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(1927-2010) US editor and author who also worked with the Peace Corps and as a political manager. Several of his sf novels focus on Disasters, beginning with his first, The Swarm (1974), which convincingly posits an ecological catastrophe when the African honey-bee mutates and invades North America (see Ecology; Hive Minds), eventually besieging New York. It was filmed by Irwin Allen. Partly based on fact (African bees have indeed bred with South American bees to form a large and belligerent hybrid), the novel is well researched and written, as are Earthsound (1975), in which a seismologist attempts to warn sceptical New Englanders of an approaching earthquake and is thought to be merely hysterical, and Heat (1977; rev 1989), an early attempt to deal with the greenhouse effect (see Climate Change), which is seen in technofix terms as a problem solvable by an American scientist with the aid of his President; more tellingly one character asks a rhetorical question, after politicians hope to deny there is a problem: "I wonder what they'll feel a hundred years from now when they find out that people in the twentieth century knew what was coming and kept their mouths shut."
In later novels, Herzog moved less convincingly towards Satire. In IQ 83 (1978) a Genetic-Engineering attempt to retune DNA predictably backfires, reducing the Intelligence of those treated to the titular level, and the America series – Make Us Happy (1978) and Glad to Be Here (1979) – takes him shakily into the realms of Dystopia, as Computers threaten the good life. Later works include The Village Buyers (2003), where a small town is invested, possibly by Aliens seeking a beachhead; Imortalon (2004), in which the titular Rejuvenation Drug is eagerly adopted but soon discovered to have dire side-effects; and Polar Swap (2008), about the supposed threat of a reversal of the magnetic poles. Beyond Sci-Fi (coll 2007) collects previously unpublished stories. [PN/JC]
born New York: 6 April 1927
died Southampton, New York: 26 May 2010
Entry from The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (2011-current) edited by John Clute and David Langford.
Accessed 01:55 am on 4 October 2023.