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Jacobs, Harvey

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1930-2017) US author whose work, much of it taking on a Magic-Realist glow, generally focused on the nature and fate of the urban Jew, especially in New York. He began publishing work of some genre interest with "A Wind Age" for Tomorrow in 1951; his more fable-like tales, many of which appear in The Egg of the Glak and Other Stories (coll 1969) and My Rose & My Glove: Stories (Real and Surreal) (coll 2005), are not dissimilar to some of Bernard Malamud's. "The Egg of the Glak" (March 1968 F&SF) itself and "In Seclusion" (February 1968 New Worlds) typically demonstrate Jacobs's sharply sardonic use of sf elements to make moral points about man's inhumanity to man in a cold world. Beautiful Soup: A Novel for the 21st Century (1993) is an sf Satire about Near Future life in urban and suburban America – a mode more frequently found in 1950s and 1960s titles – and follows the life of a man who loses his official Identity, and his own sense of who he is in the world, after being accidentally imprinted with the barcode from a soup tin in a supermarket accident; perhaps over-mildly, the tale accelerates towards a Comic Inferno finale. American Goliath [for subtitle see Checklist] (1997) combines the historical novel – it meticulously describes the mid-nineteenth-century Cardiff Giant hoax: a fake fossil which many Americans believed was the remains of one of the "giants in the earth" from the Book of Genesis – and fantasy. The giant itself muses upon events, acting like a kind of spiritus mundi upon those around him, healing some, bestowing mass erections on large groups of males. Further black Humour in Side Effects (2009) is directed at the pharmaceutical industry; the protagonist suffers so many unexpected and unexpectedly bizarre side-effects from a succession of wonder Drugs – each intended to fix the problems caused by the last, each generating new problems – that his existence poses a threat to Big Pharma and he finds himself awaiting judicial execution. [JC]

Harvey Jay Jacobs

born New York: 7 January 1930

died Encinitas, California: 23 September 2017



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