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Cohen, Joshua

Entry updated 6 December 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1980-    ) US author who after the surreal fantasias assembled as The Quorum (coll 2005) began to publish work of sf interest with "Last Transmission or Man with a Robotic Ermine" in Text: Ur: The New Book of Masks (anth 2006) edited by Forrest Aguirre. In his first published novel, Cadenza for the Schneidermann Violin Concerto (2007), the composer Schneidermann mysteriously disappears from a showing of Steven Spielberg's Schindler's List (1993), according to his friend Laster who improvises the tale as a kind of cadenza to the composer's violin concerto. Schneidermann had earlier mysteriously survived the Final Solution (we are told) and must be somewhere now, caught perhaps in some trellis of Fantastika. In A Heaven of Others (2007), a young Jewish boy, victim of a suicide bomber, is sent by mistake to a version of the Muslim heaven, where his Fantastic Voyage in search of the right heaven foliates down distractive but educational paths. Similarly, in Witz (2010), an Alternate History Equipoisal between Eschatological spoof and Pandemia Sublime (see Pandemic), all the Jews in the world, with the exception of firstborn males, have died in 1999 at the verge of the Millennium; the firstborn, absorbed into the coils of the American government's true owners (see Secret Masters), all soon die as well, except for the New York protagonist, who seems to be an enfant sauvage, having been born fully adult but formally ineducable (see Absurdist SF; Postmodernism and SF). A parallel narrative, set in the "real" Near Future, describes the last days of the last survivor of the Final Solution.

Book of Numbers (2015), also gonzo and wit-led, is the biography of a "real" Internet guru named Joshua Cohen, as told from a coign of vantage somehow within the digital world he controls, by a man also named Joshua Cohen: who is whose Doppelganger is not entirely clear. The Joshua Cohen who narrates is unreliable. The Netanyahus: An Account of a Minor and Ultimately Even Negligible Episode in the History of a Very Famous Family (2021) confabulates a history of the Netanyahu family – the Israeli politician Benjamin Netanyahu (1948-    ) plays a small role – through the eyes of Ruben Blum, an academic with almost the name but not the career of the American scholar and Media Landscape guru Harold Bloom: the connection is made explicit. [JC]

Joshua Aaron Cohen

born Somers Point, New Jersey: 6 September 1980

works (selected)

collections and stories

  • The Quorum (Prague, Czech Republic: Twisted Spoon Press, 2005) [coll: pb/]
  • Four New Messages (Minneapolis, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 2012) [coll: pb/Alvaro Villanueva]

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