Many of you may not have heard of Norwegian SF author and law professor Jon Bing. His death has just been announced.
Jon Bing was born April 30, 1944, in the town of Tønsberg, but moved to Oslo in the mid-1960s to pursue academic studies. He wrote his doctoral dissertation at the faculty of Law, later becoming a full professor, and is considered both a pioneer and leading expert within the field of legal informatics. He was also a visiting professor at King’s College in London and held honorary doctorates from the universities of Copenhagen and Stockholm. For many years, he was a member of the Norwegian Arts Council and chairman of the Norwegian integrity council, which handles complaints against the decisions of the Norwegian Data Protection Authority; he was also a past chairman of the Norwegian Film Council and of the European Council Committee on Legal Data Processing, among other positions. As an academic and popularizer of law, he published some sixteen books.
More importantly here, with his close friend and fellow student Tor-Åge Bringsværd, Jon in 1965 founded the Oslo University SF club Aniara, still going strong, and its fanzine. Although a handful of Norwegian fans had been individually active earlier, mainly via correspondence with Swedish or British and US fans, Bing and Bringsværd to all practical purposes created the thriving Norwegian fandom of the last four and a half decades.
In 1967, Bing and Bringsværd also made their joint professional debut with a co-written short story collection, “Rundt solen i ring” (Ring Around the Sun). With Bringsværd, Jon Bing went on to publish a further four story collections, all sf, and five sf plays, two of them performed on stage, third on radio as well as later broadcast as a rewritten tv series, and two original tv series. On his own, Jon Bing published two short story collections, six adult novels and eight juveniles, virtually all sf. His last adult SF novel appeared in 1992: “En gammel romfarers beretninger” (Stories of an Old Space Traveller).
Again with Tor-Åge Bringsværd, Jon Bing also edited close to twenty SF anthologies, as well as the line of SF novels, mainly in translation, they managed to convince the leading Norwegian publisher Gyldendal to launch in 1967 and which continued with a total of 55 titles until 1980; this was where authors like Aldiss, Ballard, Bester, Bradbury, Clarke, Dick, Le Guin, Leiber, Lem, Simak, Sturgeon, and Vonnegut were all first published in Norwegian.
Since the series also included several debuting Norwegian writers, it is reasonable to say not only that Bing and Bringsværd founded Norwegian fandom, but also that they went on to provide the literature on which that fandom was centered.
On his own, Jon Bing published two short story collections, six adult novels and eight juveniles, virtually all sf. His last single-written adult SF novel appeared in 1992: “En gammel romfarers beretninger” (Stories of an Old Space Traveller); in 2004, he published a collection of crime stories written with Tor-Åge Bringsværd, “Oslo 2084”, set in a future characterized by drastic climate change, with parts of Oslo below water, virtually all wild animal life extinct, and citizens constantly scrutinized in detail by ever-present governmental security agencies.
Personally, I met Jon for the first time in 1972, when he and Tor-Åge attended the Stockholm SF convention. I most remember their delight in discovering that Stockholm actually had a McDonald’s; none had as yet been opened in Norway. “This is where the future is happening”, Jon said. He remained a friend, and an unquenchable optimist, until his death.
Rest in Peace, Jon !
The leading Norwegian daily Dagbladet has put up a number of images from his life:
Jon is the guy at first smoothly shaven, later sporting a moustache and a continuously growing stomach. The beared guy in many of the pictures is Tor-Åge Bringsværd.
© John-Henri Holmberg