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Tolkin, Michael

Entry updated 22 December 2020. Tagged: Author, Film.

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(1950-    ) US director, screenwriter and author, notable for his skill as a story doctor; best known for the nonfantastic The Player (1988) whose film version, The Player (1992) directed by Robert Altman, he also scripted. Of the several films for whose scripts he is at least partially responsible, Deep Impact (1998) is of sf interest. He also wrote and directed the adaptation of Robert A Heinlein's "Jerry Was a Man" (October 1947 Thrilling Wonder) for the Television Anthology Series Masters of Science Fiction (2007), screened as "Jerry Was a Man" (18 August 2007).

Tolkin's fiction – at points evocative of the work of Richard Condon – is generally, despite some elaborately gonzo plotting, nonfantastic. Of sf interest is NK3 (2017), set primarily in Near Future Los Angeles (see California) after a weaponized "nanobacterium", released by North Korea, has created the eponymous worldwide Pandemic. The primary effect of NK3 is to slowly and pleasurably generate near-total Amnesia in its victims. No one is immune, though some early sufferers have been given treatments that allow them to retain some continuities of human Identity. They occupy a Keep at the heart of post-Holocaust Los Angeles, behind a sixty-foot wall, where they live at the whim of a ravening populist figure known only as Chief. The book closes jaggedly, befitting the ruptured world it depicts. [JC]

Michael Tolkin

born New York: 17 October 1950

works (highly selected)

  • NK3 (New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2017) [hb/Edwin Tse]

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