Merle, Robert

Tagged: Author

(1908-2004) Algerian-born French author, in France from 1918, recipient of the Prix Goncourt in 1949, known primarily for his work outside the sf field. His Un animal doué de raison (1967; trans Helen Weaver as The Day of the Dolphin 1969) is an ingenious examination of scientific and political ethics following the main character's breakthrough in Communication with dolphins, along the lines promulgated by John C Lilly (1915-2001), whose life and career inspired the tale. A film version, The Day of the Dolphin (1973), lacked the Satirical impact of the book. Malevil (1972; trans Derek Coltman 1974), joint winner of the John W Campbell Memorial Award in 1974, is a realistic and delicately told Post-Holocaust tale, the cast surviving Underground; the tale extends over time, as a new Religion is fought against, and a generally clement Ruined Earth begins to fructify once more. It was filmed as Malevil (1981). Les hommes protégés (1974; trans Martin Sokolinsky as The Virility Factor 1977) uses an sf framework to satirize both sexist and feminist attitudes. An epidemic to which boys, castrated men and men over 60 are immune is killing the male population of the USA. The government is taken over by women and eunuchs, and new changes are rung on the old sf theme with what some saw as cheery ribaldry, others as cheap vulgarity. [MJ/PN]

see also: France; Linguistics; Under the Sea.

Robert Merle

born Tébessa, French Algeria: 29 August 1908

died Grosrouvre, near Paris: 23 March 2004

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