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French SF writer Jacques Sternberg dead at 83

Discussion in 'In Memoriam...' started by eminovitz, Nov 6, 2013.

  1. eminovitz

    eminovitz Research Guru / Moderator Emeritus

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    Oct 19, 2006

    Jacques Sternberg, a French-language science-fiction writer who worked with film directors René Laloux and Alain Renais, died October 11 in Paris of lung cancer. He was 83.

    With Lalous and Roland Topor, he wrote the screenplay for Les Temps morts, a 1964 animated film which mixed original drawings by Topor, original shots and stock shots to ironically analyze the nature of man.

    He wrote the script of Resnais' surreal 1968 time-travel feature film Je t'aime, Je t'aime.

    Sternberg was born to a well-to-do Russian-Jewish family in Antwerp, Belgium on April 17, 1923. He was a poor student in school and, ironically, had particular difficulty in French.

    Sternberg began writing at about age 15 or 16. He started as a speFrench Friest in the fantastic and the burlesque; his science fiction writing came later.

    He worked after school as a packer in a cardboard factory before moving to Paris in the hopes of furthering his literary career. He found some success in 1950s Paris, which was dominated by the Surrealists.

    In a well-known essay, A Branch Of The Fantastic Called Science Fiction, Sternberg declared that science fiction is only a subset of the fantastic. He viewed the causes of terror as the modern city, often shown as a giant monster ready to crush any humans daring to live within it. This was displayed in several of his novels, including The Employee (1958), The Architect (1960) and The Suburb (1976).

    Sternberg's short stories combined surreal humor, a Kafkaesque sense of the absurd and a pessimistic vision of the future. They were collected in numerous anthologies, including The Impossible Geometry (1953), The Terror Geometry (1958), Icy Tales (1974) and Clawed Tales (1993).

    His science fiction stories were compiled in followed the same absurdist tradition and were gathered in such collections as Between Two Uncertain Worlds (1957), Universe Zero (1970) and Future Without Future (1971).

    Among Sternberg's novels were The Exit Lies At The End Of Space (1956), in which mankind-hating aliens grow microbes and euthanasia to kill the few human survivors, and Beware, Inhabited Planet (1969).

    He did not identify with either his Jewish or Belgian heritage, but preferred to think of himself simply as "mortal."

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