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Sohl, Jerry

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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Working name of US author and former journalist Gerald Allan Sohl Sr (1913-2002), active from about 1950 in sf and other genres as Sohl and under various pseudonyms, including Nathan Butler and Sean Mei Sullivan. He began publishing sf with The 7th Order (March 1952 Galaxy; 2010 ebook) and soon released The Haploids (1952), the first of several 1950s novels whose slick surface and sharp economy of scale marked him as a professional craftsman. These books include The Transcendent Man (1953), Costigan's Needle (1953) – which deftly depicts the colonizing of a Parallel WorldThe Altered Ego (1954) – which ingeniously treats as a problem in detection an Immortality puzzle involving personality recordings, though without the concept of Clones the technology of transference was clearly unwieldy – and Point Ultimate (1955), a fine example of 1950s Paranoia in its picture of Russians occupying America through use of a plague virus. In all these books Sohl's use of science, though enjoyable, seems in hindsight somewhat opportunistic, and several of them fail ultimately to make much sense of the premises they dramatize. His sf output began to slacken by the end of the decade, though he remained active in other areas, several non-sf novels being published as by Butler.

Of Sohl's later sf, The Odious Ones (1959) and Night Slaves (1961) – the latter adapted as the made-for-Television film Night Slaves (1970) – best demonstrate his competence, though Death Sleep (1983) is a competent Near Future medical thriller. From 1958 Sohl did considerable television work, including scripts, under various names, for The Invaders (1967-1968), The Outer Limits (1963-1965), the original Star Trek (1966-1969) and The Twilight Zone (1959-1964), some of this work being represented in Filet of Sohl: The Classic Scripts and Stories of Jerry Sohl (coll 2003) edited by Christopher Conlon. [JC]

Gerald Allan Sohl Sr

born Los Angeles, California: 2 December 1913

died Thousand Oaks, California: 4 November 2002


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