Schulman, J Neil

Tagged: Author

(1953-2019) US author whose books were very influential in the Libertarian-SF movement. Alongside Night (1979), which is set in a ruinously Decadent New York, describes the salvation of a future America – whose economy has been destroyed by government intervention in the free market: a singularly bad guess in post-2008 hindsight – by a hard-cash underground economy evolved from today's black market (see Economics; Politics). The political message is conveyed in a reasonably unobtrusive fashion, which lends an air of convincingness to the ongoing arguments. The Rainbow Cadenza: A Novel in Logosata Form (1983), which won the Prometheus Award, interestingly portrays a distant Near Future Solar System whose economy includes Space Habitats, and whose light-touch government is modelled ostensibly on uniformitarian libertarian values, though in fact does not forestall the creation of a Dystopia whose state Religion effectively enslaves women (see Feminism; Women in SF); inter alia, laser-generated visuals (see Arts) are described as a means of artistic expression. Schulman also scripted the "Profile in Silver" (7 March 1986) segment of the revived The Twilight Zone, in which a historian who Time Travels from the future prevents the assassination of President John F Kennedy (1917-1963), with disastrous consequences. Time travel, multiple timelines and various seemingly personal wish-fulfilments feature in The Fractal Man (2018 ebook).

Like many libertarian authors, Schulman often resorted – in his case very effectively – to thriller tropes in his attempts to articulate conviction politics readably; a reader not versed in those politics might reasonably think of his work as fundamentally motivated by a combination of moral outrage and a fascination with the hardware of politics and economics. [NT/JC/DRL]

Joseph Neil Schulman

born Forest Hills, New York: 16 April 1953

died 11 August 2019

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nonfiction (selected)

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