1 (graph 2004), stories created around a fictional comics Superhero. They run the gamut from tales sometimes awkwardly evocative of Pulp magazine fiction to Magic Realism, though always with a consciousness of Chabon's editorial focus on the storyable. Gentlemen of the Road (28 January-6 May 2007 The New York Times Magazine; 2007) follows a scarecrow/ghost physician through medieval Europe. Chabon also wrote a draft of the screenplay for Spider-Man 2 (2004); but most of his work of this sort has been for the Star Trek universe, beginning with screenplays for Short Treks (2018-2019), but far more importantly as showrunner for the first season of Star Trek: Picard (2020-current), other commitments restricting his involvement in the second season to some scripts and a role as executive producer. [JC]

see also: Race in SF.

Michael Chabon

born Washington, District of Columbia: 24 May 1963


collections and stories


works as editor


The Escapist (selected; see also further reading below)

individual titles as editor


previous versions of this entry

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