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Venter, Eben

Entry updated 9 September 2020. Tagged: Author.

(1954-    ) South African author, in Australia from 1986. His fiction is almost entirely nonfantastic, much of it depicting, with some autobiographical elements, the ethical and political dilemmas that might characteristically confront a nonconforming white man born and raised Afrikaaner in a dissolving world. Of sf interest is Horrelpoot (2006; trans Luke Stubbs as Trencherman 2008), set in a devastated Near Future South Africa ravaged by AIDs and abandoned by its white population. The tale is specifically beholden to Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (February-April 1899 Blackwood's Magazine as "The Heart of Darkness"; in Youth, coll 1902): its protagonist, Martin Jasper Louw, always referred to as Marlouw, is called back to his ruined homeland to trace his nephew, Koert, who is rumoured to have established a dubious Utopia deep inland, but which turns out to be a coercive Keep, a microcosm of South Africa nigh unto death. Koert – clearly based on Marlon Brando's version of Kurtz in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979) – is a black hole of Entropy: enormously fat and scabrous, he has drained his utopia of all energy, starved its people, sees himself as the future of the world:

I am he. I am the taal, the volk. I am your destiny, your fear, das Ende des Lebens, the one who shits last, the very heart of darkness who has remained.


Eben Venter

born Burgersdorp, South Africa: 29 September 1954

works (highly selected)

  • Horrelpoot (Kaapstad [in English: Cape Town], South Africa: Tafelberg Publishers, 2006) [hb/]
    • Trencherman (Kaapstad [in English: Cape Town], South Africa: Tafelberg Publishers, 2008) [trans by Luke Stubbs of the above: pb/]


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