Sol Yurick, 1925–2013


Sol Yurick, 1925–2013

Sol Yurick was born in the Bronx, New York in 1925 to a working class family of politically active Jewish immigrants. At the age of 14, Yurick became disillusioned with politics after the Hitler-Stalin pact. He enlisted during World War II, where he trained as a surgical technician. He studied at New York University after the war, majoring in literature. After graduation, he took a job with the welfare department as a social investigator, a job he held until the early 1960s, when he took up writing full time.

Yurick was involved in Students for a Democratic Society and the anti-war movement at this time. In 1968, he signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.

In 1972, Yurick was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

His first novel, The Warriors, appeared in 1965. It combined a classical Greek story, Anabasis, with a fictional account of gang wars in New York City. It inspired the 1979 film of the same name.

His other works include: Fertig (1966), The Bag (1968), Someone Just Like You (1972), An Island Death (1976), Richard A (1981), Behold Metatron, the Recording Angel (1985), Confession (1999). Yurick was still an active writer until his death on January 5, 2013.

In the early 1980s, Yurick published a quite prescient and imaginative short story that considered how the use of a virtual, entirely imaginary island nation combined with advanced computer networking might be used to suck tremendous wealth from, and wreak havoc on, the global banking system. Appearing in Datamation, a then-leading trade magazine focused on enterprise computing, "The King of Maleputa" (translation: bad whore) predates by at least 15 years Neal Stephenson's better-known novel, Cryptonomicon (1999) and its imaginary island nation, Kinakuta, which has been set up for use in anonymous, computer-based banking activities. Yurick's island "exists" only as bogus entries in various banking and geographic databases; when searched for in these databases, the island appears to exist in many dimensions, including map coordinates and convincing satellite photos, but it is entirely virtual - a figment of digital imagination. Elsewhere, criminals use satellite dishes to hack into the global banking system and divert money to the imaginary island and then, into their own pockets. The story reflects Yurick's longstanding focus on banks and bankers as the source and agents of much power and trouble in the highly-capitalized modern world.

A the time of his death, Yurick was working on a project which analyzes all possible texts from a Marxist, evolutionist perspective.