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Cohen, Jack

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1933-2019) UK reproductive biologist, formerly with the University of Warwick, and author of several nonfiction books in which the relationship between speculative fiction and the speculative sciences are explored, all written in collaboration with Ian Stewart. The first of these is The Collapse of Chaos: Discovering Simplicity in a Complex World (1994). Of particular sf interest is the their exploration of possible Alien biologies and societies in Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life (2002; vt What Does a Martian Look Like: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life 2002). As an expert on various scientific issues, including Biology and world-building, Cohen was formally consulted by various writers, including Brian Aldiss, Anne McCaffrey, Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, and James White, in the building of their more ambitious Alien ecologies. Again with Ian Stewart, Cohen wrote four volumes of popular science based on the "science" of Terry Pratchett's Discworld sequence: each book is centred on a novella-length Discworld story by Pratchett, whose chapters alternate with chapters of exposition by Cohen and Stewart.

Cohen also co-wrote two sf novels in the Wheelers sequence and contributed extensively input to the third. Wheelers (2000) with Ian Stewart, depicts the discovery of the eponymous levitating artefacts on the Jovian moon Callisto (see Jupiter), and of the Alien reaction that subsequently threatens twenty-third-century Earth with the Disaster of impact from a redirected Comet. The sequel Heaven (2004), also with Stewart, is a Space Opera in which an interstellar Religion threatens the stability of several worlds. The distant prequel Oracle (2021), which opens on Earth in 17,000 BCE but nevertheless features galaxy-wide action, was delayed by Cohen's failing health and written by Stewart solo from ideas generated by Cohen. [JC/DRL]

Jack Cohen

born Norwich, Norfolk: 19 September 1933

died Three Legged Cross, Dorset: 6 May 2019






The Science of Discworld

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