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Hjortsberg, William

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1941-2017) US screenwriter and author, much of whose work – like his first novel, Alp (1969), or his third, Toro! Toro! Toro! (1974) – hovers Equipoisally between a mildly gonzo Western American Magic Realism and genuine Fabulation. Gray Matters (1971), which is sf, grounds its fantastic episodes in a future Utopia where people are reborn (see Reincarnation) from entombment as Hive-Mind "Cerebromorphs" within an enormous Cybernetic complex only when they have achieved some transcendence of their personal identities; with SymBiography (1973 chap), also sf, it was assembled as Odd Corners: The Slip-Stream World of William Hjortsberg (omni 2004). Falling Angel (November-December 1978 Playboy; 1978; exp as coll 1996) grippingly marries detection and horror in a Secret Sharer tale of striking grimness [for Secret Sharer see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]; it was filmed as Angel Heart (1987) to his own script, and directed by Alan Parker. Tales and Fables (coll 1985 chap) assembles full-scale Fabulations; and Nevermore (1994) cunningly opposes Harry Houdini (1874-1926) and Arthur Conan Doyle in an intensely coloured 1920s New York, where something like the ghost of Edgar Allan Poe, or a ghostlike entity inspired by Poe, is recreating murderers out of his work. [JC]

William Reinhold Hjortsberg

born New York: 23 February 1941

died Livingston, Montana: 22 April 2017




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