The Plot

(Critical Survey of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

In Herovits World, Barry Malzberg tells the grim tale of the last days of the books antihero, thirty-seven-year-old science-fiction writer Jonathan Herovit. Sitting at his desk in his crammed study in a rent-controlled apartment in New York City, Herovit finds himself unable to complete his ninety-third science-fiction novel. Beset by a severe case of writers block that comes from his justified feeling that his work is of poor literary quality, and plagued by ever-increasing personal problems, Herovit takes recourse in drinking and daydreaming. He attempts to assume a new, more self-assertive identity.

Under intense pressure by his strong-willed agent, Morton Mackenzie, to deliver his manuscript, Herovit furthermore has to face the disaffection of his wife, Janice, who quit her job when their baby, Natalie, was born, and resents her new role as housewife to an unproductive, alcoholic writer. A visit from his old friend Mitchell Wilk, who has escaped producing low-paid science-fiction manuscripts by accepting a college writing position, brings with it not only Wilks raid on Herovits Scotch but also a caustic condemnation of the awful text he is writing.

By graphically setting apart the typescript of Survey Sirius, the adventure Herovit is writing, Malzberg shows the reader plenty of the purple prose of classic science-fiction stories: Futuristic weaponry zaps alien life-forms while words tumble wildly in sentences haphazardly...

(The entire section is 475 words.)