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Herovit's world, Hardcover – 1973

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 209 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (1973)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394481410
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394481418
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,079,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael Battaglia on October 19, 2003
Format: Paperback
This sure as heck isn't for the faint of heart, that's for certain. Malzberg hasn't written too many novels lately that I know of, but back in the seventies he contributed a number of incisively and witty novels that both dissected and satirized SF. Malzberg's hits the target with a frightening accuracy more often than not and at his best he's a cousin to Kurt Vonnegut, brutal and hilarious at the same time. This novel tends to be more depressing than funny, but has its own rewards. It tells the tale of Jonathan Herovit, a almost forty SF writer trying to finish his fifty-something novel about Surveyman Mack Miller, a career that has hijacked basically his entire life and doesn't pay all that well. His marriage is a wreck, and the only pleasure he really seems to get are the one night stands with various gullible college co-eds he meets at the small conventions he attends. From there, it goes downhill, until eventually his pseudonym Kirk Polland, shows up and says, why not give me a shot. And there you go. For the most part the novel isn't so much a SF book as much as a book about a failing SF writer and Malzberg uses the space to make several pointed comments about the field, the writers' lack of respect, the nearly inbred fan community, the all too easy settlement for crappy hackwork merely to pay the bills, all of it absolutely unrelenting. This is not a novel for those that require even a little bit of cheer in their lives, because there are hardly any redeeming characters here, everyone is pathetic or malicious or just plain in their own fashion and watching Herovit's life crumble bit by bit somehow remains fascinating, even as you're wondering how much farther he can sink. Even when the book starts to get trippy, as Herovit turns into his Pollald alter ego (or does he?Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on January 25, 2006
Format: Paperback
"Herovit's World," by Barry N. Malzberg, is the story of Jonathan Herovit, a science fiction writer in a deep state of personal and professional crisis. The novel follows his efforts to get his life back under control. In Herovit's struggle Malzberg has crafted a savage, unrelenting satire of the science fiction genre, and of its writers, fans, professional organizations, and publication process. Malzberg's comprehensive satiric vision also takes in academia, marriage, sex, parenthood, urban life, and the writing process--and he consistently goes for the jugular.

This book is full of great writing. Malzberg is funny and outrageous. He crafts some truly stunning descriptive passages as he takes us through Herovit's seedy, booze-soaked world. Two key figures in the book are the following: Kirk Poland, Herovit's pseudonym and alter-ego; and Mack Miller, the hero of the series of science fiction adventure novels that Herovit has written. Together Herovit, Poland and Miller form a sort of absurdist metafictional trinity. Interspersed throughout the text, in a different typeface, are excerpts from Herovit's latest Mack Miller novel-in-progress; it's a device used very effectively by Malzberg.

In this comic, tragic gem of a novel, Malzberg has done for disgruntled science fiction writers what Charles Bukowski does for disgruntled postal workers in "Post Office." The novel features intense interpersonal and internal conflict, as well as laceratingly cruel dialogue. Malzberg looks at the ugliest and most painful aspects of the human condition without flinching, and he deconstructs the science fiction world with both the precision of a forensic pathologist and the gusto of a serial killer. Nightmarish and bracing, "Herovit's World" is a stunning achievement by a truly remarkable writer.
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Format: Paperback
Upon reading In the Enclosure (1973) I was immediately seduced by Barry N. Malzberg's metafictional brand of science fiction -- best illustrated by his masterpieces Beyond Apollo (1972) and Revelations (1972). Although Herovit's World (1973) contains many of the same metafictional trademarks of Malzberg's best work, it should be noted that the novel is not science fiction and more a work about writing (pulp) science fiction. In this case, the mental collapse of a pulp writer whose life may or may not contain "true" autobiographical kernels from Malzberg's own experience in the field...

Woven into the classic Malzberg narrative framework that features in most of his works -- tormented man going through a difficult time with his wife while he experiences a mental breakdown -- are scathing jabs at authors of his day, notably the Scientology practitioner A. E. van Vogt.

Brief Plot Summary/Analysis (*some spoilers*)

Jonathan Herovit "is one of the ten to fifteen most prolific science-fiction writers in the country, with an audience of somewhere between seventy to eighty thousand for the paperbacks" (4). Under the pseudonym Kirk Poland, Jonathan has written ninety-two novels and five hundred and three pieces for magazines. He imagines that his pseudonymous self, whom he has "visualized from the start", is sexually potent, tall, and aware of his own inept writing abilities (something which profoundly troubles Jonathan) (6). Jonathan even speculates that without Kirk he would have been a fine writer...

Jonathan's, or rather Kirk Poland's, popularity (which is not based on actual merit) within the genre is due to his Mack Miller Survey Team series (imagine early Heinlein or Silverberg juveniles).
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