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Wolf, Gary K

Entry updated 25 October 2021. Tagged: Author.

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(1941-    ) US author who began publishing work of genre interest with "Love Story" in Worlds of Tomorrow for Winter 1970, which he followed with several sharply Satirical tales over the next few years. The best of these, like "Doctor Rivet and Supercon Sal" (January 1976 F&SF), are generally thought to scan American society with a sharper, cleaner vision than that attained in his longer work. Very soon, however, he changed his primary focus to novels where the corruption of the modern world could be exposed at greater length. Killerbowl (1975) is the briskly violent portrait of a Near Future world – similar to that depicted in Rollerball (1975), though the film was in fact based on "Roller Ball Murder" (1973 Esquire) by William Harrison (1933-    ) – in which games are used to sublimate more politically dangerous passions (see Games and Sports); a player past his prime discovers the true nature of the games he plays. A Generation Removed (1977) depicts another Near-Future society in which the young have violently taken the reins of power (see Paranoia; Politics) and euthanasia of the middle-aged in Euth Centers is normal; there are some similarities with Logan's Run (1976). The Resurrectionist (1979), which develops the Matter-Transmission premise of "The Bridge Builder" (in Orbit 14, anth 1974, ed Damon Knight), again exposes a corrupt world to violent retribution after its protagonist discovers the true fate of a Russian ballerina who has been Disappeared.

From 1980 or so, Wolf specialized in fantasy, becoming well known for the Roger Rabbit sequence opening with Who Censored Roger Rabbit? (1981), which was filmed as the multiple Oscar-winning Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). This loose adaptation, produced by Disney in conjunction with Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment and directed by Robert Zemeckis, introduced extraordinary and moving animation techniques which made it an instant classic and its "Toons" (three-dimensional cartoon characters that in this Alternate World coexist with humans) unforgettable. The counterfactual homage to Los Angeles (see California) that shapes the story – in the late 1940s, the Toontown ghetto is saved from corporate villains who plan to build a superhighway through its heart, 1950 being the year the Los Angeles public transportation network was sold to private investors who demolished it to make room for freeways – is also unforgettable. The film differs so radically from the book that a novelization by another hand was released: Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) by Martin Noble. Wolf's second Roger Rabbit volume, written as a sequel to the film rather than the original book, is the less gripping Who P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit? (1991), a cod-noir quest for the truth behind a rumoured love affair between Clark Gable and Roger's girl. A belated third instalment in similar vein is Who Wacked Roger Rabbit? (2013 ebook). There has also been a Comics spinoff.

Further work includes Space Vulture (2008) with John J Myers, a deliberately retro Space Opera in the Pulp vein of Planet Stories; The Late Great Show (2012 ebook), in which the Greek pantheon get up to hijinks in California; and Typical Day (2012 ebook), a Superhero fantasy whose protagonist, having played a Virtual Reality game for fun (see Games and Sports), enters a new world when the game seems to break down. [JC]

Gary Kenneth Wolf

born Berwyn, Illinois: 24 January 1941

works

series

Roger Rabbit

individual titles

  • Killerbowl (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1975) [hb/Steve Marcesi]
  • A Generation Removed (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1977) [hb/Margo Herr]
  • The Resurrectionist (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Company, 1979) [hb/Margo Herr]
  • Space Vulture (New York: Tor, 2008) with John J Myers [hb/Glen Orbik]
  • The Late Great Show (Lancaster, Ohio: Musa Publishing, 2012) [ebook: na/]

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