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Bjerke, Tore

Entry updated 24 October 2023. Tagged: Author.

(1942-    ) Norwegian amateur astronomer and author of realistic sf dealing with Space Flight. He did not write many books, but Rendezvous (1970) in particular was one of the notable astronomically correct novels of the 1970s. More or less forgotten today, it was announced as "a thriller in the international diplomatic environment" – not regarded as sf by the publisher, although it clearly was. Ahead of his time, Bjerke convincingly described space Technology and political diplomacy at the peak of the Cold War. The story takes place a few decades after the first Moon landing in 1969: at the time of publication a Near Future story but now a counterfactual series of events. Rendezvous describes a space expedition gone wrong, and the astronauts' desperate struggle to avoid total disaster. The accident triggers a diplomatic crisis between the USA and the USSR, and both sides refuse to give in to realities; prestige is more important than human lives. The ending is not one the reader expects, and in many ways the novel is reminiscent of Kim Stanley Robinson – though written 15 years before Robinson's debut.

An independent sequel, Farvel, jord, farvel ["Goodbye, Earth, Goodbye"] (1978), takes the story further. We follow a group of space travellers departing on a seemingly endless journey. The first half of the novel takes them and the reader throughout the Solar System, visiting planet after planet; then leaving it all behind they are on their own, dependent on the recycling of air, water, food and so forth. As time goes by, they work hard to keep their human dignity, but slowly their resistance breaks down, ruining their small and vulnerable society. The story has no happy ending, but remains worth reading; there are few similar examples in Norwegian sf.

Tore Bjerke also wrote the novel Spøkelsesnatt ["A Haunted Night"] (1987), a hybrid between a murder mystery novel and horror fiction, but in its own way belonging to Fantastika. [CPe]

Tore Bjerke

born Gjøvik, Norway: 1942

works (sf and horror only)

  • Rendezvous ["Rendezvous"] (Oslo, Norway: Gyldendal Norsk, 1970) [hb/Øyvind Hansen]
  • Farvel, Jord, farvel ["Goodbye, Earth, Goodbye"] (Oslo, Norway: Gyldendal Norsk, 1978) [pb/Peter Haars]
  • Spøkelsesnatt ["A Haunted Night"] (Oslo, Norway: Bladkompaniet, 1987) [pb/]

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