[SF Signal welcomes the return of Jason Sanford with this exclusive interview!]
Anyone who read science fiction short stories in the 1960s and ’70s should remember Larry Eisenberg. His wonderful story “What Happened to Auguste Clarot?” was selected by Harlan Ellison for the visionary anthology Dangerous Visions, while more than 50 other Eisenberg stories were published during that time period in top genre magazines such as F&SF, Galaxy, If, and Asimov’s. Among the anthologies which have reprinted his stories are Great Science Fiction of the 20th Century, Great Science Fiction By the World’s Great Scientists, and The 10th Annual of the Year’s Best SF.
Many of Eisenberg’s stories feature Professor Emmett Duckworth, a researcher, humanist, and twice winner of the Nobel Prize. Among Duckworth’s many memorable inventions is an addictive aphrodisiac clocking in at 150,000 calories per ounce—along with a propensity to turn those taking it into walking bombs. The Duckworth stories use humor and wit to examine both scientific research and those seeking to profit from such research. As Eisenberg admits, his Duckworth stories were inspired by his work at the prestigious Rockefeller University, where Eisenberg worked as a biomedical engineer and helped create the first pacemaker using radio frequencies to stimulate the heart.
Eisenberg’s last published science fiction story, “Live It Up, Inc.,” appeared in F&SF in 1988. Set to turn 90 in December and still living in his hometown of New York City, Eisenberg continues to write. However, these days he has returned to his early love of limericks (having published two books of limericks back in the 1960s). About a year ago readers of the online edition of the New York Times began noticing incredibly witty limericks posted by a “Larry Eisenberg” in the comment section of many news articles. These limericks poke fun at the high and mighty and quickly gained a cult following on the newspaper’s website.
For example, the following limerick appeared in a NY Times article about Sarah Palin’s new memoir:
The Palin memoir will reveal
How despondent poor Sarah did feel,
When Couric persisted
And grimly insisted
On answers, a prospect Unreal!
We can now confirm that these NY Times limericks are written by the same Larry Eisenberg whose SF stories we’ve known and loved.