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Pancras, PJ

Entry updated 26 October 2021. Tagged: Author.

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Working name of Pamela Pancras (1966-    ) and Jeroen Pancras (1969-    ), a Dutch couple of genre interest for their Planet Paradroid series, projected as a trilogy, although with the publication of the prequel novella Death Space (2019), this appears to already be approaching at least four parts.

The namesake first volume, Planet Paradroid (2015; trans Grayson Bray Morris 2017) was published in Dutch as by Firma Tacker & Tape, but in English as by PJ Pancras. It is a Club Story linked by the attendance of several characters at the psychiatric practice of VDR, an AI offering counsel to troubled residents of Dam City, a Near-Future Amsterdam. The authors display a tendency towards muscular literalism – Dam City, of course, is both a triumph of futuristic technology and a metaphor for the constant threat of environmental collapse, with floodwaters held back by a literal polder. The characters identify as "Lowlanders", a conflation both of the original Netherlands and of their proletarian status in a world that places a yawning chasm of opportunity between rich and poor. In the second volume, freed to wander the world in search of more clues to the human condition, VDR, now operating under the alias Imojiman, encounters Ecological activists in Spain.

Pancras' world comes dripping with inventive technology, including extrapolations and augmentations of contemporary culture in the spirit of William Gibson, although often tardily so, as if Benelux sf is arriving a generation late for the Cyberpunk party. In the manner of Ernest Cline's Ready Player One (2011) and many a work by Mainstream Writers of SF, the characters' future culture often clings conspicuously to the authors' real-world pasts, with nightclubs that play 1990s techno music, young-adult bestsellers in which teenage girls are "eager to lose their virginity to Vampire boyfriends", or comparisons drawn in the text to the animated film Rango (2011), and between VDR and the Computer HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Ironically, much of the book's Sense of Wonder and originality seems inadvertent, drawn not from such conscious evocation of genre Clichés, but from the moments that an essential Dutchness shines through, as revealed in references and assumptions so culturally specific as to require translator's footnotes. The Pancras team aspires to create a future like everyone else's, but succeeds best when they write one that is theirs alone, rooted firmly in the social and cultural issues of their homeland.

Certain terms in the English translation are open to misprision. The titular VDR is pronounced vader, which in Dutch means "father", but for English readers is liable to evoke the antagonist of the Star Wars saga. Asides in the text and publicity materials suggest that the books are intended as part of a broader, immersive Media Landscape, and come accompanied by online readings and playlists of recommended music. [JonC]

Jeroen Oetgens van Waveren Pancras Clifford

born Groningen, The Netherlands: 28 May 1969

Pamela Oetgens van Waveren Pancras Clifford

born Hengelo, The Netherlands: 3 June 1966


  • Planet Paradroid (Amsterdam, Netherlands: DIT Uitgevers, 2015) [Planet Paradroid: hb/]
    • Planet Paradroid (Amsterdam, Netherlands: DIT Uitgevers, 2017) [trans of the above by Grayson Bray Morris: hb/]
  • Imojiman (Amsterdam, Netherlands: DIT Uitgevers, 2019) [Planet Paradroid: hb/]
  • Death Space (Amsterdam, Netherlands: DIT Uitgevers, 2019) [Planet Paradroid: hb/]


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