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Jensen, Reidar

Entry updated 3 November 2023. Tagged: Author.

(1942-    ) Norwegian journalist and author, regarded as an important voice of New Wave sf in the 1970s. Jensen's first published story, "Den siste natten i hele verden" ["The Last Night in All the World"] (1969), received the Norwegian first prize in a sf contest arranged by three Scandinavian newspapers: Dagbladet (Norway), Politiken (Denmark) and Dagens Nyheter (Sweden). "Forsidepiker smiler aldri to ganger" ["Cover Girls Never Smile Twice"] appeared in the antology Malstrøm: Norsk science fiction 1972 ["Maelstrom: Norwegian Science Fiction 1972"] (anth 1972), edited by Jon Bing, Tor Åge Bringsværd and Sigmund Hoftun. Several stories of his were used by the Norwegian Broadcasting Company, NRK.

Reidar Jensen's debut collection was Natten da stjernene falt ned ["The Night When the Stars Fell Down"] (coll 1976). The stories take place on Earth in the present or near future; no Space Flight or technological inventiveness is involved except in "Robotene, 1997" ["The Robots, 1997"]. The fantastic elements are of a satiric kind: a man being captivated on the front page of a coloured magazine; a man literally moving into his book shelf; an opera singer declaring war on society. The highlight is the Kafkaesque "Huset som Gnorp bygde" ["The House That Gnorp Built"], about the young and faithful clerk Glyp, being alienated working in a gigantic office building. Shorter pieces, more symbolism than actual stories, reveal rather pessimistic views.

The only Norwegian sf author honoured with more than one book in the Lanterne Science Fiction series, Reidar Jensen's next collection was Mannen som kunne se hele verden ["The Man Who Could See the Hole World"] (coll 1977). Entering a similar literary landscape, the reader is exposed to lyrical sketches such as "Stemmen fra skogene" ["The Voice from the Woods"] and "Vinden i gatene" ["The Wind in the Streets"]. "Autostrada" tells about the dangers of traffic (see Transportation); "Intermedia-2001" is the fulfillment of a totally controlled world press. Other topics discussed include Pollution, Overpopulation and return to nature: sympathetic themes, well-known attitudes in sf of the 1970s, relevant even today.

Historien som ikke ville slutte ["The Story That Would Not End"] (coll 1978) was reckoned the most successful collection of the three. The stories are slightly longer and feature exciting incidents and interesting characters. "Tre ved bordet" ["Three at the Table"] takes place in a future where almost everybody is using psychopharmaca to avoid "dangerous" thoughts. "Octavio Guzmans hjerte" ["The Heart of Octavio Guzman"] is a tribute to a dead freedom fighter. "Brev til min venn Wolfgang Wegener, februar 1924" ["Letter to My Friend Wolfgang Wegener, February 1924"] is a counterfactual story about a Europe where World War One and the Russian Revolution never occurred. Some stories are poetic and lyrical, others with much Humour, making the book a good read.

Other occupations made Jensen less productive after the 1970s, though in the 1980s he contributed to the SF Magazine Algernon, published by the Oslo Students' SF Club, Aniara. "Trafalgar Square" appeared in the original anthology Asterveg ["Road to the Stars"] (anth 1989) edited by Einar Gjærevold. A year later he reappeared on the scene with Den ulykkelige samurai og andre fantastiske fortellinger ["The Unhappy Samurai and Other Fantastic Stories"] (coll 1990). These allegorical and factual tales deal with Magic Realism, unexplainable incidents, Mythology and Religion, taking place in Latin America, the south of Europe and the Middle East. [CPe]

Reidar Jensen

born Oslo, Norway: 6 November 1942

works (sf and fantasy only)



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